UFC Fight Night 171 Betting Pick: Hunter Azure vs Brian Kelleher

I am seeing a lot of money come in on Hunter Azure.I really don’t know why he is as much of a favorite as he is. I was not impressed at all by him in his UFC debut against The Ultimate Fighter show winner, Brad Katona.

Brad has very good takedowns but not much else and he was able to control the fight and take down Hunter 3 times but also attempted 12. One might look at this and see the low percentage of success or high-percentage of defense for Hunter.

Getting a takedown attempt is not as easy as it sounds, though. You have to close the distance.

Carla Esparza is one of the most efficient wrestlers in the entire UFC and if you saw her fight with Michele Waterson this past Saturday, you could see how much she struggled with the distance.

Michele’s first martial art was Karate and most all style of Karate are at a distance.

I know the Kyoshukin guys love to chest punch from the pocket but she was American Freestyle and it has always served her skillset well to control the range.

Just the fact that Brad was able to get a hold of Hunter 12 times in 15 minutes, makes me think Brian Kelleher can do the same thing. Hunter did not impress me at all as a striker. He threw sloppy soft kicks and was very lazy with his hands.

Brian isn’t a knockout artist but he is a pressure fighter. He likes volume and stays in your face.

Hunter just kinda chills out in there. He is 8-0 and seldom do fighters look their best in an Octagon debut but I will need to see more from him if he’s going to get my money as a favorite.

Speaking of that, I like the betting odds over at the online sportsbook BetOnline. Let’s look at those, break down this fight between Hunter Azure and Brian Kelleher, and make our prediction either on a winner or possibly a round total.

Hunter Azure (-200) vs Brian Kelleher (+170)

This line is ridiculous.

Azure is not a killer and he doesn’t have great striking skills. He may be carrying some extra power since this fight is up at 145. Both men normally fight at 135.

The reach advantage for Azure has to be noted. It’s 4 inches and that’s a big difference.

If it’s one thing Brian Kelleher does well besides guillotine half of his opponents, is staying in your face. He pushes the pace hard and Hunter hasn’t shown the energetic sharp footwork that he will need to keep Brian off of him.

Azure has an awkward overhand right that he could definitely catch the quite hittable Kelleher with. It could really go either way.

With no betting odds and just picking the fight straight up, I would probably say 55/45 Azure. His current betting odds have an implied probability of 69% with the betting line for Kelleher sitting at just 36%. That’s nearly a 9% edge and enough to warrant a wager on the fighter’s fighter, Brian Kelleher.

I actually think the underdog has a better chance of winning a decision due to his aggression and the volume of strikes thrown compared to his opponent.

That level of aggression and volume of strikes thrown has another edge just like anything else. The more you’re throwing, the less chance you have of defending a punch that is already coming at you.

Offense can be the best defense but Azure does appear to be patient and not cutting the extra 10 pounds could give him the power he needs to sleep the underdog.

Even at 60/40 for Azure, we have a decent edge on the bookmakers. You can bet 100.00 on Azure and win 45.00 or wager the same amount on Kelleher and take home a net of 175 bucks.

That means you only need to win 2 out of every 5 of these underdog bets to give yourself a 14.2% return on your investment. That’s that 60/40 we were looking for.

Give the dog a bone.

My Pick

In Conclusion

Hunter could have just been playing it safe in his Octagon debut against Brad Katona but I thought he looked more than flat. It appeared as if he were in a fog.

I don’t want to say he was lazy because I don’t know him that well but perception is 9/10 of the law and we can leave it at that.

His opponent, Brian Kelleher is the antithesis of lazy. You know he pushes himself in training camp or else he wouldn’t have the gas to push opponents to their limits inside the cage.

This is about a pick’em fight for me.

Hunter has zero losses and Brian has 10. I get it. Kelleher isn’t 35+ years old, though, and Hunter’s competition in 80% of his fights has been very low level.

Let’s give the hard-charging Kelleher some love here. He might lose the first round but I think his pressure and footwork carry him to victory.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.