|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|06-04-17||Max Holloway v. Jose Aldo OVER 4.5||Top||3-0||Loss||-170||26 h 31 m||Show|
8* Over Aldo/Holloway (12:15 AM ET): This a unification title fight at Featherweight (145 lbs), scheduled for five rounds. Like the oddsmakers, I expect this one to go to the scorecards and for the judges to have to decide a winner. Therefore, I'm on the Over 4.5 rounds. This will be only the second fight for Jose Aldo since taking that humiliating loss to Connor McGregor back in December of 2015. He rebounded w/ a decision victory over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 last July. The loss to McGregor was just Aldo's second in 28 career fights, so I agree w/ him being the favorite here. However, six of his last eight victories have come about via decision. As for Holloway, who is on a 10-fight win streak, he probably hasn't faced an opponent this good in his career. His ability to outstrike opponents will be severely tested here.
This fight takes place in Brazil, so Aldo will have a decided edge in crowd support. As alluded to earlier, his defense and counterpunching should be huge here as well. Furthermore, this projects to be a fight w/ little in the way of takedowns. Barring either fighter getting a "lucky punch" (like McGregor did w/ Aldo), I see a long feeling out process w/ neither man able to hit the other w/ much regularity. Aldo is going to look to control the pace here, which I think he will be able to do, and that means fewer overall strikes. Granted, I anticipate Aldo being effective, but that doesn't mean I think he'll be able to finish Holloway either.
Holloway's strike defense is not all that bad either; in fact, opponents have connected only 67% of the time against him w/ significant strikes. That's just behind Aldo among all featherweights. With a long reach (identical to that of Aldo), he may be able to keep Aldo "at bay" in this one. So again, look for a somewhat methodical fight here that will see the favorite taking little in the way of chances. This has decision written all over it. 8* Over Aldo/Holloway
|05-13-17||Jorge Masvidal -120 v. Demian Maia||Top||0-3||Loss||-120||15 h 46 m||Show|
8* Jorge Masvidal (11:00 ET): This is a Welterweight bout (170 lbs), scheduled for three rounds. Both fighters find themselves among the top five contenders for champion Tyron Woodley's belt, so the winner could likely find himself in line for a title shot. Demian Maia is 9-2 since dropping down to 170 lbs, winning his last six fights (three by sub, three by decision). But this is a bad matchup for him against Masvidal, who is on a three-fight win streak himself. The last two wins for Masvidal were quick ones, both by TKO. After a 1st round victory over Jake Ellenberger last December, he stopped Donald Cerrone just one minute into Round 2 back in January. The key to this fight, in my opinion, is Masvidal's takedown defense. That will be enough to earn him the win here, whether it be by stoppage or decision. Take Masvidal.
Styles make fights and like I said earlier Masvidal is a bad matchup for the takedown artist Maia. Maia, quite frankly, is a pretty one-dimensional fighter. He does that one thing very well, but Masvidal's takedown defense is going to limit Maia's ability to exploit his one matchup advantage here. Standing, Masvidal looks to have a clear edge in this fight as he's the far more accomplished striker. Dating back to his time fighting under the Strikeforce banner, Masvidal has successfully defended takedowns at a 79% rate, which is huge. If Maia is unable to take Masvidal down, I can seem him getting flustered, which has been his downfall in the past.
Don't let yourself get fooled by Masvidal's record (11 losses) either. All three losses he's suffered since 2013 have come via split decision. He has not been stopped since 2009! In fact, he's only been stopped three times in his entire career, one of those coming all the way back in '05. This is a very underrated fighter in my opinion and despite him moving up from the lightweight division and Maia being a former middleweight, I don't see that being an issue. Odds have "flipped" on this fight since the opening line was released indicating the market is with me on this one. 8* Jorge Masvidal
|08-20-16||Rick Story v. Donald Cerrone OVER 2.5||Top||0-2||Loss||-172||15 h 10 m||Show|
8* Over 2.5 Round Cerrone vs. Story (11:10 ET): If you've done any advanced reading for this fight, then you probably have heard about Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone's very active UFC career. This will be his 22nd fight for the promotion, but just the third at 170 lbs (welterweight) and his toughest opponent in the new weight class to date. That opponent is Rick Story, who will enter the Octagon tonight on a three-fight win streak. This matchup is "too close to call" in my estimation, but I do envision a strong likelihood of it going to the judges, so Over 2.5 rounds is my play here.
