September 30, 2023

Here’s an early Fight Night undercard bet to jump on

Alexander Munoz is favored to win his lightweight bout against Carl Deaton on Saturday's UFC Fight Night.  (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alexander Munoz is favored to win his lightweight bout against Carl Deaton on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night. (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 290 delivered in every way imaginable. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler closed his career with a knockout victory, Alexander Volkanovski showed his greatness and a new Flyweight champion was crowned in one of the most exciting fights of the year. Oh, and I can’t forget Dricus DuPlessis’ stunning dismay at Robert Whittaker setting up a huge title fight against Israel Adesanya.

Don’t expect that many storylines to emerge this week. We’ve got a free weekend of fights as the UFC returns to the Apex for another fight night. The main event is important in the women’s bantamweight division. Number 3 Holly Holm needs an impressive win to hold onto her place in the rankings, while Julianna Pena and Raquel Pennington are expected to battle for the vacant title later this year. I’ll take my best bet on the headliner later this week. Here I will break off a fight on the tentative map I wanted to deploy as early as possible, as I suspect the odds will continue to rise.

Since this is scheduled for the second battle of the map, you’ll get an indication of the level of the fighters we’re dealing with. The loser of the matchup will likely have to find their next fight on the regional stage. Munoz retired his first two fights with the promotion, while Deaton was finished off by Joe Solecki on his debut in February. Despite both fighters looking for their first UFC win, there is a striking difference in how each fighter held up against the UFC competition. Munoz is not one to ever turn heads, but he was very competitive in his last fight against Luis Pena. He lost a lightning fast split decision (29-28, 28-29, 28-29), where he won the first round on all three maps. His opponent that night is no longer in the UFC, but did collect a 4-3 record against UFC competition at lightweight.

Carl Deaton’s first experience on the big show didn’t go nearly as well. Deaton was submitted quite easily in Round 2 after only landing 1 of 12 significant bouts. More worryingly, all of his blows were thrown from distance, and he gave Solecki 8:51 control time in a fight that lasted only 9:55. Deaton allowed Solecki to take his back early on and spent the first round surviving a naked choke. Round 2 was more of the same, except Deaton’s takedown defense was exposed in the middle of the Octagon in what ended up being the final series.

The huge grappling advantage gave us a taste of how his fight against Munoz will go. To be fair, Solecki is a man with a win over Jim Miller and fought Jared Gordon to a decision. Munoz is certainly not at that level, so it’s a necessary step back for Deaton. However, Munoz is the head wrestling coach on Team Alpha Male. His attack hasn’t been refined to where he can use it effectively to consistently set up takedowns, but I’m pretty sure he’ll get Deaton to the mat. Once he does, it’s his fight to win. In his final defeat, Munoz struggled to close the distance against the taller Pena, who had a lead of 6 inches high and 4 inches. Munoz will be much more comfortable and effective this time around with both advantages on his side against the smaller Deaton. I think that’s an important factor in a fight where the biggest advantage is wrestling Munoz.

We get Munoz at a good price because there are some red flags. He is coming off an ACL injury that forced a two-year layoff. That may be enough to keep some punters away from laying -165, but I won’t let it scare me away from a solid bet. Everything indicates that it is 100% healthy, and any cage rust should disappear quickly after the first removal. Plus, Munoz showed a good low leg kick that will help against a fighter who really only seemed interested in distance throwing in his last fight. I think it’s possible we see progress in Munoz’s stand-up. He throws a nice 1-2 with an overhand left that just couldn’t land consistently against the ranger Pena. It’s possible he could put Deaton on the end of those punches. That would just be the icing on the cake because all he needs is his wrestling to get the job done. The odds of Munoz giving Deaton a sustained pace that leads to several takedowns are relatively high, making a bet against the current odds a pretty good value. Even taking the layoff into account, it’s a good buy-low spot for the favourite. Best bet: Alexander Munoz -165.

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