UFC 173 Date: May 24, 2014 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, NV Lightweight bout: Al “Raging Bull” Iaquinta (-365) vs Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke (+305) Fight Breakdown: The UFC 173 preliminary card on FOX Sports 1 will feature a lightweight contest between Long Island’s Al “Raging Bull” Iaquinta and Canada’s Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke. Iaquinta is the favorite in this bout at -365 ($365 to win $100), with his opponent Clarke being the underdog at +305 ($100 to win $305) at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Al “Raging Bull” Iaquinta (8-2-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) is set to make his fourth appearance inside the Octagon while riding a three fight winning streak that includes victories over Ryan Couture, Piotr Hallmann, most recently Kevin Lee at UFC 169 over three months ago. The 27-year old is a talented striker with exceptional Muay Thai skills. His skills on the mat are solid as well, as he owns a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Matt Serra. Iaquinta is a Long Island, N.Y.-based fighter, training out of the Serra-Longo fight team, headed by who I think is one of the best coaches in the game today, Ray Longo. Iaquinta is a training partner of current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, so we know he works with the absolute best on a daily basis. He is a technical striker who prefers to stay calm and collected, rather than engaging in a brawl. He has good footwork and moves well around the cage. He hits hard and he hits often. The Long Islander has excellent conditioning and will be ready to go all three rounds against Clarke, should the fight reach the judges’ scorecards. Iaquinta has good wrestling, and very good takedown defense, so he will be looking to keep this fight on the feet, where I expect him to hold a clear advantage over the Canadian. Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke (10-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) will be making his return to the Octagon after a 10-month long layoff. He last saw action at UFC 161, upsetting Englishman John Maguire via unanimous decision. He was also out of action for a year prior to the Maguire bout. Now training out of The Lab in Glendale, AZ under the tutelage of John Crouch, word is that Clarke has made some major improvements in his all-around skill-set during his time away from the cage. He has been putting time in at the gym with former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, as well as the likes of former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner, Efrain Escudero, Joe Riggs, Jon Tuck, Alex Caceres, and others. The question is whether it will be enough to cancel out, or even top Iaquinta. The 28- year old’s striking is rudimentary, but he has been showing improvements in the department, and I expect to see more improvements in this outing. He is a talented submission artist with a great Jiu-Jitsu game who is excellent on the mat, both offensively and defensively. His nickname “Danger Zone” may very well be a reference to his guard, which I think is dangerous. Clarke has great chokes, which I think is the most likely route to victory for him in this bout, because Iaquinta has time and time again allowed opponents to take his back. That would be a dangerous position to fall into against this Canadian. He has shown major improvement in his conditioning since making the move from Alberta to Arizona, so I expect him to be able to go a full 15, should the scrap go the distance. Gabe’s Prediction: Clarke has been improving his all-around game, but so has Iaquinta. The Canadian may be able to keep this fight competitive, but I don’t see him doing enough to win a single round. I think Iaquinta will possibly earn his first T/KO stoppage in his UFC career in this match-up, but if not, I see him taking a 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards. Gabe’s Call: Iaquinta by TKO (strikes, 3:34 round 3) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Al Iaquinta (-365) parlayed with Chris Holdsworth (-340) for -155 7.4u to win 4.8u
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