A decision is the way that six of Story's last seven fights have been decided. That includes a unanimous win back in May over Tarec Saffiedine, his only fight since October of 2014 when he earned a split decision victory over Gunnar Nelson and that was a five-round fight. His only two losses since 2012 have both come via split decision. The reason for all these long fights is fairly simple: Story employs a rather conservative style. Though he did tap out Leonardo Mafra Texeira back in June of '14, his submission game is really not to be feared. Standing, he is known for good striking defense. I believe he'll be able to frustrate the typically "busier" Cerrone here.
Cerrone has 30 victories in his MMA career, but only six have been by KO/TKO. Surprisingly, one of those came in his last fight against Patrick Cote. But that KO actually came right past the halfway point of the third round. His opponent here is a far bigger man than he's accustomed to facing as Story typically "walks around" at between 187 and 191 lbs. Another key is that Story has never been KO'd and is a better wrestler than Cote. I see a decision being the most likely outcome here. 8* Over 2.5 Rounds Cerrone vs. Story
|08-07-16||Rony Jason v. Dennis Bermudez OVER 1.5||Top||0-3||Win||100||26 h 27 m||Show|
5* Over 1.5 Round Bermudez/Jason (11:45 ET): This fight is scheduled for three rounds in the featherweight division (145 lbs). There is certainly a bit of controversy here as Rony Mariano Bezerra aka "Jason" is fighting for the first time in over a year due to a one-year ban for his use of illegal diuretics. That resulted in the overturning of a win in his last fight, a first round stoppage of Damon Jackson via triangle choke. With that result being overturned, it leaves "Jason" winless in the Octagon since March of 2014. So he has a lot to prove here against Bermudez, who you may recall I used in an Over play (2.5 round) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri in his last fight (back in February), which cashed as it went to the cards. We don't even need this one to go to the cards to punch a winning ticket, so once again w/ Bermudez, I'm going Over the round total.
Bermudez was off B2B losses inside the Octagon, so I called for a fairly cautious approach in the last fight vs. Kawajiri, just his second time fighting since the start of 2015. That's pretty much what we got as Bermudez prevailed by straight 29-28 scores across the board. This will now be his shortest time between fights since late 2014. I'm interested to see how that affects him. You'll note that five of Bermudez's last eight victories have come via a decision. Only one time in his last eight fights have things ended inside of one round. That was a submission loss to Ricardo Lamas back in November of '14. Other than that, six have gone into the third round and the seventh ended past the midway point of Round 2. So, history is on our side here w/ Bermudez.
With "Jason," there could be the issue of "cage rust," thus I do not see him looking to get off to a fast start here. With this only being a three-round fight, that really helps our case here. While a majority of Bezerra's most recent results have been quick endings, I should point out it was a decision loss to Robbie Peralta back in May of '14, which is his last official result. Even before the suspension, Bezerra was a fighter known for sitting back and picking his spots. We will see this one going past at least the midway point of Round 2. 5* Over 1.5 Rounds Bermudez/Jason
|07-30-16||Francisco Rivera v. Erik Perez -150||Top||0-3||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
8* Erik Perez (10:00 ET): This is a fight in the bantamweight division (135 lbs), scheduled for three rounds. If you've monitored the lines for tonight's card, then you've probably noticed that a steady influx of money has come in on the favorite Perez here and in this instance I am inclined to agree with my fellow bettors. While it's probably fair to point out that his opponent Francisco Rivera has taken two questionable losses over the last 18 months, the bottom line is that he's now lost four of his last five fights in the UFC. Perez is off a win last November and hasn't fought since, so he should be eager to make an impact. I'm going with him to win, whether it's by stoppage or decision.
A big key to this fight is both Rivera's age and chin. He's eight years older than Perez. These days, you typically want to side w/ youth in the UFC. I would not be the least bit surprised to see Rivera get caught here and possibly TKO'd. Another edge for Perez will be on the ground where all the metrics seem to be in his favor. Both fighters typically do a good job at avoiding punishment, but for this fight I see Rivera taking the bulk of it.
Something else to look for is Perez taking control late and winning the third round, if the fight indeed goes that far. Rivera is almost too active at times and is known to tire late in fights. One thing that I really liked seeing in Perez's last fight was his usage of kicks. His movement was a lot better as well, likely a result of switching camps to Alliance MMA. Though he didn't have a ton of takedowns against Taylor Lapilus, he was still able to dominate the fight from the mount position. I can see the same thing occurring here. 8* Erik Perez
|07-23-16||Valentina Shevchenko v. Holly Holm||Top||5-0||Loss||-210||10 h 8 m||Show|
5* Holly Holm (10:00 ET): While many casual observers are predicting a close fight here, one thing is not up for debate. That's the fact that the line has come WAY down on Holm, the former champion, since she opened at -435. I expect Holm to be available below -200 at most shops throughout the entirety of the afternoon. The sportsbooks aren't in the business of giving away "free money," so either they've made a terrible mistake in setting this line or bettors have gotten a bit carried away in betting against Holm. I'll go w/ the latter as she looks to rebound from the first defeat of her entire career. This now sets up as an outstanding value.
