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Feels like a long time since the last card, in a year where there appears to be an event every seven days, going fourteen is almost an eternity. Quick review of the last event shows a small profit on the night, some of it deserved (Yahya) and some very fortunate (Sanchez). Either way, a win is a win and a profit is a profit. For those who are counting, we are still in profit for 2013, admittedly by a small amount of £6.45 to a £1 level stake. It’s nothing massive, but is consistent. It shows that with a bit of research this is a profitable sport to bet on.

This week is a bit of a rarity of late, with only five fights instead of six on the main card. At least one of these will be an incredibly predictable fight, those that know my views won’t take too long to figure that one out.

Ricci v Fletcher:

In the battle of TUF runners up, Mike ‘The Martian’ Ricci faces off against Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher. Ricci lost to Colton Smith in the final of TUF 16 the night before Fletcher lost to Norman Parke on The Smashes. Fletcher is a fighter who possesses no knockout power and who will look to submit or grind out a decision. Ricci is the opposite who will happily let his hands fly in the hope of securing an early finish. I’ll be honest that I know little about each fighter, and neither has a record that stands up to any huge analysis. Being a Brit, I’ll let a little bias sway my decision. You can get around 5/1 on Fletcher to take this by submission, that’s good enough to encourage me to lay a couple of pounds down. Ricci has never been submitted before, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be submitted for a first time.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Colin Fletcher by Submission – 10/1 @ Ladbrokes

Ring v Camozzi:

It’s not very often that you find a fight so close that the bookies are struggling to split them. Nick Ring returns to the octagon after illness at the weigh in cancelled his previous fight against Costa Philippou, you can get him at a best price 10/11 to win the fight. Chris Camozzi looks to make it four in a row following his decision win over Luiz Came in Rio and can be backed at a best price of evens. Ring has the better pedigree, he has been in with better fighters and suffered his only defeat to Tim Boetsch. Camozzi has been in the UFC longer, but has dropped a couple to Francis Carmont and Kyle Noke. Recent history suggests that this will go to the judges and be a unanimous decision for one of them, but at around evens there is little value to be had. Ring likes to submit, and Camozzi has a history of being submitted. You can get around 5/1 on a Ring submission on the Betting Exchanges, I like it and I’ll be taking a small piece of that action. I wouldn’t expect to see that price around for long though.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Nick Ring by Submission– 7/1 @ Ladbrokes

Ellenberger v Marquardt:

Nate Marquardt should consider himself a very lucky man, very lucky indeed. Removed from the UFC roster for TRT violations, he wound up signing with BAMMA, although not actually fighting, and landed a title shot in Strikeforce, beating Tyron Woodley in a brutal affair. He was probably guilty of overlooking Tarec Saffiedine last time out, dropping a unanimous victory before finding a way back to the main card at UFC 158. Two big questions remain; would he have been as relevant to the title picture had the card not been shuffled and is he taking TRT for this fight? He faces off against Jake Ellenberger, a contender who would have been number one had he beat Martin Kampmann last year. Ellenberger got himself back in the win column with a unanimous victory over Jay Hieron, but in truth it was a laboured victory. My initial view on this is that Ellenberger would use his wrestling to grind out a decision win; God knows the UFC have seen enough of them in the past few weeks. Strikeforce fighters have something to prove and Marquardt knows he is sipping a pint in the last chance saloon. Maybe I am letting the odds talk me around; I think that 15/2 is outstanding value on a fighter who clearly has a KO or 9 in his locker. Nate ‘The Great’ to cause the upset of the night right here and continue the Strikeforce revival.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Nate Marquardt by KO/TKO –15/2 @ Ladbrokes

Condit v Hendricks:

Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Johny Hendricks. For my money he should have been given a title shot over Nick Diaz, and should have been fighting tonight in the main event. For some reason Dana White seems a little reticent to put Hendricks in against GSP, even GSP himself doesn’t feel that Hendricks fully deserves it. His opponent this weekend is Carlos Condit, who will still be kicking himself for failing to fully capitalise on that head kick against GSP last time out. Both fighters actually signed up for different fights, with Hendricks due to face off against Ellenberger, and Condit accepting a rematch with Rory MacDonald. History moved the goalposts there, and left us with a fight far more meaningful in the title picture. Hendricks is riding a five fight winning streak since his first and only loss, to Rick Story. Condit was on his own five fight winning run prior to facing GSP, and looks to rebound from that loss and set up another shot at the champion. If we look at ways that either fighter can be beaten then we get a better idea of where the money goes. Hendricks has never been stopped or submitted and Condit has never been knocked out. Hendricks is a wrestler, but who has shown he is capable of finishing tough fighters with that devastating left hand, whereas Condit is a true mixed martial artist who appears to favour the stoppage. Condit is the more rounded fighter, and I don’t think that Hendricks has the tools to submit him. My money will be on Hendricks, as it always has been, and I think that he will take a split decision victory. Odds of 9/5 are far too long on this outcome, and it’s time to take some money back off the bookies here.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Johny Hendricks by Decision– 2/1 @ Paddy Power

St Pierre v Diaz:

Let me ask this question early. Am I in the minority over this fight, in the respect that it doesn’t excite me one iota? GSP is a future Hall of Famer, and it is beyond belief what he has already achieved in his career. Despite the Welterweight division being one of the most stacked in the UFC he has been allowed to pick his own opponent. Don’t get me wrong, it makes perfect business sense. There is no other fight in the division that would generate this much hype; it just feels a little undeserved. Nick Diaz talks a good game, and it’s clearly his mouth that has managed to secure a title shot after coming back from not only a year-long suspension, but also from a loss. The loss was disputed by many, not by me as I clearly gave that fight to Condit, but is that reason enough to break the normal matchmaking rules and make this fight?

GSP has pretty much dominated all who have entered the octagon with him, barely losing a round. His last fight against Condit provided him with his sternest test, and cost him his first round, in many years. The main criticism being that once he takes the opponent to the ground then the fight is effectively over. It isn’t pretty, but it is effective. While on the subject of not pretty you inevitably get to Nick Diaz. The aforementioned fight against Condit aside, his stock rose with a demolition of BJ Penn following his return from the now defunct Strikeforce promotion. Earlier I mentioned that I am not excited by this fight; let me now tell you why. On April 20th 2013, the younger Diaz fought in a title fight against Benson Henderson. On that day the superior wrestler took Diaz down, kept him there and dominated him for five rounds. That fight was a precursor to this fight, with exactly the same outcome. GSP will take all five rounds comfortably, and set up a real title fight with Johny Hendricks later in the year.

Recommendation: Decision Victories: Georges St Pierre – To Win By Unanimous Decision – 8/13 @ Ladbrokes

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