Abu “Captain Morocco” Azaitar, 37, has been in the UFC since 2018 but has only fought twice. His record, 1-1, includes one decision win and one knockout loss.
Despite being nearly a decade younger and only joining the UFC this year, Sedriques “The Reaper” Dumas holds the same 1-1 record as his opponent. Dumas was finished in his debut but rebounded with a decision win during his next fight.
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Dumas’ line has been steamed significantly throughout the week, growing from -166 to -238.
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Azaitar is a unique fighter both in and outside of the cage. Despite nearing an age that typically results in retirement, Azaitar has been incredibly inactive. Likewise, in the cage, despite often having the edge in power and aggression, Azaitar has found more success, recently, as a passive counterstriker and clinch fighter. I suspect both oddities are his responses to events out of his control.
In the cage, specifically, Azaitar has historically preferred to fight like a bulldozer, blitzing forward quickly for emphatic but sloppy finishes. However, more recently, his opponents have been defensively sound and skilled enough to avoid his basic barrage striking and force Azaitar into deeper waters. What has been unexpected, though, is Azaitar’s success in these fights. He used to throw haymakers and windmill punches until someone drops.
However, since being forced to fight later in fights, he’s relied more on clinching against the cage. He still looks to pressure and overwhelm opponents in the first round; but, given his linear and basic striking, is often countered and clipped. Then, he responsively clinches, gathers his faculties, and relies on his natural strength advantage to hold opponents against the cage while landing plentiful but minimally damaging strikes.
Dumas is a naturally gifted fighter but is still green compared to many of his UFC counterparts. On the feet, Dumas is a long, varied, and smooth striker who naturally carries power and can land damaging blows without loading up on his shots. He uses his length well to keep opponents at bay while also landing at the end of his punches, where the most impact can happen.
He tends to get into trouble on the feet when he starts pressing forward too quickly or faces an opponent willing to bring the fight to him. When Dumas is baited, or even initiates, a brawl style fight, his length and easy power advantages quickly dissolve into disadvantages in the clinch, pocket boxing, and defensive wrestling. Basically, if an opponent can close distance quickly, Dumas can get bullied against the cage, in the pocket, or on the mat.
He does have a sneaky submission game that he can turn to when defending positions; but, he struggles to get back to his feet when an opponent is on top. More often, Dumas’ submissions come into play when he is the one on top and can search for the back to secure a choke.
Combined, these two fighters have had four UFC fights and all four have gone over 1.5 rounds. However, I like playing u1.5 rounds here. I expect Azaitar to, as he typically does, push a wild and aggressive pace early in round 1. That will force Dumas into the type of brawl that has plagued him in the past. So, assuming Dumas wants to keep distance, where his advantage is, I expect Dumas to aggressively counter as he attempts to push Azaitar back.
The combination of a sloppy power puncher and a determined range striker with power should result in someone getting clipped early. Then, if the fight does hit the mat, Dumas’ submission game presents a possible finishing opportunity as well. Both men carry power, both men are hittable, and both men’s preferred style clashes with the other.
The only concern I have is if Azaitar can get Dumas down in round 1. If he does, Dumas will likely try to throw up defensive submissions while Azaitar racks up control time. Fortunately, Azaitar typically clinches in rounds 2 and 3 after aggressively hunting the knockout in round 1. Given u1.5 is a plus money and neither man is very reliable defensively, I’ll side with an early finish in this fight.
Best Bet: Under 1.5 rounds (+125 at BetUS)