The opening main card bout of UFC Fight Night 59 is a three-round lightweight bout between Gleison Tibau and Norman Parke. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Tibau is a -125 favorite (bet $125 to win $100) while Parke is a +105 underdog (bet $100 to win $105). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Tibau at -210 and Parke at +160, and the betting public has come in on the underdog Parke. This is a close fight but I lean towards Parke as the dog. Here’s why. Tibau (30-10) is one of the longest-tenured veterans of the UFC lightweight division. The 31-year-old Brazilian is 15-8 overall in the UFC, with victories over the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Pat Healy, Jamie Varner, and Jeremy Stephens. He is currently riding a two-fight win streak and has won four of his last five fights. He is the ultimate gatekeeper in the UFC lightweight division because beating him shows a fighter is ready for the top 15 while losing to him means they aren’t. Tibau is, quite simply, just a difficult guy to fight. He is huge for the weight class and he uses his size well, pushing his opponents up against the fence and bullying them to the ground. His striking isn’t great (only three T/KO wins), but it’s serviceable and he uses it to close the distance and get into the clinch. His ground game is also underrated and he has 12 career wins by submission. Tibau’s issues are his cardio and chin. Because of all the muscle he carries on his frame, he tends to gas out early on, and his chin suffers from the weight cut as well. He has also taken a lot of damage in his career and he has been brutally knocked out on multiple occasions. Tibau is definitely a tough out but he appears to be on a slight decline and this could be a good opportunity to fade the veteran against the up-and-comer in Parke. Parke (20-2-1) won the TUF Smashes lightweight tournament and overall is 4-0-1 in the UFC with wins over Jon Tuck, Naoyuki Kotani, Kazuki Tokudome and Colin Fletcher and a draw to Leonardo Santos. The North Irishman Parke is just 28 years old and is constantly improving his game. He is primarily a submission grappler (12 career sub wins) but has been showing off improved striking in recent fights, as well as improved wrestling. He also has good cardio and a good chin. He is undefeated in his last 11 fights and the UFC is giving him a fight here against Tibau to test just where he is in the division, and it’s a test I think he can pass. Tibau is a guy who tends to slow as the fight goes on and with a lack of finishing ability, he could be ripe for the picking for Parke late in the fight. I believe that if Parke can avoid the clinch, he can keep Tibau at range and outstrike him here, and if the fight goes into the deep waters I think he may be able to unleash strikes and get a late stoppage. It’s the toughest fight of Parke’s career to date, but it’s a winnable fight at the same time, and I think he has a chance of pulling off the upset. This should be a competitive fight, but with edges in age, less damage taken, better cardio, speed, and chin, I have to go with Parke in this one. Tibau is a grizzled veteran of the sport and is always capable of winning fights, but he is getting up there in age, his chin is declining and he still has the cardio issues that plagued him earlier in his career. I think Tibau probably wins round one with his wrestling, but in rounds two and three I think he’ll slow down and I think Parke can outwork him to steal the second and third and win a decision. I could also see Parke stopping Tibau with strikes late if he really gasses. At the current line, I am not confident enough to bet on Parke here, but if the line gets better I would consider placing a small bet on it.
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