With the recent addition of a sixth fight to the Fuel broadcast, this bout between TJ Dillashaw and Walel Watson is no longer the first ever main card fight on Fuel, but the stakes for the fighters outside of being the first ever Fuel winner remain the same as both men look to bounce back from difficult defeats in their last outings.
Dillashaw came into the UFC by way of The Ultimate Fighter 14 where he was picked to be a member of Team Bisping. Training out of the Alpha Male Fight Team, perhaps the strongest camp in the world for lighter weight fighters, Dillashaw is looking to follow in the footsteps of teammates Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benevidez and prove he is among the best in the business.
Dillashaw has only five official bouts in his professional career, having wrung up a 4-0 record with three stoppages prior to entering The Ultimate Fighter house. Although Dillshaw was pegged as an early favorite, he rubbed many of his housemates the wrong way when he seemed to do his best to get the easiest possible route to the finale. While a smart way to approach the taxing process of moving through the six-week-long, sixteen fighter bracket, his teammates saw it as ducking. None-the-less, Dillashaw lived up to the hype by racking up three straight wins to earn his spot in the final. Unfortunately for Dillashaw, in the final he took on John Dodson, the man he was accused of dodging, and despite a size advantage over the now-flyweight, Dillashaw was knocked out in under two minutes.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Like many of his Alpha Male counterparts, Dillashaw has a base in wrestling, having attended Division-I Cal. State Fullerton. By getting hitched to such a talented camp, Dillashaw has put himself in prime position to round out the rest of his game, however he is still a work in progress. Although Dillashaw showed the ability in his early fights and his time in the house to outwork and finish lesser opponents, against more skill opposition his best route to victory still remains in dragging his foe to the ground and grinding away to a dominant decision.
Dillashaw will most likely be looking to take this fight to the mat early and often. Once there, Watson has seven submission wins and hasn't been tapped since his debut, so don't look for the American to hit him with anything he hasn't seen on that front. Instead, bank on three rounds of Dillashaw sitting on top of Watson and throwing elbows and punches to earn the unanimous decision. As a -210 favorite, Dillashaw is the type of fighter that is hard to provide any fantasy betting value beyond potentially the lone safe play in a parlay with two large underdogs.
Walel Watson analysis after the jump.
Watson is slated to make his main card debut in this event. Whether or not that will add any pressure to Watson is anyone's guess, as with this card taking place on Fuel TV, it's not exactly the standard jump in eyes you would get when comparing a main card on Fox, FX or pay-per-view to his prior two events on facebook and Ion television.
Watson is on just his third fight in the UFC, and made his debut while riding only a one-fight winning streak, having seen a seven fight winning streak shut down then rebounding with an anaconda choke victory over Ismael Leon. In his debut in the Octagon Watson was paired off with Joseph Sandoval. Early in the first he knocked Watson off guard with a high kick, and while Sandoval attempted to regain his senses, Watson kept the pressure on for the round one TKO. For his next bout Watson was paired with Canadian striker Yves Jabouin and after three very close rounds came out on the wrong side of a decision.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Watson made his name on the local scene by utilizing his submission skills to wrack up tap-outs. The majority of Watson's submissions have come by way of guillotines and triangles, a threatening proposition for a fighter like Dillashaw who makes his money on the mats. Since entering the big show, however, Watson has elected to show off his striking and acquitted himself well in doing so. Although he could not repeat his TKO performance in the Jaboin fight he more than held his own against a fighter who likely expected to have a comfortable lead on the feet.
Watson appears to be the fighter with the higher potential to finish the fight in this pairing, and with Dillashaw likely looking to make it into a grinding ground match, he will likely have to do so off his back with a submission. Take Watson to win the fight with a second round submission, and give some consideration to placing a bet or a spot in the parlay for the +185 fighter.