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UFC on ESPN 36: Louis Smolka vs. Davey Grant prediction, odds, preview

UFC on ESPN 36: Louis Smolka vs. Davey Grant prediction, odds, preview

UFC on ESPN 36: Louis Smolka vs. Davey Grant prediction, odds, preview 3

Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka is a 30-year-old bantamweight with a 3-3 record in the UFC. Impressively, all six of his UFC fights have been stoppages. In fact, Smolka has not seen the judges’ scorecards, in or out of the UFC, in nearly 5 years. Davey “Dangerous” Grant, too, has made a career on all-action fights. Of his 13 wins, 11 have come by finish. And, of his six losses, four have also been stopped early.

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Smolka and Grant will go head-to-head at UFC on ESPN 36 this Saturday night.

Betting Odds

Grant is one of the biggest favorites on the card at odds of -320 right now on BetUS.

  • Grant: -320
  • Smolka: +240

A winning $100 wager on Grant would return $131.30 for bettors after UFC on ESPN 36. Likewise, a successful $100 wager on Smolka would see $340 return to the wallet.

Breakdown

Smolka has made his career in the 135 division on the back of often being the taller, longer, and more offensive fighter. He uses his length well to land straight strikes up the middle at a consistent pace. His striking accuracy is below 50% but his strikes tend to land with pop. His typical approach is more of a boxing style, plodding forward and sitting on his punches. He mixes shots well to the head and body of his opponent, but can get countered when he overreaches for a shot. In the grappling exchanges, Smolka is slick offensively. He, again, uses his natural size and length well to wrap himself up with his opponent and find the neck. The reason for Smolka’s salty record, despite his well-rounded and finish-heavy offensive game, is his poor defense. On the feet, Smolka tends to be a slow-moving and stationary target. He struggles against pressure boxers and counter strikers. While he’s only been knocked out once, Smolka has been tagged and hurt in several fights. While grappling, Smolka also struggles against pressure. He only stuffs 37% of takedown attempts, can be controlled once down, and can be finished on the mat. His offensive submission game is solid but his defensive submission game is problematic. It’s no surprise that an all-offense fighter like Smolka rarely sees the judges, win or lose.

Grant entered the UFC primarily as a wrestler and grappler. His typical fight style used to be to walk through a flurry of strikes, grind a takedown from the clinch, and look to snag a neck. 8 of his wins have come by submission, all of which have been chokes. Recently, though, Grant has showcased a new wrinkle to his game- extreme striking. I call it extreme striking because it is not overly technical but it is wild, constant, and powerful. Rather than walk through flurries to get the clinch, Grant has started to rush his opponent from the opening bell and unload heavy shot after heavy shot. His striking might look a little like a windmill, but the volume is overwhelming and the power is real. Despite his two knockout finishes using this style, it has also caused him to lose back to back decisions when facing high-end strikers who can counter the wild pressure. The bottom line, Grant is a finisher, on the feet and on the mat; but, when he faces someone with defensive movement, counter striking, or takedown defense, he struggles to find a path to victory.

Prediction

Grant is as flawed as he is fun to watch. As his two recent fights have shown, “Dangerous” has a ceiling. The good news for him is that Smolka is a significant step down in competition and sits nowhere near that ceiling. Grant should overwhelm Smolka on the feet, take advantage of a stationary target, and crack him early. Whether he finds the knockout or goes to the mat for a submission, so long as Grant avoids a mistake like giving up his arm on the ground, he should find the finish early.

Prediction: Grant via first-round finish

Grant is listed at -320 odds on BetUS. If he manages to beat Smolka at UFC on ESPN 36, a wager of $100 would return $131.30.

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