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Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev battle it out in the lightweight division at UFC 286. Ben Rajavuori breaks down the fight and shares his best bet.
ANALYSIS

UFC 286 Prediction: Lock in This Expert's Best Bet for Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev

The UFC lightweight division will witness an amazing fight between two of the most entertaining strikers, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, at UFC 286. Gaethje, who Khabib Nurmagomedov has described as the hardest-hitting lightweight in the UFC, is one of the most exciting fighters to watch. While Fiziev, on the other hand, is known for his elite speed, incredible accuracy, and diverse striking attack. It is the rising star, Fiziev, who is the -240 favorite in this fight.

Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev Prediction

Although Gaethje is a former all-American Division One NCAA wrestler, he rarely uses his wrestling skills in the octagon. Instead, he relies on his devastating kicks and the incredible power in his hands to dominate his opponents. With an average of one Performance Bonus per appearance, Gaethje has proven that he's a force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division and is one of the most entertaining showmen in the sport.

Fiziev, on the other hand, is a Tiger Muay Thai fighter and one of the most entertaining strikers in the division for a different reason. He has unique striking and moves like he's in the matrix. He has an impressive record, and his head movement and constant movement in the octagon make him difficult to hit. His striking accuracy and diverse attack make him a tough opponent for anyone in the division, including Gaethje.

While Gaethje's style is reckless, his fan base always points to his wrestling credentials. However, the truth is he hasn't completed a single takedown during his UFC run, and his wrestling skills may not be the key to his success in this fight. Fiziev's takedown defense has also held up well, so this fight likely won't go to the ground.

The danger in a fight with Fiziev is that he's probably the cleanest striker Gaethje has ever faced. Fiziev's striking attack can flow effortlessly from in tight to way outside, and he can turn out the lights on his opponents with ease. While Gaethje has faced tough opponents before, Fiziev's striking skills are unmatched in the division, making him a dangerous opponent.

While Gaethje's style has created a rabid fan base that loves to see him fight, it may also be catching up with him. He struggled in his fight against Michael Chandler, and his legendary ability to walk forward after being hit by a sledgehammer may be waning. Although he's faced tough competition in the division, his gung-ho style may not work against the best fighters anymore.

While Gaethje may have been the favorite when the fight was announced, it's hard to see him winning against Fiziev. Fiziev specifically called out Gaethje, indicating he believed he could exploit Gaethje's weaknesses. Fiziev's technical striking skills and underrated defensive abilities may be too much for Gaethje to handle.

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With all that being said about Fiziev, this is still Justin Gaethje. Gaethje is known for his incredible power and devastating kicks, and Fiziev has not faced anyone with power like Gaethje. Gaethje was the initial favorite in this fight, but a lot of betting love has driven the price up on Fiziev. That makes me willing to take a stab at the hardest hitter in the division. If you give me a price this good on a fighter like Gaethje, I'll take it.

Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev Pick

Pick: Gaethje ML @ (+200) Bet $100 to collect $300 Caesars has the best odds; click here to bet

Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date: Saturday, March 17, 2023
  • Start Time: 5:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: ESPN+

Click here for Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev odds

Article Author

NCAABBoxing/MMAMLBNHL

Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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