UFC on ESPN 35: Jared Gordon vs. Grant Dawson prediction, betting odds, preview 1

The battle-tested veteran, Jared Gordon (18-4; 6-3 in the UFC), will look to halt the hype around the former featherweight, and now lightweight prospect, Grant Dawson (17-1-1; 5-0-1 in the UFC) at UFC on ESPN 35.

Both Gordon and Dawson employ a similar approach to fighting, whereby they use striking to set up a predominate wrestling attack. Moreover, each has an impressive submission game once on the mat. The commonality of style should result in a grueling grappling affair with fight-ending threats wherever the fight ensues.

Betting Odds

Grant Dawson, opening up at a slight -135 favorite, has climbed to a -190 favorite over Jared Gordon.

  • Dawson: -190
  • Gordon: +160


The best description of Jared Gordon’s attributes as a fighter is his ability to be a neutralizer in the octagon. This “neutralizer” tag is given because Gordon, being a true veteran of the sport, understands how to neutralize the main threat of his opponent, while simultaneously exploiting the largest attribute disparity between him and his opponent. Often, the neutralization which occurs is on the feet, as he understands how to strike from a technical guard and cut distance, which then, opens up the opportunity to wrestle his way to victory. But, recently, he has been tasked with fighting strong grapplers – his last fight, a decision win against Joe Solecki, and current matchup against Dawson – and, being a true veteran of the sport, Gordon has shown success in combating the takedowns as the fight gets into deep waters, and once there, he opens up his underrated boxing and weaponizes his cardio with putting on a strong pace. Ultimately, albeit lacking an elite trait, Gordon is truly a well-rounded fighter who will make his opponent beat him contrary to him beating himself.

Dawson is a grappler through and through. His best grappling attribute is not takedown accuracy, control time, ground and pound, nor submission game, rather, his willingness to grapple from start to finish. This attribute is perhaps scoffed at, particularly from an intelligent lens of knowing how valuable it is to use striking to set up one’s grappling. Although indeed relevant, Dawson, having subpar striking, understands that a relentless wrestling pursuit will result in securing a takedown, and once there, he has both the control game and submission arsenal to make his opponent uncomfortable, to say the least.

Perhaps the best showcase of his unrelenting attitude was his first fight in the lightweight division. Here, he faced the extremely tall Leonardo Santos. Knowing height aids in takedown defense among other fight-related benefits, Santos showed well in combating the grappling of Dawson, and, knowing Dawson has subpar striking, Santos had success on the feet; but, Dawson, having an unrelenting attitude toward grappling, continued his efforts and landed a jaw-dropping KO finish on the mat with one-second to spare. The question, in this bout, will be if Dawson’s initial wrestling efforts prove ineffective against the strong wrestling of Gordon, does he have a secondary tactic or will he continue to blindly pursue takedown after takedown. If the latter occurs, Dawson may find it more challenging to capitalize on the grappling pressure later in the fight against Gordon than he has in the past.


This fight is challenging to predict given the direction of the fight is predominately determined by Dawson having success wrestling Gordon. Although I have given justifiable credence to Gordon’s wrestling, accompanied by him showcasing the ability to neutralize the main attack of his opponent in previous bouts, I am electing to back Dawson in this matchup. This choice is largely predicated on two pillars: first, Solecki, Gordon’s previous opponent, did have success in round one wrestling Gordon; and two, I fully expect Dawson, being a relatively young fighter, to show the larger growth in skills from his previous bout when compared to the older Gordon. Ultimately, I anticipate Dawson showing brief improvements on the feet, and the first moment an opportunity presents itself, shoot and secure a takedown. Whether he finishes the fight once on the mat or rinses and repeats the game plan, I believe Dawson’s strong wrestling will be enough to secure a win.

Bet: Dawson

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