I’ll tell you one thing that I really don’t like; TUF cards. Given recent history I’ll tell you something I hate more; February. The second month on the calendar has been very unkind to me in 2014 so far undoing everything that was positive about January. To give this further clarification I can state that all profits in January have been completely eroded by a wretched run of form, so much so that I am looking forward to a very weak China card on Saturday for the very reason that it is outside of February.

A quick recap as usual first. I correctly chose Thompson but he managed to be the first person to knock out Robert Whittaker. Neither Pyle nor Waldburger managed to win by submission while an excellent start for Demian Maia was completely undone by a master class from Rory MacDonald. Cormier made very short work of latecomer Patrick Cummins as I clearly gave the underdog too much credit and it was left to the main event to salvage even a semblance of respectability.

With a loss of £2.75 on all bets and a ROI of -55% the slump goes on. We are back to a fat £0.00 in the profit column and something needs to change. I will give this week my best shot but if we end up on a loss then I’ll be changing things up a little. Gone will be the main card picks, to be replaced by an entire card analysis but only on the matches that I feel will be profitable. As someone famous once said “Go ahead and switch the style up and if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up”. So in what may be the final week of this version of predictions let’s take a walk through the main card and see if we can get this monkey off our backs.

Hioki v Menjivar:

Part of me likes to see the proverbial ‘Loser Leaves Town’ matches, whilst the other part of me abhors them. I dislike seeing anyone lose their job, especially in an industry where only one employer pays a living wage. The other part of me knows that if truly serious about their careers then both fighters involved will literally throw down and leave it all in the cage. Sadly it never plays out exactly that way.

Hatsu Hioki has managed to go 0-3 recently and 2-3 overall. After initially being hailed for big things his career has somewhat nosedived and he is probably working on his last chance. That his three losses came to Guida, Elkins and Lamas is irrelevant, you don’t lose three on the spin and get many more opportunities.

Ivan Menjivar is in a similar position. Dropping two straight is hardly ideal and being 1-3 in his last four doesn’t help matters. Like Hioki, the fact that those losses have been against Easton, Reis and Faber doesn’t matter. Combat sports are about winners winning and losers going home.

When two losers collide someone will always win (unless in Australia where nobody will win) and the reality is that one of these guys will have a job on Sunday while the other will be wondering what went wrong. For Menjivar it’s not very clear how he goes on to win, a lean towards the submission doesn’t really help against someone with an excellent submission defence. For Hioki it would be a late submission or decision, and that’s about it. Menjivar has tapped a couple of times now and although Hioki seems to be incapable of finishing fights lately, 6/1 is far too big on a guy with 11 career submissions to date.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Hatsu Hioki by Submission – 6/1 (+600) @ Ladbrokes

Mitrione v Jordan:

This is one of those types of fights where I walk in with a very strong opinion indeed. I won’t let the cat out of the back yet, but this only goes one way for me. It wouldn’t matter whether the bet was £1 or £1000 I would be very confident from the outset.

Shawn Jordan has been a bit of a mixed bag since making the leap from Strikeforce to the UFC.  Comfortable wins over Thompson, Russow and Barry put him on the verge of a top ten place, losses against Kongo and Gonzaga kept him out. Carrying a record of 15-5 (3-2 UFC) suggests that the big man is going to be around for a while yet.

His opponent is a polarizing type of fella, as Matt Mitrione has been known lately for putting his foot in it as much as his fists. Unprovoked comments over Fallon Fox saw him suspended for a short while only to be submitted by Brendan Schaub on his return. After opening his account with a perfect 5-0 he has gone 1-3 in his last four. His only win coming against the overmatched Phil DeFries. In those three losses he has been knocked out, tapped out and lost a decision. All in all it’s not been a happy run for Meathead.

I said that I had a strong opinion on this and I do. I don’t actually see a way that Mitrione gets the win here. Every fighter has a punchers chance but Mitrione is so one-dimensional that it doesn’t happen for him here. Jordan has been a pro only six months longer but has amassed 11 more fights, albeit at a lower level. I’ll be expecting Jordan to come out swinging with a connector landing flush on Mitrione’s jaw. This fight has always been about Jordan to win by knockout. From the moment it was announced until now and nothing I have seen or read this week will change my mind.

Recommendation: Method of Victory: Shawn Jordan by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 11/10 (+110) @ BetVictor

Sai v Lipeng:

I got nothing here, nothing whatsoever. It is one thing to research regional fighters, gyms, etc. as we have a number of resources to help with an intelligent decision. With two Chinese fighters who haven’t officially won a fight in over a year then it’s time to go with your gut.

With the lack of exposure to this TUF series, and the genuine lack of worldwide interest it was always going to be a big ask and I think that the one saving grace is that one fight was dropped from the card. I have little on this fight, even less on the one we lost.

Historical analysis tells me nothing. I know that Sai is 6-4 having been the distance twice and late into the second round three times. By the same comparison I know that Lipeng is 6-7, having been the distance once and into the latter parts of the second six times. Those stats make this a veritable coin toss for me.

One thing we hear from the UFC is that anyone can win a fight at any time, so well matched are the fighters. I am going to put that theory to the test. I said earlier that this as a coin toss and the odds on a coin toss are 50:50 (theoretically). As this fight could end by anyone at any time I will be taking the ‘unders’ at Betclic. If you offered me odds of 13/10 on a coin toss then I’d be taking it and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing here.

Recommendation: Total Rounds Over/Under: Under 1.5 – 13/10 (+130) @ Betclic

Kim v Hathaway:

With the plans to put on a show in London only a week later it was an incredible surprise to see John Hathaway wasted as the headliner of a show in China. Taking a look around there would have more a number of more appropriate (for the audience) opponents without taking a Brit off a local card. Hathaway will enjoy his first headlining spot but the card is so weak that it may be a regressive step for him.

Hathaway is a fighter who has the potential to be referred to as an ‘almost ran’. Barring a defeat to Mike Pyle his professional record is flawless and, if not for a bout of Ulcerative Colitis, should have been making headway towards a title showdown. It has been 18 months since he last competed and nobody will be fooled that a toll will not have been taken, if not just on his health then on his reactions inside the octagon.

Dong Hyun Kim is about as tough an opponent as you could hope to get. Even disregarding his fight record, which is a veritable who’s who of MMA Welterweights, his level of intensity and activity make him a tough proposition for an active fighter, let alone one who has been shelved for as long as the Briton. The man known as the Stun Gun holds 2013 victories against Siyar Bahadurzada and Erick Silva, both with top ten potential and very highly rated. The only two men to best him thus far are Carlos Condit and Demian Maia, which indicates the extent of the challenge facing Hathaway.

I hate to say it but the bookies have Kim as a heavy 1/3 favourite in this fight, which is tough to oppose. Even if not for the absence, you would still state that this is the toughest test of Hathaway’s career to date. It’s not that he cannot win but that it is unlikely. The biggest win of Hathaway’s career to date has been over Diego Sanchez where he went to a decision, which is just one of seven consecutive decisions. None of those were five-rounder’s and I genuinely believe that this opponent after this layoff and in this setting will be the first to finish the Brit inside the distance.

Method of Victory: Dong Hyun Kim by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 13/5 (+260) @ Ladbrokes