From a sporting point of view last week’s event didn’t turn out too badly. Some excellent performances from some, Mousasi did what was expected, although it took a little longer to do. Ross Pearson once again pulled me out of a hole with a 3/1 winner, while Mitrione did as expected, but a little too early to make it profitable. I am still showing a profit on the year, although the amount is reducing. One good week though and we are right back in the saddle. As ever, if you do follow my picks, please feel free to pick and choose accordingly, and only bet what you can afford to lose.
This week sees the culmination of the latest TUF series. Due to the hype and coaches this has probably been the most interesting TUF since Rampage and Rashad back in TUF 10. Questions remain though; is Uriah Hall all hype, or is he the genuine article? Some of the write ups will be a little shorter this week; I think it’s fair to say that with the relative unknowns on the card, the bookies hate TUF cards! As a consequence some of the write ups will be a little shorter this week. Let’s take a look and see what is available.
Browne v Gonzaga:
This matchup is a little like discussing The Rise against The Rebirth. Travis Browne hasn’t really done a huge amount wrong in his career to date. In his last fight he was clearly on top of Antonio Silva before a torn hamstring gave Bigfoot the opening he needed to capitalise. It is testament to his performance that the likes of Joe Silva and the UFC have broken with tradition and made a match with a fighter coming off a loss against a fighter riding a three fight winning streak. In Gabriel Gonzaga we have the rebirth of a Heavyweight. Gonzaga limped out of the UFC on a hasty retirement after losing to Brendan Schaub at UFC 121. When looking at his record you can see why he decided to make a comeback. With only six losses to his name he lost against the very best in the division, as well as Schaub. He lost to Randy Couture, Shane Carwin, Junior Dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum, twice, and since returning has won three in a row by submission; no mean feat in a division where submissions are rare. This fight presents a perfect opportunity for either man to break into the top ten and make a real statement of intent. Browne has a significant size advantage over Gonzaga, I think he will use it to cut off the octagon and take this fight by KO.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Travis Browne by TKO/KO – 8/11 @ Ladbrokes
Tate v Zingano:
As one TUF series draws to a close, we have a fight that will decide who goes into the next coaching opposite Ronda Rousey. Miesha Tate has been here before, and was just another Rousey statistic being submitted in the first, relinquishing her Strikeforce belt in the process. Her opponent is the unbeaten Cat Zingano. Zingano makes her octagon debut looking to defend a perfect record developed on the provincial scene. Her last fight was also her biggest, in the rival Invicta promotion. If looking at record vs record then the bookies rightly have Zingano as a slight favourite, but I am not sure. If you break it all down then Tate has so much more in her favour; wrestling and submission competition wins, former Strikeforce Women’s Champion and seven fights at a ‘next best’ level. As a prospect of Team Alpha Male this automatically elevates Tate into a different class and her experience keeps her there. I like the odds on Tate and I think she will have enough to finish the job. I don’t know when or how but I’ll be on the former champ to set up the grudge match that everyone wants to see.
Recommendation: To Win the Fight: Miesha Tata – 11/10 @ bet365
Hall v Gastelum:
Irrespective of the hype train surrounding the TUF 17 series, it would not have been difficult to promote a fighter of Uriah Hall’s calibre. His record stands at nine professional fights with only two losses. Given that those losses came against Middleweight title contender Chris Weidman, and Costa Philippou (who we now know can throw a bit), it is fair to say that this guy may just be the real deal. His opponent for the UFC contract is underdog Kelvin Gastelum, who is no slouch himself. Gastelum managed to submit expected finalist Josh Samman and earn his shot at the contract. This is definitely a case of styles making fights; Hall will want to keep this standing whereas Gastelum will want to utilise his ground game and lock in the submission. I am well and truly behind the hype train here. As has been well documented by my column over the past few months I am no fan of the TUF series, but this one has managed to catch me. The odds won’t be big, but I am taking Hall by KO/TKO comfortably.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Uriah Hall by TKO/KO – Evens @ Ladbrokes
Faber v Jorgensen:
I like this fight more than the original main event. Initially this was to be a title shot between Demetrious Johnson and John Moraga which was postponed due to the champ suffering an injury. In their place stepped up Urijah Faber, fresh from his submission win over Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen. Jorgensen’s stock has dropped of late to the point where he found himself fighting on the Facebook Preliminary card. For a former contender that must have stung his pride. Winning both Submission and Fight of the Night, and taking home a bonus of $120,000 must have helped a little but the WEC veteran will see his place higher than that. He harshly found himself in that position after consecutive losses, of which there should be no shame given that those losses are to the two men who will contest the Interim Bantamweight Title at UFC 161 in June. Urijah Faber will be looking at that fight with extreme interest. After being beaten by Barao at UFC 149 for that Interim belt he will be aware that a Wineland win would probably give him another title shot whereas a Barao victory keeps him a fight or two away.
Being a genuine title contender has probably passed both of these fighters by as the new breed start to dominate, and a title run is unlikely. Jorgensen could shock the world, but I really don’t see it happening. I still think that Faber has another shot left in him and will be backing him to take a unanimous decision here.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Urijah Faber by Decision – 12/5 @ Skybet