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Whenever you get into a run of winners you can always be sure that a few losers will follow. It’s been two weeks since Abel Trujillo threw down and won me a small bet at 5/4. As for the rest of the card, all the winners were picked correctly (it wasn’t hard) but given the lack of relative value prop lines were sought for the bets. They didn’t do well! A single winner and four losing bets gave me my first losing event of the year and opened up February badly.

Fear not, however, as there two more events in the short month, providing ample opportunities for redemption. Unfortunately, that starts in Brazil; my kryptonite (although I daresay that may be my new mantra for China after looking at the China TUF card).

With a loss of £2.75 on all bets and a ROI of -55% much of the good work was undone. We do still sit at an overall profit of £6.20 with an ROI of 38% for 2014. If it stays in that ballpark then I’ll finish the year a very happy man.

For such a flagship event UFC 169 failed to hit the mark for me, and if the Varner v Trujillo fight didn’t take place then it would have been one the most overhyped failures in a long time. This week we get to see Machida in action again alongside a few other veterans for whom I have some very high hopes for in their respective matches. Let’s look at the five fights on the main card.

Oliveira v Ogle:

It feels wrong to have a Briton opening up a Brazil card with a UK card just 3 weeks away, but that’s what late replacement Andy Ogle signed up for. Ogle who has gone 1-2 in his three appearances inside the octagon has showed incredible heart but this has sadly not translated into wins. As a result of this he finds himself perilously poised and in desperate need of a win, or at a minimum a Fight of the Night performance.

Charles Oliveira will enter the octagon as a huge favourite and rightly so.  Despite losing two in a row and with a UFC record of 4-4 with one NC, the stats are very misleading. While the wins have been over the likes of Escudero, Elkins, Wisely and Brookins it’s the losses that add some clarity as Cerrone, Miller, Swanson and Edgar are light years above. Oliveira was stopped by all bar Edgar and inside the opening round.

Ogle, for all his heart, will simply be outclassed on the night. His opponent is bigger, faster, stronger, more skilled and this will ultimately take its toll. Ogle proved against Cole Miller that he has submission defence but this still leaves him susceptible. Even if he does evade the tap he will not do enough to win over the judges. Oliveira takes a very lopsided decision.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Charles Oliveira by Decision – 11/4 (+275) @ BetVictor

Andrade v Musoke:

Every now and again a fight comes along that I have almost zero opinion or interest in; and this is it. No disrespect intended but it shouldn’t be on a main card and the fact that it is shows a relative lack of depth for this event and is perhaps an indictment of the UFC flooding 2014 with events.

Fresh off a clean win over Alessio Sakara in Manchester, Nico Musoke demonstrated enough ability to get himself a second chance in a few short months. The veteran Sakara was the heavy favourite that day but Musoke locked on the belly down armbar and sent his opponent packing with his fourth successive defeat. After spending his entire career on the regional circuit the 27 year old Swede seems intent on making the most of that last minute opportunity.

Standing opposite him is TUF Brazil 2 Semi-Finalist Viscardi Andrade, who is also stepping into the octagon for only the second time. In a highly impressive debut performance Andrade stopped Strikeforce and UFC veteran Bristol Marunde in the first round.

When comparing records it is clear that both fighters have a fondness for the submission, clearly as Musoke has already demonstrated. Both have also been forced to tap which suggests that they have a relatively fluid but open ground game. You can expect this fight to be fought on the ground and although I make Andrade the favourite in his home country, I couldn’t really make a solid case or conclusive path to victory for either. Therefore, as submissions, or at least attempts, are likely to play a big part then I’ll be hedging on either by this method.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Either by Submission – 2/1 (+200) @ BetVictor

Silva v Sato:

Erick Silva stands at a crossroads in his MMA career at present. On one side he has been hailed as a future Welterweight champion whilst on the other side he looks like he will fall short every time he comes up against top-ten opposition.

