The UFC is almost ready to make their first move out of town since mid-May when Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris headlined the card.
That Fight Night event took place in the rebounding city of Jacksonville, Florida and the first city to hold the next event will also be Jack Town. I’m not sure if that’s what they call it but it sounds cool.
We aren’t quite there yet, though. One more week and we will be in Jacksonville WITH A CROWD!
Well, depending on your feelings about the coronavirus, I guess that could vary.
People will be spread apart at least and groups will be sitting further away from each other than they would be if they were bunched together on an airplane. I digress, though. Let’s focus on the fights this weekend.
The guys I want to talk about today are at two different points in their respective careers but the fighter on the rise actually has more professional mixed martial arts bouts in total.
— UFC Español (@UFCEspanol) April 8, 2021
Tony Gravely is 20-6 in his post-amateur MMA career but still 5 months shy of his 30th birthday. Sure, we have seen fighters hit their prime with 20 or more fights before but Tony has been in there with some of the best ever since he got his card.
He fought Merab Dvalishvili, Ricky Bendejas, Manny Bermudez, Patchy Mix, and Drako Rodriguez all before he got his first UFC fight in January of last year. Tony got his start in MMA while he was still developing his overall skills.
That is one reason he has the 6 losses but he has also had 26 total fights. That is very close to an 80% winning percentage so nothing to shrug at. Now that he has rounded out his skill set working with the amazing American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Tony Gravely is ready to make his move towards a possible title shot at 135 pounds.
Anthony turns 35 next month and we could see a boost in his performance after a rusty loss to Gustavo Lopez in his return to the Octagon after fighting for just the 4th time in the past 3 years.
Julian Marquez recently returned from a 2 year layoff and looked horrendous against Maki Pitolo until he eventually caught the Hawaiian with a guillotine choke late in the third round. He was on his way to a loss, though.
Last week, though, Julian absolutely fired up Smilin’ Sam Alvey with punches until he eventually got tired of hitting the guy and sunk in the choke.
— UFC (@ufc) April 10, 2021
Could we see the same from Birchak here?
He is a good wrestler and a naturally larger fighter than Gravely. It’s hard to take down the bigger man if your wrestling chops match up.
Let’s examine the betting odds, go a little more in depth on the combatants’ respective methods of victory, and make a prediction on a winner or round total.
Tony Gravely (-300) vs Anthony Birchak (+220)
This is a bit surprising to me, not the moneyline but the round totals. Tony Gravely is a fighter who wins a lot of decisions and it will be hard to submit the BJJ blackbelt and bigger man, Anthony Birchak.
People are putting a lot of stock into Birchak’s last “performance” in his UFC return. He tapped to a rear naked choke in the first round. That could happen again but I really don’t mind the (-150) for this one to go to the halfway mark of 7:30.
- Tony hasn’t finished a fight before the midway point of the second round since he tapped out a 2-0 Dylan Cala in 2016.
- Birchak is not a bad grappler, guys, and I can definitely see him hanging in there against Gravely for longer than one and a half rounds.
Another thing that has me thinking Tony will have some trouble taking down, holding down, and controlling long enough to submit Anthony BIrchak is Gravely’s lack of size. He is NOT a big guy naturally and if anything, you can count on Birchak to be a physical presence inside of the Octagon.
Just look at this Instagram post from Tony Gravely. He is pictured here with Andre Soukhamthath
Now tell me how many weight classes these two men are apart. 1? 2?
They are both Bantamweights. The 135 class has more shapes and sizes than any other! It is slowly becoming my favorite UFC Division.
Tony Gravely is a bad man, though, and I think he will be able to out-wrestle Anthony Birchak. If he can’t get him down, though, and he ends up having a close fight on the feet against the longer fighter, you are still covered with the over.
I don’t think Birchak is going to finish Gravely. This one has either a late finish or a decision written all over it.
I like the former, though, to get one more in the win column.
We are sticking around Sin City for just one more week and Tony Gravely is primed to use the small Octagon to his advantage with some excellent level changes into explosive double leg takedowns.
Maybe he comes out with the calf kick, though. Who knows? Everybody’s doing it.
It is seldom we see this opportunity with a couple of 135 pound fighters. There usually aren’t round totals available of 1.5. You almost always are forced to play the over or under 2.5.
Gravely isn’t a big guy. He isn’t a power puncher. His ground and pound isn’t the most intense or vicious so I don’t see anything wrong with betting that this one goes past the halfway mark of the second round.
That leaves us the round total and I love the value. The books are saying this one is 60/40 to go past 1.5 rounds and I think this fight lasts that long 3 out of 4 times.