I would like to open up this week’s column by announcing my retirement. Not from writing or tipping, not at all, my retirement is from ever backing Alistair Overeem again. The big fella has let me down twice in a row from winning positions and that’s just unforgivable. So, I don’t care if the UFC decide to match him up against Demetrious Johnson next time out, I’ll be backing Mighty Mouse if that happens, and by KO!
Urijah Faber saved a little of my bacon as I went 1-4 last time out. Hasn’t hurt profitability too badly as we sit at a respectable £17.18 on the year.
With three events in the next 7 days I will be providing two write ups for this week; next week is a whole other story. That gives me 11 fights over two cards to make some money. It’s tough, but somebody has to do it so lets open up with the first six.
Tavares v McDaniel:
Two TUF alum meet in a relatively meaningless match up that does little for their respective careers. Tavares competed in TUF 11, losing to eventual winner Court McGee, while McDaniel competed in TUF 19 losing in the quarter finals to runner up Uriah Hall.
McDaniel is a submission specialist who will look for the tap at every available opportunity, whilst Tavares will look to take him down and keep him there for 15 minutes. Tavares demonstrated a solid wrestling base when taking a decision win over Tom Watson and will look to utilise the same game plan to extend his streak to 4-0, all the while gearing towards a 6-1 record.
McDaniel literally broke down in the TUF house, with a fear of facing Uriah Hall blamed as the cause. Tavares doesn’t have the KO power of Hall but he has a greater high level experience and I expect him to take a comfortable decision.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Brad Tavares by Decision – 5/4 @ Betfair
Mizugaki v Perez:
It’s hard to look at Mizugakis record and get excited, after going 6-5 from his last 11 fights. Look closer and you see that those defeats have come against highly decorated fighters, or legitimate contenders, Miguel Torres, Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles and Scott Jorgensen being examples. For this reason it hasn’t quite clicked for him in the UFC yet.
Erik Perez rides an eight fight win streak that stretches back through spells in the UFC, BAMMA and some lesser known regionals, he currently trains out of Jacksons MMA, so something is going right but how much more does he have to give?
Perez is a submissions man, with 54% of his wins coming via this method, but Mizugaki has only been submitted once in 24 fights. I fancy the experience of Mizugaki to take this by a split decision. One thing is for sure, this may be a fight for the purists but it won’t be winning any post-fight bonuses.
Recommendation: To Win the Fight: Takeya Mizugaki – 5/4 @ Ladbrokes
McGee v Whittaker:
The second TUF matchup on the card sees the winners of TUF 18 and TUF 11 face off. Court McGee won the 11th Season of TUF after losing in an earlier round and gaining a wild card entry. He made full use of the second chance and submitted Kris McCray in the final.
Robert Whittaker won the Welterweight TUF contest during The Smashes series, defeating Brad Scott in the final. He faces McGee in his third UFC bout; incidentally this is his third in a row against TUF opposition after beating season 16 winner Colton Smith last time out.
As a matchup this flatters to deceive, it’s not really interesting for the majority and both fighters are unlikely to make much of a dent in the near future. Court McGee should have more than enough in the tank to take the win and hand Whittaker his first UFC loss. As his last four fights have all gone to the judges I won’t be surprised to see him go five in a row.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Court McGee by Decision – 7/4 @ Ladbrokes
Gastelum v Melancon:
Kelvin Gastelum is the man who shocked the world, the man who derailed the hype train of Uriah Hall and the man who makes his official UFC debut dropping down a weight class. He wasn’t given a prayer against Hall in the final, with the majority of bookies having him as a long odds outsider, and the split decision probably flattered Hall more than Gastelum if truth be told.
His opponent is Brian Melancon, a recent import from Strikeforce but also a veteran of Bellator and Legacy FC. Despite only having nine professional fights he has done the rounds in a few named promotions, dropping only two fights; one of them being against current UFC fight Isaac Vallie-Flagg.
I am very aware that I have tipped up a series of decision victories and am doing my best not to go down the same route here. If truth be told I expect this to last the full 15 minutes, however I’ll break my streak and take the fitter, leaner, lighter and more technically talented Gastelum to nick a submission victory. Melancon hasn’t really fought a submission specialist and this could be the first time that he is forced to tap. The 6/1 on offer at BetVictor gives me a little value to play with.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Kelvin Gastelum by Submission – 7/1 @ Paddy Power
Cerrone v Dos Anjos:
I have been looking forward to this fight since it was announced. I am a huge Cerrone fan, it’s a shame that he has been unable to kick on from a storming start to his UFC career. With five fights in 2011 it was shaping up to be the year of the Cowboy, until he ran into Nate Diaz and ended the year on a loss. Diaz schooled Cerrone over three rounds and the Cowboy hasn’t really looked the same since. Laborious decisions over Stephens and Noons haven’t really set the world alight, and he was severely rocked by Guillard prior to finding a kick from nowhere.
Rafael Dos Anjos is a beast of a Lightweight, with a frame that looks like it belongs at least at Welterweight. His UFC career has been mixed at best, only finding a little traction in the last 12-18 months. Riding a four fight win streak Dos Anjos will be aware that this could be his biggest scalp by far and put him in with another top-five guy. A granite chin and excellent submission defence should counteract some of Cerrone’s key attributes resulting in all three rounds being utilised. I really don’t see Cerrone stopping Dos Anjos and if it goes to a decision then I’ll be looking to be on the Brazilian outsider.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Rafael Dos Anjos by Decision – 11/5 @ BetVictor
Condit v Kampmann:
Individual losses to Johny Hendricks have contributed to this main event as both fighters look to rebound into title contention after defeats by the bearded one. Martin Kampmann has found himself side-lined since November 2012 following a 46 second knockout defeat, while Condit was beaten over three rounds in a dominant wrestling performance. Condit has been on the shelf since March as he looked to take in some extended wrestling training before returning to the octagon.
It was only around a year ago that Kampmann had beaten Jake Ellenberger to stake his claim for a title shot, that never came and any potential shot was ended by the left hand of Hendricks. For Condit, he tasted Interim gold and finds himself on the second two fight skid of his career. For most fighters dropping three on the bounce would lead to a pink slip, but Condit has lost to the champion, and the soon-to-be champion so that is no great shame. Condit also has the added motivation of avenging an earlier loss to Kampmann where he dropped a split decision on his UFC bow.
As matchups go this is almost perfect, and definitely one for the purists. Two fighters who as comfortable standing and trading blows as they are off the back looking for a submission. Decisions are a rarity amongst them meaning that this could be fireworks. Personally I feel that Condit has a lot more to give and is the more intelligent and well-rounded of the pair, similarly I would like to see him get five rounds against Hendricks because that could be Fight of the Year material. Expect a solid game plan from Condit, with him pinning Kampmann against the fence in the latter rounds using his striking to end the fight. He won’t want to face another potential split decision loss and I don’t think he’ll have to.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Carlos Condit by KO/TKO – 13/8 @ BetVictor