There are times in life when it’s tough to lose a bet and there are times in life when you just don’t care. At UFC 165 I was the latter as Jon Jones and Alex Gustafsson put on one of the best fights I have seen. We all have an opinion on the result; personally I scored it to Gustafsson but there were very few clear cut rounds and I couldn’t complain either way. Nurmagomedov scored for the column early on, but the rest of the card was a bit of an upset for me, compounded by Renan Barao’s first KO in four years and Costa Philippou being sat on for 13 out of 15 minutes.
So, a small loss last week (I so hate saying those words) and back we go to Brazil for another midweek Fight Night card. Brazil cards are my kryptonite, but this one looks a little more open so there may be some possibilities. For the bean counters we are down to £36.76 on the year, with an ROI of 37.50%. If truth be told I have one eye firmly on the Velasquez v dos Santos card and the Manchester card so there may be some better opportunities on those. Let’s take a walk through the main card and see if anything takes my fancy.
Dillashaw v Assuncao:
TJ Dillashaw has suffered a lone defeat since making his professional debut three years ago. That loss was a TKO to eventual TUF winner, and one-time Flyweight contender, John Dodson. Since then he has been on bit of a tear winning a decision and stopping three others.
He faces off against the veteran Rafael Assuncao. Formerly of the WEC this wily veteran carries a similar record to his opponent also dropping the loss in his UFC debut while racking up four consecutive victories. The level of UFC opponent brings up similarities as both have fought, and beaten, Vaughan Le and Issei Tamura at some point over the past 12 months.
Decisions are a rarity with these guys and I am not expecting any judges to be called into action. Assuncao likes to bang and carries a nasty submission game, while Dillashaw is riding the crest of the Ludwig wave going two for two in stoppages since the Team Alpha Male coach landed in Sacramento. I fancy Dillashaw to take this, but I like the look of the special at BetVictor with either to win by TKO, KO or Disqualification. How the same firm has the decision at odds on is mystifying to me.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Either by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 7/5 (+140) @ BetVictor
Palhares v Pierce:
After a nine-month ban Rousimar Palhares makes his UFC return, but this time at Welterweight. Palhares, a submission specialist, is the God of the Heel Hook, so adept are his skills of locking onto the leg at every opportunity. It’s a strange match for the UFC to make as Palhares is on a two fight skid whereas his opponent is looking to make it five wins in a row. There must be logic in there somewhere.
The opponent in question is an ageing, but durable, Mike Pierce. Pierce is looking to stay relevant in the division, although if truth be told he isn’t ever going to get a title shot. He can hit hard, get hit hard and has excellent wrestling but his time has probably passed him by.
Here is the problem I have with Palhares; he doesn’t like a hard puncher and the over-reliance on that one move leaves him open to taking some big shots. His last three losses have all been by KO and all in the first round. Mike Pierce is a big puncher and if he loses then it’s typically to some of the very best in the business; Fitch, Hendricks, Koscheck and Munoz, and has never been stopped. Virtually all of Palhares’ submission wins have come in the first two rounds (with only one going into the second half of the second round). I don’t think that Palhares submits Pierce, but a first can happen at any time. If there is a stoppage then it’s most likely by KO for Pierce, which is a best priced 20/21. Looking at the statistics gives another option; if Palhares submits Pierce then it’s less than 7.5 minutes, and if Pierce knocks out Palhares then it’s most likely in the second round. Coral are an outstanding 6/4 for this fight to end by the midway point of round 2. I like that a lot, and that’s where I’ll be placing my cash.
Recommendation: Over/Under 1.5 Rounds: Under 1.5 Rounds – 6/4 (+150) @ Coral
Maldonado v Beltran:
As a fight it doesn’t make much sense to me, nor does it have any top ten considerations but this could just well be the potential Fight of the Night. It isn’t often that a fighter gets absolutely pummelled and comes out with more credit than he started, yet that is what happened when Maldonado faced Glover Teixeira. Maldonado showed in that fight that he can not only punch, but he can also take one. Against more limited opposition that sets up the type of fight that wins the bonus cheque.
Joey Beltran is almost impossible to knock out, but tends not to win too often. The drop in weight class has seen a new slim-line Beltran, but has stripped him of a little of his power. After being dropped as a Heavyweight he went regional, dropped around 30lbs and reinvented himself as a Light Heavyweight. A no contest against Pokrajac prevented him from collecting his first UFC win in nearly two years and only his fourth win from nine UFC bouts. I have no doubt that this fight goes three rounds and Maldonado gets his hand raised through a unanimous decision. At the time of writing there were no Fight of the Night markets posted, but that’s another area where I’ll look to take a little action.
As a footnote to this matchup, take a long hard look at Joey Beltran in this fight; if he loses then it’s most likely the last we see of the self-styled Mexicutioner in the octagon.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Fabio Maldonado by Decision – 9/5 (+180) @ BetVictor
ALSO Fight of the Night – 11/2 (+550) @ BetVictor
Silva v Hamill:
If I am tipping Maldonado v Beltran as the Fight of the Night then I am taking Silva v Hamill for Knockout of the Night. Thiago Silva has finally found himself back in the win column after a first win since 2009 and only the second win since May 2008. That is a long time between wins, and he should count his stars that his fighting style lends itself to fan favouritism and re-booking. If you were to include his two no contests then he would be aiming for 13 consecutive stoppages in fights he has won.
