Jake Hadley

Jake “White Kong” Hadley, 26, is a highly touted prospect in the flyweight division. He is on a two-fight win streak following a loss in his debut. Both of his UFC wins have come inside the distance, and his sole loss was via decision.

Cody Durden, 32, drew in his debut and then went 1-2 in his next three fights. Since then, Durden is on a three-fight winning streak with one win inside the distance.

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Betting Odds

Hadley opened around a -200, dropped down to near -150, and shot right back up to his opening line.

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Fight Breakdown

Hadley is an exceptional prospect with a, possibly, large gap in his game. On the feet, Hadley is fast, powerful, and technically sound. He’s a southpaw kickboxer, capable of switching stances when the opportunity presents itself, who lands regular volume with a high degree of accuracy and danger.

While “White Kong” can land nearly every strike in his arsenal with an impressive level of skill, his laser of a 1-2 is arguably the most impressive and effective. He also has a sneaky submission game, namely with his chokes. While Hadley prefers a fight on the feet, where he often has the edge in speed, power, and crispy striking, he is capable of scrambling and finding openings for submissions on the mat.

Just like his striking, Hadley’s submission game is smooth and technically sound. The possibly large gap in his game, and the question this fight will likely answer, is Hadley’s takedown defense and ability to get up if taken down. In his debut, against one of the bigger flyweights on the roster, Hadley was taken down twice and controlled for over 9 of the 15 minutes. More concerningly was Hadley’s poor decision to continue going for submissions from poor positions. That either indicates poor decision making or an inability to get up once taken down.

Durden is the inverse of Hadley. He is a strong wrestler who regularly looks for takedowns but rarely finds the finish when on the mat. Instead, he looks to land takedowns, ride out top control, and mat return if an opponent gets back up. On the feet, Durden is a competent striker, but nothing about his striking game is smooth.

Also a southpaw, he can land a jab and follow it with a nice body kick or cross. But, his striking often looks rigid and off-balance. His wrestling is what got him this fight and is what propelled him to his 3 fight win streak. He averages over 5 takedown attempts per fight but only lands them at a 48% clip. In fights where Durden can get takedowns, he can mat return and rack up top control time for 15 minutes en route to a dirty and cardio-heavy win.

But, in fights where opponents can stuff takedowns or get up once Durden gets them down, he struggles to find effective moments. His final issue, and possibly a key in this fight, is Durden’s tendency to shoot a sloppy takedown and expose his neck. He’s been submitted 3 times in his career, all of which have come via a choke. Sometimes Durden can get so fixated on getting a takedown that he becomes too offensive and neglectful of defending submissions.

Prediction and Pick

Hadley is leaps and bounds better on the feet than Durden. But Durden is a UFC veteran who has the toughness and cardio to hang around on the feet, even if he’s getting beaten up. Meanwhile, on paper, Durden has the wrestling chops to expose Hadley’s takedown defense weakness. However, when Hadley was out-wrestled in his debut, he was out-wrestled by an abnormally tall, long, and strong flyweight.

While Durden is taller than Hadley, he does not have the same size advantage as Nascimento, the man who out-wrestled Hadley in his debut. Further, Hadley is an athletic scambler and submission artist. Again, Nascimento was able to match and surpass, in some instances, that athleticism.

While Durden is a successful and determined wrestler, he does not land takedowns or scramble with a high level of athleticism. I expect Durden to find a little wrestling success early; but, as the fight continues and explosive and athletic ability become more impactful, I expect Hadley to stuff and scramble more successfully.

As that happens, and Durden is unable to land takedowns with consistency, I expect Hadley to start to light him up on the feet. Plus, Hadley’s submission game, especially his guillotine, is a nice card to have in his back pocket. Durden is a tough fighter with reliable cardio, so I don’t want to place a bet on a finish. Instead, I’m comfortable laying the price with Hadley just to win. Also, if you can live bet in your state, I advise taking Hadley live if he fights a close round 1.

Best Bet: Hadley to win (-200 at BetUS)

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