In betting there is nothing worse than a coupon buster. This may be the top of the league being beaten by the bottom of the league or Travis Browne being beaten by Werdum; it still hurts. Last week was a bad betting week all round, not just for me but for my contemporaries as well. All the money was riding on Browne and we all underestimated the skills of Werdum.
This week sees a nice open card with the return of some familiar faces. I like the familiar faces because these are guys that I know about, that I have watched before and seen enough fights to make a genuine judgement call on them. It’s always good to see the likes of Jonny Bones in the octagon and he presents some legitimate options for betting.
My initial thoughts on this main card are that every fight could feasibly see a stoppage of some form. Given my recent run I am tempted to hedge on every fight going over 2.5 rounds but that would be self-defeating wouldn’t it? Let’s take a look at the participants on the main card, if you have any bets that you think are better than these then just let me know in the comments below.
Holloway v Fili:
With some of the talent on show at this event it is very surprising to see this bout open the main card. Fresh from a TKO win over Will Chope, where he took home a bonus cheque, Max Holloway will be looking to regain some more momentum after back to back losses for the first time in his career. Holloway has impressed in his short tenure, starting as a last minute replacement in a loss against Dustin Poirier. A three fight streak followed where he took a split over Leonard Garcia.
With the best nickname in MMA, Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili makes his second appearance in the UFC. A graduate of Team Alpha Male you can be sure that his ground game is solid, his submission defence slick and his striking on point. He earned a second round knockout of Jeremy Larson despite taking the fight at only two weeks’ notice; it was enough to earn him another shot at the big time.
As a potential for Fight of the Night it is expected that these guys will just throw down from the opening bell. The bookmakers make Fili favourite but I do not share that view. Too many times in recent memory has a fighter been overhyped on the back of a single performance and lost the follow up, with Beneil Dariush being just one of them. I like the odds against about Holloway and will be taking him to win impressively.
Recommendation: To Win the Fight: Max Holloway – 11/8 (+137) @ Matchbook
Miller v Medeiros:
I find it hard to keep track of the fighting Millers. If it’s not Dan fighting then its Jim, although sometimes I think Jim is Dan and Dan is Jim; it gets very confusing. Jim Miller has been one of the standout Lightweights in the division for a while even if he has fallen short at the final hurdle a few times. His CV reads like a who’s who of MMA and the fact that he has only official losses to Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard goes to show how tough this boy is.
Although he only lost his debut due to a thumb injury, Yancy Medeiros was thrown to the proverbial lions in his debut; the resultant loss to Dagestani sensation Rustam Khabilov did nothing other than elevate his stock. It was the first loss of his career and earned him a second fight against Yves Edwards. Despite winning by first round knockout, it was overturned to a No Contest after Medeiros tested positive in his post-fight drug test. With a loss and a No Contest on his record he was still given a third opportunity which he will need to make count.
Whenever I see the name Miller, irrespective of whether Dan or Jim then I think ‘Submission’. It’s a reflex action now given how many times the brothers have forced the tap. While Medeiros has fought in the UFC and Strikeforce the majority of his fights have been regionally in Hawaii and because of this his skills are still relatively unknown. Miller is favourite and rightly so and if he wins then it’s likely to be submission or decision. Given his record I prefer to take the odds about a submission and hopefully lock in a nice healthy profit.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Jim Miller by Submission – 2/1 (+200) @ BetVictor
Rockhold v Boetsch:
After a debut loss to Vitor Belfort it was important that Luke Rockhold made a statement of intent in his next fight. By becoming the first man to stop Costa Philippou inside the distance he did exactly that. The liver kick that stopped Philippou was as impressive as the head kick from Belfort that stopped Rockhold, ironically coming at almost the exact same second of the respective fight. The former Strikeforce Middleweight champion snapped a nine fight streak with his loss to Belfort and with Weidman set to revolutionise the 185lb division momentum will be important.
With consecutive losses to Munoz and Philippou, Tim Boetsch lost any such momentum that he had gained. His win over Okami was hailed as the biggest comeback off all time and was followed up with a split over Hector Lombard. He hid the skids and it took another split decision over CB Dollaway to get him back into the picture.
