UFC Fight Night 129 tips: Best bets for Maia v Usman
Make the most of the UFC's first ever trip to Chile with our tipster's picks for the three biggest fights on the main card.
Demian Maia v Kamaru Usman
Usman has demanded a shot at a top welterweight opponent for a long time, and he’s finally got it here against fifth-ranked Maia.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ hasn’t gained many fans thanks to his slow, grinding style, but he certainly deserves a big fight like this after winning all six of his bouts in the UFC to date.
Usman’s relied on his excellent wrestling throughout his career, and he’ll need it to avoid being taken down by Maia – one of the UFC’s best jiu-jitsu practitioners ever.
The Brazilian has 12 submission wins on his record, and has eked out countless other decisions by taking the fight to the ground and pinning his opponents to the mat.
Maia has lost his last two fights, though, and is clearly a fading force at the age of 40.
Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley exposed him in an uneventful title fight last July, defending every one of Maia’s increasingly desperate takedowns and dominating the exchanges on the feet.
That’s the blueprint that Usman will attempt to follow, and the 31-year-old has the skill and athleticism to beat Maia even more impressively.
Expect Usman to start out cautiously but push for the finish as the older man begins to tire.
Alexa Grasso v Tatiana Suarez
Grasso has been tipped as a potential star in the women’s strawweight division, but the 24-year-old lost to Felice Herrig in February 2017 and has since fought just once.
She bounced back by edging a split decision against Randa Markos in August, but will need to significantly improve upon that performance to have a chance on Saturday night.
Suarez is unbeaten in five professional fights and is one of the best wrestlers in this division, having won bronze medals at the wrestling world championships in both 2008 and 2010.
The American’s striking isn’t the best, but Grasso is also one-dimensional on the feet and will struggle to cause her opponent many problems.
This will be another learning experience for the young Mexican, who should have her moments but ultimately fall short in a decision win for Suarez.
Jared Cannonier v Dominick Reyes
This should be the fight of the night, featuring one of the UFC’s most exciting light-heavyweight prospects in Reyes and a really tough brawler in Cannonier.
Reyes has looked great throughout his undefeated eight-fight MMA career, going the distance just once and ending both of his two UFC fights to date inside a round.
The American possesses great power and also plenty of skill as a southpaw whose feet are just as dangerous as his hands.
He’s taking a real step up against Cannonier, who has a 13-3 record and has never been stopped.
Ultimately, though, Reyes’ class should become clear, and he’s worth backing to earn his eighth career win inside the distance.
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