Timur “Lucky” Valiev, 32, has an impressive 18-2 record as an MMA professional. In the UFC, the bantamweight is 2-0 with 2 decision wins. His opponent, Jack “Tank” Shore is five years younger and undefeated as a pro with a 15-0 record. Shore is 4-0 in the UFC with two submissions and two decision wins.
Valiev is a short and narrowing favorite over Shore.
- Valiev: -145
- Shore: +115
Valiev is a unique combination of talent and skill. His natural athleticism and cardio allow him to implement a fast and varied striking game. He pushes an aggressively high pace, averaging 5.35 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.8. More impressive, though, are the types of strikes. Valiev will regularly throw combinations that include spinning attacks, switch kicks, and other big energy movements. Yet, his cardio has held for 3 rounds without sacrificing his volume or variety. What makes Valiev more developed than others in the division is he isn’t just a talented striker; but, also, a skilled wrestler and grappler. He averages 1.6 takedowns per fight, is strong and explosive when scrambling, and, if taken down, is skilled enough to survive off his back. Valiev’s only gap, thus far, is he can sometimes rely more on his talent than his skill and be baited into trading blow for blow rather than finding the most efficient path to victory. Ultimately, though, Valiev is an exciting fighter who has a complete and entertaining game.
Shore is an impressive prospect who also combines his natural talents with high-level skills. On the feet, Shore has crisp boxing with a +2.5 striking differential. He will often pressure forward, throw in a tight combination, and either look for the takedown or exit the pocket. “Tank” does not have top-tier power or an overly varied arsenal of striking weapons, but, he strikes intelligently and with volume. His specialty, and the reason for his undefeated record, is his wrestling and grappling. Keeping with the pressure strategy, Shore averages 4.4 takedowns per fight and has never been taken down himself. Once he gets the takedown, Shore quickly and skillfully looks to transition to the back. From here, he’ll create a body lock, flatten his opponent out or backpack them, and then look for the rear-naked choke. Shore is an impressive wrestle boxer who knows what he does well, has the cardio to continue his pressure attack, and has the “danger-ability” needed to finish fights.
Last week, when Shore opened at a +150, I bet it immediately. Valiev and Shore have a similar style and skillset, so the wide odds were incorrect. Since the opening, the line has narrowed and corrected. Valiev will have the edge in wow-factor strikes but Shore’s technical boxing should negate a flash knockout. Then, in the grappling exchanges, I trust Shore to be the one who ends on top, even though both are talented wrestlers. In what will likely be a close fight, I like the fighter with better pressure and who is more dangerous on the mat.
Prediction: Shore to win
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.