Josh Neer vs Kurt Pellegrino Betting Analysis, UFC 101
Josh Neer (-215, Bodog) vs Kurt Pellegrino (+190, SBG)
This is a very well matched fight between two very similar guys. On the one hand, we have the tough as nails Miletich fighter Josh Neer and on the other, the strong wrestler and Kenny Florian protégé Kurt Pellegrino. What is really interesting is the fact that both of these guys have fought many of the same fighters and have somehow never met before this fight. Drew Fickett holds RNC submissions over both men. They both have losses to Nate Diaz and wins over Mac Danzig. Joe Stevenson has defeated Pellegrino and been defeated by Josh Neer. So it is an intriguing fight.
We’ll start with Josh Neer, who is known in the MMA world has a very tough and gritty fighter. He has shown in his fights that he can take a lot of damage and just keep coming and coming. That doesn’t mean that he is KO proof, since Mark Miller put him down in 2007. However, he is very confident in his durability and tends to taunt his opponents at sometime during the bout. His standup style is very straight up, with his head held high. From the defense, he has improved his head movement over the last year, as well as using his hands to deflect shots. Striking wise, Neer likes the powerful looping hooks that can put people away.
On the ground, Neer is very dangerous. He has worked hard over the years to advance his ground game and it shows. During the Nate Diaz fight, he was very active with submission attempts and positioning improvements, Diaz was simply better. That being said, he held his own and that is a real testament to is BJJ. Of his 25 fights, 11 have been submission victories. He has an especially dangerous triangle choke that he used to finish off Melvin Guillard and Mac Danzig. Neer’s submission defense is a little lacking as 3 of his 7 losses have come via submissions.
The real bread and butter of Neer’s fight game is his clinch work. He does a great job of pushing the fight to the fence, using dirty boxing to bloody up is opponents, and then securing the takedown. Normally he uses single-legs and trips but will every once in a while use a double-leg for his takedowns. From the top, his ground and pound is very effective, focusing on hard glancing elbows that cut up his opponents face.
Neer’s greatest weakness is his takedown defense. Most of his opponents have been able to take him down at will. From there, he can be grounded out or out pointed for the decision victory. He especially has a problem with takedown shots from the outside and the drive through double-leg.
This brings us to Kurt Pellegrino, who is a strong wrestler that was a two time all state wrestler in high school. He currently trains with Kenny Florian’s camp in Boston and has been advancing his standup game under Mark Dellagrotte. He is currently 13-4.
Standing wise, Kurt has been advancing leaps and bounds in his last few fights. He has always been a very fast and agile striker, but training with Florian has shown marked improvement in his combinations, accuracy, and head movements. Kurt’s striking style is very straight forward and he hits with strong, straight down the pipe punches. He can be very frustrating and elusive with an in-and-out exchange pattern. He only has two TKO wins on his record, but he has the potential to put people to sleep with his vastly improved striking.
On the ground, Kurt is very well versed. He has a BJJ black belt under Hermes Franca and once trained with Ricardo Almeida. 9 of his 13 wins have come via submission. Outside of MMA, Kurt has a grappling background of 93-3. He is very good both from his back and on top. The only major problem is his tendency to move into his opponents guard from a superior position. Many times, it is without any clear reason. He did this with Tavares, Diaz, and Stevenson.
Kurt’s main strength is his wrestling ability. He has impeccable timing with his takedowns and can usually get anyone down with his double-leg. Very often, he will time his opponent’s punches and very quickly change levels to drive through their legs. Once on the ground, Kurt has a dangerous GnP that can be very loose. This is so he can land hard head shots when he falls back into the guard. The only down side to this is that it makes him susceptible to triangle chokes.
Kurt’s main weakness is his cardio. He usually tires out in the later rounds, and once he loses his momentum, he can have a hard time recovering it. Other areas of danger are his problems with smothering GnP’s that focus on close in strikes and elbows, and hard leg lead leg kicks.
Standing up in this fight, Kurt has the advantage on the feet. That may not show in their respective records, but Kurt’s straight shots and elusive style could be a big problem for Josh’s looping haymakers. So there is a good chance that Kurt could get either the KO or TKO. He has also shown to have an iron chin, and Josh’s ego in the standup could drive him to stay standing when he really shouldn’t. It should also be noted that Josh has had problems in the past with over hand rights when he throws his left jab and Kurt has a good over the top right hand. So if I was going to call a KO, it would be Kurt’s over hand right.
On the ground, this fight is somewhat of a wash. Both of these guys have advanced ground skills and have also shown vulnerabilities to submissions in the past. Kurt has the better credentials on paper, but Josh looked really good against Diaz. Therefore, it is really a coin flip.
The biggest factor in this fight will most likely be Kurt’s wrestling ability. If he can stay away from Josh’s clinch game, he should be able to take Josh down and impose his will. If they do get stuck in the clinch, Josh has the best chance of getting this to the ground in top position, but I would put his takedown success at only 1 in 3 against Kurt.
Ultimately, I think Kurt has the better chance for victory in this fight. Stylistically, he has the edge standing up, and his wrestling should dictate where this fight takes place. Both of these fighters are very strong at 155, so that should also be neutralized. If it goes to the ground, whoever is on top will have the best chances of finishing the fight, and Kurt should be the one on top the great majority of the time. Once he is on top, his absolutely devastating GnP will most likely win the fight (if he hasn’t connected that right hand).
Final Prediction: There is a hefty potential for an upset by Kurt in this fight. His wrestling and striking abilities fit very nicely with a scrappy guy like Josh Neer. Therefore, take Kurt Pellegrino at +190 risking 1.5 units to win 2.85 units. If his line continues to increase and tops +215, throw another unit down on him.