UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Strickland Preview & Best Bets

A top-ten middleweight bout headlines UFC Fight Night 216 as No. 3 Jared Cannonier faces No. 7 Sean Strickland.

  • Date: Saturday, December 17, 2022 | Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: UFC Apex – Enterprise, Nevada | TV: ESPN+

If You Come at the King…

Drew Dober enters the contest on a two-fight win streak and a Performance of the Night award. On the other side of the cage, Bobby “King” Green is looking to rebound from his loss to current UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev.

Dober and Green are seasoned UFC veterans, both joining the company in 2013. Similarly, they both have some impressive wins but haven’t been able to break through to become legit title contenders.

Green will have a two-inch height and a one-inch reach advantage. He averages just over four minutes more fight time than his opponent. Dober will also have a slight power advantage, averaging 0.65 knockdowns per 15 minutes to Green’s 0.23. However, Green lands 5.88 significant strikes per minute to Dober’s 4.47 and absorbs 0.51 fewer.

The King’s boxing is unorthodox, but he is excellent at slipping punches. The grappling difference favors Green, with a higher output and better takedown defense rate. He averages 0.58 more takedowns per 15 minutes and defends 72 percent to Dober’s 54.

Every statistic gives Green a slight edge. Take King to win at +128.

Lightweight Fireworks

A top-15 lightweight bout co-headlines the card as No. 9 Arman Tsarukyan takes on No. 12 Damir Ismagulov. Tsarukyan is coming off a loss to Mateusz Gamrot, but he had five straight wins before that contest. Meanwhile, Ismagulov has won 19 in a row, five in the UFC.

Ismagulov has a three-inch height and 1.5-inch reach advantage but has struggled with making weight in the past. Ismagulov averages a full 15 minutes of fight time and a knockdown rate of 0.2, while Tsarukyan comes in at 13:27 and 0.32, respectively.

Ismagulov averages 4.05 significant strikes per minute to Tsarukyan’s 3.76 but absorbs 0.7 more. Tsarukyan has better takedowns, averaging 1.31 more per minute, but Ismagulov has a 90 percent takedown defense rate.

Neither fighter should have a considerable edge in this contest, so it should be more of a pick’em.

With Tsarukyan a -215 favorite, the value rests with Ismagulov at +164.

UFC Middleweight Main Event

  • Jared Cannonier vs. Sean Strickland
  • Odds to Win:¬† Cannonier -111 | Strickland -115
  • How Will Fight End: KO/TKO +125 | Submission +700 | Decision -115
  • Will the fight go the distance? Yes -112 | No -112

Jared “Tha Killa Gorilla” Cannonier’s and Sean “Tarzan” Strickland’s previous fights were against the top two fighters in the division. Cannonier is coming off a decision loss to then-champion Israel Adesanya. Strickland lost on the same night to now-UFC Middleweight Champion Alex Pereira.

Before his loss to Adesanya, Cannonier was riding two straight wins, beating Derek Brunson and Kelvin Gastelum. Strickland had a four-fight win streak going before running into Pereira. Tarzan will have two inches of height on Cannonier but gives up 1.5 inches of reach.

Cannonier will have the power advantage, averaging 1:58 fewer minutes of fight time and 0.19 more knockdowns per 15 minutes. Strickland has a much higher volume of significant strikes, with 5.54 per minute to Cannonier’s 3.73, but absorbs 0.51 more.

Strickland should have the grappling advantage, averaging 0.95 more per 15 minutes and an 85 percent defense rate to Cannonier’s 65.

The x-factor in this fight could be Cannonier’s age. At 38, he’s giving up seven years to Strickland. The oddsmakers have this as a coin flip, but more variables favor Strickland.

Take Tarzan to win at -115.

UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Strickland Betting Card

  • Bobby Green to win (+124)
  • Ismagulov to win (+154)
  • Strickland to win (-115)