Brandon Vera vs Krzysztof Soszynski, UFC 102 Betting Odds and Analysis

Brandon Vera (-165, Sportsbook) vs Krzysztof Soszynski (+160, Bodog) 

This is one of those fights that probably don’t make a huge difference to the division, but it should be a good litmus test for both fighters.  It could determine who is in the middle of the division and who is near the lower quarter.

First off, we have Brandon Vera, the man who use to be the crème-de-la-crème of the heavyweight division several years ago.  He went 4-0 in his debut that was capped off with a devastating TKO win over Frank Mir.  However, he ran into his first high quality competition in Tim Silvia and came out on the losing end.  His next fight was with Fabricio Werdun, who he lost to in a somewhat controversial stoppage.  This prompted him to drop down to light heavyweight since he walked around near 220lbs.  At 205lbs, he has gone 2-1 with a non-impressive win over Reese Andy, a split decision loss to Keith Jardine, and a brutal TKO of Mike Pratt via leg kicks.

Brandon originally comes from a wrestling background.  He had a wrestling scholarship to Old Dominion University, but dropped out and went into the Air Force instead.  He continued to wrestle for the military until an injury forced him out of the service.  After his discharge, he discovered mix martial arts, got noticed by Lloyd Irvin, and started his MMA career.

Even though he comes from a wrestling base, Vera’s main skills lie in Muay Thai and BJJ.  Standing up, he has intelligent combinations that factor in brutal leg kicks.  He also likes to switch his stances up and favors straight forward striking compared to looping hooks.  The pinnacle of his striking prowess was the brutal TKO of Frank Mir.  However, that victory is somewhat diminished when Mir’s mental state and past rehabilitation from an accident is factored in.

Wrestling wise, he is somewhat lacking in the cage.  Vera would much rather stand with opponents, but Keith Jardine was able to take him down several times.  It should be noted that Jardine is far from a wrestling stud.  So, even though he has a background in it, it is not a skill he uses very often in the cage.  Instead, he can be taken down and taken down by less than stellar wrestlers.

Once on the ground, Vera has a highly touted ground game.  Yet, he has only one submission win on his record over Assuerio Silva.  While on his back in the Jardine fight, he simply held Keith down and hoped for the standup.  Surprisingly enough, he didn’t work his hips out and try to stand up or go for the sweep.  This makes it very hard to quantify how good his ground game is.  It hasn’t been seen in a while and there is no telling what kind of prowess he still maintains, especially since he prefers to keep fights standing.

His opponent, Krzysztof Soszynski, use to be a stable in the old IFL.  He didn’t have a large amount of success, but was a typical mid-tier fighter.  When the IFL folded he made it on to TUF season 8, but lost to Vinicius Magalhaes via submission.  Since his time on TUF, he has gone 3-0 in the UFC with wins over Shane Primm, Brian Stann, and Andre Gusmao.

Standing up, Soszynski was some definite power in his striking.  He most recently put down Andre Gusmao with brutal punches up against the cage.  However, this is a somewhat recent addition to his fight game.  When it comes to Brandon Vera though, he probably won’t want to stand with the Muay Thai expert.  His striking is pretty moderate for MMA fighters, but at this point in his career, he can’t hang with the strong strikers of the division.

Soszynski currently trains out of Team Quest with his close friend and coach Dan Henderson.  As such, he has shown an ever evolving takedown arsenal, which he used to good effect against Shane Primm.  Even though he doesn’t have the typical wrestling pedigree of many strong wrestlers in the UFC, he does have strong driving double leg takedowns.  He also has great timing and can change levels very quickly.  This is the one area that Soszynski may have a nice edge over Vera.

If Soszynski can get this fight to the ground, and there is a very good chance that he can, he will most likely work for his patented kimuras (he’s gotten 3 in his last 4 fights).  They can be quite effective and he has grown very adept and pulling it off while in half guard or side control.  That being said, there is the danger of him turning into a one-dimensional grappler.  Since everyone knows he likes to go for it, people can watch out and train accordingly.

This fight is somewhat hard to judge.  Vera will have a good edge on the feet, but Sos will have the edge wrestling.  If this fight goes to the ground, it will be an interesting battle between Vera’s highly touted ground skills and long limbs and Soszynski’s kimura.  A lot of people are leaning more toward Vera in this fight, but I personally think he is a little overrated.  He had a hot streak going at heavyweight, had some problems, and has been unable to get anything going at 205lbs.  Reese Andy and Mike Patt are pretty low on the food chain, so it is hard to gauge where he really is from his last few performances.  In fact, he hasn’t really looked like Vera of old for quite a while.  That killer instinct seems to have faded, but there might have been a glimmer of it in the Patt fight.  On the other hand, Soszynski has had his problems in the past and now looks to be gathering some momentum.

If this fight stays standing, Vera will win it.  However, Sos should come in with a good game plan and attempt to take the fight to the ground.  Once there, he has a respectable chance of pulling off the win.  Either through GnP or riding out a decision.  I doubt he will be able to get his oft loved kimura.  Plus, with his wrestling being better, Vera will have to deal with the constant threat of the takedown.

Final Prediction:  Stay away from this fight.  A small underdog bet of .25 units of Soszynski at +160 to win .4 units may be warranted since he is a live underdog.  However, this fight is best left alone for the more risk averse.

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