He squares off against once-retired Matt Hamill who steps into the octagon almost exactly a year after a tedious decision win over Roger Hollett, and almost two years since he announced his retirement. As it happens, Hamill couldn’t keep away and wanted another run. After that Hollett fight many, myself included, felt that he should have stayed retired.
At one stage Hamill – who owns the only victory against Jon Jones – was putting together a decent run for the title, beating the likes of Jardine, Ortiz and Munoz along the way. Back to back losses against Rampage Jackson and Alex Gustafsson put paid to that.
I don’t really give Hamill much of a chance in this fight. If Silva gets to dictate the pace and finds his range early then I find it inconceivable that he doesn’t win. Oddsmakers have Silva as a relatively heavy favourite but I think that even money on a KO win is far too big. Silva has only ever been knocked out by Machida and, no disrespect but Hamill is some way off that level. Probably the one of the easiest picks of the night for me.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Thiago Silva by KO/TKO – Evens (+100) @ Boylesports
Silva v Kim:
Erick Silva is one of the highest rated Welterweights in the UFC today. He has a style that has the fans and pundits buzzing alike, although he does seem to be one for the future than for now. His high energy has seen all bar one fight stopped in the first round. The one that went beyond the first was a decisive loss to Jon Fitch.
Standing in his way is the ‘Stun Gun’ Dong Hyun Kim. Kim is a top ten level Welterweight who has been slowly moving up the rankings, taking out some decent opposition along the way. He has two losses against his name; the first being a stoppage by the flying knee of Carlos Condit while the second was a freak rib injury against Demian Maia.
In his fighting style Kim reminds me of Jon Fitch, which is something that Silva finds difficult to handle. Silva had a torrid time being smothered by Fitch and I expect Kim to adopt the same game plan, which amounts to pinning him down and keeping him there. It won’t be a thriller that’s for sure but I am prepared to make a ballsy call, as I feel that Silva’ time will come but I can see Kim nicking the win here. Although Silva did initially beat Carlo Prater it goes down in the record books disqualification. That gives alternating wins and losses to Silva since his UFC debut. Kim is a tough cookie and highly overpriced, I am going to take a punt on that run to continue.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Dong Hyun Kim by Decision – 13/4 (+325) @ 888Sport
Maia v Shields:
The main event should always be a spectacle. Sometimes it’s a title fight or eliminator; sometimes it’s just two legends facing off. In other instances its two strikers ready to tear each other apart for 25 minutes, but in this case it’s a fight specifically for the purists.
Demian Maia has been nothing short of a revelation since dropping to Welterweight. As a Middleweight he was going nowhere, literally, and had apparently decided that he was going to ditch his BJJ skills in favour of a striking format and it did him no favours. At Middleweight he was dropping down the ranks, the victim of a stacked division. At Welterweight he is revitalised and re-energised, showcasing the skills that made him a contender in the first place.
Jake Shields has been a disappointment in the UFC since making the transition from Strikeforce. He knows it, you know it and I know it. His style is similar to that of GSP but on an inferior level. He is probably too big naturally for Welterweight and too small for Middleweight and his performances have suffered because of this. It was feared by many that his last fight against Tyron Woodley may have been his last for the UFC but somewhere, somehow he pulled off a decision upset as he used his BJJ (or as he calls it, AJJ) to negate the striking power of Woodley. This puts him into the frame with Maia and a match that may carry some relevant in the title picture behind Ellenberger or MacDonald.
With both fighters in the mid-thirties this is arguably the final push of their respective careers and whoever loses can probably be counted out of the picture from here on in. Whoever wins is back in the mix for another shot at the gold.
Where styles make fights it’s not always a good idea to match like for like. Sure, from a technical perspective this is like MMA porn, but for viewership it may be 25 minutes of two guys turtled up on the floor. Given that neither has ever been submitted it would be a massive shock if either tapped here, but you can’t rule it out. Also, as they share a combined six KO’s from 52 fights it would be unlikely that either will be seeing stars.
No, the smart money here goes on the decision win. Play it safe and you can get either to win by decision at 5/6. Alternatively, if you think that Shields takes the win by decision then its 7/2 or Maia by the same method is 2/1. Since the fight was announced I have favoured Maia and I see no reason to change my mind now.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Demian Maia by Decision – 2/1 (+200) @ Boylesports
Quick Bet Recap
Dillashaw v Assuncao – Method of Victory: Either by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 7/5 (+140) @ BetVictor – LOST -£1
Palhares v Pierce – Over/Under 1.5 Rounds: Under 1.5 Rounds – 6/4 (+150) @ Coral – WON +£2.50
Maldonado v Beltrain – Method of Victory: Fabio Maldonado by Decision – 9/5 (+180) @ BetVictor ALSO Fight of the Night – 11/2 (+550) @ BetVictor – WON +£2.80 and LOST -£1.00
Silva v Hamill – Method of Victory: Thiago Silva by KO/TKO – Evens (+100) @ Boylesports – LOST -£1.00
Silva v Kim – Method of Victory: Dong Hyun Kim by Decision – 13/4 (+325) @ 888Sport – LOST -£1.00
Maia v Shields – Method of Victory: Demian Maia by Decision – 2/1 (+200) @ Boylesports – LOST -£1.00
£1 on each is £7 staked.Small loss on the evening of £0.70p. Not too bad considering that there was a late (extra) bet on FoTN, but I got greedy on Kim. Poor event overall. Profitability remains at £36.06 on the year.