Thomas-de_Almeida The opening main card bout at UFC 189 is a three-round bantamweight bout between Thomas Almeida and Brad Pickett. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Almeida is a -1050 favorite (bet $1050 to win $100) while Pickett is a +675 underdog (bet $100 to win $675). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Almeida at -445 and Pickett at +315, and action has poured in on the favorite Almeida. I agree with the money that has poured in on Almeida as I fully expect him to win this fight. Here’s why. Almeida (19-0) is one of the top prospects in the UFC bantamweight division. The 23-year-old Brazilian is undefeated in his MMA career and is so far 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Tim Gorman and Yves Jabouin. Almeida is an offensive juggernaut. He has ridiculous striking, both technical and powerful, and he has the ability to be a title contender if he keeps improving his overall game. He has 18 finishes in 19 carer victories including 14 by knockout, which includes his Performance of the Night win over Jabouin in his last outing. Almeida also has some nasty submission ability on the ground, although primarily he has stuck to his striking. His wrestling is pretty good, not great, but it’s getting better and for the most part he is able to defend takedowns and keep his fights on the feet. And at 23, this will only improve. He’s shown a good chin so far, although he’s a bit too hittable, and he’s also shown good cardio. I really that Almeida is going to be in the top 10 soon, and with a win over Pickett — especially if he can finish him — that would shoot his stock way up. Pickett (24-10) is a long-time veteran of the lighter-weight divisions. The 36-year-old Brit is 4-5 overall in the UFC including a 3-3 record as a bantamweight with wins over Mike Easton, Damacio Page and Yves Jabouin at 135lbs. He also has a win over Demetrious Johnson from the WEC days. Pickett is an extremely exciting fighter who is always in “Fight of the Night”-type brawls. He loves to stand in the pocket and trade, and he is called “One Punch” because he has pretty decent power for the division. However, while he does have some nice offensive boxing, defensively he gets hit way too much and in recent fights his chin has seen signs of a steep decline as he’s been rocked and dropped badly in a few fights. Because his chin isn’t holding up as well anymore, he has reverted to using his wrestling, which is actually quite decent. For a British fighter, Pickett has pretty good wrestling and is able to take most of his opponents down. But at this point of his career that’s all he has going for him. His conditioning has looked poor recently, he’s looked slow, and he’s been hittable, all bad signs for a 36 year old going up against a young stud like Almeida, and not surprisingly the line is steep in his opponent’s favor. Like everyone else, I like Almeida in this fight and expect him to get the finish. Pickett has really slowed down in recent years and the speed difference in this fight is going to be very obvious as soon as they touch gloves. The only way Pickett wins is if he can wrestle Almeida for 15 minutes and based on what we’ve seen from Almeida’s takedown defence, I don’t think that’s possible. I like Almeida here but at 10-1 it’s hard to find value in the moneyline, so prop bets are probably the way to go here. Almeida wins inside distance is only -190. I just don’t see Pickett surviving 15 minutes in the cage with this guy, so there looks to be good value in that prop, although obviously the limits will be lower. Most are figuring the Almeida T/KO prop at -110 will cash, but I’m also looking at Almeida by submission at +419. I think there’s a chance he rocks Pickett on the feet then chokes him out, so at those odds it’s worth a shot, although of course the safer route with props would be to go with Almeida ITD at -190. Anyways, I fully expect Almeida to win this fight and I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs against a fighter I’ve long respected in Pickett.