UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks & Predictions: Blachowicz vs. Rakic
Bet of the Card: (2.5u) Under 2.5 Rounds @ -163 (to Return 4.038 Units)
Main Card – Bantamweight (135lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:45 p.m. EST.
- 13 of Davey Grant’s 17 pro fights have ended inside the distance (per Tapolog.com).
- All of Louis Smolka’s last 7 fights have finished inside of 2 rounds (per Sherdog.com).
Whenever either one of these guys fights it’s safe to assume that we’re going to get an all-out war. So, combining the two of them should, in theory, provide another level of mayhem. Both fighters swing wildly on the feet, love chasing submissions when on the mat, and often don’t show much consideration to the defensive aspect of their games.
Grant is rightly favored here, although if you’re backing him in a UFC fight at -300 in 2022, then you must have a set of cojones on you. I say this because this is a very volatile fight. Grant’s durability seems to have actually improved with age, but both he and Smolka are still very capable of getting “chinned” and/or submitted, at any given moment.
I don’t think I need to go into too much more detail than what I have already said. Look for these guys to swing from the hip until one falls over, and once that happens, either the fight will be done, or a submission will likely follow on the guy who gets dropped. Most books haven’t dropped a line for this yet, but in addition to the under, I’m looking at grabbing some Davey Grant via submission, as it appears that we could be due to get +900 or greater, and that’s worth a small sprinkle in my book.
(1.5u) Carlos Candelario Moneyline @ +210 (to Return 4.65 Units)
Preliminary Card – Flyweight (125lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 8:15 p.m. EST.
- Carlos Candelario is Tatsuro Taira’s toughest test to date.
Tatsuro Taira is making his UFC debut this weekend, and despite housing, an impressive 10-0 record, and a 9-0 amateur record, I have some questions about how ready he is for this step-up at just 22 years of age. His strongest asset is unquestionably his grappling, but with limited striking and wrestling, it does make me wonder about how his skills will translate to the levels beyond that of what is found in the Asian regional scene or at least those that Taira has already competed against.
Carlos Candelario is no world-beater, but he’s more proven and has shown off his well-roundedness on the Contender Series. He has battled to a close split-decision loss against Victor Altamirano, who isn’t an easy out and is a good barometer to see if a fighter is capable of competing at the top level of the North American regional scene/fringes of the UFC. Candelario did give up a glaring 12 takedowns across his 2 Contender Series fights (per UFCStats.com), but he showed he could fight back to his feet, reverse positions, and return fire once standing.
From what I’ve seen, Candelario is the slightly better all-round fighter, with the higher level of opposition to this point, and although Taira has the X-factor that is his grappling, I don’t see it as enough of an edge to think that it should leave Candelario as this big of a ‘dog, or at least not whilst Taira is still a relative-unknown.
Perhaps Taira comes out, takes Candelario’s back early, and gets the submission, but at around 2-to-1, I feel pretty happy taking the shot on Candelario to make this a much closer fight than the line suggests.
(1u) Aleksandar Rakic via Decision @ +225 (to Return 3.25 Units)
Main Event - Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 00:45 a.m. EST.
- Five of Jan Blachowicz’s nine career losses have come by decision (per Tapology.com).
- Aleksandar Rakic ranks amongst active UFC light heavyweights: 3rd for control time percentage, 2nd for top position percentage, T-3rd for significant strike differential, and 2nd for takedown defense percentage (minimum 5 UFC w/ 20 takedown attempts by opponents) (per StatLeaders.UFC.com).
After the past few years, it’s hard to think back to when Jan Blachowicz was this middling top 15 ranked light heavyweight. His climb to the title was legendary for a guy who was once cut from the UFC and always appeared to be a gatekeeper to the division. It would be a disservice to Jan to suggest that he didn’t beat the best guys ahead of him on route to the title, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say that many of the actual best fighters at 205lbs, were following in his footsteps, just behind him at every moment. One of the guys I consider to be in that category is Aleksandar Rakic.
Rakic is so precise in everything he does, almost to a fault, as it can lead to risk-averse, and borderline, boring fights, where he is able to dominate his opponents in whichever way he pleases. His striking can be explosive and deadly, but as of late, it has been more calculated and strategic. His wrestling isn’t elite, but it’s effective against most light heavyweights, and it allows him to get the fight to the mat, and control his opponent, which wins him minutes whilst burning time off the clock. His grappling isn’t exceptional, and he will be giving this edge up to Jan, but with his heavy top game, I would expect Rakic to maintain top position and remain safe and in control.
Jan has historically been very durable, and even at 39-years-old, I would be a bit surprised to see him get put away, even against someone like Rakic, who has proven to be a high-level knockout artist (well, when he wants to be).
So, all things considered, I expect Rakic to edge Jan in the striking, marginally in the wrestling, and clinch and give up an edge in the grappling. For this reason, a play on Rakic’s moneyline seems reasonable, but with it getting closer to -200 by the day, I think it’s a stay away from me. I will, however, be playing his decision prop though, at anything greater than +200, as I’d have it lined closer to +150-ish, and that means I’m getting some decent value.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC Fight Night: Błachowicz vs. Rakić / UFC on ESPN 36 / UFC Vegas 54 / #UFCVegas54
Location & Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Date: Saturday, May 15th, 2022
Start Time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims: 7:30 p.m. EST.
Where To Watch: Main Card on ESPN2/ESPN+, Prelim Card on ESPN+ (unconfirmed)
UFC Fight Night: Błachowicz vs. Rakić Full Fight Card Predictions:
UFC Fight Night: Błachowicz vs. Rakić Main Event Prediction:
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic – Rakic via Decision
UFC Fight Night: Błachowicz vs. Rakić Main Card Predictions:
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Ryan Spann vs. Ion Cutelaba – Cutelaba via KO/TKO
Bantamweight (135lbs): Davey Grant vs. Louis Smolka – Grant via Submission
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Katlyn Chookagian vs. Amanda Ribas – Chookagian via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Frank Camacho vs. Manuel Torres – Camacho via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Jake Hadley vs. Allan Nascimento – Hadley via Decision
UFC Fight Night: Błachowicz vs. Rakić Prelim Card Predictions:
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Viviane Araujo vs. Andrea Lee – Lee via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Michael Johnson vs. Alan Patrick – Johnson via Decision
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Virna Jandiroba vs. Angela Hill – Jandiroba via Submission
Flyweight (125lbs): Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario – Candelario via Decision
Middleweight (185lbs): Nick Maximov vs. Andre Petroski – Maximov via Submission
*Fight card, bout order, and number of fights are subject to change*