UFC Fight Night 63 Date: April 4, 2015 Arena: Patriot Center City: Fairfax, VA Lightweight bout: Al Iaquinta (+115) vs Jorge Masvidal (-135) Fight Breakdown: The co-main event for UFC Fight Night 63 in Virginia will be a lightweight affair between Team Serra-Longo’s “Raging” Al Iaquinta and American Top Team’s Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, and this scrap is expected to produce fireworks. Iaquinta is the underdog heading into this contest at +115 ($100 to win $115), with Masvidal being a -135 ($135 to win $100) favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. “Raging” Al Iaquinta (11-3-1 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is riding a red-hot three fight winning streak inside the Octagon, with all three victories coming by way of TKO and against Rodrigo Damm, Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon, respectively. He aims to make it four-in-a-row when he faces off against American Top Team’s Masvidal in Virginia. “Raging Al” is a talented striker with solid boxing skills and exceptional Muay Thai. His skills on the mat are also great, as he owns a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under former UFC welterweight title holder Matt Serra. Iaquinta is a Long Island, N.Y.-based fighter training out of the Serra-Longo fight team under the tutelage of Serra and one of the finest striking coaches in MMA, Ray Longo. The 27-year-old 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 always been able to hurt his opponents, but lately he has been learning how to maximize on those opportunities, and the proof has been in the pudding, as evident by his current three-fight streak. Iaquinta has good footwork and moves well around the cage. He hits hard and he hits often. The Long Islander has excellent conditioning, so cardio will not play a factor, should this scrap reach the 15-minute mark. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (28-8 MMA, 5-1 UFC) currently enjoys a three fight winning streak with unanimous decision wins over Pat Healy, Daron Cruickshank and James Krause, respectively. Heading into this co-main event bout on Saturday night, he hopes to make it four-in-a-row and draw top-5 opposition for his next outing, as the former Strikeforce title contender is hungry for UFC gold. “Gamebred” has excellent Muay Thai and is amongst the best technical strikers in the UFC’s 155-pound division. He works great kicks and puts together excellent combinations on the feet. His strikes can be both crisp and smothering. Masvidal has a nice jab and is generally effective with all of his punches, both in technique and power. He has the ability to outpoint opponents on the feet for three rounds, as well as the ability to put the pressure on and find the knockout, all the while remaining accurate with his strikes. The 30-year-old developed his wrestling game late, but you couldn’t tell, as he is very skilled in both offensive and defensive wrestling. He has great takedown defense, solid submission defense, and he has a nice submission game of his own, as was evident with his D’Arce choke victory over Michael Chiesa. The Strikeforce and Bellator veteran has a decent chin, although Chiesa was able to hurt him for a moment, and he’s also been knocked out a couple of times throughout his career, though one of those was a very controversial stoppage. That said, Masvidal’s chin generally holds up, and he recovers fairly well, too. Training out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, “Gamebred” is a well-conditioned fighter who will be ready for 15-minutes of action against the third The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 veteran (and second finalist) to cross his path. Gabe’s Thoughts: If Iaquinta and Masvidal both show up with their A games, I give a slight edge to Iaquinta because I think he hits harder than Masvidal and has the better chin. If this fight ends inside the distance, I think 75% of the time, it’s Iaquinta scoring the stoppage. Should the fight hit the judges’ scorecards, I think Iaquinta takes the nod 55% of the time. Again, that is if both fighters show on top of their games. That said, while I think Iaquinta will show up to Virginia with his A game, I cannot say the same for Masvidal. He has admitted to not taking this fight seriously, and with him generally being a fighter who doesn’t spend too much time at the gym, he has been putting less time in for this training camp than usual. When his original opponent Bobby Green suffered an injury and was replaced by Iaquinta, “Gamebred” started cutting his hours down at the gym, and believes a win over Iaquinta is going to be just another easy day at the office. Masvidal is one of my favorite fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division, but I don’t see this scrap playing out that way. In short, I think the betting value here is with the underdog in Iaquinta. Gabe’s Call: Iaquinta by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Iaquinta (+115) 2.35u to win 2.7u
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