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Recapping the final event of the year allows us to contemplate an excellent card. Nobody saw the end to the Silva fight, well maybe the outcome but not the method. Miller took the submission at 5/4 and Browne took the knockout at 5/2. This led to a profitable event and took the year end profits to £31.33.

Let me recap the highlights, and lowlights, of 2013. We placed 147 bets in total, 51 winning, two declared void and 94 losers. Sounds like a lot, but that represents a return on investment of just over 21%. Incidentally this is the same as the recognised number one MMA handicapper and Professional gambler, Luca Fury.

Statistically we went on a 10 fight winning streak, which was countered by a 10 fight losing streak. The smallest win was 4/7 on John Lineker with the largest being 8/1 on Jordan Mein v Matt Brown in the Fight of the Night market.

Once a year we get to start from scratch and reset the clock. In resetting the clock we also get to reset the profit counter and start from £0.00. The opening event is from Singapore and really couldn’t be harder. From the eight fighters on the main card we really only know of one, so will be using statistical analysis to make an educated guess for some real profit. Let’s take a look for some value.

Kang v Shimzu:

Kicking off the main card we have the beautifully nicknamed ‘Mr Perfect’ Kyung Ho Kang making his third appearance in the octagon. Although losing his first two outings by decision he certainly wasn’t disgraced and the debut loss was later overturned to a No Contest to further temper any negativity.

He faces off against a debuting Shunichi Shimizu, who is one of many Pancrase imports, although he has fought the majority of his career at Zst. Hailed as a legitimate fighter in that promotion he was seen as something of a coup when the UFC signed him a few months back.

The one thing that obviously stands out when looking at these fighters is the high propensity for this to end in a submission. Kang holds eight submissions (73%) under his belt while Shimzu has 19 (68%) so it is no surprise which way I am leaning. It’s a very strong lean and it is for either to win by submission. At the time of writing that isn’t priced up yet by the bookies so in the interests of fairness I’ll also tip up a bet you can get, I am taking the underdog at odds of just over 2/1. I have no real reason for doing so other than giving the benefit of the doubt to a debuting fighter against a fighter who possesses a 0% win rate in the promotion.

Recommendation: To Win the Fight: Shunichi Shimzu – 21/10 (+210) @ BetVictor

Kunimoto v Dutra:

For the second fight on the card Brazil meets Japan in a match-up that feels almost Pride-esque in its inception. Luiz Dutra is one of the TUF Brazil 2 contestants and a late replacement for eventual headliner, Hyun Gyu Lim.

At 31 and making his UFC debut after being forced off the reality show with a hand injury, Dutra is looking to make up for lost time in Singapore. Although limited thus far to regional promotions in his native Brazil he has already faced two current UFC stars in Paulo Thiago, to whom he lost and Fabricio Moraes who he beat so he does have some pedigree against high level opposition.

Kiichi Kunimoto is a former Heat champion and veteran of the Pancrase organisation in his native Japan. A submission specialist he holds 53% of his career wins via this method, including his last three fights, most recently submitting two-time UFC fighter Edward Faaloloto to retain his title.

Where little is known about either fighter you end up in ‘pickem’ territory and have to go with your gut. Dutra was very highly rated as the first Team Nogueira selection but has no record of travelling overseas to fight whereas Kunimoto is almost on home turf. Not much in the way of betting lines available here so I am forced to pick the outright winner. I’ll take the local boy to nick a decision or cheeky submission.

Recommendation: To Win the Fight: Kiichi Kunimoto – 13/10 (+130) @ Boylesports

Kawajiri v Soriano:

Tatsuya Kawajiri is one of the fighters that I do know a little about. As a veteran of Dream, Pride, Shooto and Strikeforce you get a good feeling for what is coming. At the ripe old age of 35 he has questions to answer about whether he has hit the top level a little past his prime.

He faces off against Sean Soriano, who is yet another UFC debutant. Although he has only eight fights under his belt he does debut as the reigning CFA Featherweight champion. While that may not mean a huge amount to UFC fans it does suggest that he has at least reached the pinnacle of the regional scene and is ready for a test on the big stage.  He also comes out of the Blackzillians camp so it could reasonably be argued that he has been training with fighters well above his level.

Soriano doesn’t really have a lot to lose in this fight but has everything to gain. As Kawajiri is a household name in Japan he will certainly have a lot of fans and they will have high expectations. Win, and he beats a wily veteran, lose and he gets another shot as long as he doesn’t disgrace himself. Although unbeaten in his career Soriano has found himself in some hairy positions off his back that a more experienced fighter would have capitalised upon. On his back is exactly where Kawajiri will want to put him as a man who likes to fight on top.

I really cannot see a path to victory for Soriano unless he catches his opponent cold or flush. Kawajiri has lost fights but to far superior fighters than this; Melendez (twice), Gomi, Aoki and Eddie Alvarez and I think he’ll take the win. There is a submission price available that is far too high and I’d suggest getting on that before the bookies reduce it too far on Saturday.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Tatsuya Kawajiri by Submission – 9/2 (+450) @ BetVictor

Saffiedine v Lim:

On what can only be subtitled as ‘The Night of the Debutant’s we have another experienced fighter making his octagon bow. Tarec Saffiedine was supposed to fight Robbie Lawler in June 2013 but injuries put paid to that and he was moved to this card. Originally scheduled to face Jake Ellenberger that was also affected by injury and Hyun Gyu Lim was bumped up the card.

Saffiedine, as you may remember, transitioned to the UFC as the last Strikeforce Welterweight champion, taking a unanimous decision over Nate Marquardt almost a year ago to the day. Since then he has been injured and desperate to get back fighting.

Hyun Gyu Lim, as I mentioned earlier, was due to fight earlier on the card against Kunimoto and this will be a huge step up in class. No stranger to the UFC, Lim has fought twice before for the promotion, both ending in a win for the South Korean. In his debut he stopped the Brazilian Guimaraes in the second round in Japan before taking home Fight of the Night honours with a four minute knockout of Pascal Krauss at UFC 164. In both fights Lim impressed with his striking and as the owner of 9/12 wins his stand-up must be feared.

Saffiedine has never been stopped or knocked out in his career with each of his three losses coming by decision. Although he is as experienced as Lim he has fought at a higher level so must be respected.

Although the betting has the Belgian as the clear favourite it is not so clear cut. This is a five rounder and that alone plays into the backyard of Saffiedine, with nine of his last ten fights going the distance. By contrast, Lim has been three rounds just once and never five. If there is a stoppage then it’ll go to Lim as he takes advantage of his opponent’s lack of action. I think that Saffiedine plays smart, keeps his distance and looks to take the advantage by seeing how much gas his opponent has in the tank en route to a decision victory.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Tarec Saffiedine by Decision – 6/4 (+150) @ BetVictor

 

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