Holm, of course, stunned the MMA world when she knocked out Ronda Rousey in 59 seconds last November. Rather than wait for what would have been a gigantic payday and rematch w/ Rousey, she chose instead to take on Miesha Tate in March and lost the bantamweight title, submitting to a rear-naked choke in the fifth round. Given that Rousey's MMA future certainly seems to be "in limbo," Holm eventually was going to have to fight someone else. But I think the critics have been too quick to dismiss her following just one loss. If Rousey were to return to UFC, Holm still has a potential huge payday awaiting here, even if the rematch wasn't for the title. So, she has plenty on the line here. I do not believe this is a case of "Buster Douglas" where some journeyman got lucky in the biggest fight of their career. Again, Holm was unbeaten (10-0) before losing to Tate.
A big part of the reason that so many bettors are choosing to get down on the underdog Shevchenko here is because her last loss was to Amanda Nunes. Yes, the same Amanda Nunes that just beat Tate, who beat Holm. Regardless of the sport, A > B and B > C does not always necessarily mean A > C. In this sport, styles make fights. Besides, Shevchenko LOST to Nunes. It might be another thought entirely had she won that fight. That Nunes fight was Shevchenko's last and her only other fight for UFC resulted in a split decision victory. The books clearly have a lot of liability on her here and I'm going to exploit that by taking the now underpriced favorite. 5* Holly Holm
|07-09-16||Mark Hunt v. Brock Lesnar +151||Top||0-3||Win||151||75 h 11 m||Show|
9* Brock Lesnar (11:55 ET): This is the much hyped return of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar to the Octagon following a 4.5 year sabbatical as he's gone back to where he first plied his trade, the WWE. While many will be quick to dismiss Lesnar's comeback attempt and write him off simply as a "pro wrestler," those were the same mistakes made in evaluating him during his first go around with UFC. Many have (rightfully) questioned him taking on Mark Hunt, who stylistically presents quite the challenge, in his first fight back. But when you look at the fighters that have actually beaten Lesnar, Hunt is simply not on their level. At this price, Lesnar is a very attractive option.
One thing that we can probably bank on here is the fight not going the distance. But the Under 1.5 rounds simply is not attractive option to me, even though four of Lesnar's eight career fights didn't even make it out of the first round. The key here for him, however, will be to take Hunt down. If he can do that, then the fight is his for the taking. Remember that Lesnar is a former NCAA wrestling champion. Now, he is a massive man that can simply bulldoze Hunt down to the mat and win that way. Though it was almost eight years ago, I can recall MMA purists scoffing at the notion of Lesnar being favored to beat Randy Couture. Those seem to be the same folks rolling their eyes at the odds here.
While you may scoff at Lesnar's 5-3 career mark, Hunt's 12-10-1 record is nothing to write home about either. Hunt is coming off a couple of KO victories over 'Bigfoot' Silva and Frank Mir (Lesnar's most famous opponent), which have played a significant role in the odds here. But, how quick we forget that Hunt was just 1-3-1 his five previous fights and was stopped in every defeat. There was also a time in his career where Hunt lost SIX straight fights! Lesnar is going to be highly motivated to silence the critics in his return and prove that it was diverticulitis, not lack of skill, that derailed his first UFC go-around. 9* Brock Lesnar
|07-07-16||Eddie Alvarez v. Rafael dos Anjos UNDER 3.5||Top||1-0||Win||100||27 h 52 m||Show|
|06-05-16||Michael Bisping v. Luke Rockhold UNDER 1.5||Top||1-0||Win||100||16 h 43 m||Show|
9* Under 1.5 Rds Rockhold-Bisping (11:59 ET): This is a title fight at 185 lbs (Middleweight). Champion Luke Rockhold was originally set to defend against the man he beat for the title, Chris Weidman, but plans were changed due to injury. So Michael Bisping takes the opportunity on short notice. Few, if any, are giving him much of a chance based primarily on how he was dominated the first time these two met. I expect a pretty short fight here and am on the Under 1.5 rounds.
It was November of 2014 when these two first met and Rockhold stopped Bisping in the first minute of Round 2 via guillotine choke. Bisping hasn't lost since, including the biggest win of his career (Anderson Silva) in February. His three-fight win streak has come all by decisions. While he's been stopped only two times since '09, the step up in class, on short notice, has to be accounted for. The problem is that Bisping doesn't have the edge either standing or on the ground and can be easily finished in either fashion. With a full camp, he didn't last long against Rockhold the first time. Taking this fight on short notice had to be done because of what is on the line, but Bisping is in no better position to win or even last long.
