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Curtis Millender vs Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos

Curtis Millender VS Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos

In probably the most anticipated fight of the card, two hard hitting welterweights battle for a spot in the top 15 rankings. After finally getting his chance in the UFC, Curtis Millender has earned three wins in a row, knocking out Thiago alves in his debut and then outpointing Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada. Zaleski find himself in a five win streak, after dropping a split decision in his debut to Nicolas Dalby. These should be a firefight.
Millender is a striker, and a talented one. Very tall and lanky for the division, he outlands and counters his opposition surgically from the outside. He has good power in his hands as well as his kicks, and even though he is a por grappler and easy to take down and manipulate on the matt, he mostly prevents it with the threat of his counter intercepting knees which are deadly. His timing is excellent, and if you let him settle into a rythm you are gonna endure a hard night in the office.
Zaleski is an unorthodox striker. His Capoeira background provides him with a flashy arsenal of kicks, and you can see he has ridiculous power in his hands by the way people react when punched. He has a decent ground game, which hailing from Brazil is no surprise. He is better at taking people down from the clinch than in the open. His takedowns are subpar, but he even suplexed Dalby in their fight, and given Millender´s poor takedown defense I think he can take down Millender down without much difficulty.
How does this fight play out? There are two possible scenarios here. Zaleski decides to simply strike have a striking battle with Millender, which would be anybody´s fight, or he tries to mix in some grappling with would give him much better chances.
In a striking battle I would still favour Zaleski. Millender´s last three opponents were tailor made for him in the sense that they were primarily linear strikers, and the only one not overly stationary, Max Griffin, is a boxer at his core. Against Bahadurzada Millender started to eventually get caught with looping hooks because his deffense mostly consist of leaning back, which is a bad proposition against Zaleski who feints and covers a lot of distance when he decides to enter the pocket with his right hand. What happens when both this gentleman land? I think Zaleski is the bigger puncher here and he has never been knocked out. Millender has neither, But I think Zaleski can take it better than Curtis in this fight. Eventually Elizeu would hurt Curtis and never let go in my opinion, even though Curtis winning a striking battle here would be no surprise.
The second scenario is Zaleski tries to use some grappling. If succesful, Millender loses this fight handily. He would find himself controlled on the ground and probably submitted, or at least Zaleski would win the two rounds he needs. If he cannot drag Curtis down, we would find ourselves in the first scenario again. Another point of interest in this fight is Millender tends to fade a little late in fights, whereas Zaleski is brilliant in third rounds and has won more than one fight in that last round.
Oddsmakers have this fight as a pick´em up. The pick here is Zaleski to win, probably inside the distance. A decision would not be a big surprise, but given that he has finished 16 out of 20 wins, Zaleski ITD at around (+300) offers too much value to pass.