If you followed last week’s column then around 5am on Sunday morning you may have heard the sound BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. That would have been the sound from my front room as three of my four tips came romping in. Almost a clean sweep, well it would have been if it wasn’t for those pesky kids……..MacDonald and Ellenberger, I mean.
As I said last time out, we get those weeks where everything goes horribly wrong but luckily we get the flipside where everything goes right. Carmouche justified support by finishing Andrade in the second round and nailing a 5/1 winner in the process. Robbie Lawler was about as close to a certainty as you’ll ever see as he violently justified even money odds. I won’t forget to namedrop Demetrious Johnson in here, as the Mighty Mouse broke his seven fight decision run, demonstrating in the process that sometimes you just need to play the percentages. In this case, those percentages paid up at 11/4. From a rough calculation £4 invested last week would have returned you a nice £11.75, making last week profitable and pushing up overall profitability to £19.06 on the year.
We return to Brazil this week with a five fight main card. As with all Brazil cards there are some tough picks to be made, but let’s take a closer look to see if the bookies have left us with any value.
Lineker v Tome:
In a late change to the card, John Lineker should have been facing off against Phil Harris. Apologies to Harris but I only ever saw that fight going one way. As Harris was forced off the card due to injury he was replaced with Jose Maria Tome, a debutant from the regional circuit. Tome is vastly experienced, far more so than Lineker, but at a far lower level and is unbeaten in his last 17 fights.
Lineker has been making a bit of a name for himself of late with as much attention on his wins over Gashimov and Urushitani as there is on his most un-Brazilian sounding name.
With a win Lineker could conceivably find himself either ‘in the mix’ or very close by, and that should be enough to see him through. He does have holes in his submission game and would be mindful that he is facing a very comfortable submission fighter. He doesn’t get taken down very often and if he keeps it that way he should take the win and another step closer to Demetrious Johnson. Due to a perceived lack of competition there are very few betting markets available for this one. Lineker is too short to back at 2/9 so I am hoping that he can finish this in less than 12 minutes and 30 seconds.
Recommendation: Over/Under 2.5 Rounds: Under – 4/6 @ bet365
Watson v Leites:
England’s own Tom ‘Kong’ Watson makes his third octagon appearance needing a solid win to maintain momentum. After being outclassed in his debut against Brad Tavares he found himself on the verge of dropping his next to Stan Nedkov. Luckily for Watson, Nedkov gassed and was knocked out. That earned Watson $100,000 in Fight and Knockout of the Night bonuses as well as the thanks from a Wembley crowd from which that fight was the highlight of the card.
His opponent is the returning Thales Leites. Last seen in the octagon dropping a decision to Alessio Sakara, and prior to that Anderson Silva, Leites has found himself active on the regional circuit where he went 6-1. From those six wins four were won by submission and that’s where he will look to take Watson. Watson has no submissions in his locker. None, that’s just not his game. He is Muay Thai through and through and will want to keep this standing for as long as possible. Despite having no submissions he can defend them and hasn’t been forced to tap for over six years.
Given the lack of English fighters currently on the roster we need Watson to have a big night. If he can keep it standing, as he did against Nedkov then he can take the win. If he lets it go to the ground, as he did against Tavares then he most likely goes 1-2 and enters the last chance saloon. For the sake of English MMA I hope he takes the fight. With Greg Jackson in his corner he certainly has the right man to execute the game plan required. He won’t knock Leites out; nobody has in his career so a tight decision looms large on this horizon.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Tom Watson by Decision – 7/2 @ William Hill
Ferreira v Santos:
Illustrating the lack of depth on this card is a TUF Brazil face-off between the winner of TUF 1 and one of the losers on TUF 2. The winner was Cezar Ferreira, a natural middleweight who is making his second appearance in the octagon. The loser is Thiago Santos, a natural welterweight who is making his UFC debut in the higher weight class. Given that this is potentially a huge mismatch I am unsure as to how this made main card status and think that the likes of Ian McCall and Vinny Magalhaes have every right to be offended.
