UFC on ESPN 41: Dominic Cruz vs. Marlon Vera Odds, Picks & Predictions August 13: Betting on Knockouts is Always Fun

<p>AP Photos</p>

AP Photos

Saturday’s card establishes a strong contender for the bantamweight championship. OddsJam eyes value bets while main event fighters Dominic Cruz and Marlon Vera seek golden glory.

UFC on ESPN 41 Picks & Predictions

Dominic Cruz vs. Marlon Vera, Bruno SIlva vs. Geralt Meerschaert Pick: Vera Moneyline and Silva by Knockout Parlay| +136 at DraftKings

Bantamweight/Heavyweight Respectively | Main Card | 4 p.m. ET

Marlon Vera commands an appropriately strong -240 moneyline. Oddsmakers place Bruno SIlva getting the knockout/TKO at -150.

Individually, the former line is too heavy to radiate value and the latter line is a mediocre play. The two combine for strong chances of hitting that sweet plus money.

I envision these fights painting two completely different pictures. Both considerable favorites punctuate their masterpiece without splattering blood on the canvas.

Dominic Cruz perpetually perplexes opponents with his completely unique figure-eight footwork. Constant, unorthodox sidesteps and other tricky movements camouflage his head from the centerline, making it extremely hard to connect with a solid shot.

Cruz’s versatile ability to punish off of supreme feints and elusivity drove him to being widely considered the GOAT bantamweight.

Low leg kicks dent Cruz’s amazing armor. Cruz combats opponents with an inordinately square stance.

Most consider being square in front of your opponent a cardinal combat sin, but Cruz atones with his quick footwork that comes from being able to move his head and upper body freely and unpredictably.

Fighting in a square stance surrenders the ability to withdraw the lead leg to avoid leg kicks, due to a lack of a stable base when constantly floating around and fighting in a hunched stance.

Floating around in combat requires the legs being together and planted to jump at any time. Kicks to legs that aren’t braced in a strong, outward stance buckles them. Consequently, the impact registers stronger on Cruz than most fighters.

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TJ Dillishaw exploited this weakness in a close 2016 loss to Cruz. Cody Garbrandt finished the job of being the first to beat Cruz at bantamweight, largely thanks to low leg kicks.

Henry Cejudo based his entire winning strategy of facing Cruz around delivering low leg kicks whenever Cruz closed distance. 

Casey Kenney nor Pedro Munhoz belong in the same combat category as the three mentioned opponents. Both kicked Cruz into overdrive by combining powerful counters with stinging leg kicks. 

Vera’s offense features plenty of his own. His calf kicks damaged Sean O’Malley’s nerves, causing foot drop that ultimately led to injury and Vera finishing the fight.

He peppered agile boxer Rob Font with leg/calf kicks too, slowing him down enough to get four knockdowns and a tough decision victory in his last fight.

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It’s worth noting that, while Cruz beat Munhoz and Kenney, all three of the former champ’s comeback opponents have knocked him down.

Fighting with a style predicated on twitchyness and reads at age 37 with three serious ACL reconstruction surgeries advances that fact beyond the “so what, it’s a fight” counterpoint. 

Expect leg kicks to build interest paid in agony early, leading Vera to place heavy counters on the money later.

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Silva barrages opponents instead of brushing them with precision. 19 of his 23 professional wins arrived via KO/TKO. Israel Adesanya’s next title challenger Alex Pereira is the only UFC adversary who has avoided that fate.

He’s one of the organization’s premiere kickboxers though and Adesanya’s sole knockout loss in professional combat sports.

Geralt Meerschaert’s technicality lags. A 48-fight, 15-year professional career sharpens his eyes. That level of wear and tear closes them at a faster rate.

Celebrated wrestler Khazmat Chimaev knocked him out with one shot in 17 seconds and Ian Heinish didn’t take much longer to get a knockout in Meerschaert’s prior bout. Both fights happened in 2020.

High Risk, High Value Pick: Geralt Meerschaert by Submission | +550 at FanDuel

The ground welcomes Meerschaert when he isn’t spiraling into it. He holds the record for submission wins in the UFC’s middleweight division with 8 —26 professional submission victories in total.

Silva suffered five submission defeats derived from four different techniques applied by irrelevant fighters. The fact that these losses occurred much earlier in his career before black belt status quells my concerns. 

Silva following Meerschaert to the ground after a knockdown is the only way I see this fight settling on the ground. Meerschaert’s takedown game fails to impress at a 40 % success rate. 

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That said, facing a seasoned grappler presents a new challenge for Silva. He has passed takedown tests so far with a near-70 % defense rate. Mediocre middleweight Andrew Sanchez landed 7 takedowns in one fight.

There’s real possibility of the old dog teaching the newer, nastier one a new trick when rolling on the ground.

This bet looks ‘ruff’ to hit, but gives an hedge worthy of ‘appaws’ for those swinging for a knockout on a card oddsmakers have priced with disappointing precision.

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