Justin Tafa (+160) vs. Carlos Felipe (-190)
Weight Class: Heavyweight (up to 265 lbs)
Two rather green UFC heavyweights will be looking to move to two wins in a row when Justin Tafa and Carlos Felipe clash at UFC Fight Island 7. For Brazil’s Carlos Felipe, he will be getting back in action for the first time since October 3rd against Jorgan De Castro. An underdog, Felipe was able to out-point De Castro on the feet and had a superior gas tank. Both fighters were rather gassed by round three, but De Castro had almost nothing left in the tank. Round three consisted mostly of De Castro initiating desperation clinches that the referee separated within seconds.
The victory over Jorgan De Castro was just Felipe’s second UFC appearance. He previously lost a majority decision to Moldova’s Sergey Spivak in July of 2020. That one was a close fight heading into round three, but then Spivak implemented a grappling-heavy attack and was able to keep Felipe bottled up for the duration of the round. Prior to the round three 10-8, Felipe landed a solid volume. His gas tank is impressive for a heavyweight, which makes him worthwhile in decision props.
As for Justin Tafa, the “Bad Man” last knocked out Juan Adams in his last UFC appearance back at UFC 247. Adams has since been released from the UFC, but the fight demonstrated Tafa’s raw power. He has very powerful hooks and always stays wound up. A southpaw, Tafa has also landed a powerful left several times throughout his young MMA career (just five pro bouts).
Prior to the round one victory over Adams, Tafa was KO’d by a common opponent between the two in Jorgan De Castro. Tafa was actually really putting it on De Castro before walking right in to an uppercut. It was one of those shots that just landed perfectly for the guy who threw it and Tafa was out cold.
As far as this current bout goes, I think a-lot of people are putting way too much stock in the common opponent here. Neither fighter has much tape to draw from and Felipe missed significant time due to suspension issues. As for Jorgan De Castro — the common opponent — he once showed a-lot of promise but has looked shaky as of late. He looked outstanding on the Contenders Series and followed it up with the Tafa KO, but then lost to Greg Hardy in an odd fight. De Castro seemed hurt at times, but whatever it was, he wasn’t able to take advantage of holes in Hardy’s game.
As for the Felipe fight, for me, that was less of a jaw-dropping performance from Felipe and more of a subpar performance from De Castro. I mean no disrespect, it’s just that De Castro has struggled to find consistency.
So all told, I wouldn’t put much stock in the common opponent. There isn’t much tape on either guy, so I personally think it’s better to compare styles rather than a limited record.
As far as that goes, both fighters prefer to keep things standing. Justin Tafa seems to be a knockout or bust type fighter and we’ve never seen him go past a minute of a second round. As far as betting on heavyweight MMA goes, this is actually what I look for. You can break down all you want, but if one fighter has a clear path to a knockout, it usually ends fast.
I do see such an opportunity for a Justin Tafa KO here. Carlos Felipe will relentlessly come forward and employ heavy volume for the weight class, but he is also constantly bobbing his head. We’ve only seen about three minutes of action from Tafa since he was knocked out, but from what we did see, he looked very composed. Sometimes taking an early loss is very beneficial to a career and I think that could be the case with Tafa.
If Tafa can stay composed, I think he will have an opportunity to land at least one devastating hook. “The Bad Man” has demonstrated a great finishing ability thus far and is able to pour it on once he has a man wobbled. He’s also strong in the clinch, though his grapling leaves something to be desired.
From a betting perspective, Justin Tafa by knockout currently sits at (+250) on FanDuel. This is insane value, even if the fight is more of a pick em’. Tafa just has very heavy hands and I think the way Felipe enters will prove problematic. With that said, Carlos Felipe by decision also sits at (+250), which is a great hedge for those interested.
As for me, I put .3U on a Justin Tafa knockout straight up and also had a parlay with Nik Lentz over Mike Grundy by points. Since the Lentz fight has been cancelled, I now have .4U on Tafa by KO to win 1U. I also did a small sprinkle bet of Tafa by knockout in round one parlayed with Conor McGregor by knockout.
Prediction and play: Justin Tafa by KO/TKO (+250)
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