As the sun sets on arguably the finest Fight Night card of the year so far, we have little time to take it all in before hopping over to Dublin, Ireland for the second instalment. With six bets discussed I am pleased to report that we won three and lost three for an overall profit of 2 units on the night. Two units doesn’t sound like a huge return but on investment it is 30% which sounds a lot better.
As seems to be the norm for the UK events this week is relatively watered down with only four fights on the main card. I genuinely see some standouts on offer and feel that my wallet is about to get a whole lot thicker. It won’t be as explosive as Atlantic City but with this many Irishmen on the card a good time is almost a certainty.
Parke v Kotani:
In a fair world we would be talking about Norman Parke winning 10 fights in a row and heading to Ireland looking for number 11, winning TUF: The Smashes along the way. A frankly ludicrous and inconsistent decision to deduct him a point for shorts grabbing meant that he could only draw against Leonardo Santos. Personally I felt that Parke did enough to win, but the deduction left him needing a stoppage which wasn’t going to get.
His opponent is making his second UFC debut after a break of seven years. As highly experienced Japanese fighter Naoyuki Kotani returns from the wilderness. In that seven year absence Kotani has fought in Pancrase, Zst and Vale Tudo amassing a record of 16-3-2 along the way. He is presently 13-0 with nine coming by way of submission.
This is a tough fight to call. In terms of relevance it makes more sense that Parke wins since he is the more likely to progress but in the grand scheme of things both fighters are light years away from being realistic challengers. I don’t know who wins; I can’t particularly say I am interested either. For a little interest I’ll be looking for the fight to end by submission, either way.
Recommendation: How The Fight Will End: Submission – 3/1 (+300) @ Paddy Power
Pickett v McCall:
At 35 years of age and competing in the shallowest of divisions this must be a last call for Brad Pickett. A long time staple of the British MMA scene and a personal favourite of Dana White he has very little to prove to anyone, fan or media. Pickett has fought in multiple weight classes during his career and fighting at the lightest possible weight represents the final chance for any gold. Since coming to the UFC from the WEC Pickett has faced off against the likes of Barao, Wineland and McDonald. All are contenders or champions in their own right and all have dominated him quite conclusively. A win over Neil Seery in London flattered the Englishman as his opponent was a late replacement for McCall and it was laboured all the way. If he were to lose this fight then it could be time to hang up the gloves.
Sometimes fighter’s careers hinge on decisions and it matters not whether they are their decisions or those of their peers. If the judges in Australia could actually add up three scorecards correctly then McCall may have taken out Mighty Mouse in their encounter as the fight would have entered a deciding round. The decision was a draw and McCall lost the rematch. It would be August 2013 before he tasked victory again.
At five years Pickett’s junior it is McCall who has both time and experience on his side. Pickett has been through wars that have probably now taken their toll. There is nothing I’d like to see more than him getting a title shot in the UK but realise that it is now highly unlikely. McCall should have too much in the tank for Pickett as he keeps him tied up for the full 15 minutes en route to a decision win, and on to the winner of Johnson v Cariaso in a few weeks’ time.
Recommendation: Recommendation: Method of Victory – Ian McCall by Decision – 6/4 (+150) @ Paddy Power
Nelson v Cummings:
The prodigiously talented Gunnar Nelson reaches Dublin on Saturday riding the shirt tails of the headliner, but for the purists this is the man on everyone’s mind. Hailed by the media, and even Marc Goddard, as something truly special it must surely be a matter of time before he breaks the top five. With over a year sat on the sidelines due to injury Nelson would have watched the 170lb landscape change immeasurably. With GSP passing the torch to Hendricks and the re-emergence of Robbie Lawler as a bonafide contender this division just got a lot deeper.
Although still a relative newcomer to the UFC Zak Cummings has been a regular figure with rival promotions. Years spent on the regional circuit saw a single fight (and loss) in Strikeforce as well as a single fight (and win) in Bellator. A submission specialist in his own right he suffered the ignominy of being submitted by Tim Kennedy in one of only three career losses. In his debut Cummings once again destroyed the myth of the high rated up and comer by taking a clear decision over Yan Cabral; a fight few gave him a real chance of winning. As an injury replacement for Ryan LaFlare he faces his biggest test to date.
With submissions being the primary form of attack do not expect to see the fight end any other way. Nelson is unbeaten and carries six submissions from his last seven fights, where a lacklustre performance over Jorge Santiago resulted in a tough decision win. I really do not see this fight going the distance as Nelson takes yet another step towards a big name opponent with an early tap.
Recommendation: Method of Victory: Gunnar Nelson by Submission – 5/4 (+125) @ Boylesports
McGregor v Brandao:
Dublin’s favourite son, according to him anyway, makes his Main Event debut this weekend after exactly 11 months out through injury. An ACL tear received during a hard fought win over Max Holloway managed to derail the hype that is Conor McGregor. Instead of spending time in the octagon showing his skills on the mat he has spent countless hours on tour and in TV studios showcasing his skills on the mic. McGregor has been impressive in two appearances but this should be taking him to another level. A win, coupled with an excellent performance, could see July 19th become the 2nd St Patricks day of the year.
With the opponent originally scheduled to be Cole Miller and the backstory that led to the bout being made it is now a completely different type of fight with a new opponent. Diego Brandao looks to get back in the win column after a first round knockout loss to Dustin Poirier in September. That fight is more memorable for the pre-event shenanigans and Brandao showing up 7lbs overweight. The TUF 14 winner had been edging towards the top 10 prior to that fight and a loss sets him back a few steps.
As expected McGregor opens up as a huge favourite on most books at around 1/4, with him winning by knockout a best priced 10/11 as an entire country wades in on the betting. Brandao is no patsy and will provide a stiff test for McGregor although I concede that his chances of winning do appear to be slim. With a lack of bad blood between them it’s unlikely that either will rush to the centre of the octagon in an effort to finish this with a single punch. Brandao will want to put in a solid performance and McGregor will look to entertain so I can see this going beyond the opening round. I can’t back McGregor at such poor prices in the method of victory so will be taking a little value by opting for Round 2.
Recommendation: Round Betting – Conor McGregor in Round 2 – 11/2 (+550) @ Paddy Power