(Each fight week, I’ll research fighters and their odds to see where money can be made. I’ll put a $100 bet on a fighter with a favorable matchup. If I don’t lose it all, the $100 stays in the pot and is used from week to week. Part of a semi-weekly, ongoing series.)
There’s always money to be made in the Las Vegas Sportsbook, this week $140, thanks to Makwan “Mr. Finland” Amirkhani (+140). He and Jason Knight (-120) squared off on the main card Sunday in Liverpool and put on a “Fight of the Night” contender. Both Knight and Amirkhani found their distance quickly and landed hard shots, Knight even managed to knock Makwan to the canvas twice in succession with heavy uppercuts.
Amirkhani found solace on the ground with his stronger wrestling, even able to pin Knight’s arms down on the ground and wag his tongue out taunting his opponent. He took Knight down three times throughout the fight and maintained control for the majority of the rounds.
After the early knockdowns, Makwan still seemed confident in his boxing and held his own on the feet. He landed 27 significant strikes, two less than Knight, and 25 of them on his opponent’s head. It was a stalemate on the feet as Knight knocked Amirkhani down twice early, but Makwan battled back to do more damage over the three rounds. This coupled with the three takedowns and supreme ground control won Makwan Amirkhani the split decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 27-30).
Ultimately I saw this fight either ending in a unanimous decision victory for Makwan or a stoppage on the ground. I can see why one judge liked Knight more due to his two highlight reel knockdowns, but favoring him in all three rounds is suspect to say the least.
Knowing a little about both fighters’ backgrounds, I was surprised to see Knight labeled the pre-fight favorite. After doing more research this seemed a good opportunity to take advantage of the odds. Knight became the favorite because he’s American and has more fan fare in MMA circles from his southern drawl and braggadociousness (some refer to him as “Hick Diaz”).
After watching the Finn Amirkhani’s four UFC fights, I saw a talented prospect that had skills wherever the fight went. His first two UFC contests ended in the first round, by KO then Submission. His only blemish came from his last fight, a close split decision courtesy of top featherweight prospect in Arnold Allen.
To Knight’s credit he was 4-3 in the UFC entering this fight and has two performance of the night credentials on his resume. But I don’t think he beat the toughest competition to warrant his #15 ranking. On top of that, I felt Knight’s fighting style boded well for Amirkhani. In particular, his brawling stand up strategy and willingness to defend from his back. Knight suffocates opponents with his rubber guard, but he’s susceptible to takedowns and I felt Amirkhani could take advantage. In the end, he was able to out maneuver and out point Knight on the feet, then controlled him on the mat en route to a decision victory.
It’s a quick turnaround this week for the UFC. Less than a week after Fight Night: Till vs. Thompson in Liverpool, the octagon will touch down in Utica, New York for a card headlined by Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Moraes. Later in the week I’ll put out a new post detailing what fighters I’m putting my money behind and why you should too.