After spending a relaxing fortnight in Florida we are back to another UFC in Brazil. Due to some slackness on behalf of the bookies I only managed to tip up three fights on the previous Brazil card. However, from three fights came two wins, once again making this another profitable event for followers. For those who are counting, we are standing at £17.98 profit from a £1 bet on every fight from every main card up to, and including UFC on Fox 8. Not including this week that stands at 55 fight tips in total.
Sadly I missed out on writing up the UFC 160 card, but pretty much went as expected so can only look forward rather than back.
We now return to Brazil for the latest Fuel card. Some relative unknowns fighting here so will have to assess as best we can. Let’s take a look at the main card to see if there are any standouts. I’ll tell you in advance, I am feeling very gold and green today and the clean sweep looks ominous.
Jason v Wilkinson:
Rony Bezerra, known to his legions as Jason makes his third official UFC fight following a defeat of Sam Sicilia and winning the inaugural TUF Brazil series. His opponent on the night is Englishman Mike Wilkinson. Wilkinson makes his second appearance after winning his debut on the TUF Smashes finale. Although both fighters are former TUF competitors they are worlds apart when analysing their skills and experience.
Jason is a Jiu-Jitsu black belt out of Team Nogueira, and a veteran of 15 fights, with Wilkinson having half as many fights but very much regionally trained and based. Both have a solid submission game, although Jason will be far more refined in his approach. So much so, that I don’t really see a clear path for Wilkinson to win this one. My gut feeling was to look toward Jason for a submission victory, but I am leaning towards a far more dominant victory for the Brazilian and will be taking him to finish this by KO early on.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Rony Jason by KO/TKO – Evens @ Betfair
Silva v High:
Erick Silva returns to the octagon after a very disappointing defeat to Jon Fitch in October 2012. That matchup was intended, subsequently proving, to be the big test for the highly rated young Welterweight. Fitch decided to grapple the life out of the Brazilian, and won a clear decision. His opponent on the night is a returning Jason High, a late replacement for the injured Jon Hathaway. High is a recent import from Strikeforce and will look to fare better in his second UFC debut after dropping a decision to Charlie Brenneman in his only UFC appearance to date from 2010. Since that defeat he has been on a seven fight tear including a win over the similarly rated Jordan Mein.
In these opponents we have another two fighters who will look to nullify the main strength of the opponent, namely submissions. Both have racked up the majority of their wins by this method, yet neither has ever been submitted. As tactics go, this will either turn into a snooze fest on the ground or a stand-up war. I am favouring the stand-up war (for purely altruistic reasons) and expect to see Silva with his hand raised at the end of the night.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Erick Silva by KO/TKO – 6/4 @ Paddy Power
Silva v Cavalcante:
Let me keep this simple; someone is getting knocked out here! I expect this fight to be brutal, violent and potentially taking the Knockout of the Night and/or Fight of the Night, depending on how long it lasts. The returning Thiago Silva has not officially won a fight in the UFC since beating Keith Jardine at UFC 102. Due to two separate drug related incidents Silva has a record of one win, three losses and two no contests from his last six fights. As a result, this is a guy who is in serious danger of receiving the dreaded pink slip unless he pulls out a career defining performance and takes a good win. He faces up against a debuting Rafael Cavalcante, himself no stranger to a drug related incident following a win over Mike Kyle in his final Strikeforce outing. The result was overturned to a no contest and ironically saved one of the longest active streaks in MMA; Cavalcante has won 11 out of his 14 fights all by KO. The no contest was the first fight in which he had managed to submit his opponent.
Cavalcante is the ex-Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and will be looking to establish himself in the division’s top order with a win. I think he’ll get it late in the second or third round. The most amazing part of this fight is that the bookies are offering over even money on a knockout for Cavalcante. Considering when he wins it is ONLY by knockout this is almost like stealing money.
Recommendation (1): Method of Victory: Rafael Cavalcante by KO/TKO – 11/10 @ Paddy Power
Recommendation (2): Fight of the Night: Thiago Silva v Rafael Cavalcante – 10/3 @ Paddy Power
Macario v Santos:
As I haven’t been watching the show, this TUF Brazil final match is the very definition of a pick ‘em, a blind choice if you will. Santos is the older and more experienced fighter. He actually lost in the semi-finals, but got to the final by way of injury to the winner. Looking back at his record he has been active for almost 11 years in local promotions, and never really looked geared for a shot at the big time despite some periods of extreme promise. If the opportunity to lock on a submission presents itself then Macario could find himself in a lot of trouble.
Macario is the young and hungry fighter and is a relative newcomer to MMA. He has six local victories on the bounce, with only one getting out of the first round. With five knockouts in six fights he has punching power that should be respected. If he is able to keep the fight on the feet then he could easily emerge as the season two winner.
I don’t like backing favourites, certainly not in a TUF series. Macario could easily upset the apple cart here. My money will be on him at a price that is far too big to be competitive.
Recommendation: To Win the Fight: William Macario – 2/1 @ BetVictor
Nogueira v Werdum:
In a rematch seven years in the making, Fabricio Werdum finally gets the opportunity to reverse his loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira from their days in Pride. Werdum is looking for a third straight victory in the UFC since he returned from a successful stint in Strikeforce. Standing in his way is a legend of the sport and a true veteran, Antonio ‘Big Nog’ Nogueira who enters the octagon with an alternating win loss record from his last six fights. Two of these losses were to Frank Mir, with a defeat to Cain Velasquez separating them. Broken arm aside, Nogueira hasn’t been too active or successful of late and must be looking at the tail end of his career. His inability to register back to back wins for more than five years is testament to this.
Werdum’s star is still on the rise and he has a long and solid record, with his defeats only coming against some of the best in the business. In this list I include Nogueira himself, Overeem and Junior dos Santos. Casting these aside he also possesses a rarity in MMA; a win over Fedor Emeliankenko, a man considered by many as the greatest MMA fighter of all time. That defeat was Fedor’s first in almost 10 years, and put him on the downward slide. The biggest plus for Werdum was that he had the opportunity to demonstrate his submission skills against an opponent who many felt was unsubmittable.
While this fight headlines the card, it carries a greater significance for the division as a whole if Werdum were to win. Nogueira is a warrior, but so battle worn that he almost creaks when he walks. Sadly a win for him does very little other than put him up against a Roy Nelson or Josh Barnett, whereas a Werdum win arguably puts him up against the winner of the Velasquez/dos Santos trilogy. With the top two so far clear of the rest, the Heavyweight division almost needs Werdum to win to gather momentum for the big guys and lay a plan for the rest of the year.
Both fighters have an excellent submission game, which I think will be nullified. As this is a five rounder, cardio will be very important. I don’t see Nogueira being able to live with Werdum for 25 minutes and believe that he will fade out late on. On that note, I think that the 4/1 available on Werdum winning this fight in the 3rd, 4th or 5th rounds is an absolute steal.
Recommendation: Round Group Betting: Fabricio Werdum in Round 3, 4 or 5 – 4/1 @ Ladbrokes