UFC Vegas 76 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Damir Ismagulov vs. Grant Dawson: The Right Side of a Pick’em (Saturday, July 1)

UFC Vegas 76 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Damir Ismagulov vs. Grant Dawson: The Right Side of a Pick’em (Saturday, July 1) article feature image

Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC lightweight Damir Ismagulov of Russia

Damir Ismagulov vs. Grant Dawson Odds

Ismagulov Odds-115
Dawson Odds-115
Over/Under2.5 (-220 / +170)
VenueUFC Apex
Time8:55 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via Caesars

Two of the hottest prospects in the UFC's incredibly stacked lightweight division meet in Saturday's UFC Vegas 76 co-main event. Both fighters are ranked contenders with Dawson coming in at No. 15 and Ismagulov at No. 12 in the UFC's official rankings.

This will be the return of Ismagulov following a six-month "retirement" that he announced after his loss to Arman Tsarukyan. Dawson, meanwhile, is 7-0-1 since joining the promotion in 2019.

If Ismagulov is fully recovered from the unspecified health issues that forced him out of competition, he's a force to be reckoned with.

On the other hand, Dawson's relentless wrestling would be a challenge for any fighter, even at 100% health. But will it be enough to get it done Saturday?

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time15:0011:51
Weight (pounds)155 lbs.155 lbs.
Reach (inches)74"72"
Date of birth2/3/19912/20/1994
Sig Strikes Per Min3.783.12
SS Accuracy42%51%
SS Absorbed Per Min2.512.41
SS Defense62%45%
Take Down Avg1.173.80
TD Acc28%34%
TD Def75%40%
Submission Avg0.01.6

The lightweight division is replete with outstanding wrestlers, and it's always a treat for the grappling fans among us when two of them square off.

That's the case at UFC Vegas 76, with Dawson in particular being known for his relentless grappling.

He's landed nearly four takedowns per 15 minutes in his UFC career while attempting 11.8. Those stats are somewhat misleading, though, as many of his "takedowns" are more accurately described as mat returns.

Dawson has an excellent shot from the outside, but perhaps his best attribute is his ability to drag opponents back to the canvas as they attempt to escape.

That, or his lightning-quick back takes. Part of the evolution of MMA in recent years has been fighters growing more comfortable with exposing their backs while they escape from bottom position. This is a major part of amateur wrestling, but for many years it was looked at as a bad habit in MMA and submission grappling.

Fighters such as Dawson prove why, as he'll take even the slightest opening as an opportunity to change the angle and lock in back control. From there, he does a good job softening his opponents with strikes. Then he often finishes with a rear-naked choke. His use of the body triangle helps keep opponents in place while he racks up control time.

Dawson's striking is fairly limited, however, and he was hurt at times in each of his last three fights – even by fellow wrestler Mark Madsen. His striking is largely a setup for takedowns, and he covers up defensive holes by shooting at his opponent's legs if they overextend trying to strike with him.

Grant Dawson is currently ranked at #15 in the UFC lightweight division

He’s looking to move up the rankings this Saturday at #UFCVegas76pic.twitter.com/Gwx4DoQEWf

— Combat Sports Today 📰 (@CSTodayNews) June 27, 2023

The other issue with Dawson's game is his cardio. While he's finished consecutive fights in the third round, both of those opponents allowed Dawson to work from dominant positions for much of the fight. In his Ricky Glenn fight, Glenn refused to accept positions, and Dawson ran out of steam by the third round.

That fight was deemed a majority draw thanks to a 10-8 third round for Glenn, but even in his win against Gordon, Dawson was noticeably slower in the final frame.

While Ismagulov isn't as wrestling-focused as Dawson, he excels in that area, as well. He was able to defend two-thirds of the takedown attempts from Arman Tsarukyan, and six of seven against Gurak Kutateladze – with those two among the best wrestlers in the division.

The Tsarukyan fight was especially impressive, as Ismagulov was able to right himself almost immediately when taken down.

Ismagulov has shown solid offensive wrestling when needed, as well, picking up five takedowns in his UFC debut and two more against Rafael Alve – though I don't expect that to be a major part of his game plan this time.

Rather, he'll look to stay at range and showcase his excellent striking ability.

Did you HEAR that 😳

Ismagulov put him DOWN #UFCVegas27pic.twitter.com/EIz7jB4Gkh

— UFC (@ufc) May 22, 2021

He takes full advantage of his reach with a lightning-quick jab, and he is equally comfortable in the clinch.

He'll mix in the occasional muay Thai-style foot sweep to keep his opponent off balance while also generally dominating the battle for cage control while forcing his opponent's back to the cage.

I've also been highly impressed by his cardio, staying extremely active with his striking in the third rounds of his recent fights while fending off a considerable amount of takedowns from his opponents in those fights.

Ismagulov vs. Dawson Pick

While both men are excellent grapplers, there's a crucial difference here: Dawson needs to get takedowns to have any chance here. However, Ismagulov could win this even if he loses the takedown battle.

I certainly expect Dawson to pick up his fair share of takedowns, but keeping Ismagulov down will be the tougher task.

Based on Ismagulov's ability to get back up against elite grapplers like Tsarukyan, he should be able to avoid being grounded for long in this one. I'm anticipating Dawson finds success early but eventually runs out of gas while trying to return "The Qazaq" to the canvas repeatedly.

From there, it should be one-way traffic in the striking department with Ismagulov having a clear edge.

Obviously, this is all predicated on Ismagulov being full strength for this fight, but we're getting a bit of a discount on his line because of it.

I like Ismagulov at the -110 odds on the moneyline as of this wring, and I would take it to -130. I'll also be placing a sprinkle on Ismagulov in Round 3 at +2200 odds. Dawson was nearly finished in the final frame in two of his last three fights, both against lesser fighters than he faces this time.

The Pick: Ismagulov (-110 at Caesars) | Ismagulov in Round 3 (+2200 at DraftKings)

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