Jeremiah Wells, who still seems like a prospect despite being 37, is looking to get back in the win column following a submission loss his last time out. The Renzo Gracie product is 4-1 in the UFC, with all but one fight ending inside the distance.
Max “Pain” Griffin, one year older than Wells, lost a unanimous decision to a surging prospect last time out. Overall, Griffin is 7-8 in the UFC, with 11 of his 15 fights going the distance.
Wells opened as the favorite, and while he’s maintained that status, the line is narrowing.
Wells joined the UFC too late in his career to make a real run into the rankings, but he does have a fan-friendly and successful style that, if he had the years to use, could evolve into a ranked-level skillset.
He is an explosive athlete, a strong wrestler, and grappler, and he hits hard. But, in part because of his age, Wells struggles to push a reliable pace and keep up his cardio, and he tends to become hittable as the fight progresses. Round 1 tends to be his best round, with each subsequent round becoming harder and harder for Wells to win.
Also, more concerning is his chin and ability to eat a shot. Much of Wells’ striking offense relies on him being able to take a shot to land a shot. Because he’s explosive and powerful, a 1 for 1 approach has been successful- he tends to be the one to do more damage. But, given that he’s been rocked in back-to-back fights, that give-one-to-get-one approach is becoming more dangerous.
Griffin, meanwhile, is the inverse of Wells. Griffin tends to improve as the fight progresses. His success later in fights is largely due to his lack of speed but consistent cardio. Griffin is a slower and more plodding fighter who is often at a speed disadvantage on the feet. His speed disadvantage results in him getting hit early in fights and reactively clinch wrestling. But, often, he loses round 1.
Though, as the fight continues, Griffin can use his gritty and grinding style to wear down an opponent. Then, midway through round 2 and into round 3, Griffin’s often tired opponent tends to slow and his speed disadvantage is negated. Once Griffin no longer struggles to keep pace, he is able to fight his fight.
His fight is often a long jab, a big right hand, and Griffin falling into the clinch. Once in the clinch, Griffin forces his opponents to carry his weight (only making them more tired) while he lands sneaky elbows and knees that can deal real damage.
Ultimately, Griffin tends to fight close fights because he needs to close the speed gap. This means he often loses round 1, wins round 3, and the fight comes down to a close round 2. It’s not surprising that Griffin has been involved in 5 split decisions over his 15-fight UFC career.
This fight comes down to value. Neither man is likely to make any significant improvements at this point in their career and neither man is all that good. But both Wells and Griffin are solidified UFC-caliber fighters. Wells is explosive and powerful but struggles on his back foot and with cardio. Meanwhile, Griffin is slow and hittable but has consistent pressure, cardio, and clinch wrestling.
Ultimately, I feel this fight is split right down the middle. Wells should win early and could find the finish. Griffin should win late and could also find the finish. Therefore, I handicapped this fight as a pick’em.
But, Vegas has the odds slightly in Wells’ favor. The value is on Griffin in a 50/50 fight, and I’ll take him for a small play. If you’re in a legal gambling state, I also like looking Griffin’s way after round 1 as a live play. Wells’ best round will likely be round 1 and Griffin tends to come on better late. So, if you can, look at a Griffin live play if he loses round 1.
Best Bet: Griffin to win (+145 at BetUS)