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In terms of card strength, UFC 157 was a little more like it. As I wrote last week, the main event played out as everyone expected. Barring the shock win for Robbie Lawler, anyone putting any money down would have gotten a good run for their investment. Backing all the tips given would have seen a small profit by virtue of the 5/1 available on Faber to win by submission. Remember this if nothing else, Faber always wins by submission when coming off a loss. Fact. We go to Japan this week for a card that feels a little like filler, but hopefully should provide some decent betting opportunities until UFC 158 in two weeks time. If you want to add any comments please do so below, or follow me @mattwhite1 on twitter.

Kim v Bahadurzada:

Both fighters enter the octagon with victories against Paulo Thiago in common. Bahadurzada, who I will simply refer to as Siyar from here on in, knocking him out in only 42 seconds. Kim took a little longer, taking a comfortable unanimous decision win. Kim enters his fifth year in the UFC, where he has only two losses to his name. Despite this he still finds himself 26th in the official rankings and has never been anywhere near a title shot. Siyar made a huge statement of intent when he left Thiago on the floor in Sweden a year ago. Since then he has been linked with numerous opponents despite being on the shelf with a hand injury. The bookies have Kim as a heavy 1/3 favourite for this fight and are probably expecting him to take Siyar to the ground and keep him there for 15 minutes. That will probably be the game plan, but I am not convinced that this is how this plays out. Siyar is riding a seven fight winning streak, with six of those coming by way of KO or TKO. This is a fighter with heavy hands, looking to break into the top ten. I am going to stick my neck out here and oppose the favourite. If Siyar can keep the fight standing then I feel he has enough power to short circuit the Stun Gun.

Recommendation: To Win The Fight: Siyar Bahadurzada – 5/2 @ Coral

Hirota v Yahya:

On first viewing Mizuto Hirota has a very unfortunate sounding nickname; Pugnus. On closer examination this is apparently Latin for ‘a fist’. This in itself is very appropriate for a fighter who has the majority of his wins coming by KO. He faces off against the Brazilian veteran Rani Yahya, who entered the UFC after a solid, in unspectacular, stint in the WEC. Various appearances in numerous promotions in Japan seems to be the reason that this fight has made the main card, and the odds very much represent a pick ’em. Both have struggled lately with putting their opponent away, or even being put away and all roads lead to a decision win. Yahya has been up against a better quality of opponent in the last few years, with some decent victories. On those grounds I will be taking him to grind out a split decision victory.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Rani Yahya by Decision – 7/2 @ Betfair

Okami v Lombard:

Before being beaten by Tim Boetsch, Hector Lombard had not lost in almost six years. He came into the UFC from Bellator with a huge salary and an even bigger reputation. This was to be the guy to go up against Anderson Silva in a super-fight. Sometimes life doesn’t play out like in a story book. I still don’t know what to make of Lombard as an elite level fighter. He arguably belongs in the UFC, but is he championship material? Maybe fighting at an inferior promotion has given him too much hype and not enough variety. He faces off against Yushin Okami who, himself, is back in the win column after consecutive defeats to Silva and Boetsch. Stylistically I think this is a horrible match up for Okami. Although he has some heavy hands, his normal modus operandi is to take it to the mat and keep it there for 15 minutes. Against Lombard, who is a Cuban Olympic-level Judoka, this could end badly. Lombard is happy to keep it standing and will punch harder than his opponent, but if taken to the ground he will utilise his judo to devastating effect. Everything points to a Lombard win by KO here, and 4/6 is enough for me to risk a few on that outcome.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Hector Lombard by KO/TKO– 4/5 @ Ladbrokes

Gomi v Sanchez:

This has potential Fight of the Night written all over it. Gomi returns to his homeland looking to make it three wins in a row after taking a surprising split decision over Mac Danzig in Macau. He faces off against The Nightmare that became The Dream. Diego Sanchez was one of the original TUF contestants and enters his eighth year in the promotion. His last seven fights have seen him take home five Fight of the Night bonus cheques, as well one for Fight of the Year, and includes three consecutive awards. Of his last 15 fights, only four have not gone to the scorecards, so it would not take a genius to see which way I am leaning here. Gomi prefers to finish matters on his own, his last 15 fights only five have seen the judges called into action, which is almost the opposite to his opponent. For Gomi to take the win here then he needs to stop Sanchez. Sanchez has only ever been stopped by BJ Penn who, with respect, is a far better fighter than Gomi. For that reason, I am going for a Diego Sanchez win by decision.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Diego Sanchez by Decision – Evens @ Betfair

Hunt v Struve:

For me this is the fight that should have been the main event. In Mark Hunt we have a Pride favourite returning to his old stamping ground, facing off against a fighter who can potentially reach top five status with a good win. Hunt is experiencing something of a renaissance in his career of late. Going nowhere after six consecutive losses in four separate promotions, this run had him bordering on Bob Sapp territory where he may have been considered merely as a name to sell tickets. Three wins inside 12 months saw fans starting up a petition to see him given the title shot at UFC 146 before injury stopped him facing this weekends opponent in their original bout. Stefan Struve is a big man, recently recorded as seven feet tall with a stature to match. He enters the octagon this weekend looking to make it five wins in a row and announce himself as a title contender. When analysing a betting market it is always nice to glance at the statistics where, in this fight, we can see an obvious outcome. Mark Hunt has never lost a decision, but has been submitted in 86% of his career losses. Stefan Struve has never lost a decision and has won 64% of his career wins by submission. Naturally, this does not preclude the chance of this going the distance, but it does suggest that it is unlikely. As Struve is a best priced 4/7 to win outright, a submission victory offering more than even money is good enough for me to part with my cash.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Stefan Struve by Submission– 21/20 @ Ladbrokes

Silva v Stann:

Wanderlei Silva is a true legend of MMA, and I emphasise the MMA part of that statement. In the UFC he has not really made his mark. In his last ten fights Silva has a record of three wins and seven losses, not faring much better in the UFC. Fair enough, you look at his opponents and he has been in with some of the best in the business, on their day; but those days are long gone. In Brian Stann he faces off against a former champion at Light Heavyweight in the WEC. Stann has a UFC record that is marginally better than Silva, going six wins and four losses in his last ten.

Realistically, this is not a fight that is going to make a difference to any rankings. Both fighters move up from Middleweight to a more natural weight class in what feels like an exhibition match. Stann was born on a US military base in Japan, while Silva spent the best years of his career there so it makes sense that two fighters with a strong connection to the Land of the Rising Sun are on the card, but really shouldn’t be headlining it. Stann isn’t a submissions guy, and Silva has never been submitted, odds of 10/1 reflect that outcome accurately. Five rounds feels too long for either fighter to stay alert so a KO or TKO feels like the most likely outcome. Brian Stann has more to gain from a win here, and should provide enough power to send Silva into a well earned retirement. There is no value in backing Stann by KO/TKO, leaving round betting as the only reasonable outcome. My money will be going on Stann in round two, although I would not be surprised to see this end in the first.

Recommendation: Round Betting: Brian Stann in Round Two – 5/1 @ Paddy Power

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