Parker Porter

Everyone’s favorite unranked heavyweight, Parker Porter, 38, reenters the octagon following back-to-back first-round finish losses. Porter is 3-3 in the UFC with 3 decision wins and 3 first-round finish losses.

His opponent, Braxton “The Beautiful Monster” Smith is 5 years younger than Porter and is making his UFC debut. Smith is 5-1 as a pro with all 6 fights ending in the first round. He dropped his professional debut to UFC vet Chase Sherman via first-round knockout and has since rebounded with five straight knockouts of his own. Not only has Smith never entered the 2nd round of a fight, but he’s also never entered the second half of round 1.

Porter and Smith will go head-to-head this weekend at UFC 288. Watch every fight live on ESPN+ PPV this Saturday night (order now).

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Betting Odds

Porter is currently a -170 favorite over Smith who is sitting at +140 on the comeback.

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Fight Breakdown

Porter is an athletically and vertically limited heavyweight without real heavyweight power or a reliable heavyweight chin. He struggles, especially early in fights, with fighters who have a power, size, or speed advantage. Porter tends to start slowly in fights and can be clipped cleanly within the first 5 minutes while he tries to work into the pocket.

Porter is most vulnerable at range because he’s only 6’0 tall with a 75″ reach and tends to be a step slow with his defense and reactions. If he can survive the first round, Porter is then in a better position to implement his game plan. Porter’s game plan is to use his pressure, clinch game, and dirty boxing to wear on opponents for 15 minutes, negating their power advantage and exposing the poor gas tanks of many low-level heavyweights.

The biggest obstacle Porter faces is safely getting the fight to the clinch. He has yet to reliably engage the clinch without eating heavy shots for his efforts. In the fights that Porter has won, he’s still eaten those shots but his opponents didn’t have the power to put him out. In the fights that he’s lost, Porter got hit by the same shots but these opponents ended his night early.

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Smith, much like Porter, is undersized for the heavyweight division, listed as only 5’10. However, unlike his dance partner for Saturday night, Smith does not lack speed or explosiveness. He is an athletic and powerful kickboxer with very little technique but the ability to end a fight quickly. He is naturally talented, has fun striking, and has big power. But, he has little experience, even less coaching (Smith trained himself for his first six fights), and minimal technique.

Smith’s typical approach in the octagon is to get into a brawl and lean on his edge in speed, power, and explosive striking. But, in fights where opponents can counter the high-energy movements of Smith or wait for him to inevitably overextend, Smith is there to be hit cleanly himself. Smith also hasn’t yet seen the three-minute mark of a fight, much less a second or third round; but, given his lack of experience and striking style, it serves to reason that his gas tank is limited.

Prediction and Betting Guide

Porter is likely the better mixed martial artist in this matchup, he has more paths to victory through dirty boxing, clinch fighting, and cardio. However, I like Smith in this matchup.

As seen in his three losses, Porter’s tendency to start slowly as he looks to survive early to thrive later is a dangerous game plan against heavy hitters. And, Smith can crack. I expect Smith to continue his early fight aggression and hunt the finish immediately; meanwhile, Porter should be there to be hit while he gets his footing. In that equation, give me the more powerful and aggressive fighter.

Best Bet: Smith by first-round KO/TKO (+225)

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