Ottman Azaitar battles with Khama Worthy (Zuffa LLC)

Favored to end under 1.5 rounds, power puncher Ottman “Bulldozer” Azaitar takes on the young prospect Francisco Prado at UFC Vegas 77 this weekend.

Azaitar, 33, is 2-1 in the UFC, with all three fights ending in the first round and all by knockout. In fact, 11 of his 14 professional fights have ended in the first 5 minutes.

Prado, a quick finisher himself, is only 21 years old and lost an uncharacteristic decision in his debut. Eight of Prado’s twelve professional fights have also ended in the first round.

Betting Odds

Azaitar is the more established UFC fighter, but Prado is the slight betting favorite in this one.

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Fight Breakdown

Azaitar is disappointing inactive in the UFC. Despite coming in with some fanfare and winning his debut with another first-round knockout, Azaitar has only fought three times since 2019. He’s a technical and quick switch-stance striker who carries thudding power. He tends to be patient in the cage, which seems counterintuitive given his quick finishes. But, rather than bulldoze forward like his nickname suggests, Azaitar takes a more methodically aggressive approach.

He tends to feint his way into range to try and force his opponent to react, creating an opening for Azaitar to land his heavy combinations. Then, like any technical fighter does, Azaitar throws a combination to the open area rather than a single powershot to an area his opponent is blocking. While a basic technique, Azaitar’s feint then combination strategy shows patience, excellent vision, and an ability to land a variety of strikes with devastating power.

He averages solid volume, most of which comes from those combinations, and tends to land with a high level of accuracy as well. Once again showcasing his vision in the pocket. As he’s gotten older while sitting out of the UFC, Azaitar’s reactions defensively have slowed. In his earlier fights, even his first two in the UFC, Azaitar was adept at getting in the pocket to land his combination and then cutting an angle to exit safely before his opponent could counter.

However, in his last fight against Frevola, Azaitar found himself caught in the pocket with another power puncher and lost the blow for blow brawl. Given his age, 33, inactivity, and recent knockout loss, questions circle about his ability to implement his game plan at the highest level. No questions exist though about his offensive striking ability and power, both of those have been on full display from his first to his most recent fight.

A more well-rounded fighter but one who absolutely carries heavy power as well, Prado is an incredibly young prospect who can end the fight anywhere it goes. Prado struggled in his debut against a willing and experienced striker who put Prado on his back foot.

Used to being the hammer, Prado struggled to be the nail and struggled to get his game going while moving backward. His opponent, Mullarkey, didn’t unload an exceptional amount of volume, but he did take charge of the space and pace of the fight early. This put Prado in an abnormal position of counter striking and defensively wrestling, being the nail, rather than ramping up his own offense as he’s used to doing.

His youth and inexperience showed but so did his skillset and toughness. There’s no question he lost the fight, but there were still positives to take away from the debut. Prado clearly is a well-schooled striker who can land effective and heavy-handed combinations when he’s moving forward. Moreover, Prado’s wrestling game, while not offensively effective, proved to be athletic and fundamental; he was able to mostly keep the fight standing against a battled tested and solid grappler.

Prior to his debut, Prado was adept at mixing in combination striking and offensive wrestling with a solid submission game to hunt down and find early finishes. Maybe being the nail in his debut gave the young prospect areas for growth; or, maybe a blueprint was created to beat him.

Prediction and Best Bet

This fight is appropriately lined at near pick’em. Prado has the skillset and finishing ability to find Azaitar’s chin early, especially given Azaitar seems to be slowing down. Additionally, Azaitar is relatively unproven outside of round 1; and, while most of Prado’s fights end in the first 5 minutes, he proved last fight that he can go a hard 15.

Still, if Prado truly cannot win a fight as the nail then Azaitar’s all-hammer approach to fighting should be the perfect style to starch Prado. My best bet is u1.5 rounds (-160) in this fight. If Azaitar is on the wrong side of the hill or if he cannot maintain his gas tank after the first few minutes, it should be Prado’s fight to finish.

And, if Prado can’t handle being the nail, Azaitar should add another quick knockout to his resume. As a straight play goes, I prefer to back the younger fighter who is more likely improving fight after fight compared to the inactive veteran who might be on the decline.

Best Bets: Under 1.5 rounds (-160) and Prado to win (-115)

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