Boetsch is a man who makes hard work of his time in the octagon. Despite gaining two finishes his last seven fights have gone deep into the third round, making an early night unlikely. In contrast, as the former champion, Rockhold has gone five rounds on two occasions, although every other fight in his career has ended in the first round. I’ll be taking Rockhold to end this midway through the second round and force the stoppage by knockout. I’d like to take the Under 1.5 rounds line but I’d be cutting it too fine.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Luke Rockhold by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 8/5 (+160) @ Paddy Power
Davis v Johnson:
This is a very interesting matchup, particularly for the winner. With Jones fighting Teixeira and the winner of that getting Gustafsson, then the winner of this fight will most likely get Cormier in a number one contender match. Phil Davis, despite amassing a very impressive record in the octagon has never been close to a title shot as of yet. His lone loss to Rashad Evans probably set him back the best part of two years but at 29 he knows time is well and truly on his side. A highly contentious win over Lyoto Machida last time out has really propelled him back into the reckoning.
Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson makes his return to the UFC a little over two years after being cut. Rumble, who started life at 170 lbs, had serious issues making weight which saw him go from 170 to 185 to 205 and finally end up as a Heavyweight in WSoF. A three fight streak which included a win over former UFC Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski sees him return at weight a little more suitable to his frame.
Although 205lbs is more of a natural weight for Johnson it will be key to see if he has any issues making the cut during fight week. Being a bit of a grinder this will be of huge benefit to Davis who takes 50% of his career wins by decision. Davis also has a number of submissions in his arsenal, one of which is the Anaconda choke, which he likes to call the Wonderful choke. Johnson has a very poor submission defence and will be massively prone to any such attempt as the fight goes on. I’ll be taking Davis by submission at a very healthy and attractive price.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Phil Davis by Submission – 5/2 (+250) @ Boylesports
Jones v Teixeira:
As matches go this one has been hyped as Jones’ biggest test ever, while Teixeira has been hyped as the man most likely to dethrone the king. I disagree on both counts and will happily explain why.
For all the negative press written about the champ the truth is that he is as important to the UFC as GSP, Liddell, Couture, et al have ever been. In short, he is the closest thing to mainstream as the UFC has seen. Some of the previously mentioned names have crossed into pop culture but Jones was born there. A man of such talent he is in serious danger of setting a legacy that may see him go down as THE all-time great of this sport. He has been accused of picking his opponents; maybe this is true but his last seven fights (including where he won the belt) he has fought a literal who’s who of Light Heavyweights. In fact it’s pretty much only Teixeira that he hasn’t fought. Dan Henderson blew his chance, Cormier is a recent addition and the champion will fight the winner of Davis and Johnson if and when he beats Gustafsson for a second time. This is a fighting champion, make no mistake.
Glover Teixeira has been known outside of the US for a long time but has only recently had the chance to make his name stateside. A protégé of Chuck Liddell and possessor of the longest unbeaten streak outside of Renan Barao his performances are impressive but this does not make him the heir apparent. He demolished Kingsbury and Maldonado, took a decision over a Rampage well past his best and submitted Te Huna inside a round. None of those are top 10 material, and certainly not when he fought them. The only true top 10 fighter was Ryan Bader who, let’s not forget, had Glover on the ropes before he recovered to win by knockout.
Jones has all the necessary skills to bear Teixeira, whereas Teixeira needs the planets to align to beat Jones. The American has the advantage in the stand-up, wrestling, striking, physical prowess and pretty much everywhere else. Alex Gustafsson showed that Jones can be beaten and maybe if that fourth round spinning elbow didn’t land then maybe he would have but the Swede is a very different fighter to Glover. Ryan Bader almost knocked Teixeira silly; I’ll be taking Jones to do the same. It’s doubtful that the Brazilian gets submitted and I don’t see him having the gas tank to go five rounds.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Jon Jones by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 11/8 (+137) @ Paddy Power