One of the prelims at UFC 172 is a three-round women’s bantamweight bout between Bethe “Pitbull” Correia and Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists Correia as a -115 favorite (bet $115 to win $100) while Duke is a -105 underdog (bet $105 to win $100). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Correia at -105 and Duke at -135, meaning most of the action is on Correia as the line has flipped around. I disagree with the action on Correia as I believe Duke should be the favorite here and I’m picking her to win the fight. Here’s why. Correia (7-0) made her UFC debut last December at UFC Fight Night 33 and took home an upset split-decision win over Julie Kedzie. In order to get the win in that fight, the 30-year-old Brazilian was able to outpoint her opponent on the feet and edge her out in the grappling department. Overall I was impressed by Correia in that fight, but at the same time Kedzie was already one foot out the door heading into that fight (she is now the head matchmaker for Invicta FC) and I think people are maybe overrating Correia for that win. Still, she’s a solid all-around women’s bantamweight fighter with decent kickboxing, wrestling, and cardio, and she will probably win a few fights in the Octagon when it’s all said and done. A pro MMA fighter since 2008 who trains with Bellator’s “Pitbull” brothers, Correia also hold a notable win over Erica Paes, the same woman who submitted Cyborg Santos with a double kneebar all those years ago. She is a good fighter, but with only a 64-inch reach and standing only 5’4″ tall, she is likely small enough to eventually make the cut to 125lbs and facing off against a massive bantamweight against Duke could be a problem for her this weekend at UFC 172. Duke (3-0, 1 NC) was on TUF season 18 and won her debut at the season finale, taking home a unanimous decision win over Peggy Morgan in her UFC debut. The 27-year-old American now trains with coach Ronda Rousey in California along with other female fighting machines Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir and she should be much improved in this fight. A huge bantamweight standing 5’11” with a 73-inch reach, Duke is a long and tall striker with good volume and she also has an excellent ground game, having earned her purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She is also very experienced for her age, having started her amateur MMA career in the year 2010 and she’s also fought some very solid opposition in Invicta FC, as well. Overall she’s a solid fighter who is just getting better and better and with her massive size advantage over most opponents in the UFC women’s bantamweight division, she could be a real player at 135lbs in the near future, especially since she upped her training level significantly by moving to the Glendale Fighting Club. I expect a competitive kickboxing match between these two and if that’s the case I expect Duke’s 9-inch reach advantage to prove to be the ultimate determinant. Look for Duke to look much improved from her last outing and to pick apart Correia from the outside with her leg kicks and punches to take home a decision win. I like Duke in this fight and definitely think she should be favored, so at -105 I see value in her for a bet. I believe she is already the better fighter and I think she has more room to improve than Correia, and I think the Brazilian is being overvalued here for her win over Kedzie. It’s possible that Duke could win inside the distance, but I favor a decision and that prop is at +178 and see some value in that as well. But I definitely like the Duke moneyline here at -105.
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