Drew Dober, who is in need of a nickname, is 33 years old with a 24-11 overall record. In the UFC, Dober has a lengthy 10-6 record, with only 6 of those 16 fights going to the judges’ scorecards.
Rafael “The Turn” Alves, 31, is 20-10 overall and is 1-1 in the UFC following a Dana White’s Contender Series submission win in 2020. His sole UFC win was a first-round submission, and his loss was a decision.
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Dober opened as a -250 favorite in most books but has been bet down to a -200 favorite midweek.
Considering his fight style now, it’s interesting to note that early in Dober’s career, he was criticized for his lack of aggression and power. More recently, the scouting report on Dober has been a complete 180° shift. Now, he tends to bulldoze forward with aggressive but tactical flurries intended to do one thing- turn out his opponent’s lights. Dober trains out of Team Elevation in Colorado and has both of the marquee attributes of that gym, a solid jab, and great cardio. While many of Dober’s fights end inside the distance, he has the cardio to continue a high octane pace for three rounds. His fight style, offensively, is to start with a strategic jab, feel out the range for a few seconds, and back his opponent toward the cage. Once he gets his opponent cornered, Dober will burst forward with a heavy and dangerous combination intended to decapitate his foe. If his opponent is still standing, Dober sometimes retreats back to rinse and repeat the same approach, or, sometimes, he’ll lace up his wrestling shoes and shoot a takedown.
Dober has an accredited wrestling background and the natural strength to implement it with success in the octagon. In a case where his opponent returns fire, Dober relies on his anvil of a chin to help him withstand the attacks and return his own fire. If you didn’t see his most recent fight against McKinney, go back and watch it, Dober’s power, wrestling, and unbelievable chin are on full display. The times Dober has lost in his career tend to be against the same archetype of opponents. Dober struggles against technical strikers with the chin to withstand his power and the footwork to land more volume from range. Dober also struggles against higher-level wrestlers who can put him on the mat and hunt submissions. Outside of those two types of fighters, Dober’s power and cardio have propelled him to a successful career.
Alves is a challenging fighter to handicap. At his best, “The Turn” is big, fast, strong, athletic, and devastatingly powerful with explosive striking. He is more than willing to eat a combination to land his own, yet, he’s been knocked out three times and submitted another six. This brings me to the bad side of Alves, he has shown to be undisciplined, wild, and overly aggressive to the point of losing striking exchanges.
Similarly to Dober, Alves is bricked up, has stones for fists, and fights with an athletic burst style. Rather than use wrestling to find takedowns, Alves typically goes with the club and sub approach where he swings big, drops his opponent, and goes to the mat for the finish. Once down, Alves is a successful submission artist capable of ending the fight via tap. However, for as impressive as Alves is offensively, he is equally concerning defensively. Alves has shown to be incredibly hittable, rarely moving off the center line and rarely covering up when going blow for blow. Further, despite a solid top submission game, Alves has struggled to defend takedowns and submissions from his back. When he’s offensive, Alves can end the fight quickly, but when he’s forced on his back foot, Alves struggles.
This fight reminds me a lot of Dober vs. McKinney. Both McKinney and Alves are athletic powerhouse strikers with sneaky submission games and tend to fight fast and aggressively from the opening bell. Dober was nearly finished against McKinney, but his chin held up, he was able to withstand the early storm and find the finish himself.
I see this fight going a similar way. Alves will likely rush forward and may even clip Dober, but until I see Dober knocked out in the UFC, I’m not picking anyone to crack that chin. Give me Dober to rally back again from an early storm; and, again, find his own finish.
Pick: Dober to win inside the distance (-200 odds to win at MyBookie)
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.