Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic Odds, UFC Pick & Prediction: Value on Method of Victory (May 14)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured (L-R): UFC opponents Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic.
- Two top-five UFC light heavweight contenders go head-to-head at the APEX on Saturday when Jan Blachowicz faces Alexandar Rakic.
- Rakic enters the fight as a strong favorite (-220 moneyline odds) against the former champion who is coming off neck surgery.
- Sean Zerillo explains why there's value in betting the fight to go the distance.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic Odds
A future title challenger could emerge from Saturday’s main event between former champion Jan Blachowicz and No. 3 ranked Aleksandar Rakic.
Blachowicz is returning after losing his belt to Glover Teixeira last October. Rakic enters after consecutive wins over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos, with a 6-1 record in the promotion.
Unless either man pulls off a stellar performance on Saturday, I expect the winner to face the winner of the Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Ankalev matchup (at UFC 277) later this year in a No. 1 contender fight.
Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday’s matchup and utilize those factors to bet on the main event.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||12:24||11:25|
|Weight (pounds)||205 lbs.||205 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/24/83||2/6/92|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.59||4.23|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.79||2.23|
|Take Down Avg.||1.14||0.75|
Rakic is nine years younger and also the taller fighter. Since 2013, when there’s a nine-year age gap between UFC combatants, the younger fighter has won 67.7% of the time (309-147) at average odds of -133 (57.1% implied); more than 10 percent over expectation.
There’s a significant difference between a 39-year-old Light Heavyweight like Blachowicz (where the average age for the division is 34, and the champion is 42) and a 39-year-old Featherweight (average age of 31). Speed means everything in the lighter weight classes, but power carries as you age.
Still, Jan enters this bout after significant neck surgery — which postponed this fight from late March — and he looked somewhat off in his title defense against Glover – seeming visibly hurt from various neck cranks before submitting to a rear-naked choke that wasn’t fully locked in.
Perhaps – like Aljamain Sterling – Blachowicz went into a fight with a neck injury and may emerge as a superior fighter following the surgery. There’s no way of knowing until we see the fight play out.
Skill for skill, this should be an extremely competitive scrap. Jan excels at checking leg kicks while possessing a devastating body kick of his own. I expect him to land the more impactful strikes at kickboxing range – where Rakic prefers to hang at a distance. And in close quarters, I likely prefer Jan’s boxing too.
When this fight is on the feet, I envision a low-volume, low-tempo striking matchup, where neither man pulls away on volume or takes considerable risks.
Still, I view Rakic as the superior wrestler. And I suspect that he can control Jan on the ground for decent stretches of the fight. While Jan has an excellent top game, his takedown defense (65% career) has some holes, and he has shown difficulty getting off his back – another feature of the heavier weight classes.
We haven’t seen Rakic work off of his back frequently (90% takedown defense), and it’s possible that Jan can keep Rakic flat on his back if he decides to shoot first.
Moreover, this is Rakic’s first career five-round fight and Jan’s seventh in eight appearances. Blachowicz has been the full 25 minutes on two occasions, and that experience is invaluable.
While I don’t expect to see a high-paced affair, I don’t necessarily see cardio concerns for either fighter, and Rakic is the younger man, his lack of five-round experience is worth noting.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Jan has consistently baffled the betting markets. After defeating Luke Rockhold (opened +165, closed +225), Jacare Souza (opened -185, closed -150), Dominick Reyes (opened +170, closed +210), and Israel Adesanya (opened +210, closed +225), the market finally chased him against Teixeira (opened -190, closed -250) and lost.
In hindsight, that winning streak (aside from Adesanya) hasn’t aged particularly well, but “Polish Power” still makes Jan a mythical fighter, and I’m not inclined to bet against him with a fighter who isn’t reliable to force the action.
Blachowicz vs. Rakic Pick
In this fight, I projected Jan Blachowicz as a +160 underdog (38.5% implied) and have a solid lean to his moneyline.
Still, I would need something closer to +175 (36.1% implied) to back the former champion at more than a two-percent projection edge.
Although it’s already +180 at Caesars, I’ll continue to hold out for a better price on fight day, especially considering the previous market movement against Jan may drive his price higher.
For now, I bet the fight to go the distance at plus money (+115 at Caesars), compared to my 53% projection (-113 implied). I set Rakic’s win condition at 55% by decision, and 45% by finish, with a 50/50 split for Blachowicz to arrive at that projection.
You can play that prop at any plus money number.
The Pick: Fight to go the Distance (+115) / Jan Blachowicz (wait for +175 or better)