The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 71 is a three-round lightweight bout between Tony Ferguson and Josh Thomson. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Ferguson is a -190 favorite (bet $190 to win $100) while Thomson is a +165 underdog (bet $100 to win $165). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Ferguson at -165 and Thomson at +125, and action so far has come in on the favorite Ferguson. I agree with the action coming in on Ferguson as I believe he will beat Thomson for the biggest victory of his career. Here’s why. Ferguson (18-3) is quickly emerging as a UFC lightweight title contender. The 31-year-old American won TUF 13 and is 8-1 overall in the UFC with wins over the likes of Gleison Tibau, Abel Trujillo, and Danny Castillo with his lone loss to Michael Johnson in a fight where he broke his arm. Ferguson is a fantastic, well-rounded fighter who has won 15 fights by stoppage in his career. On the feet he uses his reach really well and he has brutal knockout power, on the ground he has slick submissions, and he generally has the wrestling to dictate where his fights take place. He’s looked amazing in his UFC career and with a win over Thomson will emerge as a title contender. The biggest thing he needs to watch out for is being outwrestled by Thomson, but otherwise he should have the advantage in most areas of the fight, and with five wins in a row, he enters this bout as the favorite. Thomson (20-7, 1 NC) is the former Strikeforce champion and one of the top lightweight fighters of all time. The 36-year-old American has an overall record of 3-3 in the UFC over two stints, and in his second stint he is 1-2 with a TKO win over Nate Diaz with split decision losses to Benson Henderson and Bobby Green. Thomson is a very well-rounded fighter and has long been a top contender at 155lbs, whether in the UFC, Strikeforce, or PRIDE. He is good everywhere. He has great wrestling, his striking is solid, and he has submissions. He also has excellent cardio and is able to go five rounds no problem, and his chin and submission defence are excellent as well, having only been finished once in his career. Having said all of that, he has shown signs of a decline in recent years. He hasn’t fought in a full year, he has been injured a lot lately, and he just hasn’t seemed that interested in the sport. In his last fight against Green he just looked like an unmotivated fighter who didn’t want to compete, and that’s concerning as he takes on a hungrier fighter in Ferguson. I still think Thomson is a solid fighter, but there’s too many red flags surrounding him, and going up against a killer like Ferguson, I agree with him being the underdog in this fight despite his storied resume. Thomson is a great fighter, but Ferguson has surpassed him at this point of his career. Thomson hasn’t fought much in recent years, he constantly get injured even in fights, and he always goes to split decision which isn’t going to work against an ultra aggressive fighter like Ferguson. I think Thomson’s only real path to victory is to stick to a wrestle-heavy gameplan against Ferguson, but Ferguson is an underrated wrestler himself and I believe he can negate Thomson’s wrestling and dictate where this fight takes place. Thomson has knockout power and great kicks, but Ferguson has really nice boxing and he has a long reach. If this fight stays standing, I see Ferguson outpointing him. I don’t think Ferguson is going to finish Thomson standing, but I do think there’s an outside chance he scores a submission if this fight hits the ground. Either way, I think Ferguson has multiple paths to victory while I only see Thomson having one, so at -190 I do like Ferguson here for a bet.
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