Fight Night 90 Betting Value Lies On Dos Anjos Despite Steep Odds

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 12:00 PM GMT

On July 7th the UFC returns to Vegas where Rafael dos Anjos defends his lightweight title against elite veteran contender Eddie Alvarez. Let's review the UFC odds and cash a winner.

Alvarez Looking to Take Champ Deep
Eddie Alvarez (27-4, 14 KO's, 7 Subs) may be new to the UFC but those who followed the now defunct DREAM organization or are familiar with Dana White's chief MMA adversary Bellator, have heard his name or seen him fight. Alvarez is the consummate tough guy but to pigeon hole him into that convenient, tidy little box doesn't do him justice. The native of Philadelphia is a devastating boxer and a skilled wrestler who has seven submissions to his credit. But Alvarez is, above all things, a warrior. At 5'7" Alvarez fights like he is 7'5" and will make sure that his opponent knows he's been in a war regardless of whose hand is raised at the end of the fight.

With that as the backdrop it is no wonder that Alvarez intends on using his tenacious, relentless style to force the champion into a stand-and-trade affair. As long as Alvarez has the opportunity to throw hands or elbows he will be in a position to steal the fight from the more pedigreed and technically sound dos Anjos. The challenger was asked about how we would deal with a fighter like dos Anjos who has beaten the best the division has to offer. Alvarez was clear about his cruel intentions.

"His biggest danger is also his biggest weakness. It's his aggressiveness. I'm not sure he'll be able to control it properly or keep even keel with it. He's able to put guys away quickly with it, but if this thing turns into a fight, I think he'll be in deep water. He'll be in big trouble."


Champion dos Anjos Beaten the Best
There are paper tigers in every division but Rafael dos Anjos (25-7, 5 KO's, 8 Subs) is not one of them. The 155-pound king has fought all comers and has beaten the best this deep and talented division has to offer. Since 2012 dos Anjos has won 10 of his last 11 fights and his most recent performances have been the best of his career. The run-up to his title tilt with then champion Anthony "Showtime" Pettis began with a workmanlike TKO victory over UFC newcomer Jason High. However, it was his next fight that put RDA on the map and that occurred on August 23rd of 2014 when he stunned former champion Benson Henderson with the same big left that felled Jason High in his previous bout. That first-round KO of Bendo was a thunderous declaration that dos Anjos had arrived as a legitimate contender to the lightweight throne. The UFC odds makers had underestimated him, as did many MMA fans, in that bout but those who believed in RDA got a healthy return of +270 on their money.

RDA would have one more fight, a unanimous decision victory over Nate Diaz at a catchweight of 160 pounds (guess who couldn't make weight?), before claiming the title from Anthony Pettis via a unanimous decision. The champ's first title defense came against another UFC superstar in Donald Cerrone. The Cowboy had been on a tear, blasting every lightweight that stood in his way before dos Anjos stopped him cold in the opening round of their championship match on December 19th. Rafael dos Anjos now looks to make his second title defense and put another notch on his championship holster.

Who Wins?
There was a time when dos Anjos was more of a one-trick pony, relying solely on his 3rd degree BJJ black belt skills to win the day more than anything to do with his fistic prowess. But the southpaw has evolved, combining a sublime mat repertoire with knockout power from a thunderous left hand that comes out of nowhere to knock opponents silly. Yet it is that evolution in his striking game, which comes replete with heavy leg kicks and devastating knees, that could play into Eddie Alvarez's world. The challenger lives for all-out brawls and relies on his ability to weather any storm to maintain a relentless pursuit of his quarry.

The UFC odds offered at top sportsbooks are just so steep on RDA that it has me hesitating to advise a play on him. The champion is the more sophisticated and skilled fighter who will dominate if the fight hits the floor but Alvarez's bulldog approach could wear the champion out and ultimately render him unable to keep pace. That being said, RDA is tougher than many give him credit for and his latest victory over Donald Cerrone was so impressive that it is impossible to bet against him. Incidentally, Alvarez lost a unanimous decision to the same Donald Cerrone in September of 2014. So with that I will include RDA to successfully defend his title in my UFC picks for Thursday night, July 7th.

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Free UFCPick: Rafael dos Anjos -390
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline