The next UFC event — UFC on Fox 27 — goes down this Saturday (Jan. 27th) and features a main-event tilt between Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Derek Brunson. This is the second time these two middleweights will face off, with Souza winning via knockout in their first go around in 2012. However, time is a funny thing, and six years later, it’s Brunson riding the wave of momentum while Souza regroups after a devastating loss that cost him a shot at the UFC middleweight title.
While this isn’t the tastiest main course the UFC has ever served, it’s a captivating contrast in styles, and every MMA event, no matter the hype, creates potential betting opportunities. Where’s the smart money going for Souza vs Brunson 2?
Stay tuned for a more comprehensive look at the card in Best Bets for UFC on Fox 27 this Thursday.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (-160) vs. Derek Brunson (+135)This is your classic battle of styles. Ronaldo Souza (24-5, 17 submissions) is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners to ever step foot into a UFC Octagon while Derek Brunson (18-5, 10 KOs) loves to put people to sleep with his powerful fists.
The first time these two combatants met was back in 2012 under the old Strikeforce banner, and it was actually Souza who managed to put Brunson to sleep with a quick right hook, just one of three career knockouts for the Brazilian.
Six years later, Brunson, a former Division II All-American wrestler (and cheerleader!), has a chance for revenge.
His opponent is one of the most feared grapplers on the planet and has ended 58-percent of his fights via submission. As he showed in the first matchup, he’s not too shabby at throwing leather either. He lands a decent 2.28 significant strikes per minute and has a striking accuracy of 44.1-percent.
Souza suffered a devastating loss to Robert Whittaker via head kick in his last fight (April 2017), but he’s also won 10 of his last 12 and has never lost back-to-back fights in his career. A win on Saturday would put Souza’s name back into middleweight title picture, and time is of the essence for the 38-year-old.
At 34, Derek Brunson’s own career clock is getting late. He rebounded from back-to-back losses to Whittaker and Anderson Silva with KO wins over Dan Kelly (June 2017) and Lyoto Machida (October 2017), rising up the middleweight rankings in the process. Knocking guys out isn’t anything new for the hard-hitting middleweight, who averages 3.2 significant strikes per minute with a striking accuracy of 32.1-percent. He has won 61-percent of his fights via KO and has produced knockouts in each of his last six victories. Interestingly, he has never been submitted in his professional career.
The contrasting styles make this a tremendously interesting fight for MMA purists. Normally, it’s smart to lean towards the high-level grappler over the power puncher, but Souza’s age coupled with his last performance suggest a potential Brunson upset. Look for the American to utilize his speed, power, and five-inch reach advantage (77″ vs 72″) to try to end things early, while using his elite wrestling to keep the fight standing.
Right now, Brunson is listed at +135. It’s a good value bet worth taking now.