The main event of UFC Fight Night 39 is a five-round heavyweight bout between Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists Nelson as a -155 favorite (bet $155 to win $100) while Nogueira is a +135 underdog (bet $100 to win $135). MMA oddsmaker originally opened up Nelson at -190 and Nogueira at +150, meaning the action has come in on the underdog Nogueira. I disagree with the line movement as I’m picking Nelson to win the fight. Here’s why. Nelson (19-9) is one of the most popular heavyweight fighters in the UFC who is known as much for his gut and mullet as he is for his knockout power and iron chin. The 37-year-old has insane power in his right hand, arguably the best chin in MMA history, and he also has a solid ground game. Following a stint on TUF season 10, so far in the UFC he’s gone 6-5 with six knockout wins, including notable wins over Stefan Struve, Brendan Schaub, and Cheick Kongo. But when he’s not knocking guys out, he’s getting beat up badly. Nelson is fairly slow, he’s never in good shape, and he gets hit way too often. He was essentially a punching bag in his last two fights against Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, just as he was in his earlier losses against Fabricio Werdum and Junior dos Santos. But the fighters he has lost to are elite mixed martial artists, and against lesser competition Nelson has did better. Although Nogueira is a great fighter in his own right, he’s on the downside of his career and it’s very likely Nelson has caught “Big Nog” at a good point of his career. Nogueira (34-8-1, 1 NC) is a legend of the sport and one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time. The 37-year-old is the former PRIDE heavyweight champion and the former UFC interim heavyweight champion and is known for his incredible ground game as well as his excellent boxing. In recent years Nogueira has been very inconsistent, bouncing between wins and losses in his last eight bouts, and it looks like he’s nearing the end of his days as a fighter as he’s been dealing with a variety of injuries in recent years and has also suffered a few brutal knockout losses. Still, he’s a legend for a reason, and that’s because he’s an extremely dangerous finisher who has proven himself against the top fighters in the sport for the last 15-plus years. Against Nelson, Nogueira will likely look to box his opponent up and maybe try to mix in some takedowns as well, but that won’t be easy against a fighter possessing decent hands and decent takedown defence like Nelson. And that’s why, despite his stronger resume, you see Nogueira as the underdog heading into this matchup. Nogueira is a better technical boxer than Nelson, but he’s not going to knock “Big Country” out and in a five-round fight I don’t see how Nelson doesn’t find Nogueira’s chin a few times. Nogueira tends to get hit a lot and Nelson packs massive power in his right hand, and I see him winning the main event of UFC Fight Night 39 fight via devastating knockout. At -155, I feel like there is value on Nelson here. It’s not a blowout fight or anything like that, but Nelson has a clear path to victory while Nogueira doesn’t have one. So at -155, I feel like it’s worth a shot. Also take a look at “fight doesn’t go the distance” and “Nelson wins inside the distance” for prop plays once they are released later this week.
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