Thiago Santos (+134) vs Alexandar Rakic (-168)
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight (205 lbs)
It’s really hard to describe how good UFC 259 is to non-MMA fans, isn’t it? This high stakes match-up between Aleksandar Rakic and Thiago Santos is a perfect example. This banger of a match-up between the fourth and second best light heavyweights in the world is one of the best pairings in months. The fact that this match-up is on the bottom of a main card speaks to the depth of UFC 259.
For Rakic, the top prospect will be looking to put himself in line for a title shot with a win tonight. He is coming off of a solid victory over Anthony Smith, which was a great bounce back win.
Prior to the Smith fight, Rakic came up on the wrong side of a close decision against Volkan Oezdemir. Rakic suffered some brutal swelling on his leg that more or less immobilized him and neutralized his high octane offensive game plan. Still, a hobbled Rakic just about won the fight, a bout that took place late in 2019.
Having only fought once in 2020, the Austrian with Serbian roots hasn’t been all that active.
With that said, Thiago Santos missed significant time following multiple knee injuries in a title fight with Jon Jones. In what was the defining fight of his career, Santos showed great heart and countered very well through five rounds with Jon Jones.
When the longtime UFC veteran returned after more than a year last November, he lost via submission to Glover Teixeira. The loss to Teixeira is nothing to sneeze at, seeing as how Glover is having a late career renaissance. Glover’s success should be encouraging for the 37 year-old Santos, who will be looking for his first UFC win since February, 2019, when he defeated current light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz.
Ultimately, I think this fight will be a case where each fighter goes in a different direction. Rakic is an elite fighter who is knocking on the door. Meanwhile, Santos has battled injuries and is 37.
Rakic is a very dynamic striker who has some insane movement for the division. He is a very poised striker and has a very intense demeanor, which can factor in. I just see this as a high level striking match-up where the up and comer is able to outlast the crafty veteran.
With that said, Thiago Santos is a great fighter and could be live here. Should he lose, it will be three straight losses to killers after a long, dominant winning streak. Thiago Santos certainly cannot be written off, but I think this is Aleksandar Rakic’s fight to lose.
Betting wise, I’m not comfortable with a method of victory prop. Santos is very durable, but Rakic is also a very heavy hitter. With the line still very respectable on Rakic, I’m sticking with that. All told, I’ve got .5u on a Parlay of Rakic and Uros Medic, which is already halfway there. Then I have another .5u on Rakic moneyline combined with Sean Brady moneyline, which cashed, and Israel Adesanya moneyline. I’m also using this play in a five fight, parlay insurance promotion with FanDuel Sportsbook, which may not be available in every state.
Prediction and play: Aleksandar Rakic moneyline (-168)
More UFC 259 Breakdowns: