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A sad fact about gambling is that it’s a game of peaks and troughs. If January was a peak the February is most definitely a trough. That’s also the beauty of it as there is always the opportunity to bounce back with a win which will neutralise any and all, losses.

Some of the main card results recently have been very much against the grain, as was proven last week. Jacare really should have finished Carmont by submission and Andy Ogle should really have held on to lose by decision, on any other week both would be winning bets, but ce la vie. Machida turned a truly horrible week into a poor one and kept the winnings in the positive.

With a loss of £2.50 on all bets and a ROI of -50% the slump continues. We do still sit at an overall profit of £3.70 with an ROI of 20% for 2014. It is fair to say that a few winners are needed though.

Take some comfort that virtually every winner has been correctly chosen but due to some very poor prices on the win I have been forced to aim at prop lines to generate some value. For example, if you looked at the recent losses, Bagautinov was 1/3, Overeem 1/3, Aldo 1/7, Barao 1/6, Oliveira 1/3, Silva 1/12 and Souza 1/5 a £1 accumulator on all those selections would have returned a profit of only £3.11 after stakes. Individually they would have returned a total profit of £1.59 after stakes. Prop lines (proposition) represent better value overall but are not as simple as picking the outright winner.

After a run of relatively mediocre cards the UFC comes back with its second ‘numbered’ event of the year and hopefully a change in fortune. Let’s look at the five fights on the main card.

Whittaker v Thompson:

It’s funny how time alters the perspective of previous occurrences. Back in April 2012 it was considered to be a shock when Stephen Thompson lost a decision to Matt Brown. It was the first loss of his career and came against a fighter who was 2-4 in his last six and considered to be going nowhere. Two years and a little perspective later and Brown is 6-0 while Thompson is looking to extend a new streak to three.

In dropping a decision to Court McGee back in August Robert Whittaker managed to land me a nice healthy win. It felt comfortable at the time because both McGee and Whittaker seemed to like going the distance or had an inability to finish fights. This time it’s not so clear cut.

It was reported that Whittaker broke his hand early doors against McGee which allowed ‘The Crusher’ to edge a split decision. Hand breaks are not individual injuries by design and once broken this becomes a weakness over time. Should the same happen again then he will hope it doesn’t happen too early.

I rate Thompson higher than McGee so have to choose him over Whittaker. I am not sure he has the power to knock out the TUF winner and he almost certainly won’t go for the submission which leaves me with the decision as the path to victory. There have been a lot of decisions lately in in the UFC and hopefully this will be one of them.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Stephen Thompson by Decision – 3/1 (+300) @ Boylesports

Pyle v Waldburger:

I am not convinced that this fight belongs on a main card in an event like this. I think that it has been given the bump due to the controversy over Jessica Eye and her recent testing issues. No disrespect but a 38 year old veteran with an impressive record, who sadly is going nowhere in his division facing off against a 25 year old prospect with a mediocre record should be a prelim fight at best.

Mike Pyle rode into town last time out winning seven of eight and dropping a loss to Rory MacDonald in that streak. Against Matt Brown he fought dumb and was finished inside 30 seconds; he won’t want to repeat that.

TJ Waldburger found himself knocked out by Strikeforce import Adlan Amagov in his last to reduce his record to 4-3 since coming to the UFC. He had previously dropped a decision to Brian Ebersole and been knocked out by Johny Hendricks.

This isn’t a fight that carries a lot of interest for me, to the point where I am not particularly bothered who wins. What I do like is the odds offered for either to win by submission. Pyle (64%) and Waldburger (81%) are as close to submission specialists as you’ll find and I find the odds on this enough to tempt me into a bet.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Either by Submission – 19/10 (+190) @ BetVictor

MacDonald v Maia:

As a resurgent Welterweight, Demian Maia could have found himself on the cusp of a title shot if not for a split decision loss against Jake Shields, where Maia has recently admitted that he thought he was winning so took his foot off the gas in the last round and it cost him. Maia isn’t a guy that normally finishes fights, on the ground he is awesome, standing up, not so much.