Rockhold is set to dominate this Middleweight Division. Maybe not to the degree Anderson Silva once did, but he's stopped his last five opponents and only the fight where he won the title went past the second round. Only three of his 17 career fights have gone past the second round and incredibly, 12 of them have ended in the first round. Bisping may escape the first round, but the longest this one goes is early in the second. 9* Under 1.5 Rds Rockhold-Bisping
|04-16-16||Hacran Dias v. Cub Swanson -120||Top||0-3||Win||100||13 h 54 m||Show|
10* Cub Swanson (10:00 ET): This will be the first fight on the main card on FOX. The veteran Swanson won six consecutive fights from 2012-14, but many are now quick to write him off following B2B losses inside the Octagon. But look at who those losses came against - Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway - two of the the top ten fighters at 145 lbs. That's a level that tonight's opponent - Hacran Dias - simply is not at despite the relatively flashy 22-3-1 record. Dias, who is just 2-2 his last four fights, is not really known as a fighter that is likely to finish his opponent (last 5 bouts have all gone to decision), so that's something we shouldn't have to worry about. Also, he hasn't demonstrated any kind of ability to beat top tier opponents. Swanson is the call here.
After the losses to Edgar and Holloway, Swanson has been off for almost exactly one year. So, he comes into tonight fresh and with something to prove. Note that the losses to Edgar and Holloway - both by submission - saw Swanson falter late as both fights ended in the final minute. Granted, he was down on the cards both times anyway, but I don't think those losses were as bad as they might seem. Dias has not submitted a fighter since 2011, pre-UFC. If Swanson can keep this fight standing, then he has the advantage w/ striking plus he is generally regarded as the better defensive fighter.
Dias last fight was close as it was a split decision victory over Levan Makashvilli back in June. Though he did take the first two rounds, it was hardly an impressive performance. There was little action in the fight and brought boos from the crowd. I wonder if that has an effect on Dias here and he perhaps gets caught being "too" aggressive? Were it not for the fact that Dias is on a two-fight win streak and Swanson on a two-fight losing streak, Dias' odds would be a lot longer in this one. The oddsmakers have this matchup mispriced and as a result the favorite is a really solid value. 10* Cub Swanson
|03-20-16||NEIL MAGNY v. HECTOR LOMBARD OVER 2.5||Top||2-0||Loss||-170||16 h 51 m||Show|
9* Over 2.5 Rounds Magny vs. Lombard (12:05 AM ET): This is the semi-main of the card and an interesting bout in the welterweight division (170 lbs) as Hector Lombard makes his return from a 14-month sabbatical thanks to a suspension for doping. He's 38 and it's absolutely legit to question if "rust" will be a factor here. He goes up against the red hot Neil Magny, a winner in nine of his past ten fights. The lone loss came when he was tapped by the underrated Damian Maia. His last two wins have been by decision, however, and with Lombard coming off the long absence I anticipate we will have more of a plodding fight here. Look for this one to go to the cards. Take the Over.
In handicapping this fight, it is absolutely "fair" to question how much of Lombard's past success was due to performance enhancing drugs. He is known for being a "fast starter," but coming off such a long layoff, I do not expect that to be the case here. His strength was being a quick striker, but 14 months between fights can change that. Before the suspension, four of Lombard's last six fights had gone the distance. Magny likes to take advantage via the clinch, but Lombard is very good at "playing defense" in that position.
When looking for a fight than can possibly go the distance, it's best to check to see if each fighter's individual strengths and weaknesses are cancelled out by the opponent. That certainly appears to be the case here. Magny is not a particularly great striker and thus is going to try his best to get this fight up against the cage or on the ground. But that's going to be difficult due to Lombard's excellent defensive game. Magny likely wins here because he's simply been more active over the last year, but he'll have to rely on the judges to give him the decision. 9* Over 2.5 Rounds Magny vs. Lombard
|03-05-16||Gian Villante v. Ilir Latifi OVER 1.5||Top||0-3||Win||100||14 h 17 m||Show|
10* Over 1.5 Rounds Latifi vs. Villante (11:00 ET): This is a three round, light-heavyweight (205 lbs) fight and with contrasting styles I'm calling for it to go longer than expected. Latifi, win or lose (mostly it's been win of late), is someone who has had a lot of quick fights recently. In fact, his last five (4-1) have all ended in the first round! His last was the shortest one yet as he knocked out Sean O'Connell in just thirty seconds. But Villante will certainly not go that quickly and with neither fighter possessing a strength that plays to the other's weakness, there's a good chance that this one might even make it to the judges. Take the Over.
After fighting just one time in 2015, this is already Latifi's second fight of 2016. His last two fights have both ended in under a minute and his last four have all ended before the halfway point of Round 1. That's why we're able to get such good value on the Over prop here and while recent history may suggest to go the other way, the fact is Latifi is "due" to start spending some more time in the cage. Note that prior to this recent rash of quick fights, four of his previous five went to the cards. Latifi's offense is almost entirely dependent on countering, meaning that unless his opponent makes a mistake, he doesn't have much to offer.
With Villante, his main problem has been dealing with good strikers. I don't think Latifi is the "man for the job" here as he does not have the kind of accuracy to take full advantage of Villante's weakness on defense. If Villante fights a conservative fight here, which I believe he will, this could turn into two guys just standing and not doing much for a couple of rounds. Villante's last two fights went quick, but before that four of six went to decision and another was 42 seconds away from doing the same. His only loss in his last four fights (KO'd by Tom Lawlor) was a bit fluky and something I do not see happening here. 10* Over 1.5 Rounds Latifi vs. Villante
|02-21-16||Tatsuya Kawajiri v. Dennis Bermudez OVER 2.5||Top||0-3||Win||100||14 h 27 m||Show|
8* Over 2.5 Rounds Kawajiri vs. Bermudez (10:00 ET): This is a play for the Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Dennis Bermudez fight to go Over 2.5 rounds. They say "styles make fights," but so do situations and in this case, we have a fighter (Bermudez) off B2B losses in the Octagon, so I expect a rather cautious approach here. In the other "corner," it just so happens we have a fighter (Kawajiri) who has seen his last three fights go to the scorecards. This one will too. Take the Over 2.5 rounds.
After a seven-fight win streak, Bermudez has lost two in a row, getting stopped both times. He's fought only one time since the start of 2015, that being a TKO loss to Jeremy Stephens that took place in the third round. Generally speaking, if Bermudez's fights don't end early, they make it to the third round. Against Stephens, he was doing quite well, and clearly took the first round. But this wil be a tough matchup for him. Kawajiri is a more veteran fighter and I believe will be able to keep him at bay. The one real positive for Bermudez is his ability to defend takedowns and Kawajiiri's ability to get his opponent on the ground isn't what it once was. I see a large portion of this fight being in the clinch.
Bermudez takes a lot of risks offensively, but will Kawajiiri be able to take advantage? Again, I'm not sure he (Kawajiri) has the kind of finishing capability we saw from Bermudez's last two opponents. Again, Kawajiri's last three fights have all gone to the cards. It was unanimous 30-27 scores in his last fight as he got up early and seemed to content to have the judges grant him victory. Only one of his last five fights haven't gone to the cards. Quite frankly, I don't see this being the most exciting fight and the judges again will be left to decide the winner. 8* Over 2.5 Rounds Kawajiri vs. Bermudez
|02-06-16||Jared Rosholt v. Roy Nelson -155||Top||0-3||Win||100||13 h 21 m||Show|
8* Roy Nelson (11:00 ET): With one fighter just 1-5 his last six fights and the other 6-1 his L7, you might be surprised to learn that it is the former favored in this battle of heavyweights. But make no mistake about it, tonight's fight represents a rather large drop in class from recent opposition for "Big Country" Roy Nelson. Nelson certainly isn't one interested in "getting paid by the hour" and what I mean by that is that he generally lives and dies with his ability to knock his opponent out. Because of the caliber of competition in his recent fights, that outcome simply wasn't as likely. But here it is as Nelson has an opponent tailor-made for him.
Though he still lost a unanimous decision, I was impressed w/ Nelson's stamina in going a full five rounds with Josh Barnett his last time out (was the main event). Nelson is 5-1 the last six times he hasn't had to go to the cards and like I said earlier, I expect him to win via a KO here. However, the fact that he has stood in there with some of the best the division has to offer recently and been stopped himself just once serves him well if this one does go longer than expected or even to the scorecards. Nelson does have a strong jiu-jitsu background and has shown improvement in his wrestling ability as well.
