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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Clark


Backing the slight underdog in the main event: Anthony Smith +110


Too much is being made of the 'higher caliber' of Anthony "Lionheart" Smith's opponents relative to the names on Devin Clark's resume, in our opinion. True, Smith lost to Rakić, Teixeira and Jones, who are 14-1 combined in their last five fights. But so what?! What does that tell us? Not much, we contend. Instead, a look at Smith's recent wins likely contains more useful information!...


After the loss to Jones last year, Smith beat Gustafsson before facing Teixeira and then Rakić. The big Swede was 3-4 in his last seven going into that fight, and "The Mauler" has now dropped three in a row. Similarly, Volkan Oezdemir, whom Smith beat leading up to the romp with Jonny Bones, was 2-4 in his last half dozen fights prior to the encounter with Smith. "Lionheart" also caught a 37 year-old "Shogun" Rua after a turbulent six-year, 6-6 stint. Rounding out our perusal through history, Rashad Evans met Anthony Smith on a four-fight losing streak.


Clark's 3-3 record in 2017-19 suggests some inconsistency prior to the two wins collected in 2020, but we submit that these losses should be as forgivable as Smith's. Ryan Spann, the aforementioned Aleksandar Rakić and Jan Błachowicz are a similarly impressive 12-3 cumulatively in their last five.


Moving beyond the purported higher-quality of experience differential, the stylistic edge goes to Clark. Through a reasonably large sample of 12 UFC-related fights for Smith and ten for Clark, Clark has proven the more accurate striker, on average, landing about 3.4 of 6 significant strikes thrown per minute, versus about 3 significant strikes landed out 6.5 attempted for Smith. Clark has also shown better defense, averting 48% of big shots thrown his way--6 six points better than Smith's ability to evade damage. Clark has also been the better grappler, pursuing almost three takedowns per 15 minutes of action. Smith's takedown defense has been mediocre, in aggregate.


Bottom line: We do not buy the notion that Smith has fought a higher level of competition than has Clark, which conveys an edge to the favorite. More precisely, we note that Smith has LOST to high-quality opponents, and largely beaten fallen/falling stars in recent years. Further, if there are in fact lessons to be learned from being bested by great opposition, Clark's path too has presented opportunities for such education. So, after dismissing the notion of any experiential edge Smith's way, we are left with Clark's quantitative edges (there are no notable physical advantages, one way or the other). Thus, we are backing the Devin Clark for the upset win.


BestFightOdds.com reports that, on average, a surge of money on Devin Clark during the third week of the month pressured Clark's moneyline from the opening level of +134 all the way down into negative terrain (briefly). Smith supporters have come out over the last week or so though, and Clark's line is back to plus-money. It might pay to wait until closer to 4pm Pacific to lay wagers in anticipation of Smith supporters driving the price of the favorite even higher, and creating a more favorable line on Clark.


Happy betting!!


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