Augusto Sakai, riding a two-fight losing streak, will look to get back in the win column Saturday night. In the UFC, the 30-year-old Brazilian heavyweight is 4-2 with two knockouts and two split decision wins. Tai Tuivasa, the 28-year-old Australian, is 6-3 in the UFC and is on a three-fight win streak with all wins coming by first-round knockout.
Order UFC 281
Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira is tonight! Watch every UFC 281 fight here.
- Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
- Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili
- Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler
Sakai vs. Tuivasa betting odds
Currently, the odds are at a pick’em, meaning both the odds are even for both men.
- Sakai: -115
- Tuivasa: -115
Sakai vs. Tuivasa breakdown
In a division where many fighters rely on plotting forward and swinging big, Sakai’s mobility makes him a more unique challenge. He averages 5.1 significant strikes per minute while his defense and movement keep his significant strikes absorbed below four. Sakai’s primary strategy is to move laterally and pepper his opponent’s leg with calf kicks and chin with jabs. Ultimately, rather than throwing big looping punches, Sakai prefers a more technical approach where he breaks his opponent down throughout a few rounds. Sakai, though, has struggled to implement that game plan against a very specific archetype of fighter- big, athletic, and powerful. When his opponent can land with more power, even if it is less frequent, and force Sakai to close his guard to defend, Sakai has struggled. Since he does not have the same power as the fighters atop the division, he can struggle to win those blow-for-blow exchanges. When he isn’t outgunned on the feet or when he can be more of a neutralizer, Sakai can be a difficult puzzle to solve.
Tuivasa is a fan favorite for his fight style and post-fight celebration: a “shoey” where he chugs a beer from a fan’s shoe. His exciting fight style relies heavily on his stone jaw. He often walks forward, swings big, ignores defense, and looks for a multi-punch finish. This style has resulted in an up and down career where Tuivasa lost three in a row and then, most recently, won three straight. All 3 wins have come by first-round finish following a barrage of wild strikes. Tuivasa typically starts his fights by kicking his opponent’s legs from range in order to enter the pocket. Then, once his opponent is concerned about the leg kick and Tuivasa is in tight, he swings with everything he has and looks to knock the head off of his foe. If he can connect, he can drop and finish his opponent. But, since Tuivasa throws with more power and less with technique, he can gas out during the second round and lose later. Tuivasa’s kill or be killed approach is entertaining but inconsistent.
Sakai vs. Tuivasa prediction
Without the refined technique or cardio to consistently land for 3 rounds, Tuivasa typically has around seven minutes to get the knockout win. So, this fight is fairly straightforward. If Sakai can survive the first round, he can likely win. If not, pour a “shoey.” I see Sakai falling short once again to overwhelming power.
Prediction: Tuivasa by finish
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.