The co-main event of the UFC's FX debut sees a pair of veteran pugilists squaring off as Duane "Bang" Ludwig takes on Josh "The Dentist" Neer. As the nicknames imply, neither man is known for his affinity for taking the fight to the ground, and that's no-doubt why the UFC has chosen this high-prominence slot on the card. Both men will be coming to trade blows until one can't stand the punishment anymore.
For years Duane Ludwig has campaigned to be recognized as the rightful owner of the fastest knock out in UFC history, even receiving support from the then-official record holder Todd Duffee. For Christmas, Ludwig finally got his wish as Dana White acknowledged the KO of Jonathan Goulet was the fastest ever, complete with video backing. With his place in history finally ensured, Ludwig now looks back to the present as he tries to win his third straight.
Ludwig is a seasoned veteran of the sport, with over 30 career MMA bouts and experience fighting some of the best fighters in the world. His return to the UFC got off to a rocky start as he took on main-eventer Jim Miller, and was dropped on the feet before having his back taken and submitting to an armbar. In his next bout, an awkward fall during a takedown led to a gruesome fluke ankle break. After returning from the injury, Ludwig won a split decision victory over British fighter Nick Osipczak, then made it two in a row against Amir Sadollah.
Strengths and Weaknesses
While not as extreme as Pat Barry in the main-card's opener, Ludwig remains one of the most plainly defined fighters in the UFC. Although Ludwig is capable of locking on a submission if an opponent leaves a glaring opening, he has more submission wins where opponents tapped to strikes than locks or chokes. Where Ludwig wants to keep the fight instead is on the feet where he can use his dangerous muay thai skills to batter his opponents. With 51 professional kickboxing fights in addition to his MMA career, there are few men in the UFC with more striking experience than Ludwig.
Although it's not impossible that Ludwig could slap a choke on a battered opponent, it's always best to err on the side of TKO or decision when Bang steps into the cage to make good on his name. Neer is a tough fighter who is hard to put away, and has only been done so by strikes once in his 43-fight career. If Ludwig wins it will be through striking superiority, so take Ludwig to win a unanimous decision. As a -125 line on the fantasy betting game, there's not much money to be had in betting Ludwig straight up, however he is useful as the low-risk member of a parlay to almost double its payout in a fight where you have the favorite, albeit by a fine margin.
Josh Neer analysis after the jump.
Like Ludwig, Neer is a seasoned veteran of the sport who has fought in top organizations around the world and isn't having his first rodeo with the UFC in his current run. Neer is in his fourth stint with the UFC, and hopes to make this one stick after runs which saw him go 0-1, 2-2 and 2-3, respectively. With a win over Ludwig, Neer would push his record back to .500 in the UFC since his fourth bout.
Neer's last appearance on the big stage before re-signing with the UFC came when he strung together two straight wins outside the UFC to earn a fight with Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez battered Neer en route to a rear naked choke finish in the second round. Neer bounced back with four consecutive first round finishes, culminating with a TKO of WEC veteran Blas Avena to earn his fourth bite at the apple. In his re-debut, Neer dominated Kieth Wisniewski, rendering his opponent unable to continue after the second round.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Although Neer's nickname makes it clear he has a preference for standing and knocking out his opponents, that doesn't mean that Neer can't compete on the ground. In fact, often times Neer seems more capable of working his way to a victory on the ground than on the feet. Perhaps Neer's biggest weakness is his occasional tendency to continue to plow straight ahead with striking when a takedown would make for a much simpler fight. Against Ludwig, the fight could come down to whether or not Neer is willing to swallow his pride and take the muay thai expert out of his comfort zone.
If Neer decides to spend the fight working to frustrate the striker, with tight clinches on the cage where Ludwig can't work his proper muay thai clinch game and takedowns where Neer can batter Ludwig from on top and look for submissions, it will greatly improve his chances at victory. If he elects to be content striking with Ludwig for 15 minutes, a win is possible, but nowhere near as likely. For that reason take Neer by second round submission. At -115 on the books Neer plays essentially the same as Ludwig. There's not much value to be earned betting straight, but if looking for a reasonably low risk fighter that still contributes significant money when added to a valuable parlay, Neer offers nice odds.