UFC 269 Augusto Sakai vs. Tai Tuivasa Odds, Pick, Prediction: Will Heavyweight Fight End in Finish? (Saturday, December 11)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Tai Tuivasa.
- Augusto Sakai faces Tai Tuivasa at UFC 269 in what is close to a pick'em at most books.
- Sakai has been finished in his last two fights, while Tuivasa has recorded three straight first-round knockouts.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the matchup and makes his pick for bettors below.
Augusto Sakai vs. Tai Tuivasa Odds
|Approx. 8:30 p.m. ET|
Tai Tuivasa can get himself ranked in the UFC heavyweight division with a win over Augusto Sakai at UFC 269.
Tuivasa has won three straight fights via knockout or TKO, including a KO of Greg Hardy in July at UFC 264. All three of those fights were ended in the first round.
Sakai, meanwhile, needs to get some momentum going after a promising start to his UFC career. The No. 11-ranked heavyweight won his first four fights for the promotion, the last three of which were against Andrei Arlovski, Marcin Tybura and Blagoy Ivanov. He has since been finished by Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Below I preview how these fighters stack up and which side has betting value in this matchup. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||11:31||6:37|
|Weight (pounds)||263.5 lbs.||264 lbs.|
|Date of birth||5/9/91||3/16/93|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||5.1||4.48|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.98||3.48|
|Take Down Avg||0.14||0.00|
Speaking of high-variance outcomes, I’m pleased to see a heavyweight bout involving Tai Tuivasa lined as a true pick’em.
It only takes one big punch to turn the tide in these heavyweight fights, as evidenced in Tuivasa’s last matchup where he stopped Greg Hardy after getting put on wobbly legs.
Tuivasa is 6-3 in the UFC, with a pair of three-fight winning streaks sandwiching a three-fight losing streak. Sakai started his promotional tenure with four victories (and a fifth on contender series) and is hoping to bounce back after a pair of losses to Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Sakai has the reach advantage (2-inches), superior cardio, and the more well-rounded game, but Tuivasa hits harder, is more durable, and is likelier to force the action.
The Aussie needs to commit to the low kick game and slow Sakai down; otherwise, he will get chewed up later in the fight.
Tuivasa forces massive exchanges, and I don’t trust either fighter defensively (51% and 50% striking defense), so I’m tepid about betting the Over 1.5 rounds, even though this seems like a classic spot for such a wager.
Sakai tried to walk through strikes against Overeem (absorbed 80%, 92-of-114), then looked tepid (lost 16-3 on strikes) before suffering a knockout loss to Rozenstruik.
He seems lost as a fighter, while Tuivasa is more sure of himself. This is probably an excellent buy-low spot on Sakai (-165 against Arlovski, -143 against Tybura, +140 against Overeem, -105 against Rozenstruik) while taking a step down in competition.
Still, he seems to have panicked, rather than adjusting, after meeting his first real resistance at the top level of this sport.
Sakai vs. Tuivasa Pick
I don’t show value on either side of the moneyline in this fight, though I would lean to Sakai given the class drop.
I show slight value on the fight to go the distance (projected +172, listed +180) or the Over 1.5 rounds; however, I’m concerned about Tuivasa’s recklessness and cardio impacting those wagers.
The Pick: Fight Goes the Distance (+180)
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