As I said last week, the start of a New Year is very satisfying. Followers of the column would have seen a return of £6.73 on every pound invested, with only a poor performance by Ben Rothwell letting me down for a full house. Its probably worth noting that if you do follow the tips, then a small accumulator is always worthwhile as a clean sweep usually nets a decent return. To be fair last week was a relatively weak card, and picking the results seemed pretty obvious. This week is a much harder prospect, lets take a closer look at the match ups

Koch v Lamas:

Its hard not to feel sorry for Erik Koch. Less than six months ago he was training for a title fight against Jose Aldo, and through no fault of his own he ended up fighting Jonathan Brookins. That’s a hard comedown for anyone let alone someone with title ambitions. As expected, he dominated Brookins and now faces off against Ricardo Lamas, hoping for the opportunity to face the winner of Aldo v Edgar. Lamas comes into the fight looking to make it four wins in a row and fresh from victories over highly rated Hatsu Hioki and Cub Swanson, who has since progressed onto a number one contenders fight against Dustin Poirier. Both fighters are incredibly well-rounded, Koch used to be a submission machine but hasn’t submitted anyone for over two years. Lamas is happy to grind out the decision win, but isn’t averse to throwing a knockout punch or dropping a submission move. I will be looking for Koch to become the number one contender to the Bantamweight crown and take a split decision here.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Erik Koch by Decision – 13/5 @ Ladbrokes

Pettis v Cerrone:

Whilst on the subject of feeling sorry for fighters, I would like to bring Anthony Pettis to the table. ‘Showtime’ is the owner of probably the most famous move (see below) in MMA history and came over to the UFC as the reigning WEC Lightweight Champion. A poor loss to Clay Guida aside he hasn’t put a foot wrong. While training for this fight he gets the news that Gilbert Melendez comes over from Strikeforce straight into a title shot against Benson Henderson, the guy he beat in that final WEC match. Cerrone, his opponent this weekend, is starting to get his career back on track. He was arguably one of the top fighters in the UFC throughout 2011, fighting five times throughout the year. Had he not been schooled by Nate Diaz, he would arguably have been the number one contender after Frankie Edgar. By virtue of the calibre of both fighters this must be a title eliminator, with the winner going on to face the winner of Henderson v Melendez. I am leaning towards a double bet for this fight. First and foremost I think that Pettis takes a unanimous decision. Secondly, I really fancy this for Fight of the Night. Bookies haven’t priced up any Fight of the Night markets yet, and this is one of three genuine contender for the bonus but the one that just has me thinking – could this be it?

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Anthony Pettis by Decision – 13/10 @ Paddy Power

Jackson v Teixeira:

At UFC 146 Glover Teixeira announced his arrival into the UFC Light Heavyweight division. Teixeira should probably have made the leap years go, but work permit problems held back his debut. Friends of mine will know that I watched that fight live, and I have literally been salivating over the thought of him taking on Rampage since it was first rumoured. This fight was originally set for UFC 153 but Rampage pulled out through injury and Fabio Maldonado ended up feeling the full force of Teixeira’s fists. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson is a future Hall of Famer, and genuine MMA legend. You only have to look at his opponents to see why; wins over Kevin Randleman, Chuck Liddell (twice) Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida in Pride and UFC bouts. He has been in with the best and beat many of them. Unfortunately for him, he is now past his best and this will be the final fight in his UFC career. Rampage has made no secret of the fact that he now fights for the money, and not for the love of it and is looking to build on his role in The A-Team. One of the big questions is “Will the real Rampage Jackson turn up?” I just don’t see it happening. He has been soundly beaten in his last two outings and will most likely finish his career with a third loss. Glover Teixeira has won a lot of fans with his no nonsense style and heavy hands. Rampage wont have the gas in the tank to go three rounds, and Glover wont need to. I think he will take out Rampage, most likely in the second round.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Glover Teixeira by KO/TKO – 17/10 @ Ladbrokes

Johnson v Dodson:

With this fight we get to see the obvious flaw creating a division from nothing, it means that fighters who haven’t really done a huge amount can find themselves with a title shot a long time ahead of schedule. Nothing against John Dodson here, he is a lovely guy and a solid prospect but with all due respect he is not a number one contender; not yet. It is a genuine shame that the top guys in this division have been paired against each other, McCall and Benevidez, while Dodson got a relatively clear run to the main event. Believe it or not I would actually like to see Dodson win; I have a glove signed by him that would immediately increase in value as he would be world champion. Alas for me, like Dodson, that is just a pipe dream. On paper there shouldn’t be a lot of differentiating factors Each has had 19 fights, and have been fighting professionally for more than five years. This, however, is where the similarity ends. You only need to look at the calibre of opponent that each has faced to see the gulf in class. Pickett, Page, Yamamoto, Torres, McCall and Benevidez against Urushitani, Moraga and Dillashaw illustrates the point perfectly. Demetrious Johnson is by far the best fighter than John Dodson has ever set foot into the Octagon with, and I expect this to be obvious to all on the night.

So, I think its a case of looking at how Johnson will win rather than how Dodson could win. Earlier in his career Johnson had a fondness for submitting his opponent, with five in a row at one point. As Dodson has never been submitted, or in any danger of being submitted this looks unlikely. The Flyweights are not traditionally heavy hitters, but this is where Dodson does hold an advantage albeit against far lesser opponents. With six decisions in a row (including a contentious draw) this looks to be the most likely route for Johnson and will be where I am putting my money. In fact, I am so convinced that I am prepared to call this 50-45 on all three judges scorecards; sadly the bookies wont offer odds on that. They will offer odds on Fight of the Night though, and alongside Pettis v Cerrone this is another excellent bet if you cant find any value in the normal markets.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Demetrious Johnson by Decision – 4/5 @ Paddy Power