Updated Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson UFC 271 Odds, Pick, Prediction: Take Favorite in Middleweight Title Eliminator (Saturday, February 12)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Jared Cannonier.
- Jared Cannonier is favored against Derek Brunson in a potential No. 1 contender fight at UFC 271.
- The winner of this fight could easily be next in line for a middleweight title fight.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the fight and makes his betting pick below.
Updated Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson Odds
Top-five middleweights Jared Cannonier (No. 3) and Derek Brunson (No. 4) will battle it out on the main card of UFC 271 Saturday night. The winner of this fight could very well be in line for the next shot at the 185-pound belt.
Cannonier is 4-1 in his past five fights while Brunson is riding a five-fight win streak for the second time in his career. Will Brunson make it six in a row, putting himself closer to gold and keep climbing the division rankings?
I break down the matchup and my betting strategy in this fight below.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||10:08||8:31|
|Weight (pounds)||185 lbs.||185 lbs.|
|Date of birth||3/16/84||1/4/84|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.60||3.45|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.19||2.68|
|Take Down Avg||0.12||3.15|
Saturday's featured bout is a likely middleweight title eliminator unless Whittaker defeats Adesanya and the pair end up with a trilogy fight by the end of the year.
Adesanya, who hopes to clean out the entire middleweight division, is certainly pulling for fresh blood in Cannonier, a former heavyweight who seems to make 185 pounds with ease despite his impressive physique.
Adesanya defeated Brunson in the first round at UFC 230. Still, the 38-year-old is amid a late-career resurgence, entering Saturday on a five-fight winning streak (as an underdog in four of them) after losing to the current champion.
In hindsight, those wins haven't aged particularly well. Elias Theodorou is no longer with the promotion, Ian Heinisch has gone 1-3 since losing to Brunson, Edmen Shahbazyan is 0-2, Kevin Holland is 0-1 (1 no contest) and Darren Till is still recovering from an ACL tear he sustained before the Brunson fight.
Aside from Heinisch's win over Gerald Meerschaert, Brunson's recent string of opponents are winless in the UFC since their matchups with him, despite continually leveling down in competition, and his dominant wrestling wins have most recently come against a one-legged Till (3-for-6), a defenseless Holland (6-for-12) and a busted prospect in Shahbazyan (4-for-8). Aside from Till (career 79% takedown defense), all opponents offer a career takedown defense rate below 60%.
I don't want to take too much away from Brunson, who earned all of those wins and has looked fantastic since moving down to Sanford MMA, following the Adesanya loss. He's made improvements to his game, mixing his striking and wrestling more coherently while improving his aggression from top position, but I still see flaws that opponents can exploit.
For one, he was in danger early against Shahbazyan before his young opponent gassed out. Brunson remains very hittable at range and leaves his chin up in the air when he closes the distance.
Moreover, he looked exhausted in the later rounds against Holland and in the third round against TIll. Brunson tires himself out even when he has success with his wrestling, and he tends to look exhausted when his opponents can scramble back to their feet.
Despite a big lead in the Holland fight, I didn't feel safe with my Brunson ticket until the final bell. He looked like he could go out from one clean exchange.
The question is whether Brunson can wrestle Cannonier successfully for at least 10 minutes and survive the final frame. Relative to his recent opponents, this seems like a far more difficult task.
While Cannonier's takedown defense (62% career) is in the same territory career-wise as Brunson's recent opponents. He has defended 85% of takedown attempts since moving down to middleweight while making drastic improvements as an overall fighter.
I still expect Brunson to drag Cannonier to the mat early at least once or twice. However, Brunson's recent opponents have largely accepted the bottom position and looked to get out of the round, where they could hope to catch Brunson standing since every round starts on the feet.
Conversely, Cannonier is very active from the bottom. Given his raw strength at this weight class — like Derrick Lewis at heavyweight — he can just stand up from the bottom position and chuck opponents off of him.
While Brunson carries a ton of power in his left hand, Cannonier is the far more efficient and diverse striker. His recent performances have been awe-inspiring, showing highly accurate striking (59% against Robert Whittaker) and the ability to attack all three levels while seamlessly switching stances.
And he carries as much power as any middleweight:
Cannonier's cardio also stood out in his victory over Kelvin Gastelum. He fully settled into his middleweight frame and looked fresh in the championship rounds against an opponent who never goes away.
Cannonier vs. Brunson Pick
In this fight, I projected Jared Cannonier as a 63.6% favorite (-175 implied), and I'm happy to bet his moneyline up to that price. Given Brunson's tendency to gas from wrestling, I would also look to bet Cannonier live after Round 1.
I don't show value on the total or any winning method props for this fight. However, Cannonier to win inside the distance (projected +110, listed +110) is a fair price, and it's difficult to imagine him winning clear minutes on the feet and not finishing the fight.
Cannonier wins in Round 1 (boosted to +300 at Caesars) could also be worth a poke.
The Pick: Jared Cannonier ML (-160)