Two of the UFC’s biggest punchers will go toe to toe in the main event at UFC on ESPN+ 4 in Kansas as former title challenger Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis faces off against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
It’s a bout that, on paper, screams knockout. Lewis has the sort of punch power that can turn a fight – and his opponent – on its head, while dos Santos has some pretty devastating one-shot power of his own.
But while both men possess genuine fight-ending punch power, there is one key advantage for dos Santos that give the former world champion the edge.
The Brazilian is one of the better-conditioned heavyweights in the UFC and has gone the full five-round distance five times in his UFC career.
And that proven gas tank may well form the key to victory for dos Santos as he looks to keep moving through the opening couple of rounds to drag Lewis into the deeper waters of the later rounds, where he can then look to finish “The Black Beast” with strikes.
Dos Santos is 6/5 to win by KO/TKO, and that’s the smartest pick here.
ROTHWELL IS OUT FOR REDEMPTION
“Big” Ben Rothwell is back, and he’s a man with a point to prove.
Rothwell was suspended by USADA for a failed anti-doping test for an anabolic steroid and was banned for two years.
And during a bizarre media day interview scrum, a clearly seething Rothwell huffed off questions about his time out and about USADA, saying he’ll say his piece when the time is right.
Rothwell was a big, imposing, intimidating heavyweight beforehand when he was one of the fan-friendly, outgoing personalities in the division. But now he’s seriously annoyed and he looks ready to tear his opponent limb from limb this weekend.
That opponent is Blagoy Ivanov, a battle-tested Bulgarian who has lost just twice in his 19-fight MMA career.
But with Rothwell looking like he’s ready to explode, I reckon the 11/10 on “Big Ben” to get the win looks an excellent addition to your fight night acca.
And if you fancy a value punt, take a closer look at the 7/1 on a Rothwell win by submission. Before his suspension, the big American finished opponents both Matt Mitrione and Josh Barnett with his rarely-seen front choke, the “Gogo Choke”.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw that choke again on Saturday night.
‘COURTEOUS CURTIS’ TO SHOW NO COURTESY
One of the under-the-radar prospects getting a little shine this weekend is co-main eventer “Courteous” Curtis Millender.
The appropriately polite American has been anything but courteous to his three UFC opponents so far, knocking out former title challenger Thiago Alves on his debut, then following up with decision victories over respected veterans Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada.
Now the slick striker faces in-form Brazilian Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in Saturday night’s co-main attraction.
The Brazilian is riding a six-fight win streak, with spectacular knockouts punctuating both of his last two fights.
But I think Millender’s more polished striking may be the antidote to the Brazilian’s undoubted skillset.
In a very close fight to pick, the Paddy Power oddsmakers have Millender the narrow 8/11 favourite, and I think that’s about right.
And with neither man having a KO loss on their record, the best value pick in the ‘Method of Victory’ market is for the bout to go the distance, with Millender is 16/5 to shade on the scorecards.
*All odds correct at time of posting