Best bets for UFC Kansas City: Holloway vs. Allen

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Israel Adesanya put an exclamation on his rivalry against Alex Pereira when he KO’d the monster in the second round of their main event in last week’s UFC 287. Adesanya had given clear indications of a change in approach leading up to the fight and he simply bated the inexperienced power puncher into the pocket by covering up before unleashing a lightning-fast straight power 1-2 that warbled Pereira then ended the bout with a follow-up right.

Adesanya -130 pushed us back into profitability for the year as we stand 5-3 +1.1u

 

Max Holloway -180 vs. Arnold Allen +155

Featherweight (145 pounds) main event

It’s difficult to fathom that until his trilogy with Alexander Volkanovski, Holloway was on his way to being proclaimed the greatest featherweight in UFC history. Now at only thirty-one years of age, he remains driven to recapture his title.

Holloway, the top recognized featherweight threat to the title despite his being ranked as the second contender in the division is a Hawaiian athlete who, like many others, was trained to fight when he was in diapers.

He’s a precision-based volume striker (7.24 significant strikes landed per round) who relies on combinations to accrue damage on opponents and has faced the absolute best of his division with great success save for his bouts with Volkanovski.

Holloway is diligent with his output, hurling fists, knees, elbows, and teep kicks he has supplemented with a blue belt in BJJ. His 84% takedown defense, especially given his opposition, proves his defensive wrestling prowess.

Holloway’s been off since his victory over Yair Rodriguez (Dec. 2021) which in many cases would cause concern. But for a warrior like Holloway who has been in with the elite of his division, the rest more than likely benefits him given his long list of highly competitive world-class MMA competitions. 

In fourth-ranked Arnold Allen, we get a very well-put-together mixed martial artist who ships in from the land of the Union Jack. With a 10-0 record in the UFC, Allen, a brown belt in BJJ with solid wrestling acumen, has shown to have some power in his hands, though he sometimes struggles with output and volume.

Once this fight begins, the left-handed Allen will have to overcome several factors in order to be successful. He enters the shorter man with a slight reach advantage but overall striking leverage will be with the taller Holloway.

Allen’s previous competition is where these two are most differentiated. Holloway’s battles for the last six years have all been against the absolute elite of the division while Allen has only faced ‘formidable’ foes in Sodiq Yusuff and Calvin Kattar.

While he looked great against Yusuff, we really did not get to see him work much in his main event bout against Kattar which was stopped via injury just months ago. This tilt represents a substantial step up in class for Allen.

Once the fight begins, we’ll see Holloway move and pump his jab and kick. He needs to maintain spacing and employ combination striking, an approach that has proven to be most effective.

Allen’s tactics will be interesting to monitor as it appears a difficult task to ask him to outstrike Holloway. Somehow, some way, Allen’s going to need to close distance on Holloway, and then find a way to inflict damage, perhaps even fight-ending damage which Allen does possess.

In past columns, I’ve wondered if Holloway has lost a step, some zip in his shots, and/or his zeal to compete. I believe we’re nearing that time.

Max Holloway, who opened -145, is perhaps a touch past his peak, but he still has the body of work to defeat a game and prepared Allen. That said, Allen arrives understated, underestimated and underappreciated. At this time, I regard the opening price as more indicative of how competitively I view this bout.

Total in this fight: 4.5 Rds. Over -115

Over 4.5 opened -160, interesting movement there and movement I’m not sure I agree with.

 

Ion Cutelaba -130 vs. Tanner Boser +110 

Light Heavyweight (205 pounds)

Cutelaba, the Moldavian Hulk is a clench-jawed intense fighter who forces himself forward to engage opponents in a throwdown. The more frenetic, hysterical and unscheduled a fight can be, the more opportunity Cutelaba believes he has.

Cutelaba brings a stout complement of judo, Greco-Roman wrestling and Sambo into this bout, but he rarely uses those tools in his fights. He instead opts to stand with foes who are simply more refined in mixed martial arts than he is. For this reason, it’s questionable how much longer the fifteen-fight veteran remains in the organization based on the results his approach has earned him.

In Tanner Boser, we have a former heavyweight talent dropping to light heavyweight for the first time. Boser, 229 in his last fight, is a black belt in Shitō-ryū Karate and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He began cutting weight to prepare for this bout in January, and recent photos have me convinced that making the weight will be no issue for him.

As a light heavyweight, Boser will be able to optimize his speed, precision striking and movement while retaining the pop in his punches. That ‘pop’ was barely noticed by the larger competition at heavyweight. but as a 205-pounder, Boser will be an immediate top-fifteen talent in the division and may go on an ascent from there.

Boser is a legitimately trained mixed martial artist, but he is vulnerable to fighters with a dedication to wrestling. Cutelaba is a fierce forceful fighter but he does not qualify by my standards as a legitimate mixed martial artist simply because he refuses to employ the foundational aspects of sambo and wrestling he’s been trained in.

If one could count on Cutelaba to force his grappling in this fight, then I could see a competitive tussle. But Cutelaba is a headhunter, and in this bout, he’s up against a most dangerous and desperate Canadian.

Boser opened -150 for this bout, and it has been Cutelaba, now -135, who has taken the money, moving Boser to underdog territory.

I view Boser +105 as holding a significant striking/cardio advantage over Cutelaba in this fight.

Pick: Boser +105

Total in this fight: 1.5 Rds. -140 Over

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Thank you for reading and enjoy the fights!