UFC 291 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira: The Right Side of PPV Co-Headliner (Saturday, July 29)
Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC light heavyweight Alex Pereira
Jan Blachowicz vs Alex Pereira Odds
The UFC 291 co-main event features an interesting encounter at light heavyweight with Jan Blachowicz vs Alex Pereira.
Recently losing his middleweight title in a rematch with Israel Adesanya, Pereira has decided to give his body a break from his drastic cuts to 185 pounds and move up to the next division.
Pereira has fought at this weight class before as a kickboxer, but this will be his first time testing the 205-pound waters in MMA.
Fellow ex-champion Blachowicz, on the other hand, has a decent amount of experience when it comes to dealing with fighters from the weight class below him.
The former light heavyweight titleholder may be coming off of a strange draw with Magomed Ankalaev, but a win here could get Blachowicz right back into the UFC title picture.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||13:00||10:51|
|Weight (pounds)||205 lbs.||205.5 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/24/1983||7/7/1987|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.41||5.23|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.81||3.76|
|Take Down Avg||0.97||0.28|
Even though this fight screams striker vs. grappler at first glance, I warn anyone who is overlooking the well-rounded game of Blachowicz.
Initially stepping onto the UFC scene as a steady stalker with some amateur muay Thai experience, Blachowicz has evolved into a solid counter striker with one of the better jabs in the division.
Whether Blachowicz is hitting uppercut-hook returns off the backfoot or switching to southpaw in order corral opposition with kicks, the Polish fighter is flexible with his approaches on the feet.
— UFC (@ufc) July 26, 2023
Blachowicz is also one of the few fighters north of middleweight who check kicks, which is a skill that will likely come in handy considering his counterpart.
That said, it's Blachowicz's grappling that will be the big question in this fight.
Although Blachowicz hasn't gone to his grappling as much offensively in recent years, the 40-year-old veteran is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has really worked on his wrestling since moving his training camps back to Warsaw.
If Blachowicz elects to go to his grappling early or if Pereira comes in too hot, then it could be a long night for the Brazilian fighter.
A martial artist who spent the majority of his combat sports career striking, Pereira still has a lot to prove when it comes to ground fighting.
Already submitted my #UFC287 breakdown for this week, but couldn’t help throw this video together after hearing @TeddyAtlasReal talk about the jabbing dynamic between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya.
Tacked on George Foreman-Gullick to help illustrate his Pereira comparisons: pic.twitter.com/Clws9Re94N
— Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) April 4, 2023
Thankfully for Pereira, he has the guidance of Glover Teixeira – the man who took the title from Blachowicz.
Teixeira has since retired from MMA himself but has really embraced his role as a coach and mentor to Pereira.
In fact, Pereira has shown some serviceable uses of underhooks and overhooks in the UFC, using solid fundamentals to force separations.
Should Pereira have room to operate this Saturday, then we'll likely get to see his striking prowess at play.
From thudding jabs and leg kicks to crushing counter hooks, Pereira presents a unique problem on the feet given his size and skills.
Blachowicz vs Pereira Pick
Despite the initial spread opening wider, money continues to come in on the Brazilian Pereira. Blachowicz is in the neighborhood of -125 and Pereira +100 as of this writing.
Although I'm usually one to favor the more proven product with a grappling edge, I'm having a hard time getting to Blachowicz in this spot (even with his discounted price tag).
Since losing his title to Pereira's mentor, Teixeira, Blachowicz has been fairly inactive and arguably inconsistent given his self-admitted struggles with staying healthy.
— danawhite (@danawhite) July 28, 2023
Don't get me wrong: I don't like Pereira turning around from a knockout loss just under the four-month mark, but "Poatan" – even when incorporating his kickboxing experience – has fewer miles than Blachowicz and is used to competing at a high clip.
Nevertheless, when you set all the intangibles aside, this still feels like a tricky fight for Blachowicz from a stylistic perspective.
The Polish fighter has a clear on-paper edge when it comes to grappling, but he doesn't appear to have reliable entries to enforce that kind of game at this point of his career (at least early and often).
Blachowicz, who is a solid counter fighter, typically gets his takedowns off opponents making mistakes through aggression.
Pereira could definitely slip up and end up on the bottom, but I believe that Blachowicz could be in real trouble if Pereira is able to survive.
Aside from Blachowicz not being beyond violating the "position before submission" rule in jiu-jitsu, the 40-year-old fighter has traditionally had a troublesome gas tank.
So, unless Blachowicz fights out of character and is able to score a fairly quick finish on the floor, then I suspect that he could find himself gasping for air at altitude in Rounds 2 and 3.
Couple that with the fact that counter hooks seem to be Blachowicz's common culprit in fights, and I decided to fire on Pereira's moneyline at even money earlier this week.
I also sprinkled small on Pereira to win in Rounds 2 (+650) and 3 (+1100) at big plus numbers in case you're looking for fun ways to play Poatan without having to expose too much of your bankroll.
But at pick'em prices like these, for me, it's pick a side and ride.
The Pick: Alex Pereira (+100 at bet365)