Garbrandt And Barao The Top UFC Picks For Fight Night 88

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, May 21, 2016 1:19 PM UTC

Saturday, May. 21, 2016 1:19 PM UTC

Undefeated bantamweights Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt will be the feature bout on Sunday night's UFC Fight Night. Let's peruse the UFC odds and get on the right side of this match.

Thomas Almeida (21-0, 16 KO's, 4 Subs) vs. Cody Garbrandt (8-0, 7 KO's, 0 Subs)
The casual fan will look at this match and wonder why two fighters, without universal name recognition, would be getting the spotlight over former bantamweight champion Renan Barao, who is also on this card. It's a case of what have you done for me lately and these two bantamweights have done nothing but win, not only in their brief UFC tenure but over the course of their undefeated careers.

Thomas Almeida vacated his Legacy FC Bantamweight title in order to sign with the UFC and was fighting in the Octagon only months after leaving his former MMA home. Oftentimes there is a settling in period for newcomers to MMA's main stage as the step-up in competition can be daunting. But Almeida claimed a Fight of the Night bonus in his first foray inside the Octagon with a unanimous decision over Tim Gorman and then earned Performance of the Night bonuses over his next three fights, all knockouts.

He will be opposed by another young gun and dangerous striker in Cody Garbrandt. Like his opponent, Garbrandt is also undefeated in his MMA career with seven of his eight victories coming by way of knockout. The 24-year-old Ohio native has had three fights under the UFC banner and won two by KO with his last performance resulting in a first-round TKO of Augusto Mendes at a catchweight of 142 pounds.

The squares will line up behind Thomas Almeida because he has more experience resulting in more wins and thus more knockouts than Cody Garbrandt. Yet we must be cognizant of the fact that Garbrandt is a natural wrestler, winning a state title as a freshman in high school and ultimately turning to boxing under the tutelage of his uncle who was an Olympic alternate. Garbrandt compiled a 32-1 amateur boxing record and has the ground chops to make Almeida uncomfortable if the fights falls to the floor.

We won't deny Almeida's impressive record nor his devastating arsenal of Muay Thai tools. However, Garbrandt is a stand-up fighter who has the capacity to take this to the mat which could result in a ground-and-pound of his opponent Thomas Almeida. If Almeida does find himself on his back it could get ugly and that is just one of the reasons why we will include this live dog in our UFC picks on Sunday night.

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Free UFC Pick: Cody Garbrandt +140
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

Renan Barao (33-3, 8 KO's, 15 Subs) vs. Jeremy Stephens (24-12, 16 KO's, 3 Subs)
When I glanced at the UFC odds in this one I was taken by surprise. I truly believed the former UFC Bantamweight king Renan Barao would be a sizeable favorite in this one despite his graduated debut at 145. However, the betting public has lost faith in the once invincible champ who battled nine years without a loss until he met T.J. Dillashaw who vanquished him twice within a 14 month span.

Jeremy Stephens is a veteran of the Octagon wars who has lost three of his last four fights. This could be Stephens' last chance at UFC glory and he will be thoroughly tested against an opponent the caliber of Renan Barao. Stephens will enjoy a three inch height advantage over the former champ as well as getting Barao in his debut as a featherweight.

Barao is now competing 10 pounds heavier and his 5'6" frame will be smaller than most at this weight class. Nevertheless, Barao has world class BJJ in his arsenal and will look to bring that to bear against the bigger Jeremy Stephens. It would be foolhardy for Barao to stand and trade which means he will ultimately shoot for the takedown and make no mistake, he will get it. Once the fight hits the mat I like Barao's chances to seal the deal.

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Free UFC Pick: Renan Barao -165
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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