Bryce Mitchell attempts another twister at UFC 249

Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell, despite not getting a finish since 2019, has continued to impress in the octagon. In the UFC, “Thug” is 6-1 with 1 submission win- a twister- and 5 decision wins. His only loss came against the likely next title challenger in Ilia Topuria in December of 2022.

Dan “50k” Ige, 32, is 4 years older than Mitchell and has 7 more fights. In the UFC, Ige is 9-5 with 10 of his 14 fights going the distance. Ige rides a 2 fight winning streak entering Saturday night.

Betting Odds

Mitchell is one of the biggest movers and shakers in terms of line movement this week. He opened at nearly a pick’em but has ballooned up to north of a -200.

  • Bryce Mitchell: -205 (BetUS)
  • Dan Ige: +170 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

The line movement in this fight is as, or more, important at the stylistic matchup. So, as I’ve done before, I will break the fighters down with less detail to spend more time breaking the numbers down below.

Mitchell is an excellent wrestler and grappler who effectively uses the threat of takedowns to land basic but impactful strikes on the feet. He averages 3.2 takedown attempts per fight and lands them at a 44% success rate. What the numbers don’t show is that Mitchell, even when a takedown is stuffed, still puts himself in an advantageous position against the cage. Whether on the mat or on the cage, Mitchell’s best attribute is his ability to control opponents while looking for creative submissions or to advance position. Despite training at a relatively unknown gym and using his farm work as strength and cardio training, there is no denying that Mitchell is one of the more effective and relentless grapplers in the division. On the feet, Mitchell used to rely on his natural size and strength to bully opponents backwards with basic striking. He would struggle against speed and technique early in his career. However, as seen in his fight against Edson Barboza, Mitchell’s striking has grown significantly, now at a level where, even at a speed disadvantage, he can land with pop and power.

Ige is one of the most exciting fighters in the featherweight division because of his willingness to stand toe-to-toe with any opponent and throw down with little regard for his own defense or safety. Ige is able to take this approach in one of the best divisions in MMA because his striking is crisp, his hands, especially in the pocket are fast, he still carries real power, and he has one of the best chins. With his jab and cracking leg kicks, Ige is well-schooled at getting into range where his shorter stature transitions from a disadvantage to an advantage. In the pocket, Ige’s hand speed, height, and technical prowess allow him to rip the body and land on the chin with reliable consistency. He’s also a sneaky wrestler who is capable of shooting a takedown, especially late in close rounds, to sway the judges to his side. However, against fighters with a high level speciality, especially higher level wrestlers, Ige has historically struggled to keep the fight standing.

Fight Prediction

Closing line value (CLV) is a metric many handicappers use to indicate a quality bet. The basic premise is that if you bet a fighter at a certain number (ex -110) and he or she closes at a bigger number (ex -150), you not only got value on your bet; but, historically, that fighter tends to win. CLV can indicate a strong bet but only if you get the smaller number.

Unfortunately, anyone betting on Mitchell this week is getting the worst of the number. At pick’em, I thought he was an extreme value. At north of -200, his number is arguably too high. However, given Mitchell’s excellent grappling and Ige’s takedown defense issues (56%), the significant line movement is understandable. If Mitchell does what he always does, he should be able to ragdoll Ige. However, if he stays on the feet, even though Mitchell has looked more comfortable exchanging, Ige will be the smoother and more impactful striker.

I, typically, don’t like betting on a fighter at the worst of his or her number and I don’t like backing fighters north of -200 when their opponent has a clear path to victory.

However, I do like Mitchell here. His edge in wrestling and grappling is significant. Also, because both fighters are incredibly tough and difficult to finish, I think a decision is the most likely outcome.

So, even though I don’t like Mitchell’s value at -200, I do like his prop odds to win by decision at -115. I’ll gladly back the fighter who ballooned from a -130 to a -205 to win via decision when the odds for the fight to go the distance are at -200.

Best Bet: Mitchell to Win by Decision (-115)

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