Although some will disagree I thought the Abu Dhabi card turned out pretty decent. Sure, the fights were largely irrelevant and a couple were lost before the event but what was on show ticked the boxes.
We lost some money on Dariush and Kawajiri, but the Japanese sensation must have heard about me tipping him for a submission win because that’s pretty much all he did. I don’t mind losing when I have had a decent run for my money. We made a little money on Ryan LaFlare, despite a horrible groin shot and Roy Nelson surely ending the career of Big Nog. Take a bow Mr Nogueira, the sport doesn’t need you anymore and doesn’t want you to get hurt. We ended up breaking even on the night to stay healthy for consecutive events.
I had to swerve the TUF finale and after some of those results I am pleased I did but this card has me very interested indeed. Some fights are very competitive and could go either way and with only four to choose from it’s been fun trawling through the archives.
Tavares v Romero:
After winning five on the bounce and going 7-1 in his UFC career to date it is fair to say that Brad Tavares could find himself facing a much higher level opponent with a win here. His most recent out was fight that the majority of the media expected him to be dominated in although, as tipped by me, he won a comfortable decision at a very fair price. His style isn’t the most fan friendly with all bar one match going the distance, showing that finishes aren’t really his thing.
If you are looking for a finisher then look no further than his opponent; Yoel Romero is an absolute beast in the octagon. The owner of back to back third round knockouts which followed a highlight reel, and bonus winning, flying knee in his debut his MMA career belies his advancing years.
With just two defeats between them it is difficult to see how the fight ends. Tavares has only ever dropped a decision and his chin has been tested by the likes of Tom Watson. Romero has finished his fights inside the distance with a lone loss coming from the hands of Feijao. In theory, Romero should have enough finishing power to test Tavares chin like no other, whilst their wrestling skills should negate each other. Either Romero sees the scorecard for the first time or Tavares fails to finish for the first time; the odds on Romero by knockout are very temping and that’s where my money goes.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Yoel Romero by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 8/5 (+160) @ BetVictor
Cerrone v Barboza:
If it goes on long enough then this is my call for Fight of the Night. Not just because of the styles involved but due to the inclusion of two of my favourite active fighters on the roster. Donald Cerrone has massively impressed me since transitioning from the WEC and with a little better luck should have had the title shot he craves. He was unfortunately schooled by Nate Diaz and the losses to Dos Anjos and Pettis have pushed him to the periphery of the top five.
Edson Barboza is the man known for some of the most painful leg kicks in all of MMA, to the point where I would say they are as good as, if not better, than Jose Aldo. Back on a winning streak after a huge upset loss to Jamie Varner he has gone back to basics with his fight strategy. It has clearly been effective as he made Lucas Martins tap through strikes, left Oliveira unable to stand and battered the standing leg of Danny Castillo in successive fights.
Relentless pressure can see the likes of Barboza crack as proven by Jamie Varner. Cerrone usually goes for the submission as his mercy kill but Barboza can be elusive as Danny Castillo, who had the Brazilian on the ropes throughout the opening round, found to his cost. If Barboza has an opening round like his last fight then it ends there and it ends painfully. If he can take Cerrone the distance then he may be able to sneak a decision. If Cerrone can close the distance and negate the leg kicks then it’s all Cowboy, all night long.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Donald Cerrone by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 5/2 (+250) @ BetVictor
Tate v Carmouche:
When you look at Miesha Tate you see an active and competitive young woman who has been soundly beaten by two of the top five women’s contenders, with a questionable loss against another. She did make history by becoming the first fighter to both take Ronda Rousey out of the first round and to be finished by something other than an armbar. Throughout the TUF series Tate got under Rousey’s skin and paid the price with a long three rounds. Even with a loss she will remain near the top of the pile due to her marketability as a fighter as well as her skills.
Li Carmouche almost shocked the world in her UFC debut when it looked like she may have sunk in the rear naked choke on Rousey; she didn’t quite get it in place though and paid the eventual price at the hands of the Women’s champion. She outclassed the young upstart Andrade but fell at the hands of the next challenger and clear number two in the division, Alexis Davis.
These ladies are unique as they only get beaten by the very best fighters. Combined losses to Rousey, Davis, Zingano, Kaufman and Coenen are indicative of their position in this time and the task ahead of the winner. I am leaning towards Carmouche for the win, purely based on physical power and aggression but I am hesitant to split them for my bet. As both girls share decisions like a fat kid shares doughnuts then I am taking the unders, essentially for this fight to finish inside the distance.
Recommendation: Total Rounds: Under 2.5 Rounds – 15/8 (+187) @ BetVictor
Werdum v Browne:
As number one contender matches go, they don’t get much bigger than this. Travis Browne is arguably, outside of Velasquez that is, the most impressive Heavyweight fighter of the last two years against the most infamous Heavyweight in modern times.
As I mentioned earlier, Travis Browne simply must be the breakout Heavyweight of the past two years. If not for a very unfortunate muscle tear during a fight with Bigfoot Silva he would be unbeaten in the UFC, and his career. The level of opponent has improved dramatically in that time from the likes of McSweeney and Broughton through to Overeem and Barnett and he passes with flying colours. I took Browne over Gonzaga and Barnett by knockout and he made me a lot of money.
Werdum will go down in history for one thing in his career, unless he captures the belt that is, and that was for finishing the legend of Fedor Emeliankenko. Once considered unbeatable he submitted the Russian legend in little more than a minute to cement his position in MMA folklore. Now making his second run in the UFC he stands at 3-0 and was considered to be the only viable challenger after Junior dos Santos.
The key to this fight is Browne keeping this standing or Werdum taking it to the ground. Browne has never faced a fighter with the ground game of Werdum and could find himself in dangerous territory. Those that have tried to take him to the ground have failed and those elbows to the head may prove decisive again. Werdum is a tough guy to finish with only JDS scoring any measure of success in that area. Over a five round fight that landscape could change. I don’t see Werdum, at 36, being able to keep the giant Hawaiian down for too long and Browne’s power will ultimately pay dividends. The odds are poor on a Browne knockout so I am going to opt for him to win in the first two rounds.
Recommendation: Round Group Betting: Travis Browne Round One or Two – 3/1 (+300) @ Ladbrokes