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Now that was an absolute corker of an event, and pretty much what we have been desperate to see all year. From a fighting perspective it was awesome and from a betting perspective it was nice and profitable. Bets landed on Dodson by KO at 15/8, Gonzaga (so, so overpriced) at 19/10 and Cormier at 20/21 to give a profit of 52% on the night. This pushed up our profitability from £36.06 to £38.79 and it’s always nice to get back into the win column. It actually could have been another clean sweep if luck had gone a little better for us; Melendez wasn’t too far away from securing a TKO via Doctors stoppage and poor Dos Santos probably deserved to hold on for another two minutes to lose by decision rather than TKO.

Alas, I am not greedy and am happy with a profit. I got a few tweets during the week from followers telling me of the bets they had that won. If you have any winning bets then take a screenshot and send it in, I’ll post in on twitter and maybe end up following you. It’s back to the UK for the second time this year and although it’s always nice to be able to attend an event, the card does feel like a TUF reunion rather than the preceding week’s stellar line ups. Let’s go through the main card and see if there are any standout opportunities.

Harris v Lineker:

Rarely do you see a postponed matchup rebooked so soon after the original. Phil Harris was due to fight John Lineker in Brazil in August, but was sadly forced off the card through injury. As the UFC has come back to England it makes sense that this pre-planned fight happens now.

Harris makes his third appearance in the octagon and looking to capitalise on a win against Ulysses Gomez from February in London. While it is always nice to get the win it was a horrible performance and a terrible fight to watch. Harris took a unanimous decision, but the reality is that nobody would have argued against a reversal and it felt like a home fighter decision.

John Lineker, the most un-Brazilian sounding man on the face of the Earth makes his fifth appearance in all, and comes looking to make it four wins on the bounce. After dropping the loss in his debut against Louis Gaudinot he has been little short of impressive with a decision win followed by consecutive knockouts.

A win for Harris puts him well into the top 10 in the division, but a win for Lineker puts him within touching distance of the winner of Benavidez and Johnson. That’s enough motivation for Lineker to get the win and for me to bet on him getting it by brutal KO.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: John Lineker by KO/TKO – 10/11 (-110) @ BetVictor

Sakara v Musoke:

Firstly, Nicholas who? While I hate to see a fight pulled from a card due to an injury it is always a shame when someone steps up who leaves you scratching your head and searching Google just to get a snippet of information about them. I understand that he is a training partner of the original opponent, Magnus Cedenblad, and has worked with Alex Gustafsson.

Alessio Sakara is presently fighting for his UFC career. Recent history suggests two losses can get you cut, meaning that three losses is almost certainly a pink slip, but Sakara heads into this fight facing a potential fourth loss in a row. That almost certainly spells curtains for the fighter and at this point only an impressive win can delay the inevitable. That those losses came against Weidman, Stann and Cote are probably the only mitigating factors here giving him a final chance.

There is nothing like the thought of the sack to motivate even the most lethargic worker and facing off against a UFC debutant should give Sakara the opportunity to reverse his fortunes. High level training partners or not, the UFC is no place for a relative novice and this could be a quick and painful night for the young Swede.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Alessio Sakara by KO/TKO – 5/4 (+125) @ BetVictor

Parke v Tuck:

Rarely do I come across a fight where I have no strong opinion on the outcome but this is one of them. I genuinely have no idea which way to lean as the bookies have Parke as a relatively strong favourite but I am not overly convinced, problem is, I don’t know why.

Norman Parke makes his second appearance since winning the TUF Smashes series, outpointing Colin Fletcher along the way. He possesses an excellent Judo game and carries two-thirds of his career wins by submission.

Standing opposite him is Jon Tuck. Already a decent submission artist in his own right Jon Tuck returns to the octagon almost a year after his debut. Despite being a six year veteran of MMA he has only fought seven times, with the majority coming at regional level.

Tuck remains unbeaten while Parke has two submission losses to his name. This suggests that the knockout is unlikely since neither seem to have a suspect chin. This will most likely go to a decision, but I like the odds on a submission victory for either fighter. We know that they can both submit so it may just be a case of who can lock on the choke first.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Either by Submission – 15/8 (+187.50) @ BetVictor

Manuwa v Jimmo:

In a very short space of time Jimi Manuwa has developed into a British hero. Arguably one of the most competitive fighters to emerge from the UK, and possibly the only other fighter than Bisping capable of winning a belt. His performances to date have been little short of brutal, despatching his opponents with a level of violence normally reserved for the Heavyweights.

