UFC Jacksonville Odds, Pick & Prediction for Mateusz Rebecki vs. Loik Radzhabov: Target Total in Potential Fight of Night (Saturday, June 24)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC lightweight Mateusz Rebecki of Poland
Mateusz Rebecki vs. Loik Radzhabov Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-190/ +155)|
|Venue||VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena|
|Time||1:25 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings|
The UFC is once again demonstrating how deep its lightweight division is with a UFC Jacksonville prelim bout featuring two highly talented prospects. Both Mateusz Rebecki and Loik Radzhabov are 1-0 in the UFC with similar grappling-heavy styles.
Both men pack plenty of power, too, making this an exciting matchup and a likely Fight of the Night candidate when it's all said and done.
Only one man can leave with an undefeated UFC record intact, though, so who will it be?
Read on for my thoughts on that – plus my favorite way to bet Rebecki vs Radzhabov at UFC Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||9:03||15:00|
|Weight (pounds)||155 lbs.||155 lbs.|
|Date of birth||11/3/1992||9/17/1990|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.92||2.67|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.05||4.40|
|Take Down Avg||4.15||11.00|
The intro mentions how both fighters feature a grappling-heavy style, which is apparent in the statistics. They've combined for an insane 15.15 takedowns per 15 minutes across their three bouts with the promotion (counting Rebecki's Contender Series appearance as well). A full 11 of those belong to Radzhabov, who put on a wrestling clinic in his UFC debut.
That's obviously not a number that he'll be able to sustain throughout his UFC career, though, and it's also a concerning sign in some ways.
To land 11 takedowns in a fight, your opponent has to have escaped from at least eight of them (with three guaranteed opportunities provided at the start of each round).
In fact, that was my biggest takeaway while watching tape on Radzhabov. His inability to control his opponent in his debut was a big concern. Part of that was due to the opponent, jiu-jitsu fighter Esteban Ribovics.
However, another factor was Radzhabov's risky grappling. Rather than settle into solid positions, he sold out looking for damage and positional advancement, leaving plenty of openings.
That's part of the challenge of the ground game in MMA. The more deadly positions – namely full mount and back control – are also somewhat easier to escape from than spots such as guard and half guard. While there's something to be said for looking to advance, it's generally too risky of a proposition against UFC-level opponents.
Radzhabov's striking is also of the high-risk, high-reward variety. Everything he throws is at full power, and I'm not sure I spotted a single jab in his debut.
He found the mark on a few occasions, but he arguably made a mistake by taking his stunned opponent down rather than finishing him off with strikes.
Naturally, he took his fair share of damage as well, as evident in his negative striking differential. While he was able to survive the cautious striking of Ribovics, taking 66 significant strikes in a UFC fight generally isn't an optimal plan.
His next opponent, southpaw Rebecki, has a very similar striking style. He's very short for the division and works his way in (so to speak) behind heavy power shots from his strong side.
I was impressed with Rebecki's kicks, especially to the leg of opposite-stance opponents. That's a dangerous weapon for left-handed fighters since most opponents are far better at checking kicks from the opposite angle.
Like Radzhabov, Rebecki's also an excellent wrestler. The difference is he was able to maintain top control much longer, with more than eight minutes of control time against three takedowns in his debut.
Rebecki's fight IQ is impressive, and he employed the Khabib-esque tactic of letting his opponent start to work back to his feet before sucking him back in, draining his stamina.
I have concerns about both men's cardio, though, given the force they put behind all of their strikes. Both fought BJJ stylists in their debut and were able to use takedowns to catch their breath.
That's going to be much harder this time around since neither will find takedowns easy to come by.
Rebecki vs. Radzhabov Pick
While both men saw the judges in their UFC debuts, I was somewhat surprised their fights made it that far. They were both lucky to have opponents willing to accept takedowns to an extent, which allowed more recovery time than is usually available.
On top of that, their heavy striking styles lead to some defensive liabilities with both being let off the hook by relatively nonthreatening opponents in their prior matchups. Radzhabov, in particular, was hurt in the third round of his fight but managed to force enough grappling to make it to the final bell.
I'm expecting the grappling to mostly cancel out here. Radzhabov appears to be the better pure wrestler, but his limited top control is unlikely to keep Rebecki down long. On the other hand, Rebecki should have the edge once it's on the ground, and Radzhabov could be in trouble if put on his back.
The power striking of both men should be the deciding factor here, and I doubt we need all 15 minutes for someone to find the mark. Therefore, I was excited to see the under 2.5 rounds come in at plus-money on DraftKings, and I wouldn't have been shocked to see the under as the juicier side.
It's +155 on Thursday, which I'd take down to +120.
If picking a moneyline side, I'd prefer Rebecki. His southpaw stance should be enough of an edge in the striking department, and he seems to hold an edge in fight IQ and ground game. I'll likely sprinkle a bit on Rebecki as well, but the total is my preferred option.