Join our fighting expert Jason Paglia while he takes a look at the best bets for the UFC Fight Night 153.
<p>For only the third time since 2016, Swedish born Alexander Gustafsson returns to the Octagon to fight Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC Fight Night: 153. It all takes place this Saturday under the lights of the Ericsson Globe in Gustafsson’s hometown of Stockholm, Sweden. A win for Gustaffson would put him in position to fight light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones for the 3rd time (the first two being unsuccessful). His opponent Anthony Smith comes into Saturday one fight removed from a failed title opportunity against the light-heavyweight champion. Both fighters can use a win here, in what should be a very entertaining fight. Ok, enough small talk…. Lets get after it.</p><div><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON (18-5) vs ANTHONY SMITH (31-14)</strong></h2><p style="text-align:center"><a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/fighting/int/ultimate-fighting-championship/anthony-smith-vs-alexander-gustafsson-3800374/?mtid=126" target="_blank" title="Gustafsson vs Smith Odds Board"><strong>20:35 - Saturday 1<sup>st</sup>, Jun 2019</strong></a></p><h2 style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5cf0397a8744ba9e8d3ce422/original-alexander-gustafsson" style="width:600px;height:338px" /></h2><p><strong>Alexander Gustaffson:</strong></p><p>‘The Mauler’ started his combat career in boxing. He was so good in fact that he was the odds on favorite to win the heavyweight championship in Sweden. To the benefit of MMA fans around the world that fight never happened. Instead in 2009 Gustafsson signed with the UFC and the rest as they say, is history. Although Gustaffson is 10-5 lifetime in the UFC, he has been ranked the #2 light-heavyweight in the world for the last 5 years. The only fighters he has not been able to beat since 2014/2015 are two of the best MMA fighters of all-time in Jones and Cormier. Because Gustafsson fights so seldom in the UFC, the importance of every fight is compounded. With a win over Anthony Smith here, he should be right back in the title picture. Let’s take a look at Gustafsson by the numbers.</p><p> </p><p><strong><u>― STATS ―</u></strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5cf03deb8744ba9e8d3ce426/original-ufc-153-stats-2" style="width:600px;height:119px" /></p><p><u><strong>― PROS ―</strong></u></p><p>• <strong>Striking</strong> (Gustafsson often gets overshadowed by two of the best fighters to ever put on 4 oz. gloves but he is a phenomenal striker. His boxing in the pocket is tremendous, his counter-punching game is tremendous and those 9 feet legs that occasionally come flying at your head and liver are very solid.)</p><p>• <strong>Movement</strong> (Again, what gets lost in Jones having the best movement in the history of the division is how good Gustafsson moves around the cage. It come from his boxing background. True boxers are at a huge advantage in the striking game and Gustafsson cuts the angles with the best of them.)</p><p>• <strong>Takedown Defense</strong> (Gustaffson has some of the best takedown defense in the division. It was no surprise to me when I checked the metrics that Alex defends the takedown at an 85% clip.)</p><p>• <strong>Range</strong> (The combination of Alex having ridiculously long limbs and the way he moves around the Octagon makes for a very underrated range game. If he wants to stay on the outside and pick you apart, he is more than capable of doing so.)</p><p><u><strong>― CONS ―</strong></u></p><p>• <strong>Chin</strong> (Gustafsson has far from the worst chin in the UFC but he has been hurt before. I am not totally convinced that it’s a problem BUT when 40% of your losses come by TKO it has to be mentioned before you make the decision to back a fighter in this fight.)</p><p>• <strong>Mentality</strong> (I don’t normally question a fighter’s heart. These men are true modern-day gladiators and deserve our respect. I take that very seriously as an MMA analyst and super fan boy. However, It is so hard to know where a fighter is mentally when you don’t see them in the Octagon multiple times per year. Alexander Gustafsson has only fought twice in over TWO YEARS. Is he completely committed? I don’t know. Is he fighting for a paycheck? I don’t know. That is the point, with so much time between fights the question must be asked.</p><p>• <strong>Striking Defense #1</strong> (For as good of a striker as Gustafsson is, and he is world class, his defense is abysmal. Absolutely abysmal. He is way to willing to take a shot as long as he lands a shot and that is a problem for someone who hits as hard as Smith.)</p><p>• <strong>Striking Defense #2</strong> ( Gustafsson has fantastic movement in the cage BUT, if you hit him hard he starts to move backwards and when that happens his stand-up defense goes from abysmal to horrific.)