Dustin Jacoby

Dustin “The Henyak” Jacoby, 35, has been nearly perfect in the UFC following a Dana White’s Contender Series win in 2020. Since then, Jacoby has tallied up an impressive record of 6-1-1. He dropped his first fight last time out to the resurging Rountree via split decision. His wins are split evenly between 3 knockouts and 3 decisions.

Azamat “The Professional” Murzakanov, 36, joined the UFC via DWCS late in his career but has made the most of his stint thus far. He is 2-0 with back to back 3rd round finishes.

Jacoby and Murzakanov will fight at this Saturday night’s UFC on ESPN 44 card.

Betting Odds

Jacoby opened as a slightly larger favorite but has steadily dropped throughout the week as money has come in on Murzakanov.

  • Jacoby: -165
  • Murzakanov: +135

Fight Breakdown

Jacoby has really turned a corner in recent fights. While his UFC record was perfect before his split draw against Cutelaba, Jacoby showed significant improvement after that fight. His kickboxing, which has always been technical and varied, appeared to level up. He has more snap on his kicks, threw more combinations compared to single shots, and started to use his bouncy and fluid footwork to set traps rather than just as a defensive tool. To put it plainly, Jacoby’s game has seemed to “click.” Even in his split decision loss last time out, Jacoby’s offense looked polished and he landed effectively.

The biggest issue Jacoby has faced, especially at this weight class, is his lack of finishing power. He tends to be more surgical on the feet, land with volume, and hurt his opponents with tactful attacks. While that approach has been effective, as he gets closer to the rankings, it is a dangerous proposition. Light heavyweight has some truly powerful strikers who, if Jacoby allows to stick around for 15 minutes, can find the button with one shot and turn a loss into a finish. Moreover, as we saw in his last loss, damage reigns supreme in the eyes of the judges. Jacoby outlanded Rountree 120 to 85, yet lost a split decision because Rountree landed the more impactful blows. Jacoby’s kickboxing got him to this level but that same style might be what causes him to plateau against more powerful strikers.

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Murzakanov has a perfect record and back to back finishes. On paper Murzakanov seems like a killer in the cage, but, watching him fight, I’m not sold. Defensively, Murzakanov is slow and hittable. He tends to walk straight forward with a wide base and look for hooks that leave him exposed to straight shots up the middle. His striking is powerful but limited. He tends to throw a looping left hook and follow it with a straight right or an overhand right, rinse and repeat. His tendency to move forward through fire allows him to pin opponents against the cage where his hooks are more effective and he can look to land spinning or leaping attacks as well.

However, Murzakanov has questionable cardio and those high explosive attacks deplete his energy more significantly. “The Professional’s” boxing looked a bit better in his last fight, he threw more volume and landed at a higher rate. But he relied heavily on his edge in athleticism and the foundation of his striking- blitz hooks- was still the same. Murzakanov is powerful, persistent, and dangerous even with a questionable gas tank. But, given his striking style, he is constantly in danger himself against fighters with variety, countering ability, and technical straight shots.

Prediction and Betting Guide

The interesting angle in this fight is that neither man has that impressive of a resume. Jacoby has been able to run through lower-level competition to begin his career and Murzakanov was given back-to-back fighters whose limited athleticism played perfectly into his style. This fight should answer a lot of questions about both men, namely, how does Jacoby fare against a dangerous striker- he lost against the only one he’s faced- and how does Murzakanov fare against a fighter that can match his athleticism and doesn’t have a clear achilles heel? I went into this breakdown anticipating a confident play on Jacoby because of his clear edge in striking technique, footwork, cardio, and output. Plus, Murzakanov is riding back-to-back highlight knockouts that have likely impacted the line. However, Jacoby’s tendency to let his opponents stick around for 15 minutes worries me a bit as Murzakanov is dangerous. Still, I like Jacoby here. Outside of a 3rd flash finish in a row for Murzakanov, I don’t see him keeping pace with the more experienced and technical kickboxer. I would wait to make this bet, though, as money comes in on Murzakanov, Jacoby might close closer to -150.

Best Bet: Jacoby to win (-165)

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