One of the major appeals of mixed martial arts is the variety and style combinations that can differ from fight to fighter, with the most accomplished and rounded athletes often competing in the UFC.
The promotion calls together a great portion of the world’s elite fighters, and while ONE FC, Bellator and the PFL may have their kings and queens, the UFC is widely considered to host the cream of the crop.
And that extends to their contingent of Muay Thai practitioners, with many of those on the UFC books having studied and honed their craft in Thai gyms down the years.
There’s a reason why Muay Thai is valued as such a key striking art to have among one’s arsenal when becoming a mixed martial artist, though some combatants use it more prominently than others.
Chiang Rai Times has previewed some of the best upcoming fights featuring those who are learned in the ways of Muay Thai, complete with bet365 bonuses to help your betting odds.
Israel Adesanya (-260) vs. Robert Whittaker (+220) – UFC 271
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is due to defend his title in a rematch against Rob Whittaker at UFC 271 on February 12, less than three years after they last met in Melbourne.
It was in the second round of that bout that ‘The Last Stylebender’ became only the second fighter to finish Whittaker with strikes, ending a five-year unbeaten streak for ‘Bobby Knuckles’.
Although his base is rooted firmly in kickboxing, Adesanya has proved adept in numerous martial arts and counts Muay Thai among his stand-up education, doing all his best work on the feet.
It makes sense that Whittaker therefore envisions getting the fight to the ground as his best mode of attack, hoping to remove many of the factors that fly in Adesanya’s favor when striking:
The Nigeria-born New Zealand native routinely uses every bit of his 6’4” frame to keep distance with his foes, deploying TEEPs and push kicks to establish range and let his limbs do the talking.
The 32-year-old may have fallen short in his bid to beat Jan Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight crown in March 2021, but Adesanya remains unbeaten at middleweight and looks worthy of his -260 favorite tag.
Jorge Masvidal (+285) vs. Colby Covington (-350) – UFC 272
The rivalry that everyone has been waiting to see settled, Jorge Masvidal will be a major +285 underdog when he finally goes up against former team-mate Colby Covington at UFC 272.
The March 5 event will bring a clash of styles to Nevada, too, as wrestling-heavy Covington takes on one of the wilder stand-up specialists in Masvidal:
That’s not to say ‘Gamebred’ is by any means incompetent on the floor as his wrestling background is substantial, but his admiration of Muay Thai is something rarely seen in submission fans.
“It just works,” Masvidal has said of Muay Thai in the past. “You see when the best guys in Muay Thai do kickboxing, they wipe the floor with the competition. I hold Muay Thai in very high regard. Especially if they are from Thailand, those guys really take care of business. Boxing is also amazing but you can kind of neutralize boxing with good kicks. So I really think Muay Thai is one of the best. To me, it is the best standing art there is.”
It comes across in his style of fighting, too, as Masvidal frequently likes to clinch with his opponents in an attempt to land short-range elbows and knees—to devastating effect.
That being said, Covington’s only two defeats in the last six years each came at the hands of welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, meaning Masvidal’s Muay Thai may not be enough for the upset.
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