In this type of matchup you simply have to go for the bigger man. Naturally 15-16lbs heavier on fight night alone and possessing the sort of power that you just don’t pick up overnight. Neither fighter has a wealth of experience to tap into when researching, spending their collective careers on the regional scene.
This is a fight where you just have to go on gut reaction. Gut reaction sways me massively towards the bigger and more experienced man. Unless Santos has been training like a demon for middleweight, which is unlikely given his late replacement call, then this could be a very quick and painful night for him. I hate ‘tipping’ odds on selections, but in this case I can see only one outcome and this offers the best value by far.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Cezar Ferreira by KO/TKO – Evens @ Ladbrokes
Machida v Davis:
This could be a barnstormer (unlikely) or a complete stinker (probably) and will clearly go either way. Machida has gone 3-3 in his last six fights losing to Shogun, Rampage and Jon Jones. Last time out he picked up a split decision over Dan Henderson in a relatively poor encounter. I would have to check the facts, but I believe that Machida has been the number one contender for a while now but Dana just doesn’t want to give him his shot. I dare say that the shadow of UFC 151 is still case over The Dragon.
His opponent is the self-styled Mr Wonderful, Phil Davis. A gifted wrestler and possessor of the only win over the next title contender Alex Gustafsson. On record, Davis should be pretty damn close to one or two in the rankings; barring a forgettable fight against Rashad Evans he has beaten everyone Joe Silva has matched him up with. Problem is he hasn’t really looked like a contender while doing it.
If this fight is a barnstormer, then Davis will need to develop a striking game that hasn’t been visible in his career to date – two KO’s from 12 career fights. If the fight is to be a stinker then Davis takes Machida to the ground and keeps him in mount for roughly 15 minutes. The difficulty Davis will have is that Machida is very difficult to get to ground. If he does, however, then it’s in his territory to aim for another grinding win. In Brazil you wouldn’t expect Machida to be beaten, but if Davis can come out on top then that title shot just move a whole step close. I’ll be making a small play on Davis purely on the strength of his odds; in places they are just too big and it’s worth the gamble. I actually think that Machida will win, but I am not excited about the fight nor the betting opportunities.
Recommendation: To Win the Fight: Phil Davis – 16/5 @ Sportingbet
Aldo v Jung:
I still feel a little cheated that we lost Pettis from this card, as I think that ‘Showtime’ would have been an incredible matchup for the champion. However, we now get Henderson v Pettis in a few weeks to make up for any disappointment. The replacement is the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung who makes his first appearance in the octagon since beating Dustin Poirier in May 2012. It may be just my thinking, but 14 months on the side-lines and straight into a championship fight against the likes of Jose Aldo is a huge ask.
Since making his UFC debut in March 2011 Jung has gone 3-0, with notable defeats of veterans Leonard Garcia and Mark Hominick, the latter coming after only seven seconds. It was still a surprise to see him given the call to face Aldo due to his inactivity and the fact that Cub Swanson and Ricardo Lamas are both ranked higher and were available at the time. You cannot help but ask whether this is too soon for Jung as this is a different class of opponent entirely.
Jose Aldo has done very little wrong in his career to date, let alone the UFC. After a sole submission loss in 2005 his MMA record is unblemished, taking notable victories against the likes of Swanson and Faber under the WEC umbrella and following up in the UFC with Edgar, Mendes, Florian and Hominick. Although side-lined for over a year he showed little rustiness taking the decision over Edgar in February this year. His kicks are devastating and his cardio relentless. He will push the pace as he wants to and demonstrate his incredible striking ability, making this either a very short or long night for Jung.
Jose Aldo has been available at odds of around 1/8 to win this fight, and I expect to come out blazing, swinging that front leg to slow Jung down and keeping him where he wants him. I am giving Jung the respect to potentially survive the first round, but be taken out in the second by TKO.
Recommendation: Round Betting: Jose Aldo in Round 2 – 5/1 @ Ladbrokes