LAS VEGAS — The middleweight bout on Saturday at Apex between No. 2 Paulo Costa and No. 5 Marvin Vettori figures to be a fan-friendly bout. The more fan-friendly you believe it will be, though, figures to influence who you believe will win the fight.
Both men are coming off title fight losses to champion Israel Adesanya. Costa was stopped late in the second round in Abu Dhabi by Adesanya at UFC 253. Vettori dropped a five-round decision to Adesanya at UFC 263 in June.
Vettori has fought three times since Costa has last been in the cage. And Costa, frankly, did not look good against Adesanya. He appeared to break mentally under the pressure and was dominated by the champion.
If you look at the Costa prior to the Adesanya fight, you see one of the most dangerous men in the UFC. He was 13-0 with 11 knockouts and one submission and a decision win over Yoel Romero.
Vettori isn’t that kind of a striker, and doesn’t have the one-punch knockout power that Costa possesses. Power, though, is only one aspect of MMA and Vettori seems to have the advantage in other places.
He’s a -150 favorite to win at BetMGM, while Costa is +125.
Vettori is likely to choose to wrestle Costa, but it’s not that easy. Romero, a silver medalist in wrestling at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, was 1-for-4 on takedown attempts against Costa in their fight in Anaheim, California, at UFC 241 on Aug. 17, 2019.
You have to go back to Costa’s second fight in the UFC on June 3, 2017, at UFC 212 against Oluwale Bamgbose for the last time Costa was taken down. Bamgbose was 2-for-5 that night. Since, Johny Hendricks was 0-for-4, Uriah Hall was 0-for-1 and Romero was 1-for-4. Adesanya did not attempt to take Costa down.
So if Vettori does elect to employ a wrestle-heavy style, it’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to put Costa on his back.
Vettori, though, is a worker and he’s not one to give up when it doesn’t work. He has a diverse game and has been in there with elite strikers and had success.
The key for Vettori is to push the pace, mix up his attack, slow Costa’s forward pressure by beating on his legs and creating doubt in Costa’s mind. Costa is an emotional fighter and after being dominated by Adesanya, if Vettori gets off quickly, it could easily create plenty of doubt in Costa’s mind.
Vettori has a more well-rounded game and he’s always in peak condition. He’s also the grittier fighter.
As a result, I’ll lay the -150 and take Vettori to win.
Other bets for UFC Vegas 41
• I will lay -350 on Grant Dawson to win over Rick Glenn, who is +275.
• I will take the +115 on Joselyne Edwards to win over Jessica-Rose “Jessy Jess” Clark. Clark is -140.
• I will lay the -250 on Nick Negumereanu to win over Ike Villanueva (+200).