One of the best fights on paper heading into UFC Fight Night 43 is a three-round featherweight bout between Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira and Hatsu Hioki. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists Oliveira as a -190 favorite (bet $190 to win $100) while Hioki is a +165 underdog (bet $100 to win $165). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Oliveira at -125 and Hioki at -115, meaning the public has come in heavy on Oliveira so far. This is a tough one to call but I lean towards Oliveira ever so slightly. Here’s why. Oliveira (17-4, 1 NC) is one of the top submission artists in the UFC featherweight division. Of his 17 career victories, 10 have come via submission and overall he has finished 16 of his 17 victories, which is very impressive. Only 24 years of age, Oliveira is a veteran of 10 UFC bouts and is 5-4, 1 NC overall in the promotion with wins over Andy Ogle, Jonathan Brookins, Eric Wisely, Efrain Escuedro and Nik Lentz and the losses coming to Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller — many of those bouts coming in the lightweight division. His ground game is absolutely ridiculous and he has improving standup as well, which makes him a very dangerous out for anyone at 145lbs. However, he has shown that his chin isn’t that great and he tends to wilt when he gets hit with strikes, which is a problem when he faces the heavy hitters in the division. Fortunately for Oliveira, the UFC is giving him a fair matchup against Hioki this weekend, one that really plays into Oliveira’s style and one that he should have the edge in, which is why he is the favorite heading into the weekend. Hioki (27-7-2) was one of the top featherweights in the world just a few years ago and was expected to compete for the title, but his UFC career hasn’t gone as planned as he’s gone 3-3 overall in the Octagon with wins over George Roop, Bart Palaszewski and Ivan Menjivar and his only losses coming to Ricardo Lamas, Clay Guida, and Darren Elkins. Although he is a slick grappler and a clever striker, Hioki’s wrestling has looked pretty mediocre overall in the UFC and he has lost a few close decisions on the judges’ scorecards due to his inability to stay off his back. Although Hioki could lie on his back in Japan and still win in the judges’ eyes, under the Unified Rules the judges usually favor the guy on top and that is a huge worry when backing Hioki. So if he gets taken down by Oliveira he is going to be in trouble. But he is a tricky guy to deal with both on the feet and on the ground, and if Oliveira isn’t prepared for a real three-round war there could be an upset brewing as Hioki, despite his decline, is still a very solid talent and can’t be counted out of any fight at 145lbs. This is likely to be an exciting mixed martial arts bout between two fighters who are exciting to watch both on the feet and on the ground. I see both fighters doing a little bit of everything in this fight but I believe the younger Oliveira will be able to get more dominant positions on the ground and either lock in a submission or earn a close decision on the judges’ cards. This is a close fight and right now the -190 moneyline on Oliveira is too high for a bet, in my opinion. However, if for whatever reason Oliveira drops back down to where he opened at near a Pick ’em I would consider a bet on him; but at the current line there is no value and a pass is probably the right play to make here.
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