Fight Study (4/24/21)
UFC 261’s heaviest weight class featured will be this light heavyweight bout between Jim Crute and Anthony Smith. Both fighters were victorious in their last fights and will be looking to extend their winning ways. Crute will be the betting favorite on Saturday and he will be the pricier fighter in DFS contests as well. He is available on DraftKings for $8,900 and for $19 on Fanduel. Smith is priced at $7,300 and $12 respectively. This fight is scheduled for three rounds, but current odds make this one a -145 favorite to finish before reaching the full allotted time.
Crute is the much younger fighter in this matchup and has much less experience. His record as a professional is at 12-1 with 5 wins by KO/TKO, 4 wins by submission and 3 wins by decision. He is 4-1 in the UFC with finishes in all 4 victories and 3 of those coming in the first round. He will give up 2 inches in both height and reach to Smith on Saturday. This will be a big test for the Aussie fighter, as Smith has much more experience, has the longer frame and is a BJJ black belt. Still, with wins over Paul Craig and Sam Alvey, he has shown his chops against well-established UFC fighters. He has power in his hands and has two kimura submissons already in his short UFC career. He is capable of winning both on his feet and on the ground.
Smith has a career record of 34-16 with 18 wins by KO/TKO, 13 wins by submission and 2 wins by decision. He has lost 3 of his last 5, however, and has looked like a shadow of his former self of late. Perhaps, his 50 career fights have begun to take a toll on him. Perhaps, however, his losses to Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic during that span were more a product of high level competition than a fading fighter. Smith has spoken of his difficulties during the pandemic and how his first round submission of Devin Clark in November was a indication that things are back on track. If Smith is back to his best self, this fight could easily go his way.
It is not easy to predict the mindset of fighters, but Smith did look to have rebounded from his recent failures in his fight against Clark. Teixeira’s dominating performance against Smith in May of last year seemed to have broken his spirit, but he looked like the old Smith in his most recent fight. If Smith is on top of his game, how does he fare against Crute then? I, for one, believe he does very well. He has the more complete game, he has a better submission game, he is taller and has a longer reach. Most importantly, he has the experiential advantage in big fights like this. I know that Crute will be on top of his game, but against Smith on top of his – this could be one of the best fights of the night.
I think an upset is quite possible in the fight. Smith’s stock took a beating in 2020, and I believe he is being underestimated in this fight. Additionally, if this fight goes to the ground, I think Smith will have a significant edge. This was shown to be possible in his fight against Clark and I believe a similar result is far from unlikely. His length also gives him the chance to present a lot of difficulties for Crute. In GPP contests, I think this fight should be played heavily and given Smith’s price, I will be giving him the higher exposure of the two. This fight has good scoring potential and I believe Smith has a lot of equity in that potential. Crute should get some love too, but do not be surprised if Smith comes through despite being a significant dog in this fight.
For more Fight Study, be sure to keep your eye on FantasyCruncher.com leading up to UFC 261 on April 24.
UFC 261: FIGHT #5, Crute vs Smith
For Fight Study on UFC 261: FIGHT #4, Weidman vs Hall, click HERE.
For Fight Study on UFC 261: FIGHT #6, Brown vs Oliveira, click HERE.