What an event! Last week’s Fox card was arguably the card of the year so far and it almost had it all. With 9 knockouts and 3 decisions, we only needed a submission to get the full house. I hope you followed last week’s tips, I really do. Jordan Mein v Matt Brown was one of the shorter fights on the card at only six minutes in total length, but what a six minutes it was; taking home the Fight of the Night bonus. At 7/1 that was outstanding value and an excellent tip if I say so myself. In addition we saw a Diaz knocked out. While not tipped in the finish market (for the record I was going to aim for a decision…….) I played it safe and the 17/10 romped in. I will profess to feeling a little cheated on the Henderson tip, picking a unanimous decision rather than a straight decision; guess that’ll teach me for next time, huh? A highly profitable night’s work, £1 on each of the four tips returned a total of £10.70 which is a reasonable return on investment. While we had gotten dangerously close to the red line, we now stand at a yearly profit of £12.48 to the pound.
Are the opportunities as good this week I hear you ask? I am glad you did, there is some excellent value going into the last card before a 3 week break. Take a walk through the main card with me and see if you agree.
Healy v Miller:
The outcome of this fight is entirely dependent on which version of Jim Miller shows up. If it’s the Miller who came sprinting out of the blocks against Joe Lauzon, then it ends positively. If it’s the Miller who got caught cold by Nate Diaz then it ends badly. Pat Healy returns to the octagon after a 7 year hiatus and rides a six fight win streak from a very successful spell in Strikeforce. He was due to get a title shot against Melendez in the final card of that promotion, but injuries prevented it from taking place. Had he won, then last week’s main event would likely have been very different. The win over Lauzon has made Miller relevant again and he would be a fool to let that momentum slide. I genuinely think that Miller will win by submission, but Healy is capable of an upset. As both fighters have excellent submission skills as well as being a little susceptible I am going to opt for either to win by tap out. As Miller is 4/1 to win by submission and either by the same method is 11/4 I feel comfortable in hedging my bets on this one.
Recommendation: How The Fight Will End: Submission – 11/4 @ Ladbrokes
Kongo v Nelson:
In spite of his less than athletic frame, it could not be argued against that Roy Nelson has possibly the best chin in the UFC. This guy just doesn’t get knocked out, taking three rounds of punishment from Junior Dos Santos in the process. His losses are nothing to be ashamed of either, being beaten by some of the best in the division. Cheick Kongo is the exact opposite, a huge physical specimen who just looks like a champion, yet never really looks like going close. Kongo was on the wrong end of a knockout by Mark Hunt in his last outing, and there are certainly power similarities with Hunt and Nelson. As both are nearing the end of their careers at the top level, they will be used as relative gatekeepers rather than legitimate contenders. If Kongo is to win then he will need to take a unanimous decision as he doesn’t knock out or submit Big Country meaning his options are limited. Nelson has far more options available with an excellent ground game and submission skills, a right hand that hits like a sledgehammer and the ability to grind out a decision. Nelson can be backed at 7/5 to win by straight knockout, but if he does it then it should be spectacular enough to take home the bonus cheque.
