Well, well, well I guess the unthinkable happened didn’t it? It’s been three weeks since Chris Weidman shocked the world by taking Anderson Silva’s title and already we have a rematch signed and sealed for December. After a largely predicable year, to date, this is exactly what the sport of MMA needed to shake things up a little. Personally, I had a horrible week with my tips. Swanson stopped Siver rather than submitting him, Munoz beat Boetsch, Kennedy won by decision rather than KO, Edgar went the distance again and Weidman ended the fight before the midway point.
Sadly, we all get these weeks where everything goes wrong. The good news is that on the flipside we also get weeks where everything goes right. Profitability at just over halfway into 2013 stands at £11.31 to a pound level stake. Hopefully this week’s card will see a boost in profits after a small barren run. The UFC seems to be taking events at a more leisurely pace this year after a frantic 2012. A nice break has given a little time to regroup, recover and recharge. Let’s take a walk through the main card to see if the bookies have got anything wrong.
Carmouche v Andrade:
The Women’s division going from strength to strength, and is suddenly appearing on almost every card; which is a great boost for this side of the sport. Liz Carmouche becomes the first woman to fight twice on the UFC roster. Although she was soundly arm-barred out of her debut against Rousey, she almost shocked the world by very nearly clamping on the rear naked choke and upsetting the apple cart. In short, Carmouche showed that the ‘girl-rilla’ is no pushover.
A replacement for Miesha Tate after she was called up to face Rousey on TUF, Jessica Andrade makes her UFC debut in the opposite corner, carrying a similar level of experience as her opponent, although not quite in the same class. The Parana Vale Tudo student can be considered as something of a female prodigy in MMA as this is her 12th fight at the young age of 21, although this is her biggest test to date. If she stands a chance of winning then she will need to take Carmouche’s back and look for the submission to end the fight. Carmouche is ex-military and therefore as tough as nails and should dominate proceedings here. I expect her to control early on without rushing in and leaving herself open to the submission attempt, and will eventually finish this fight in the second round.
Recommendation: Round Betting: Liz Carmouche in Round 2 – 5/1 @ BetVictor
Lawler v Voelker:
This is a difficult fight to call. On one side we have Robbie Lawler, the recently-returning UFC veteran and huge underdog who TKO’d his way to a win over Josh Koscheck. On the other side we have Bobby Voelker, who stepped in on two weeks’ notice to replace the injured Siyar Bahadurzada.
History suggests that neither fighter will be making any waves on the title scene as their belt challenging days have passed without any real fanfare. That, however, is the beauty of this fight. Two fighters who are prepared to stand and bang, to just leave it all in the octagon and paint the floor red. Lawler hasn’t posted consecutive wins for six years, alternating wins and losses throughout this period. Voelker is 10-6 in the same time, with three of those fights coming against Roger Bowling in Strikeforce. Neither has a huge amount to gain, similarly neither has a huge amount to lose (barring the potential of being cut) as long as the fight is contended the right way.
Lawler has to break a poor run sooner or later, and I’ll be taking him here. He is too short to back outright at 1/3. However, Skybet are offering an enhanced Method of Victory market with the inclusion of Submission alongside TKO/KO and DQ. The submission won’t happen, but as the standard KO/DQ market is the same price then you are gaining an extra ‘out’ for free.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Robbie Lawler by KO/TKO, Submission or Disqualification – Evens @ Skybet
MacDonald v Ellenberger:
This has Fight of the Night written all over it. On many non-numbered cards this would probably serve as the main event, as arguably the winner of this fight is next in line for the winner of GSP v Hendricks. Rory MacDonald has been described by some as a psychopath. Quite harsh words, I agree. However, he approaches each fight or situation showing absolutely no emotion. He simply turns up, does what needs to be done in the most violent fashion possible and then waits for his arm to be raised in victory. It has been said many times that he is the first true MMA fighter, a practitioner of no specific discipline other than the sport in general which makes him incredibly dangerous and well rounded.
He faces off against Jake Ellenberger, one of the most gifted wrestlers in the division who also possesses devastating knockout power. Losses to Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann aside, Ellenberger has done very little wrong in the UFC and has demonstrated a willingness to adapt to his opponent. With numerous first round stoppages under his belt he was expected to tear into Jay Hieron but chose to methodically dismantle him on the way to a unanimous decision. Jay Hieron is no Rory MacDonald, but it demonstrates his ability to stick with a game plan.
Although this would be considered to be a title eliminator, MacDonald appears hungrier to avenge his sole defeat to Condit than be asked to step in against GSP. Ellenberger believes he is next in line and will be desperate to give Dana White no excuses next time out. In order to get the win he needs then he will need to come in with his normal game plan of dominating the first round, while saving enough in the tank to fend off the inevitable fight back of MacDonald. Provided he wins the first and doesn’t gas, then Ellenberger can put himself firmly in the driver’s seat while also providing the upset of the night.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Jake Ellenberger by Decision – 9/2 @ Skybet
Johnson v Moraga:
A friend asked me recently “Do you consider yourself a hard-core fan?” and “Would you recognise John Moraga if you saw him?” The answer to both is yes and no, respectively. This is strange as Moraga could conceivably find himself as the new Flyweight champion on Sunday morning.
Demetrious Johnson currently holds the unenviable record of being the only UFC Champion not to defend his belt at a numbered card. This may be perceived as a lack of interest in this division at present, but as the roster grows this anomaly will surely be corrected. Johnson hasn’t done a huge amount wrong in the UFC so far, only losing to the dominant Dominick Cruz at Bantamweight. Outside of the Cruz defeat he has contentiously drawn against, and beaten, Ian McCall as well as taking decisions against Torres, Benavidez and Dodson. If I have any problem with Johnson it is the fact that the outcome is almost always the same; a decision victory. Exciting decision victories they may be, but I get the feeling that he will never really be viewed as a true main eventer while his fights end so predictably.
Stepping up as the current mandatory challenger is John Moraga. Moraga has been in the UFC less than a year, and beaten only two fighters, which demonstrates the lack of depth in the division. No disrespect intended, but two wins does not a challenger make. For as long as this is the criteria for a title shot then the vastly experienced Johnson will continue to dominate. For his skills, Moraga favours the submission, which is a bad thing for him as Johnson has yet to be submitted in his career. Surprisingly for a Flyweight he doesn’t possess the speed of the other fighters in the division, and this will ultimately hold him back in the long run. The betting here should almost pick itself as Johnson hasn’t finished, or been finished, in a fight in the UFC. Despite this, he has numerous submissions in his arsenal along with the ability to deliver the KO. Ladbrokes are offering a fantastic 11/4 on Johnson winning inside the distance. Seven decisions in a row is a run that needs breaking and I’ll be playing the percentages that this week is the right time.
Recommendation: Round Group Betting: Demetrious Johnson – Inside Distance – 11/4 @ Ladbrokes