As for Rosholt, we know the wrestling ability is there, but he's a below-average striker and there's some question with his ability to take a punch. It speaks volumes here that he is an underdog with the respective results these two have had recently. Five of Rosholt's last six victories have been by decision, which is really not all that impressive. His one loss in UFC came via first round TKO. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that's the way this one ended as well. 8* Roy Nelson
|01-17-16||Dominick Cruz v. TJ Dillashaw OVER 4.5||Top||3-2||Win||100||22 h 41 m||Show|
6* Over 4.5 Rounds Dillashaw vs. Cruz (11:30 ET): This fight is for the Bantamweight Title (135 lbs) and is a matchup of current vs. former champion. Cruz has fought just one time in four-plus years since being stripped of the title. His return to the Octagon took place in October and only a minute was required for him to dispatch of Takeya Mizugaki via KO. Meanwhile, Dillashaw defended his title in spectacular fashion the last time we saw him, in July, with a four round domination of challenger Renan Barao that ended in TKO fashion. Despite those previous results, I expect a rather cautious (I hesitate to say "boring") fight here. Styles make fights and these two have very different styles. It will be slow at the outset and end up going to the cards.
Dillashaw, the current champion, has stopped his last three opponents. But Barao accounted for two of those fights and he was an ideal matchup for the champ. Also note that all three of those fights went to the so-called "Championship Rounds" (4th or later). Dillashaw obviously will want to keep this fight standing so that he can utilize his advantage in striking. He has NEVER been taken down in his UFC career. But he could have an issue landing many significant strikes here as Cruz is excellent defensively and rarely gets hit. Dillashaw will have to be wary of being taken down in this fight and thus could have to be a little more defensive than per usual himself.
Cruz's goal conversely will be to take Dillashaw down. When/if he does, however, I seriously doubt he'd be able to finish. Rather, shades of the Demetrious Johnson fight, I expect he'd be content to simply keep the champ grounded and try to win with the judges. I anticipate Cruz's strategy to lean heavily on the clinch in this fight. The challenger will be looking to extend the fight, no doubt. Clinching and keeping his opponent grounded is how he won the Johnson fight and looking back 12 of Cruz's 21 career fights have gone to the cards. That includes four straight before his return in October, all going a full five rounds. 6* Over 4.5 Rounds Dillashaw vs. Cruz
|01-02-16||Lorenz Larkin v. Albert Tumenov OVER 1.5||Top||1-2||Win||100||24 h 15 m||Show|
8* Over 1.5 Rounds Tumenov vs. Larkin (11:00 ET): This is a Welterweight fight (170lbs) where Albert Tumenov, a Russian boxer, is a 2:1 favorite. However, I look for tonight to be a little tougher than expected as underdog Lorenz Larkin will be willing to stand with him and is adept at avoiding takedowns. Because he can avoid being taken down and at the same time isn't very good on the ground himself, Larkin is an opponent that can take Tumenov the distance, which is something we don't see too often. Only two of Tumenov's last 10 fights have gone to the cards, but five of those were pre-UFC and early in his career, the majority of his fights went the distance. Note that we only need this fight to last two rounds to punch a winning ticket and I don't think that's asking too much. Take the Over (1.5 rounds) here.
Tumenov is on a four-fight win streak and has finished three of those opponents in the first round. We last saw him in October where he made short work of Alan Jouban, overwhelming him from the start with punches. But don't expect Larkin to take that kind of punishment here. In fact, this will be more of a "defensive fight" where both competitors will be leery of the other's striking ability. I do not anticipate things going to the ground much, if at all. Larkin is clearly more adept than Jouban at avoiding getting hit and he won't be taken down easily either.
Larkin is a fighter that likes to rely on a "home run shot," which is somewhat of a low percentage strategy. A former light heavyweight (dropped two weight classes), he has retained much of his power at 170, but I wonder if he'll get much of a chance to use it here. He likes to employ a lot of leg kicks, an attack that I always approve of, but Tumenov is skilled enough to avoid those. Again, this is a fight that will be largely contested standing and I don't see either fighter connecting as much as they'd like. Before picking up B2B TKO wins over John Howard and Santiago Ponzinibbio last year, we saw five of Larkin's previous six fights go the distance. He has been stopped only one time in the Octagon, by Costas Philippou, back in May of 2014. The likelihood of this fight going at least two rounds and possibly the distance is pretty strong. 8* Over 1.5 Rounds Tumenov vs. Larkin
|12-19-15||Donald Cerrone +179 v. Rafael dos Anjos||Top||0-1||Loss||-100||27 h 1 m||Show|
7* Donald Cerrone (9:30 ET): This is for the Lightweight (155 lbs) Title and a rematch of a fight won by current champion Rafael Dos Anjos back in August of 2013 (via unanimous decision). A major point I harped on in last week's selection on Luke Rockhold was the fairly recent IV ban, which drastically affects weight cutting. Now former Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman was known for drastic weight cutting and the IV ban resulted in him coming in a lot smaller for the fight than per usual. The same holds true here for Dos Anjos, whose appearance at Friday's weigh-ins was considered eye-popping. The challenger Cerrone is a better fighter now than he was 28 months ago and quite frankly this is an incredible price in what amounts to a toss-up fight. I'm calling for the second UFC Title change in as many weeks (third if you consider McGregor over Aldo a title change).
