MMA expert Will Dean looks for more winners on the UFC Vegas 40 card, where Jim Miller can get things done nice and early.
1.5pts Jim Miller to win by submission at 11/4 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
0.5pt Jim Miller to win by round 1 submission at 13/2 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
2pts Ludovit Klein to win by KO or submission at 10/11 (Betway)
2pts Andrew Sanchez to win at 11/8 (William Hill)
As the current joint-record holder for the most appearances in UFC history, JIM MILLER’s future is constantly being questioned. At 38 years of age, there is a clear difference between the calibre of fighter that he can beat, and the type he will undoubtedly struggle against. The matchmakers seem quite aware of this, giving the veteran a mixture of UFC newcomers and upcoming prospects in recent years.
Miller relies on his elite-level submission skills to get the job done, but does not seem to have enough left in the tank to fight consistently for 15 minutes. Each of his last four victories has come via first-round submission, but any fight that goes beyond will usually see a drastic swing in momentum.
The future Hall-of-Famer therefore has a limited window in which to win this fight, but the difference in grappling skill between Miller and opponent Erick Gonzalez is astronomical. The newcomer will undoubtedly have the advantage in the striking, but has often found himself giving up easy takedowns and being controlled against the fence in his past regional fights. If Gonzalez finds himself in a similar position against an efficient submission artist like Miller, he may need less than five minutes to find the tap out.
Miller’s limitations outside of the opening round make it difficult to justify his outright price as a 4/9 favourite, but the various props available for this fight still provide some value. I struggle to envisage Miller winning a 15-minute decision against anyone in the UFC, so backing MILLER TO WIN BY SUBMISSION at 11/4 is the primary play.
A smaller wager on MILLER TO WIN BY ROUND ONE SUBMISSION at 13/2 is also too tempting to ignore, given how much of his win condition relies on getting things done early.
LUDOVIT KLEIN and Nate Landwehr will go to war on Saturday in a bout that promises to be in contention for Fight of the Night honours. Both men are coming off of losses and will be eager for the win, but neither have shown any real concern for their defence and perform best when fights descend into chaos.
Unfortunately for Landwehr, his performances in the UFC have been the more damning. Losing by a first round knockout in two of his three appearances is alarming in its own right, but his failure to distinguish himself as a superior striker in any of these bouts is where the issue really lies. You would be hard pressed to find another stand-up fighter on the roster that fails to assert themselves on the feet against lifelong grapplers like Darren Elkins and Herbert Burns, but Landwehr went to a razor thin decision with the former and was finished by the latter.
Klein has shown that his style is not the most conducive for winning a decision, as seen in his recent loss to Mike Trizano. The Slovenian has won by stoppage in 16 of his 17 career wins, but it became clear that he started to run out of ideas when his opponent refused to be put away. Against Landwehr, that should not be such an issue, as The Train only seems to welcome brawls and puts himself in dangerous positions that his durability seemingly cannot handle.
When these two stand toe-to-toe, the power, speed, and finishing prowess of Klein should be the difference. It took him just over a minute to knock out a very durable Shane Young in his UFC debut, and his stoppages are also shared equally, with eight knockouts and eight submissions.
Considering the fact he is a 1/3 favourite with the oddsmakers, it appears good value to back KLEIN TO WIN INSIDE THE DISTANCE at 10/11, given that 94% of his professional victories have seen no involvement from the judges.
The ever exciting Bruno Silva returns for his sophomore appearance in the UFC, having won his debut by first-round knockout back in June. The explosive Brazilian faced some grappling adversity in that fight from an aggressive submission artist, but weathered the storm and found the finish as soon as he reached an advantageous position.
The UFC brass have always been infatuated with athletic powerhouses like Blindado, hoping to see a string of highlight reel knockouts as they venture up the rankings. On most occasions, they eventually come unstuck when they meet durable wrestlers, who nullify their explosive power by pinning to the mat and grinding out underwhelming decision victories.
ANDREW SANCHEZ, Silva’s opponent on Saturday night, has all the potential to spoil the party and execute a similar game plan.
The winner of season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter, Sanchez is a skilled and patient wrestler who has developed his striking tremendously in recent years. Having won six of his eight bouts in both TUF and the UFC by unanimous decision, he is no stranger to making fights ugly and winding down the clock from a dominant position.
El Dirte is by no means the perfect fighter, but his reliability in round one could be the difference maker here. Silva has competent cardio, but the likelihood of him winning by knockout will deplete as the fight reaches its second and third installments, as his muscles will become more fatigued from engaging in the gritty grappling exchanges that Sanchez forces him into. Sanchez has only ever been finished in the third round in his UFC career, which will make him quietly confident that he can survive the early barrage from Silva.
Having recently moved his training camp to AKA, Sanchez has made his wrestling intentions well known. The gym is widely renowned for hosting the most dominant wrestlers in the modern era, with Khabib Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier and Islam Makhachev amongst the noteable names, so Sanchez’s gameplan will likely be well tailored.
With that in mind, I think Silva has been given a difficult stylistic opponent so early in his UFC career, and that the American should be a slight favourite instead. SANCHEZ TO WIN at 11/8 is an appealing prospect therefore, and should look like great value as long as he survives the opening round.
Posted at 1710 BST on 14/10/21
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