One of the Fight Pass prelims at UFC Fight Night 59 is a three-round bout between Joby Sanchez and Tateki Matsuda. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Sanchez is a -160 favorite (bet $160 to win $100) while Matsuda is a +140 underdog (bet $100 to win $140). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Sanchez at -150 and Matsuda at +110, and the line has held steady as the public has no clear lean in this close fight. This is a competitive matchup but I slightly lean towards Sanchez for the win. Here’s why. Sanchez (6-1) made his UFC debut last summer, losing a close decision to veteran Wilson Reis in a fight that Sanchez took on very short notice. Despite the short notice, though, Sanchez knocked Reis down and nearly finished him before tiring and losing a close decision on the cards for his first career loss. The 23-year-old American trains at Jackson – Wink MMA in Albuquerque so you know he is well coached, and it’s led him to a lot of success so far in his career. In six career fights before the UFC, Sanchez earned six finished, three by knockout and three by submission, proving that he is a well-rounded and dangerous finisher. One of his wins came over UFC veteran Antonio Banuelos which earned him a UFC contract. Although he lost his debut, I think Sanchez has a bright future at 125lbs in the Octagon. He is a dynamic finisher and he can be a top-15 fighter soon if he keeps improving. A win over a tough out in Matsuda would be a good start, and although it’s a close fight on paper, the slight edges go in Sanchez’ favor and that’s why he is a slight dog entering the fight. Matsuda (10-6) made his UFC debut on short notice last fall, dropping a decision to Chris Beal. The 28-year-old American-trained fighter from Japan is a very tough fighter and is competitive in nearly every fight he’s in. If you look at his record you might think he is a bad fighter, but if you look closely you’ll see five of his losses have come by decision, with most of those being of the split variety. Despite his poor record, he is still on the UFC roster so it’s clear he is more talented than his record indicates. He has solid striking and he has won five career bouts via T/KO so he definitely has power for a flyweight, although he has yet to show it against a UFC-caliber fighter. I think Matsuda is solid and can be competitive in this fight with Sanchez, but with so many losses in his career it’s hard to trust him with your money, so even though he’ll have homefield advantage here and could steal a decision, it still makes sense he’s the underdog heading into the bout. This should be a really competitive fight and I could see it being a split decision that could go either way. I slightly lean towards Sanchez because I think he has more power and is more consistent, but Matsuda is a solid fighter and is not an easy out at all. However, since the fight is taking place in Matsuda’s backyard of Boston, if the fight hits the cards like I expect it to it, a close decision could very well go Matsuda’s way, and that’s why I can’t bet on either fighter here. However, I do like the OVER 2.5 rounds prop at -265. Many flyweight fights go the distance and these two seem destined to go 15 minutes as well, so that’s the best play in this matchup, I think.
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