UFC 278 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili: Bantamweight Battle to Win Minutes (Saturday, August 20)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili
Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili Odds
UFC veteran and No. 3-ranked bantamweight contender Jose Aldo looks to extend his run in the division when he meets No. 6 Merab Dvalishvili.
Dvalishvili hasn't lost a fight in nearly four years and is coming off a stoppage win over Marlon Moraes, while his Brazilian opponent is on a three-fight winning streak.
Which side has the edge in this highly-anticipated matchup?
Below, I’ll provide my analysis and picks for this battle of bantamweights. 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||14:11||14:23|
|Weight (pounds)||135 lbs.||135 lbs.|
|Date of birth||9/9/86||1/10/91|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.61||4.26|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.74||2.28|
|Take Down Avg||0.51||7.30|
Saturday's featured bout is the most hotly debated fight of the week.
Aldo has garnered substantial support at an underdog price. The legendary "King of Rio" offers excellent takedown defense (90%), counter-wrestling, and counter-punching. Aldo has been taken down more than once in only one UFC or WEC fight (against Frankie Edgar in 2016) and seemingly has the skill set to defeat most grapplers.
He's undoubtedly the superior striker against Dvalishvili, a relentless cardio wrestler who smothers opponents with pace and pressure.
Still, Dvalishvili's wrestling is different than any other fighter on the roster. He averages 16 takedown attempts per 15 minutes – because his top control isn't robust. He clings to his opponents, forces them against the fence, and exhausts them with repeated level changes.
And Dvalishvili lands many strikes while controlling his opponents in the clinch.
While Aldo's takedown defense is excellent, historically, "The Machine" is an entirely different animal. He will look to turn this fight into an absolute grind for Aldo and use his cardio advantage to tire out the older fighter.
Moreover, Aldo's grappling has seemingly declined during his bantamweight run, giving up takedowns and dominant positions to Marlon Moraes, Rob Font, and Petr Yan and getting controlled in clinch exchanges too.
And his cardio has waned with age too. I would undoubtedly favor Dvalishvili more in a five-round fight than this three-round scrap. Still, I expect him to Dvalishvili over minute-winning significantly after the first round if he can get to the clinch and wear on Aldo early.
Aldo certainly has a knockout upside. Still, winning minutes against an opponent who will attempt 200 strikes and shoot 20 takedowns over 15 minutes is difficult.
Aldo vs. Dvalishvili Pick
Indeed, this is a step up in competition for Dvalishvili against a fighter with arguably the most difficult strength of schedule in MMA history. Still, "The Machine" presents a new test for Aldo, and I believe the Georgian is on his way to future title contention.
I would bet Dvalishvili on the moneyline up to about -150, a little past my projected number (-148). You can also consider his decision prop (projected +140, listed +140 at Caesars) at what appear to be fair odds.
And look to bet Dvalishvili Live after Round 1 if he has any attritional grappling success.
- Merab Dvalishvili (-135, 0.5u at DraftKings)
- Merab Dvalishvili Live after Round 1