Unlike some of the PFL cards this season, I don’t think PFL #7 is a good card from a betting perspective. Still, I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to gamble on midweek MMA and I’ve found a fight that intrigues me.

Intelligent Man, Meathead Fighter

Sean O’Connell is a smart, articulate guy and professional broadcaster – but you’d never guess it by the way he fights. As a combatant, “The Real OC” is an easy book to read. He wades forward blocking punches with his face and looks to explode your cranium with haymakers. This isn’t the most sophisticated style of fighting, but it can be effective against a certain level of competition.

In his last bout against jiu-jitsu black belt, Ronny Markes, O’Connell had to fight through adversity in the first round. However, O’Connell received a gift when his opponent did the one thing you should never do when fighting the broadcasting brawler: stand and trade hooks. O’Connell isn’t the most technical fighter and his defense is non-existent, but he can seriously crack. Unless you have a chin like Canadian slugger, Steve Bosse, it’s wise to stay tight and technical on the feet. I think that will be the game plan for his opponent, Bazigit Ataev, this Thursday.

Who is Bazigit Ataev?

Sanda kickboxer, Bazigit Ataev, does not have much fight footage available online. Before his PFL debut, where he looked good for fourteen minutes, his lone MMA loss came against the world-renowned Alistair Overeem. In his last fight against Bellator veteran, Daniel Spohn, you can see that that Ataev is an experienced striker. Fighting at a relaxed pace, Ataev throws clean straight punches to the body and head. He’s also a proficient clinch fighter, which could be useful against a relentless zombie like O’Connell that never takes a backward step. Ataev looked competent on the mat as well, although I’m not sure we’ll see many ground exchanges in this fight.

At 39-years-of-age, he could be past his prime but he doesn’t look like a shot fighter. That being said, his pace did drop in the third round before he was obliterated by a late rally from Spohn. Can Ataev keep his composure for three rounds against a maniac that will be trying to turn the fight into a slug fest?

Who Wins?

It’s very possible Ataev wins the majority of exchanges and punches himself out, allowing O’Connell to take over in the second half of the fight. It’s also possible Ataev wins a decision or scores a knockout – he has plenty of finishes on his record and “The Real OC” is extremely hittable. Ultimately, I see this as a 50/50 fight – yet the lines don’t reflect this. I don’t mind a value bet on the more technical striker who is also the underdog.

Pick: Bazigit Ataev +160

Check out my UFC 228 betting predictions.


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