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UFC on FOX 31 (Lee vs Iaquinta): Odds and Predictions

Kevin Lee talks a big game and usually backs it up in the octagon. Photo by MMA Fighting (YouTube)
  • Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta headline UFC on FOX 31 this Saturday, December 15th
  • The two first met when they were both newcomers to the UFC, with Iaquinta winning by decision
  • Lee is now the favorite to win the rematch

The UFC heads to Milwaukee, Wisconsin this Saturday, December 15th for the penultimate event of 2018. The marquee attraction of the night is a rematch between Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta, two big names in the lightweight division.

Lee and Iaquinta first fought in 2014, with Lee making his promotional debut and Iaquinta just three fights deep into his UFC career. Both have come a long way since their first encounter and they meet again as two fighters in the lightweight top 10.

Kevin Lee vs Al Iaquinta 2 Odds

UFC on Fox: Lee vs. Iaquinta 2 Winner Odds at Bovada
Kevin Lee -305
Al Iaquinta +235

When Kevin Lee (17-3) and Al Iaquinta (13-4-1) first fought, they were both unknown names in the UFC lightweight division. Fighting on the preliminary card, a 21-year-old Kevin Lee made his promotional debut against a 26-year-old Al Iaquinta. Iaquinta had failed to make an impact in his first three UFC fights, losing his debut against Michael Chiesa and then earning decision wins against two other newcomers.

Iaquinta clearly won the first round, dropping Lee early with a simple jab and then dropping him again with a looping right hand. Minutes later, he came inches from nailing Lee with a heel lock.

The momentum completely shifted in the second round. Lee took Iaquinta’s back early into the round and almost locked in a rear naked choke. The fight stayed on the ground for the remainder of the round, with Lee maintaining the dominant position throughout.

The third round started with both fighters having won a round apiece. The final round was uneventful compared to the previous two, and a late flurry by Iaquinta was probably what won him the round and ultimately the fight.

Tale of the Tape

Lee
VS
Iaquinta

17-3 PRO RECORD 13-4-1
10-3 UFC RECORD 9-3
5 ft 9 in HEIGHT 5 ft 10 in
77 in REACH 70 in
26 AGE 31
4th UFC RANKING 8th

Recent Record

Both fighters have been on an upward trajectory since their first fight.

Lee went on to win nine of his next ten fights and earned himself a shot at the interim title against Tony Ferguson. He started strong but faded in the third round and was ultimately submitted via a triangle choke. After the event, it was revealed that Lee had been battling a serious staph infection, which may have explained his fading as the fight wore on. He followed up on the loss with a crushing win against Edson Barboza.

Iaquinta lost his next fight after facing Lee but then amassed a five-fight win streak. The impressive run, coupled with some very fortunate circumstances, led Dana White to grant him a fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the vacated lightweight title. Khabib easily won the fight, but Iaquinta demonstrated some impressive boxing and was able to survive Khabib’s ground game.

Both fighters are now ranked within the top ten of the lightweight division. Lee is currently ranked 4th and Iaquinta sits in 8th.

Both fighters are now ranked within the top ten of the lightweight division. Lee is currently ranked 4th and Iaquinta sits in 8th. Lee may be one of the few lightweights capable of giving Khabib a run for the belt, and a win this Saturday could set him up for a title shot in the near future. Iaquinta’s career hit a roadblock when contractual disputes with the UFC forced him to take a two-year break from fighting. Now he’s back and doesn’t have any time to waste.

Stylistic Match-up

Both fighters have a wrestling base but their fighting styles are quite different. Lee likes to out-muscle his opponents and lay down a vicious ground-and-pound. He’s most dangerous when he has top control and seamlessly mixes his boxing with his wrestling. Iaquinta is at his best when standing and boxing.

Both fighters have grown since the first fight, but it’s Lee who has made the more significant changes to his game. He’s now a lot more comfortable forcing the pressure, and his larger frame allows him to use his strength to control his opponents.

Pick: Al Iaquinta (+235)

Lee entered the first fight as the underdog (+165), while Iaquinta was the clear favorite (-205). Now the odds have flipped. Kevin Lee (-305) is the heavy favorite to win the rematch and Iaquinta (+235) is a significant underdog.

Lee entered the first fight as the underdog, while Iaquinta was the clear favorite. Now the odds have flipped

While I agree that Lee deserves to be the favorite, the current line is far too wide. This fight is far closer to being a toss-up and Lee is likely seeing a lot more action just because he’s the more recognizable fighter. There’s good value in picking Iaquinta to beat Lee a second time.

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