MMAStateOfMind’s UFC 224 Best Bet

Sean Strickland vs Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos

In both of these Welterweight’s first fight of the year, Sean Strickland takes on Elizeu Zaleski, in Rio De Janeiro Brazil at UFC 224. Zaleski is a blood and guts fighter going for the finish, while throwing caution to the wind, which has done well for him so far in the UFC, but like many of the same ilk he has absorbed a lot of damage that just goes up and up after every “entertaining” fight he is involved in. Sean Strickland has only lost to some of the divisions best (Santiago Ponzinibbio and Kamaru Usman) while showing his growth as a fighter overall going with a tried and true style of winning rounds. It’s the new style that leads to long term success within rounds and fights on the whole, in every round, with every exchange fight to do a little bit more than your opponent. For every Punch or Combination your opponent throw back with 1-3 additional sequences in your own.

The old style of everything for the finish, can only last for so long before you come up to fighters that have seen your predictable movements, and that fighter works around them, or doesn’t even allow you the openings to use them. Dos Santos is a great fighter, but he’s a fighter at his peak of performance, that is far short for the elite of the division. Strickland is still growing, still adapting and adding tools to his game that compliments each other, which will prove beneficial over the next 2-3 years.

In this fight in particular, I see Strickland using his jab to disrupt Zaleski’s rhythm during his forward movement. Elizeu will move forward with hooks, head stationary, and end up running into counter shots that will add up over time. The first round will be close, and may go to Zaleski with his big movements and power punches but over the course of the fight especially in round 2 and 3 ‘Tarzan’ is going to take over the fight, out pointing Dos Santos clearly and getting that decision.

With how close the early round and change may be, it’s not a big bet, but Strickland holds the advantage in my opinion, and even with Brazilian judging, should win at worst a 29-28 decision.

Pick: Sean Strickland (+110)