Recommendation: Knockout of the Night: Roy Nelson – 7/2 @ Sportingbet
Davis v Magalhaes:
The bad blood has been building over this one for a few months now, all seemingly after some handbags following Magalhaes alleged refusal to fight Davis at UFC 155. On paper this looks like a one-sided victory for Davis. He has the greater top level experience, is an NCAA wrestling champion and has only lost to Rashad Evans. Magalhaes on the other hand, doesn’t have such an impressive portfolio. The former M1 Light Heavyweight champion, who unceremoniously put the belt up on Ebay after vacating the title, doesn’t really have a strong history to fall back on. However, this is a relatively new Magalhaes. Due to his excellent Jiu Jitsu he was drafted in by Chael Sonnen to help with tactics for the rematch with Anderson Silva. You cannot help but believe that he picked up a few tips there. Let’s also not forget that Magalhaes is the current ADCC Submission Grappling World Champion (at 98kg) and a BJJ Black Belt under Royce Gracie certainly turns a few heads. When we go back to looking at Davis, he has victories over Little Nog, Tim Boetsch, Brian Stann and the heir-apparent, Alex Gustafsson. Both fighters love a submission victory, and maybe common sense should tell me to take Ladbrokes 3/1 on the fight ending by submission for either fighter. There are many that read MMA forums who would almost have me burned at the stake if I suggested that Magalhaes will be forced to tap. If I am honest, I genuinely expect Davis to grind out a decision win, but at 10/11 I am not convinced. So its neck out time now, if you’ll pardon the pun. There is more than a little value in backing one of the top submission artists in the world at a healthy 6/1 and that’s what I’ll be doing. Davis has very long limbs, and although he is likely to be ultra conservative, if he leaves one out for a fraction too long this could be over before he knows it.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Vinny Magalhaes by Submission – 6/1 @ Paddy Power
Belcher v Bisping:
I have been going back and forth on who wins this fight. Bisping has a passion and desire to fight Anderson Silva for the Middleweight belt and set a precedent for UK MMA. Belcher is an underrated fighter who hasn’t realised his potential to date. Although both fighters have been in the UFC for seven years, it is surprising that their paths have not crossed before. They have, however, shared opponents with varying degrees of success. Belcher dropped fights to both Jason Day and Yoshihiro Akiyama, while Bisping won against both very convincingly only a few months later. If Bisping fights as he should, and by that I mean that he goes in guns blazing and tears through Belcher then I think that he wins quite early. If he tries to be very technical then he opens a few doors for Belcher to take a look through. I said it when I wrote about Bisping v Belfort; I would desperately love to see him secure a title shot – if for no other reason than for him to potentially bring Silva to the UK. It is unlikely that a win over Belcher would progress him any further with this goal, while a win for Belcher benefits him greatly. Bisping does have huge motivation going into this fight. A short while ago he was offered a bet from Cincinnati Bengals Wallace Gilberry. The prize? A $300,000 Rolls Royce Phantom if he were to knock out Belcher in the first. It is unknown whether the bet was accepted or not, the rumour mill suggests no. I do, however feel that Bisping has a knockout in him for Saturday. I don’t see it coming in the first, but his power and extraordinary cardio could see this delivered late in the second or third rounds.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Michael Bisping by KO/TKO – 4/1 @ Paddy Power
Jones v Sonnen:
I am still not quite sure how this fight was ever made. Fresh from the most successful TUF season since the original, Chael Sonnen has effectively talked himself into a title shot through WWE-type promotional talk. Given his first performance against Anderson Silva, which has proven to be the exception rather than the rule, you can understand the intense hype over the rematch. You can also understand that we, the fans, were a little underwhelmed when it finally took place. Chael announced that he would step up to Light Heavy for a last minute shot at Jon Jones at UFC 151, a fight that the champion politely declined. From there, the hype train got underway again and we found Chael being talked about as a credible opponent, culminating in a coaching spot opposite Jones on TUF 17. As it turns out, what was originally a huge gamble has paid off in the ratings and we have a huge championship match this weekend, but realistically it shouldn’t have been on the agenda. There are many credible opponents in the division and the likes of Shogun, Hendo, Machida and Gustafsson could all reasonably argue that they deserved a chance more than a Middleweight with a relatively mediocre record but a world class talent for trash talking. Jon Jones on the other hand is a well-spoken, polite and relatively low key champion. Not one to talk the talk, to overhype a fight or call out opponents he prefers to do his talking in the octagon. I am not saying that he is perfect, as his DUI will testify and the way that he unceremoniously dumped an unconscious Machida from a standing choke left the purists more than a little upset. I am not even going to go into the backlash from the cancellation of UFC 151.
Sonnen’s primary asset (other than his mouth) is his wrestling, after all it is what he employed to devastating effect on a dazed Anderson Silva, and his problem is that Jon Jones is just as good on the ground. Jones could almost be considered to be the perfect fighter, underlined with a reach that borders on freakish at an impressive 84 inches. We have seen Jones grow from a prospect to potentially being the most dominant Light Heavyweight champion in UFC history; a record he will tie with a successful defence on Saturday. There is no conceivable way that this goes five rounds, but if it does then it will be a horrible fight that you may wish to erase from your memory. From his four defences so far Jones has won three by submission, and Sonnen’s submission defence has holes in it bigger than the Grand Canyon. At 13/8 the odds are far too big to ignore, Jon Jones will revert to his ‘mercy kill’ and take out Sonnen by submission in or before the third round.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Jon Jones by Submission – 13/8 @ Paddy Power