Rory MacDonald will be looking to bounce back from a shock defeat to Robbie Lawler. A split decision officially, I personally had it clear for Lawler. That outcome proved to be a double whammy as Lawler ended up taking a title shot that would probably have gone to MacDonald after his training partner and mentor vacated his belt. MacDonald will be very keen to ensure that doesn’t happen again. At 24 years of age with 17 professional fights under his belt and only losses to Condit and Lawler it will surely be a matter of time before he gets that chance.

A decision is almost certain here given recent history and both fighters are coming off losses that were certainly unexpected. MacDonald seems to have lost some of his initial spark and needs to get back on track while Maia knows that time is running out. Common sense tells me to go with MacDonald by decision but there are always a few upsets at any card with betting favourites getting turned over and I feel that this could be the one. If Maia can tie up MacDonald on the ground and nullify his ground and pound then it could be a very frustrating night for the young Canadian.

Recommendation: To Win the Fight: Demian Maia – 21/10 (+210) @ Boylesports

Cormier v Cummins:

Once again a late change of participant has rendered a co-main event little more than an exhibition and robbed us of a truly competitive affair. To get in quickly I thought that Evans was hugely overpriced against a first time 205lb’er and was looking to back him. That strategy changes with the introduction of Patrick Cummins.

Cummins is an interesting prospect despite little being known about him. One fight in Strikeforce and three in the regionals gives very little away other than him being unbeaten with all four coming in the first round. He has managed to stoke up a little emotion in Cormier after telling some stories of when they were training partners, allegedly bringing ‘DC’ to tears.

Cormier makes his debut at 205lbs and from the photos circulating on Twitter he is looking very lean. The biggest concern about someone like Cormier making such a big cut is the potential depletion of power and strength. If he retains those then this could be the first time we see him force the stoppage in the UFC.

Cormier has recently favoured the decision win and looked laboured when doing so. Those have been against fighters of a different class to Cummins in Nelson, Mir and Barnett all of whom are very difficult to finish. Cormier has managed to knock out only two opponents since 2010 after opening his career with three on the bounce. Those two knockouts were against the mismatched Dion Staring and a first round demolition of Bigfoot Silva.

I am tempted to take the bet of Cormier in the opening round but I think that he will look to get some competitive minutes under his belt at the new weight. He will also be facing a guy looking to last as long as he can in his debut in an attempt to get an easier fight next time out. For that reason I’ll be taking Cormier in the second round. The odds are simply too big and this should be the round that his class takes over and he finishes the fight by knockout.

Recommendation: Round Betting: Daniel Cormier in Round 2 – 4/1 (+400) @ BetVictor

Rousey v McMann:

Barring the rematch against Tate it seems that any fight involving the Women’s champion is seen as a foregone conclusion. Ronda Rousey has been very predictable in her career to date with all finishes coming by armbar submission and all bar one in the opening round. That level of predictability is not worth the risk in betting. Yes the bet will win but the returns are barely worth the hassle. Last time out that pattern changed and it showed the world that Rousey isn’t going to dominate her way through a single round, nor will she have it all her own way as a smarter fight IQ may even have seen the judges called into action.

While much has been made of Rousey’s Olympic medal her opponent’s similar achievements are often overlooked. Sara McMann, like Rousey, became the first American woman to win a medal in her discipline, wrestling. In fact, she actually bettered this by taking the Silver over Rousey’s Bronze medal.

My general feeling is that, although she enters the octagon unbeaten, those victories have come at a significantly lower level than this. A single win over the overmatched Sheila Gaff represents her experience at the highest level. Despite signing with Strikeforce twice she never actually fought there with her next best being a win over Shayna Baszler in Invicta. To give some perspective Baszler was a recent housemate in TUF under Rousey’s tutelage and took McMann the distance.

As an elite level wrestler McMann will look to get this to the ground and quickly. Unfortunately for her that is exactly what Rousey will look to do en route to taking that arm. The rest will be history. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to McMann that she may be able to evade tapping in the first round, but she won’t last long into the second. Paddy Power is offering odds against that this finishes in under 1.5 rounds and I am all over that.

Recommendation: Over/Under 1.5 Rounds: Under – 5/4 (+125) @ Paddy Power

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