His opponent, making his second trip to the UK this year, is the Canadian Ryan Jimmo. It was in London that he suffered his first defeat since 2007 as James Te Huna survived a very early scare to dominate the latter two rounds and take a comfortable decision. Jimmo bounced back with a decision win against Igor Pokrajac in a fight that stunk out the arena, on a card that delivered almost nothing. He gets a chance to put himself back in Dana Whites good books with a good performance in Manchester.

Manuwa is a striker, pure and simple but he recognises his weaknesses and has trained with the likes of Rampage Jackson in order to improve his wrestling. Jimmo is the type of fighter who can pin him against the cage and hold him there for 15 minutes. While nobody wants to watch that happen there does need to be a realisation that Manuwa will not be the one to dictate the pace or positioning once the door closes.

The Internet is awash of fantasy that Manuwa will knock out Jimmo in the first; he won’t. This will be a first for Jimi as he either tastes defeat for the first time or goes the distance. I am looking at the latter as Jimmo doesn’t get knocked out very often and stylistically this is a horrible matchup for the Brit as he’ll need to use all those new found skills to keep Jimmo bloodied up and at arm’s length.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Jimi Manuwa by Decision – 5/1 (+500) @ Paddy Power

Pearson v Guillard:

Melvin Guillard is one of those fighters that you look back on and think “Damn son, is this what you made of your skills and career?” An incredibly frustrating fighter to watch, he has a habit of talking about putting his hands on people and they go down. This is abundantly true – he conveniently misses out the point that when others put their hands on him that he also goes down.

He faces off against a fighter almost guaranteed to get the largest pop of the night. Ross Pearson has revitalised a stalling career by returning to Lightweight, taking back to back TKO wins in the process. The winner of TUF 9 has carved a decent career out for himself and the opportunity to fight back in the UK should galvanise him completely.

It has been a tough year for Guillard with him leaving the Blackzillians to return to Jacksons. Jacksons didn’t want him back and he went nomad for a short period before arriving at Grudge. In the past two years he has gone 2-4 and found himself staring at the exit door twice and that’s not a comfortable place to be.

This fight will arguably come down to who gets to land the first big punch. Guillard is the bookies favourite, probably through reputation more than anything else. Pearson has forced two stoppages in a row and at 6/1 is massively overpriced to deliver the same here. It’s a big price but one that tempts me greatly.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Ross Pearson by KO/TKO – 6/1 (+600) @ Paddy Power

Machida v Munoz:

Whenever the hometown favourite is forced out of a fight then the card arguably is weakened. Michael Bisping was desperate to fight in Manchester in a fight that could have been a possible eliminator for the next Middleweight challenger. A detached retina says otherwise and change was made.

Lyoto Machida is one of the very biggest names in world MMA. He enters as the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion and K1 veteran. Although nowhere near the peak of his powers he is still one of the strongest his division. The problem with that statement is that this is not his division. For the first time, he drops to 185lbs to make another title charge.

After more than a year away, and the surfacing of that photo, Mark Munoz made a successful return to the octagon taking a comfortable decision over Tim Boetsch. Once touted as a challenger to Anderson Silva, Munoz has seemingly faltered when it matters with losses to Okami and Weidman seeing both of them take the eventual title shot. In many respects Munoz’s career in the UFC has mirrored his original opponent.

While I was happy that Davis won his fight against Machida (tipped here) it’s hard not to feel for ‘The Dragon’ as he probably didn’t deserve to lose that day. Maybe if the judges saw it differently then the drop wouldn’t be necessary and he may have faced someone like Gustafsson instead.

Personally I am pleased that Machida has come to the UK as he is a bigger draw for me than Bisping; he will no doubt fight here again at least once, but this is possibly the only time that UK fans get to see the Brazilian legend in the flesh.

Machida usually does pretty well against wrestlers and has knocked out some of the top ones in Bader and Couture. I fancy him to do similar to Munoz and the 5/4 on offer suggests real value.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Lyoto Machida by KO/TKO – 5/4 (+125) @ Skybet

 

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