The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. There are too many unknowns to recommend a wager on the main event between 45-year-old legend Anderson Silva and Uriah Hall. The co-main between Bryce Mitchell (-152) and Andre Fili (+125) is a better betting bout.
Mitchell, the 15th-ranked featherweight, enters with a 13-0 record, 3-0 in the UFC. He is a grappling and submission fighter whose skills on the mat are pronounced but whose ability on his feet is still developing. For Mitchell to succeed, he must drag Fili to the floor, where he is most comfortable as a mixed martial artist. He’ll be overmatched in any form of striking competition.
With a win, Mitchell would attract attention to his gym as well as the Arkansas area as a contributor to the national MMA community. With a loss, I believe Mitchell’s path to top-10 consideration is hardly affected because of his talent, potential and fight acumen. He’s just early in his development at age 26.
Fili, 30, enters this fight thirsting for top-15 consideration. He holds a vast advantage in experience as well as 4 inches of arm reach to complement his more refined striking. Yet it is he who arrives unranked.
Fili is the more well-rounded fighter, has faced more competent opponents and trains at a gym steeped with athletes whose specialties are wrestling and grappling. Fili is taking a huge risk fighting this highly regarded prospect, but provided he keeps this fight on the feet, I believe he can frustrate the kid and expose him via striking.
A completely focused and prepared Fili may be in a very advantageous position.
The play: Fili, +125.
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