Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:30 PM EST.
Derek Brunson +100 over Ronaldo Souza
UFC on Fox 27 - Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
8:00 PM EST. Tonight's main event features a rematch of a fight that took place in the Strikeforce promotion before it was absorbed by the UFC. Much has changed for Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza since that 41-second knockout victory nearly six years ago. 2012 was like the Wild West in MMA, and while Souza has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the cloud of uncertainty has followed the 38-year-old since the UFC started using USADA to do its drug testing. "Before and After" pictures from the pre-USADA era and today are a favorite of fight fans, and Jacare is often in their crosshairs. Former Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping flat-out accused Souza of juicing last February saying, "Jacare definitely looks a little different these days, you can say what you want, but you were on steroids, my friend."
Derek Brunson's ascent to the top-10 of the UFC's middleweight division began immediately after that brutal KO loss to Jacare with a win in his UFC debut over Chris Lebon. Brunson is 9-3 in the UFC with seven of those victories coming by way of stoppage including a knockout victory in his last fight over former Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida. Brunson ranks fourth among active UFC middleweights for shortest average fight time with his tilts barely going over the six-minute mark, but his last six knockout victories all came in the first round.
In his last eight fights, Brunson has been the betting favorite, which makes taking back a price with him tonight even more appealing. Despite his impressive run, Brunson is not yet a household name, even among MMA diehards. His most high profile fight was a controversial decision loss to Anderson Silva, who many consider to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time, but regardless of the circumstances, all the market see's is a big L next to his name. Brunson's other UFC defeat came at the hands of current Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker in a Fight of the Night Winner in November 2016. Many have pointed to Souza's dominance in their first fight a big reason to back Jacare here, as he was a 5-1 favorite the first time around. However, these odds accurately reflect how much the gap has closed between these two, and in the USADA era, we trust that Brunson's body of work is more legit than Jacare's. Fighters get old fast, and we've seen other Brazilian legends like Vitor Belfort and the aforementioned "Spider" Silva fall right off the map in this new era. Souza is not the same fighter he was six years ago, while Derek Brunson has evolved and only gotten better. In this striker versus grappler matchup, we're going with the heavy hands of Brunson, who has never been taken down in his career and asking the 38-year-old shell of Jacare to be the first might be too much. Wrong fighter favored.
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Derek Brunson +100 (Risking 1 units - To Win: 1.00)