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UFC Vegas 84: Ankalaev vs. Walker Main Event Prediction

UFC Vegas 84: Ankalaev vs. Walker Main Event Prediction

UFC VEGAS 84: ANKALAEV VS. WALKER MAIN EVENT PREDICTION – The UFC ran 43 events last year but left the MMA community high and dry for the last three weeks, but thankfully the promotion is revving its gears to get the 2024 schedule underway.

First up, a visit to the UFC Apex where we have a rematch of a fight that went to a no contest back in October. That night, Magomed Ankalaev landed an accidental illegal knee on Johnny Walker. There seemed to be a miscommunication between the ringside physician and Walker as the fight was waved off, to Walker’s surprise.

It was quickly decided that the fight would be run back and now these two light heavyweights square off this weekend, but with an extra two rounds tacked on if need be.

Will the Russian be successful with implementing his complete MMA style? Or will Walker uncork another highlight reel knockout to get as close to a title shot as he has ever been? Read on to see how these light heavyweights square up and how we can take advantage of it at the bookies.

Hey, while you’re at it, click here to check out our Godzilla Wins Daily Staff Picks!

DraftKings

Magomed Ankalaev

I’ve long thought that Ankalaev was the uncrowned champion of the 205lb division. However, dating back to his UFC debut in 2018, Ankalaev has dealt with some of the most bizarre circumstances a fighter has ever faced in the UFC.

He lost his UFC debut with a last second tap to Paul Craig, after dominating the first 14:50 of the fight. He then went on a roll, which included having to fight Ion Cutelaba twice because of an ill-advised stoppage from the referee in their first fight.

In December 2022 he finally got his chance to fight for the vacant title, but the fight ended in a draw in a fight that many believed Ankalaev should have been victorious. Now he finds himself having to go through another rematch due to the unfortunate stoppage and result of his last fight.

Youthful Advantage

Luckily, Ankalaev is still only 31 years old and has a long future ahead of him, as we know fighters at this weight class can fight closer to their 40s and still be successful. What makes Ankalaev so dangerous is his comfort level with fighting anywhere a fight takes him. He is one of the most educated and talented strikers we’ve seen from Dagestan.

That striking style is on full display when you see how effortlessly he operates from either stance. He purposely chooses to strike from the opposite stance of his opponent so he can rip his kicks while causing them frustration.

Finally, his takedown game allows him to take fights into a safer position where it is easier to win on the scorecards while looking more dominant.

Johnny Walker

Splashing onto the UFC scene back in 2018 with an emphatic knockout over Khalil Rountree, expectations were very high for Walker. He followed that up with two more devastating sub-one-minute knockouts and lined himself up against a contender in Corey Anderson.

Anderson pulled off a big upset that night by finishing Walker in two minutes. That spurred a 1-4 run for Walker who found himself changing training camps every so often.

After settling into SBG Ireland, he finally found his groove and was able to rattle off three straight victories, his last of which was the best considering it was against a former title challenger in Anthony Smith

Walker’s Explosiveness

Walker largely relied on his explosiveness, speed, and power early in fights to get him his victories. When that stopped working for him, he showcased more of a patient approach which has resulted in more losses than victories.

However, he seemed to harness both patience and power to go on the run he is currently on, but you must wonder how far that will take him as he fights more complete fighters. Knowing he always has his power to lean on will always make him a dangerous foe, but fighters at the top of the division will know how to use that against him and muzzle him.

The Pick

When these two first threw down back in October, Ankalaev came in as a -360 favorite. After about three minutes of fighting, it seems like the public has been sold on the fact that Ankalaev had the answer to Walker’s style, and it was just a matter of time before he got the win.

Ankalaev now comes in as a near -600 favorite, so we must find another way to tackle this fight to make some money. What I’d be looking at is the over 1.5. It’s slightly chalky at -165 at the time of this writing, but I feel we know we’ll see Ankalaev go to his grappling for this fight. When he looks to grapple his opponents, he isn’t that quick to look for finishes.

He takes his time to wear on his opponents. If he is successful in breaking his opponent, he can find the finish, but I think Walker has enough belief and cardio to last 7.5 minutes of grinding. This prop is a tad more far-fetched, but maybe a nibble on Ankalaev via decision at +675 is not a bad look either. However, the main play I’ll give you will be on the over.

Over 1.5 -165

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