Cerrone is 15-3 in the UFC and comes into tonight riding an eight fight win streak. After winning three straight via decision, his win in May over John Makdessi came via second round stoppage (TKO) on a vicious head kick. Cerrone, a former kickboxer, is obviously outstanding w/ his leg strikes. But he's also a great wrestler too, meaning that this is a unique situation where the underdog may have the advantage either standing or on the ground. Dos Anjos did take him down several times in that first fight, but a key difference here is that this fight is scheduled for five rounds, not three. Late in that first fight, it did appear as if Cerrone was getting stronger (won Rd 3) as the fight wore on while the opposite held true for Dos Anjos. The former simply ran out of time in the three round format.
It will be interesting to see how the champion's stamina holds up given the obvious difference in his physical appearance coming into tonight's rematch. If this fight does indeed make it to the "championship rounds" (ie Rds 4 & 5), then that's when I expect Cerrone to take full advantage. He's also more likely to win this fight via stoppage. While Dos Anjos did win all five rounds in his title win over Anthony Pettis in May, it was a case of one dominant round (the 1st) in the first fight w/ Cerrone. At the time, the knock against Cerrone was that he struggled vs. lefties, but he's since beaten four southpaws. New champion here. 7* Donald Cerrone
|12-12-15||Chris Weidman v. Luke Rockhold +115||Top||0-4||Win||115||49 h 6 m||Show|
10* Luke Rockhold (11:30 ET): This fight is for the UFC Middleweight Championship (185 lbs) and most fight fans and insiders alike are calling the matchup a "toss-up," so in my estimation that makes the challenger Rockhold an excellent value as the underdog. Pretty much the only reason champion Chris Weidman checks in as the slight favorite is the fact he is the champion and most probably recall his two wins over Anderson Silva, the once "pound for pound king." But this certainly shapes up as Weidman's toughest test to date as Rockhold has better striking and stamina. I see a new champion being crowned Saturday night in Vegas!
Much is being made these days in UFC circles about the IV ban, which will have a drastic effect on a fighter's ability to cut a large amount of weight in a short time prior to a fight. I think that Weidman will be one of the fighters most affected by the ban as he typically would cut a lot of weight right before having to weigh in. Reportedly, he looked to be about 189 lbs earlier this week, decidedly smaller than we've seen him in the past at this point before a fight (typically 205-210). I'm very interested to see what the numbers are at the weigh-in, but I do know that Rockhold never has an issue cutting weight naturally and more than likely will come into the Octagon as the bigger fighter here. That could play a significant role.
Rockhold has the longer reach and is the better striker here as well. He's lost just one time in his last 14 fights and that came against Vitor Belfort (in Brazil), who needless to say should not have been able to pass any kind of drug test going into that fight. Before that loss, Rockhold finished off six straight opponents in the first round at one point and also handed top contender Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (who is fighting on the undercard of this show) a decision loss as well. Rockhold earned this title shot by destroying Lyoto Machida in April, making it four straight finishes in the first or second round for him. However, I'd say the longer this fight goes, the more it favors the challenger as Weidman has only had to go to the cards once in his last eight fights and looked pretty gassed in doing so. 10* Luke Rockhold
|11-07-15||Piotr Hallmann v. Alex Oliveira OVER 2.5||Top||0-2||Loss||-180||31 h 45 m||Show|
6* Over 2.5 Rounds Hallmann vs. Oliveira (11:05 ET): On a main card where the majority of fights are likely to end quickly, I'm calling for this one to go to the judges. This is a lightweight battle (155 lbs) with Alex Oliveira more than a 2:1 favorite to beat Piotr Hallman. Incredibly, Oliveira has never had a full training camp under his belt for a UFC fight, but comes in at 2-1 all-time in the Octagon (12-3-1 overall) and the former pro bullrider (yes, seriously) is off a unanimous decision victory the last time we saw him, which was at UFC Fight Night 70 over Joe Merritt back in June. Hallmann has dropped B2B fights and three of his last four (two by decision), making his UFC future tenuous at best. Though neither fighter has a history of going the distance, I think we're going the full three rounds here.
