UFC Fight Night Upset Alert in Usman vs. Maia

usman maia ufc

Andreas Hale

Thursday, May 17, 2018 11:19 AM UTC

Thursday, May. 17, 2018 11:19 AM UTC

This Saturday, the UFC heads to Santiago, Chile for UFC Fight Night 129 headlined by Usman vs. Maia.

UFC Fight Night 129Free UFC Pick: Demian MaiaBest Line Offered: YouWager

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Saturday's UFC Fight Night in Chile is headlined by rising welterweight Kamaru Usman against arguably the best jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC in Demian Maia. The fight represents a possible changing of the guard as Maia’s long-tenured run as a force in the UFC could be coming to an end, while Usman appears to be the next in line to eventually challenge welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in the near future if he can get past the Brazilian. The card also features a women’s strawweight fight that could be useful in determining the pecking order of a division that no longer sees Joanna Jedrzejczyk ruling over it with an iron fist when TUF 23 winner Tatiana Suarez takes on Alexa Grasso in the co-main event. Both Suarez and Usman are heavily favored in each fight, but is there betting value to be found?

Maia is in a bit of slump as of late. The 40-year-old veteran is coming off of a pair of losses to Woodley and Colby Covington where he wasn’t very competitive in either fight. Prior to the losses, Maia had won seven fights in a row against stellar competition in Carlos Condit, Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson and Jorge Masvidal. It could be a sign of the times for the fourth-degree black belt as he steps in to square off with Usman.

Usman won the 21st season of TUF and has been rolling ever since. Since making his formal UFC debut with a submission victory over Hayder Hassan in the finale of TUF, Usman has shown great development in the striking department that can be coupled with his smothering wrestling ability. He’s 7-0 in the UFC with five unanimous decisions, a submission and a knockout. It appears that he’s primed for a run at the upper crust of the division if he can get past Maia, and the oddsmakers agree that Usman is the star on the rise with the line having him favored at a whopping -550 to Maia’s underdog status of +425.

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Two of the division's best meet under the bright lights of the Octagon.@DemianMaia 🆚 @USMAN84kg #UFCChile pic.twitter.com/TEabK2BJma

— UFC (@ufc) May 15, 2018
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Considering Usman’s strengths and Maia’s struggles with exceptional wrestlers, this has an Usman decision written all over it. However, Usman also has some lightning in his hands should Maia decide to try and strike with him, like he unwittingly did against Covington. Unfortunately, the line is entirely too wide to be able to put money down on Usman.

If there is a knock on Usman, it would be the level of competition that he’s faced up to this point. Perhaps the biggest victory on his resume is against the UFC’s No. 14 welterweight Leon Edwards. Aside from that, he has nothing close to a top 10 victory on his docket and could run into some trouble if he’s not careful with Maia.

Maia has faced a similar style that Usman possesses in Woodley. But Woodley is just a bit more explosive in the striking department and has demonstrated earth shattering power should his opponent get within punching range. However, the experience might be reason enough to take a flier on the former title contender. Odds of +425 for a fighter who just competed for a world title two fights ago is very tempting to take. Usman has all the tools to grind out a victory over Maia but there’s always a possibility that Usman makes a terrible mistake while having Maia on his back and finds himself in a triangle submission. Personally, I’d stay away from this fight but if you gave me a free pick, I’d put my money on Maia because the value is just too much to pass up.

The co-main event finds Suarez looking to remain unbeaten in her mixed marital arts career against Grasso, who was once recognized as the UFC’s hottest prospect among female fighters. Suarez has burst on the scene immediately since transition to MMA after an injury benched her dreams to compete in freestyle wrestling at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It didn’t take long for Suarez to make an impact as took a 3-0 record into The Ultimate Fighter house, ended up as the #1 overall pick and plowed through the competition en route to beating Amanda Cooper at the TUF Finale in 2016. The injury bug struck again with a torn biceps tendon and torn labrum putting her on the sidelines for over a year. Upon her return, she scored another victory with a unanimous decision over Viviane Pereira last November.

As for Grasso, the highly-touted prospect had the MMA world talking. After starting her MMA career unbeaten in nine fights, she stalled against Felice Herrig last February. The 24-year-old bounced back with a split decision against Randa Markos but now has the opportunity to make good on her top prospect status against Suarez.

Oddsmakers favor Suarez here to the tune of -650 after opening as a pick'em fight while Grasso sits as much as a +550 underdog. What gives? Well, Suarez has an incredible wrestling game and her jiu-jitsu has improved in great strides. She’ll aim to take this fight to the mat and grind Grasso out. As for Grasso, her biggest strength has been her striking, but she hasn’t been able to secure a finish since 2014. Nevertheless, boxing is Grasso’s calling card and she’ll hope to remain upright for the duration of the fight.

The line is incredibly wide for a talent that’s still relatively raw in Suarez. She should be favored because her vaunted wrestling is expected to neutralize Grasso’s striking. But Grasso has underrated power and could change the dynamics of the fight with a single strike. And at +550, how can you not pick Grasso in this fight? The former top prospect is being treated like yesterday’s news, and it could mean that the Mexican fighter will be incensed to put on a performance of a lifetime that will pay you off in dividends should you opt to pick her on this night. I implore you to do so considering that you can do a whole lot worse than taking a 10-1 fighter at +550 odds to beat a 5-0 opponent who hasn’t faced anybody close to the top 5.

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