The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 39 is a featherweight bout between Clay “The Carpenter” Guida and Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists Guida as a -140 favorite (bet $140 to win $100) while Kawajiri is a +120 underdog (bet $100 to win $120). MMA oddsmaker originally opened up Guida at +115 and Kawjiri at -155, meaning there has been significant action on Guida as the line has flipped. I disagree with the action on Guida as I’m picking Kawajiri to win the fight. Here’s why. Guida (30-14) is a long-time veteran of the UFC and is known for his exciting fights as well as his ridiculously-good cardio and long hair. The 32-year-old made the drop to featherweight after a long career at lightweight and so far he’s 1-1 at 145lbs with a win over Hatsu Hioki and a TKO loss to Chad Mendes in his last outing at UFC 164. That was the first loss of Guida’s career by TKO, and it could be a sign that he is on the downside of his career. Overall he’s lost three of his last four bouts and while the losses were to top-ranked fighters, it’s still not a good sign to see him losing so much. Guida is a solid overall fighter with a great gas tank and good grappling, but he seems to be fading at this point and I’m surprised the betting public has turned him into the favorite in this matchup. Kawajiri (33-7-2) is himself a long-time veteran of the sport of MMA, and earlier this year he made his Octagon debut a success as he defeated Sean Soriano via submission to claim his first UFC win. The 35-year-old has won his last six fights and appears to have found his groove at featherweight, as he’s undefeated while fighting at 145lbs. With his excellent grappling as well as improved striking, Kawajiri is a tough out for anyone in the division and at this point it looks like he could be a legit contender to the 145lb belt, especially if he continues to finish his opponents. And with a win over Guida at UFC Fight Night 39, he’ll jump right into that title shot mix. Guida has looked poor at 145lbs and it was concerning he was taken down so easily by Chad Mendes, despite Mendes being a much smaller fighter. It was also disappointing how poor he looked in the fight with Hatsu Hioki. On the other hand, Kawajiri has looked phenomenal lately. I believe Kawajiri will be physically stronger than Guida in this battle of former lightweights, and I see him grinding Guida out or possibly even securing a rear-naked choke submission to pick up his second-straight win in the Octagon and emerge as a top featherweight contender. At +120, I see value in Kawajiri and have to recommend a play on him. I really think he should be the favorite in this fight and at +120 I think he’s worth a shot for sure. I also like the OVER 2.5 rounds total here, although that is much higher at -260. But I do think that cashes and I think it’s worth putting into a parlay. Pick: Kawajiri via decision
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