Last week was always considered to be a tough ask, and it showed with only one out of four bets returning any money. Managed to pick three of four winning fighters, but the value bet was tougher to find. Still proud to say that followers would be a healthy £5.53 in profit for each pound staked, and as long as we are all in profit then we will all be relatively happy. Moving onto UFC 156, where there are some stand out bets to go with those that are harder to pick. Joe Silva and Dana White do like to make my job as hard as possible sometimes, and with the first of this years Supercards there will be plenty of options.
Benavidez v McCall:
Despite last weeks Flyweight title fight putting on a Fight of the Night, I felt a twinge that neither of these guys were competing in it. For my money these are two of the top three in what is a very shallow division. Fair enough, Johnson has beaten them both in the preceding 12 months, but I would put both over Dodson every time. Now they have an opportunity to decide who the next contender for the belt will be. Benavidez will be the stronger man on paper. As the previous favourite to take the Flyweight tournament he will look to rebound in style and give himself another shot in a fight he felt he won last time out. McCall has openly discussed how poorly he performed in his rematch with Johnson, one that many felt wasn’t even necessary. For those who don’t remember, McCall was subjected to one of the strangest events in UFC history when he was told that he had lost unanimously, only to have this changed to a majority loss and eventually settle up on a draw in a fight that he certainly believed he had won. Due to the late change of result he was denied an opportunity to fight a fourth round in a fight he had the upper hand in. As with most Flyweight matches this will be fast paced and you wont be able to catch a breath, and a decision feels appropriate with Benavidez having his arm raised at the end.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Joseph Benavidez by Decision – 4/6 @ Betfair
Fitch v Maia:
This will be an interesting, if unspectacular fight. Since dropping down to Welterweight Maia has looked a different fighter from the one who was going nowhere at Middleweight. He demonstrated his capability at this level with a sickening neck crank on Rick Story that won him Submission of the Night honours. Fitch also had a comeback of his own to make, on the very same card, following that stunning loss to Johny Hendricks in just 12 seconds by taking a unanimous decision against highly rated Erick Silva. Normally both fighters would love to keep it on the ground, with Maia making himself a favourite if it stays that way. Fitch will be aware of Maia’s potency off his back and will alter his game plan to keep it standing. Both in their mid-thirties now, a genuine title shot has probably disappeared but it could mean a last hurrah for the victor. I am banking on Fitch to grind out a decision win. Like Fitch himself, it wont be pretty, but it will be effective.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Jon Fitch by Decision – 8/11 @ Paddy Power
Overeem v Silva:
Many will disagree with my next comments, but I think that this is a huge mismatch. Despite holding a win against the great Fedor, for me, Antonio Silva is probably the most overrated of the top Heavyweights. There I said it. I know that he was cut against Cain but he was systematically taken apart by a guy at least 2 levels above him. Against Browne he was arguably losing, prior to a fight changing injury for his opponent. Overeem, on the other hand, is one of the most polarizing fighters in the UFC. Those that hate him will look at his recent ban for PED’s and say that he shouldn’t be anywhere near a title shot. Those that love him will look to him as the only man possible of completing the MMA Grand Slam – K1, Pride and Strikeforce World Titles. Overeem earned himself a number one contender spot by taking apart a disinterested and retiring Brock Lesnar. Even disinterested and retiring Brock would have beaten Silva. I am going for Overeem to carry out a similar job on Bigfoot and the Demolition Man will be shouting ‘Timber’ long before the middle of the second round.
Recommendation: Round Betting: Alistair Overeem in Round One – Evens @ Paddy Power
Evans v Nogueira:
A short while ago a documentary was released called ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, but its OK we have found him. After nine months on the sidelines ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans makes his return to the octagon against Little Nog. Evans is a guy that garners quite a lot of hate from many fans, but I am not 100% sure why. His record is virtually impeccable with losses only to highly credible fighters spoiling the copybook (Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida). He has been in with some of the greats and had his hand held aloft, yet all we hear is talk of how he is finished at this level and should be looking to drop to Middleweight. I don’t see it at this stage, and think that he can give Jones more than a few problems in a rematch. While Evans has been away for nine months it is easy to forget that Nogueira has been out of action now for around 14 months following his win against Tito Ortiz. That victory put paid to two consecutive losses and probably saved him a conversation about being cut from the UFC. While writing this column I am very aware that I am leaning towards a lot of decision victories and initially have this down as a decision win for Evans. I don’t want to pick a decision win for Evans though as usually there is always a KO on the card that you just didn’t expect, and I think this could be the fight that we see it in. Nogueira has only ever been knocked out once, my money will be on that becoming two by Sunday morning.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Rashad Evans by by KO/TKO – 5/2 @ Paddy Power
Aldo v Edgar:
For a Supercard to be a Supercard you need a Superfight. This is that fight. In Jose Also you have a fighter who has literally dominated every opponent since entering the UFC. His leg kicks make you wince just by watching them and his 14 fight winning streak is testament to his immense talent. He is considered to be one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world and it is very hard to argue with that. The division is relatively shallow, but you can only beat the man in front of you. Frankie Edgar makes his long awaited debut at Featherweight and could not possibly have gone into a bigger fight in the division. Lets analyse Frankie for a moment, a guy who has spent nearly three years tied up in rematches. His last six fights are victories against BJ Penn, a draw and a win against Gray Maynard and two defeats (one questionable) against Benson Henderson. That is pretty impressive by any standards as all fighters were considered to be the best or at least or number two in the most competitive division in the UFC. Rematches rarely happen in the UFC and this guy has done three of them back to back. At no point has he embarrassed himself either.
If it goes to five rounds then Frankie emerges victorious, most likely after being hurt early on. If it ends early then its Aldo’s fight. Regular readers will know that I talk about value a lot and comparing side to side it is hard to separate these fighters, I certainly don’t have Aldo as an overwhelming favourite. Once you make that decision and you see odds of around 2/1 on Frankie then the decision is made for you. It may not necessarily be the winning bet, but backing Aldo at 2/5 feels like a wasted opportunity. If the question is “Where is the value in this fight” then ‘The Answer’ is “Frankie Edgar”. I am not going to sit here and pick a decision win as I have done enough of those on this card, but I think that there is enough value just backing him for the outright win.
Recommendation: To Win The Fight: Frankie Edgar – 2/1 @ Boylesports