The Ultimate Fighter 2021 is in full swing, showcasing bantamweights and middleweights; so, it is appropriate that middleweight and TUF 11 alum Brad Tavares is fighting this Saturday. He’ll be squaring off against a fellow ranked fighter in Omari Akhmedov.
Both men are 33-years-old, ranked inside the top #15, and coming off wins that followed losses. Whoever can enforce their will Saturday night will likely walk away with a win and a chance at a top #10 fighter, bringing them one step closer to a final title run.
Tavares vs. Akhmedov betting odds
Tavares is currently the betting favorite ahead of Akhmedov. Don’t be surprised though if this line narrows before the two middleweights square off at UFC 264.
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Tavares vs. Akhmedov breakdown
As outlined above, it appears Tavares has a ceiling in this division and might be a gatekeeper rather than a contender. He is a very stout defensive fighter with a 56% striking defense and a 79% takedown defense. Those numbers indicate that he’s hard to hit cleanly and hard to get to the mat. In this matchup specifically, Tavares’ takedown defense will be put to the test as he faces a strong wrestler. If he can keep the fight standing, Tavares should be able to box his way to a victory. If not, the Hawaii fighter’s hopes of a title run might be over.
Akhmedov also has a neutralizing style; but, rather than his defense neutralizing his opponent (the way Tavares does), Akhmedov is able to offset his opponents’ preferred approach through offense. A strong grappler and wrestler, Akhmedov implements a game plan that is growing in popularity- Dagestan wrestling. For those unaware, Dagestan is in Russia and seems to churn out UFC talent like a factory. Their style is unmistakable- take the opponent down, drag him into deep waters with a suffocating style of wrestling, and hunt the finish. This style requires elite cardio and a special level of wrestling. Akhmedov has both. In his last fight, which only lasted 7:30, Akhmedov amassed 4:30 of control time before securing a triangle choke. The Dagestan product will look to implement a similar strategy Saturday night.
Tavares vs. Akhmedov prediction
Tavares will likely be able to sprawl his way to a few early takedown defenses; he might even be able to keep the fight standing for the entire first round. But, without the KO power needed to put Akhmedov away early, eventually, Tavares will succumb to the fate of so many others who have faced a Dagestan product and be taken down.
Once down, I don’t foresee a situation where Tavares will be able to get back up; but, I do think his experience and wrestling will prevent him from being finished. In the end, Akhmedov will grapple and grind his way to a decision victory and possibly a top #10 fighter after a win Saturday night.
Prediction: Omari Akhmedov to win via decision
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How to watch Omari Akhmedov vs. Brad Tavares
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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.