UFC Vegas 82 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Brendan Allen vs. Paul Craig: Sprinkle on Big Underdog in Main Event (Saturday, November 18)
Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC middleweight Paul Craig of Scotland
Brendan Allen vs. Paul Craig Odds
|Total (Over/Under)||1.5 rounds (-120 / -110)|
|Venue||UFC Apex – Las Vegas|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via Caesars. Maximize your UFC betting action with our Caesars Sportsbook promo code.|
Two ranked middleweights square off in the UFC Vegas 82 main event on Saturday with long-time divisional stalwart Brendan Allen meeting Paul Craig.
Allen is 10-2 in the UFC and comes into the ESPN+ main event with a five-fight winning streak while Craig made the move to the 185-pound division following consecutive losses at light heavyweight.
Both men are known for their grappling prowess with six submission victories each during their UFC careers.
Craig seemed to be nearing the end of his prime during his recent light heavyweight skid, but he looked like a brand new fighter in his middleweight debut.
Does he have one more title run in him, or was that an anomalous performance caused by a favorable matchup? The fight with Allen will go a long way toward answering that question.
Here's my breakdown of today's UFC Vegas 82 headliner and my Allen vs. Craig prediction and betting pick.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||8:31||7:50|
|Weight||186 pounds||186 pounds|
|Reach||75 inches||76 inches|
|Date of birth||12/28/1995||11/27/1987|
|Sig Strikes Per Minute||3.96||2.57|
|SS Absorbed Per Minute||3.89||2.85|
|Take Down Avg||1.2||1.9|
In a lot of ways, Paul Craig is a throwback.
From the war paint at weigh-ins to the intense staredowns, his whole persona is reminiscent of the sport's early days. As is his extremely one-dimensional skill set.
In modern MMA, high-level fighters need to be good at everything – with top-ranked fighters having one elite skill on top of that.
That he's the antithesis of that has made Craig (usually) extremely entertaining.
He wants to grapple at all costs, and he will pull guard, dive for bad takedowns, or roll for leg attacks to force the issue. Sometimes that pays off, like in his armbar victory over former light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill, in which Craig brutally snapped Hill's arm from guard.
And sometimes he goes out on his shield, like when Johnny Walker knocked him out with Walker desperately clinging to his leg.
At least, that was the Paul Craig we saw at 205 pounds. In his middleweight debut, he showed considerable improvement in his striking and wrestling, snapping head kicks from the outside to go with his usual winging haymakers.
He also went two for two on takedowns, including a well-timed single leg at range.
To be fair, Craig was fighting a fellow grappler in Andre Muniz, who also has limited striking and was more or less willing to accept takedowns from Craig and test his jiu-jitsu.
It was a test Muniz failed. Craig countered Muniz's sweep into a guard pass and then finished the Brazilian with strikes from mount.
Some of Craig's struggles in his former weight class were certainly a result of the size and strength of his opponents. It's much harder to take down the big boys at 205 than at 185 pounds.
Still, it's up for debate whether he can repeat that success against Allen – a big middleweight who's dabbled at light heavyweight.
Fortunately, we have a readily available comparison in Allen's recent fight against Muniz.
Like Craig, Allen spent most of the first round trading strikes with Muniz. As is a recurring theme with Allen's fights, he ate a lot of shots on the feet, but he managed to land the bigger ones at opportune moments. Muniz was also able to take him down, though Allen rolled through immediately and ended up in top position.
It wasn't until the third round when Allen caught a kick from a tired Muniz that he landed a takedown of his own. From there, he eventually got the back of an increasingly desperate Muniz.
Which neatly sums up the difference between Allen and Craig: Both are elite grapplers, but Allen is comfortable in other phases of the game too.
Allen vs. Craig Pick
Based on his past fights with fellow submission specialists, I expect Allen to attempt to keep this one standing.
In a pure grappling match, Allen and Craig would be competitive, but I'd probably give the edge to Craig. He showed a bit more in his fight against Muniz in terms of offensive grappling whereas Allen's success came late in the fight against a tired opponent.
On the feet, Allen should have a fairly significant edge. With that said, both fighters have questionable chins.
Allen's been knocked out by Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis – both former welterweights – and seemed rocked at times in each of his last two fights. Craig has four knockout losses of his own – albeit at a heavier weight class.
I was also impressed by the improvements Craig showed in his striking against Muniz. Not enough that I'd pick him if this betting line were close – but enough that I'm willing to take a sprinkle at +350 odds.
If Craig can find the button on the feet and distract Allen long enough to take him down, this one could look a lot closer than the lines suggest. The five-round nature of this one probably doesn't help Craig, but we likely won't see it last that long anyway.
This won't be a full unit play for me, but I'll take a sprinkle down to +300.
The Pick: Paul Craig (+350 at Caesars)