john_howard_eye One of the main card bouts at UFC Fight Night 39 is a welterweight bout between Ryan LaFlare and John “Doomsday” Howard. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists LaFlare as a -290 favorite (bet $290 to win $100) while Howard is a +230 underdog (bet $100 to win $230). MMA oddsmaker originally opened up LaFlare at -230 and Howard at +170, meaning the early action is on the favorite LaFlare. I agree with the early action as I’m also picking LaFlare to get the victory in this fight. Here’s why. LaFlare (10-0) took MMA by storm in 2013, as he returned from a three-year injury layoff to win four fights, including three in the UFC over Ben Alloway, Santiago Ponzinibbio, and Court McGee. At 30 years of age, LaFlare’s stock is through the roof and there general feeling amongst fans and media is that this Long Island product could made a run for the title at 170 pounds in the near future. He has great wrestling, his striking is solid, and he also has good submissions. Overall, he’s super well rounded and the only real flaw he’s shown in his fights so far is in his cardio, as he tends to fade badly in the third round. And it’s possible in a close fight that could prove to be his unravelling. Howard (22-8) returned to the UFC in 2013 after two years away from the organization to capture two upset wins over Uriah Hall and Siyar Bahadurzada. The 31-year-old fighter has won eight of his last nine overall fights and with a 6-3 overall record in the Octagon, Howard has proven himself to be a very solid mixed martial artist. Although he flamed out of the UFC a few years ago with a three-fight losing steak, keep in mind the losses came to Jake Ellenberger, Matt Brown, and Thiago Alves, so in hindsight those losses don’t seem so bad at all. Howard is in general a very well-rounded welterweight, and the UFC has matched him up against a fighter who is pretty similar to him in many ways except for in the power department, an area which Howard will hold an advantage in. Will that prove to be the difference in the fight? I’m not so sure, but considering Howard holds the record for latest knockout in UFC history with his stoppage of Dennis Hallman at 4:55 of round three in their 2009 fight, this is someone who can never be counted out of a 15-minute fight. This should be a competitive fight but I believe LaFlare’s wrestling will prove to be the difference as he win the first two rounds on the judges’ scorecards and then survives the third round to win a decision on the judges’ scorecards. I like LaFlare in this matchup but at -290 I can’t recommend a bet on him because I don’t see any value in the line, although in general I do think this is a favorite or pass situation. However, there is a bet I do like in this matchup, and it’s OVER 2.5 rounds, which is surprisingly low at -230. I definitely think this fight goes all three rounds and with the state of MMA judging holding this prop has more value than the moneyline on LaFlare, who has shown a tendency to lose the third round of his fights. So I think the OVER is the way to go here.


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