A middleweight clash between veterans Tim Kennedy and Rafael Natal takes center stage on Wednesday, November 6th, broadcast on Fox Sports 1 but where does the value lie in our UFC picks?
Tim Kennedy (16-4, 5 KO's 8 Subs) vs. Rafael "Sapo" Natal (17-4-1, 3 KO's, 8 Subs)
Originally Tim Kennedy was slated to throw hands with the "Dragon" Lyoto Machida, however that got scratched when Machida was called upon to tangle with Mark Munoz who lost his dance partner when Michael Bisping went down with an injury. Got it? Good because now Kennedy will face a stern test when he gazes across the Octagon only to see BJJ mat master Rafael Natal looking right back at him.
Both fighters feature a complete matrix of striking and ground prowess. Perhaps the edge goes to Kennedy in terms of an all-around game but the lean is so subtle it's a virtual coin flip. Kennedy's advantage will be nullified the longer the fight goes. Natal is four years his junior, slightly taller and has a three inch reach advantage. Natal will be looking to take the fight to the ground and control the fight on the mat.
Kennedy is a Strikeforce refugee who won his debut by unanimous decision in July of this year at UFC 162 over Roger Gracie of the legendary Gracie family. Though Gracie does not come equipped with the knockout power of Natal, he is a world class tactician on the mat and Kennedy was able to deny him access to his lethal brand of submission expertise. However, Gracie got gassed early and did not weather the barrage of fierce leather fired by Kennedy in the second round without a measurable dip in energy.
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Natal, on the other hand, has no problems with cardio but he is susceptible to a stealthy head kick as evidenced by two of his four losses coming in exactly
that fashion. But Kennedy has never knocked anyone unconscious with his feet (in the cage anyway) and hasn't notched a knockout with his hands in almost six years. Sapo has won five of his last six fights all in the UFC and may be sharper due strictly to the level of competition.
I believe this fight will go the distance and because it is the main event of the evening (I can hear Bruce Buffer echoing in my mind as I write this) it will be a five-rounder. Natal should be able to hang around and even though he will find it tough to hit Kennedy cleanly, as the former special forces GI Joe deftly evades and eludes strikes with great aplomb, he will have his opportunities. I am a bit stunned to see Kennedy as such a heavy favorite in this one. I will gladly take all the juice that the offshore books are giving me in their UFC odds and place what I believe is a sound value bet on a fighter who should be close to even to win this one.
Play Rafael Natal +250 at Bet365.com for your UFC Picks.
Liz Carmouche (9-3, 6 KO's, 2 Subs) vs. Alexis Davis (14-5, 2 KO's, 7 Subs)
The girls will be getting it on at UFC Fight Night 31 and Liz Carmouche is hoping to put another notch on her holster after losing to the invincible Ronda Rousey at UFC 157 for the Women's Bantamweight Championship only to rebound in her last fight with a TKO over Jessica Andrade.
Her opponent Alexis Davis scored a unanimous decision over Rosi Sexton in her UFC debut in June of this year. It was her third consecutive victory and the sixth in her last seven appearances in the cage. Davis is truly one of the most classically trained and elite jiu-jitsu practitioners in the women's bantamweight division.
This should be a dandy if you're a fan of the women's game and you can get down as the fight draws near at Bet365.com or WilliamHill.com.