Hallmann, who last fought a week earlier than Oliveira's previous bout, lost on a doctor's stoppage to Magomed Mustafaev at UFC Fight Night 69 in the second round. It's not as if he was being dominated in that fight though. In fact, many gave him the first round of the fight and it was a toss-up when it was waved off. Two of his previous three fights here in the UFC did go to the cards w/ him losing both times, including a spit decision against Gleison Tibau in September of last year. He does have 14 finishes in his career (15-4 overall), but I'm not convinced he's going to be able to take Oliveira down much here as this is an opponent with a size advantage that will be able to keep the fight at a distance preferable to his liking.
Oliveira's only loss in the UFC came to rising prospect Gilbert Burns (also fights on this show) and that was via submission (armbar) in the third round w/ less than 45 seconds to go in the fight. Had he held on there, it would have meant we'd be looking at a fighter that had gone to the cards in three of his last four fights. Because he won't want to get on the ground w/ the superior mat technician, I expect him to fight a "defensive" fight, like I said earlier, where he keeps his distance and simply looks to "score" w/ the judges while striking on his feet. 6* Over 2.5 Rounds Hallmann vs. Oliveira
|10-24-15||Louis Smolka -120 v. Paddy Holohan||Top||2-0||Win||100||9 h 60 m||Show|
10* Louis Smolka (5:30 ET): This was not the original main event for the show, but Irishman Joseph Duffy pulled out of his scheduled bout with Dustin Poirier earlier this week. Thus, we have the first three round UFC main event in some time. Don't discount the importance of this fact as in this instance, I think the better wrestler (Smolka) will benefit greatly as it will be theoretically easier to score a decision victory. This wasn't even originally supposed to be second from the top on the card, but injuries have left them going on last and it will be interesting to see how each fighter reacts. Paddy Holohan will have the crowd support, but Smolka has beaten an Irish fighter before (UFC 189) and I don't think he'll be intimidated by the hostile territory. He's my pick.
I rate Smolka as the better striker here as overall he's a more coordinated fighter on his feet and uses his length better. Holohan often needlessly expends a lot of energy while not doing much damage. That cost him in his October 2014 fight against Chris Kelades (lost unanimous decision). He's since bounced back w/ B2B decision victories this year, but this will be his toughest competition in the UFC to date.
When this fight inevitably goes to the ground, it will be advantage Smolka there as well. He is very skilled on the ground w/ his jiu-jitsu background and works more efficiently to get into a position to submit his opponent. Like Holohan, Smolka has tasted defeat just one time and it came three fights ago. But his was a split decision and he stopped an opponent in his B2B wins since. Prior to coming to the UFC, Smolka finished all six opponents he had faced, four by submission and two by TKO. Even in hostile territory, the better fighter will take care of business. 10* Louis Smolka
|09-06-15||John Dodson v. Demetrious Johnson OVER 4.5||Top||0-5||Win||100||17 h 43 m||Show|
8* Over 4.5 Rounds Johnson/Dodson (11:59 ET): I'm calling for this Flyweight Title match to go to the scorecards (w/ the champ most likely retaining). Johnson, the champ, is set to tie the record for most consecutive title defenses at any weight class (Jose Aldo) w/ another win here. "Mighty Mouse" has been the promotion's only champion ever at 125 lbs, winning a tournament back in September of 2012 over Joseph Benavidez. Since then, he's made six successful title defenses w/ only two going to the cards. But that should probably have been four out of six, as in his last fight, he pulled off the latest submission in UFC history (at 4:59 of Round 5) against Kyoji Horiguch, his second 5th rd sub as champ.
This is a rematch from Johnson's 1st ever title defense, a fight where he was actually knocked down twice and found himself in real trouble. That fight, which took place back in January of 2013, did to the cards and saw Johnson win via unanimous decision. Because of the two knockdowns in that fight, expect Johnson to be more cautious in the rematch. He can simply concentrate on scoring via takedowns. After all, he is the only UFC fighter in history to have 10+ takedowns in three fights. Dodson though does have a pretty good takedown defense (89%) and has shown an ability to recover. I just don't see him (Dodson) being able to deliver on his knockout power, which really is his only chance of victory here. If Johnson can get this fight to the ground, then he'll win it fairly easily in the eyes of the judges.
Dodson has fought only three times since the loss to Johnson, all wins, but it was the close call in the first fight that's landed him the rematch as this division has a dearth of contenders. His last fight, a unanimous decision over Zach Makovsky, went to the cards. Being the challenger, Dodson is less used to the five round format in play for title fights and thus I expect him to wear down late. Sadly for fight fans, I see the rematch being a whole lot less exciting compared to the first go-around as Johnson will be content to score points and let the judges give him the win. 8* Over 4.5 rounds Johnson/Dodson