</p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5cf03cc88744ba9e8d3ce425/original-anthony-smith" style="width:600px;height:344px" /></p><p><strong>Anthony Smith:</strong></p><p>Anthony Smith is a great story. He grew up in a small town in Nebraska working odd jobs when in 2008 he decided to pursue a career in mixed martial arts. For 5 years he worked his way up through the regional scene in every corner of the country when finally the UFC reached out. He made his UFC debut in 2013, lost his first fight and the UFC released him. Smith would go back to the regional MMA scene while working concrete construction and finally three years later the UFC called again. This time Smith would not let another opportunity pass him by. Three years and one weight class change later he Had won 7 of 9 fights and was given a chance at immortality. In his last fight, after all the odd jobs and all the years on the regional scene he fought light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones. <a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/tips/more-sports/ufc-235-jones-vs-smith-results-recap-odds/89522/" target="_blank">The fight took place at UFC 235</a> a little less than 3 months ago. Unfortunately for Smith, he found out that there are levels to the fight game and he wasn’t ready for it. In fact, he got destroyed. Now he sits the #4 ranked light-heavyweight fighter in the world with the second toughest challenge of his career in front of him. A win here would most likely solidify another title opportunity for Smith. Will he win on Saturday? I don’t know, but all great stories deserve a great ending. <a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/fighting/" target="_blank" title="Fighting Odds">Let’s break him down by the numbers.</a></p><p><u><strong>― STATS ―</strong></u></p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5cf03c668744ba9e8d3ce424/original-ufc-153-stats-1" style="width:600px;height:120px" /></p><p><u><strong>― PROS ―</strong></u></p><p>• <strong>Power</strong> (Anthony Smith is big for the division, and he hits HARD.)</p><p>• <strong>Range</strong> (Smith hasn’t mastered the art of range the way that Gustafsson has, but he certainly does it well. He is fully capable of staying on the outside and picking opponents apart. Is he good enough to do it against ‘The Mauler’? Im not sure.)</p><p>• <strong>Unpredictability</strong> (Smith is just a storm of unpredictable violence. Most times it works out for him and sometimes it doesn’t. One thing is for certain though, being unpredictable is always a good thing in the Octagon.)</p><p>• <strong>Ground Game</strong> (11 submission victories is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Anthony Smith, but he is sneaky good on the mat. Will that help him in this fight when Gustafsson is hard to get on the mat? Probably not, but we did just talk about how unpredictable Smith is.)</p><p> </p><p><u><strong>― CONS ―</strong></u></p><p>•<strong>Pressure</strong> (Smith can handle pressure when he isn’t getting hit hard. That being said, he fights for a living…. If he starts to get hit hard, he is way less effective striking off his back foot all night.)</p><p>• <strong>Chin</strong> (Smith has been knocked stupid multiple times in his career, If Gustafsson can hit the button a few times he can definitely fall.)</p><p>• <strong>Defense</strong> (In so many ways Smith is a poor man’s Alexander Gustafsson. ESPECIALLY when it comes to defense. If he isn’t getting hit that much his standup defense is strong, BUT if you hurt him and gain his respect, he has been known to wilt under pressure like a dead flower. They are both equally bad when it comes to this facet of their game.)</p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5cf03e868744ba9e8d3ce427/original-ufc-153-veredict" style="width:600px;height:332px" /></p><p><strong>THE VERDICT</strong></p><p>OK, so we are going to do something with this pick that we haven’t done since we started the ‘Squared Up’ series. We are going to take the lesser skilled fighter, who has a better chance to lose the fight. In sports betting it’s called ‘taking a flyer’. What do we know about this fight? We know that Alexander Gustafsson is probably better in every facet of the fight game with the exception of power. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Gustafsson will win this fight. We take the better fighter every week in these breakdowns, do we have a perfect record? NO. We have won 5 of the last 6 and are hitting above 60% but that isn’t perfect. Sometimes value presents itself and it’s normally in the form of a derivative. Anthony Smith can win this fight. He can knock Gustafssson out. Is it the most likely outcome, no but it is possible. Smith has 11 submission victories, can he submit Gustafsson? Yes, but less likely. We don’t know the headspace of a fighter that has fought twice in over two years. There are a bunch of questions surrounding this fight. With how bad Gustaffson’s defense is, how solid Smith’s striking technique is and how hard he hits, the derivatives are enticing enough to take a chance, even if we aren’t in the best position to win. If we lose, so be it. It was worth a shot and <a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/tips/fighting/" target="_blank" title="UFC/MMA Betting Tips">the ‘Squared Up’ series is turning a consistent profit anyway</a>.</p><p><strong>THE PICK</strong></p><ul> <li>Anthony Smith to win by TKO at 21/5 (5.20) - (1 unit)</li> <li>Anthony Smith to win by Submission at 12/1 (13.00) – (1/2 unit)</li></ul></div>