In one of the more bizarre matchups on the Bamma Fight Night London card, Bellator veteran Anthony Taylor takes on hyped British prospect, Mike Hales. This fight is interesting to me from a betting perspective.
Great Prospect or Can Crusher?
Mike Hales has a large support base and trains at the world renowned camp, SBG Ireland.
With a flawless 5-0 record, it would appear Hales’ MMA career is off to a good start. While I don’t want to sound disrespectful, Hales has not been facing good competition.
None of Hales’ five opponents have winning records. In fact, none of his opponents have a single win between them. His opponents have an extraordinary combined record of 0-50.
Hales looks to be a reasonably proficient kickboxer, but it’s impossible to tell how good he is due to his level of competition. All of his wins have come in the first round and some of the footage is hilarious. You can hear Hales’ friends and family telling him to let his opponent get back to the feet despite him having full back mount!
What happens when he faces someone who isn’t going to explode like a tomato can in the first round and gives him a gritty fight? We’re about to find out.
Mixed Record, Rugged Professional
Anthony Taylor has traded wins and losses in his professional career, but he’s been fighting tough opponents. In fact, he gave super prospect James Gallagher a competitive fight for two rounds before eventually being submitted.
In his last fight, Taylor fought a highly technical kickboxer who had a height and reach advantage over him. While he was outstruck at range, Taylor gritted his teeth, chain wrestled and took his opponent to the mat where he quickly transitioned to back mount and sunk in a choke.
Taylor isn’t the most refined striker, but that’s okay. This is MMA, not K-1. Taylor isn’t going to kickbox at range with Hales, he’ll look to punch his way into the clinch and chain takedown attempts.
The Value is on Taylor
Training under John Kavanagh, it’s possible that Taylor has good counter-wrestling and a competent ground game. However, it’s equally possible that he’s clueless in grappling exchanges. We don’t know yet because the footage doesn’t exist.
One thing is for certain: Hales wouldn’t be the first European striker to look good against regional opponents only to fall apart the first time he faces a rough and rugged American wrestler.
Taylor is strong, athletic and has experience on the international stage. I think his chances of winning are a lot higher than his +210 moneyline implies. If you’ve been scanning the card looking for a high value underdog play, this is it.
Pick: Taylor +210