Luckily for Silva his opponent is not top-ten opposition, at least, not this time. Takenori Sato makes his UFC debut after what seems like a lifetime in Pancrase. Unbeaten in almost four years his only win of note was over Kunimoto who won via DQ in his own UFC debut in January, despite being battered for three minutes

Silva likes to come out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, when he wins he has a tendency to do this very early and you can expect similar again. As he is such a huge favourite (1/9) it’s a stinker trying to get a decent bet out of this fight. At a best priced 4/7 to win by KO or 4/5 to win in the first round there is very little value available. One bet that did catch my eye though is the submission price. True, Sato has never been submitted, yet he has been knocked out five times. Silva was the first to submit both Jason High and Charlie Brenneman and I would rate their chances higher than Sato. With that, I’ll be taking a little speculative submission action here.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Erick Silva by Submission – 7/2 (+350) @ Ladbrokes

Souza v Carmont:

I think it’s safe to say that ‘Jacare’ surprised everyone in his last fight against Yushin Okami. In what turned out to be his last appearance in the octagon, Okami was repeatedly outstruck by the Brazilian submission specialist en route to a first round knockout loss. Souza is, and probably always will be labelled as a submission fighter due to his remarkable 74% win percentage when enforcing the tap but has less of a reputation in going the distance or finishing with his fists.

He faces off against Francis Carmont, the naturalised Parisian fighting out of Tristar in Canada. Carmont has been 11-0 since 2008 when he last tasted defeat. His record prior to that run was 11-7 and nothing to be excited about. However, something seems to have clicked of late and he has started to pick up a few names, in truth without ever really impressing. The recent wins over Lorenz Larkin and Costa Philippou being the two biggest although the Larkin outcome was hotly disputed by most of the media and should probably have gone down as a loss.

A win over Souza would certainly propel Carmont into ‘the mix’ as his opponent is potentially touted for the winner of the Weidman v Belfort fight in July. In order to gain the win he will need to switch his style up a lot as Souza is lethal on his back, against the cage or on top; essentially anywhere he can lock on a choke or grab an arm. Barring his first professional fight Souza only loses to the top fighters in his division (Rockhold and Mousasi) and it would be premature to put Carmont in with such class. Souza can explode out of the blocks or show patience, either way I’ll be choosing him to hand Carmont his first submission loss in five years and keep this remarkable record going. If the UFC hadn’t scrapped the Submission of the Night bonus this week I’d also be making him favourite to win it.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Ronaldo Souza by Submission – 21/10 (+210) @ William Hill

Machida v Mousasi:

Although it has only been one fight since cutting to 185lbs there is a general feeling that we are seeing a rejuvenated and more dangerous version of Lyoto Machida, possibly even more so than the version who won the Light Heavyweight title. He took less than a round to despatch of his friend and training partner Mark Munoz in Manchester when a late replacement, but he did it with consummate style.

Machida has been 4-4 in his last eight outings and it took the Munoz victory to balance out his win loss ratio. That doesn’t really tell the full story though. Those four losses came to some of the best in the business (Rampage, Shogun and Jones) while many feel he was robbed of a decision against Phil Davis. Either way, this Machida looks like he means business and is planning another title tilt of his own.

The loss of Alex Gustafsson during fight week robbed us of the opportunity to see just how Gegard Mousasi fits into the title picture. No disrespect but the late replacement of Ilir Latifi made the main event more of an exhibition than something meaningful, and the subsequent knee injury that sidelined him for almost a year has robbed him of the chance to cement a top 10 position. Mousasi makes just his second UFC appearance but is already one of the most decorated Mixed Martial Artists to compete in the promotion. As the former Light Heavyweight and Middleweight champion in Dream and Light Heavyweight champion in Strikeforce, Mousasi has competed in K1, Pride, as well has various other promotions in his 11 year career.

As fights go this is as likely to be over in the opening couple of minutes as it is to go the distance. The cut to Middleweight would have stripped both fighters of a little power, which will be compensated by improved cardio. I have a lean towards Machida; he has been more active and had longer to acclimatise to the weight cut than his opponent. He is also fighting in Brazil and it takes something crazy for judges there to go against the grain. Machida by decision in a very technical, but unspectacular, fight

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

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