The UFC truly goes global this weekend with another of the, now famous, double headers. On Saturday we head to Macau, China for the opener, followed by an evening in Oklahoma, USA to close out proceedings.
As with most of these double headers due to betting lines being released later than normal I will be writing up the pick of both cards rather than a full rundown of both. With a couple of Chinese fighters I know next to nothing about I can’t say I am too disappointed. I am predicting knockouts this weekend, lots of them so let’s review the co-main and main event for both cards.
Woodley v Kim:
The heavy-handed Tyron Woodley looks to expunge a below-par performance in defeat to Rory MacDonald from his memory banks with a quick return to fighting. The loss to MacDonald puts Woodley at 3-2 in the UFC, snapping a two fight streak along the way. One of the more vocal 170lbers he has managed to talk himself into title contention with a win over Carlos Condit; a fight that will be remembered for Condit blowing his ACL while most will conveniently forget the fact that Woodley had complete control of the fight when it happened.
The ‘Stun Gun’, Dong Hyun Kim makes his second appearance of 2014 and looks to build on a prosperous last 20 months. During that time he has taken decisions over Paulo Thiago and Siyar Bahadurzada while stopping Erick Silva and John Hathaway, being the first man to achieve this feat on the latter. Kim last tasked defeat against Demian Maia when a rib injury saw the fight stopped inside a minute. With just two losses in his career, more than half of which has been in the UFC, he is an opponent to be feared.
In addition to explosive punching power Kim also possesses a grinding style which has traditionally caused Woodley issues. MacDonald used this tactic to great effect and if those arms are tied up then he really does lose his primary weapons. If this fight goes to a decision then I see Kim emerging as the victor, however if it ends early then I cannot see beyond Woodley. Kim has only been stopped once in his career, it may well be two on Sunday as Woodley leaves nothing to chance.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Tyron Woodley by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 23/10 (+230) @ Ladbrokes
Bisping v Le:
Making his return to the octagon after losing to Tim Kennedy in April is Manchester, England’s own Michael Bisping. The veteran, known as ‘The Count’, has alternated wins and losses since 2011 and looks to avoid the first losing streak of his career. At the age of 35 his title aspirations will all but have passed him by and prize fighting should really be his short term career goals. There are plenty of big names out there willing to fight him but none of them are going to shine any gold in his direction.
At the ripe old age of 42 part-time movie star and part-time MMA fighter Cung Le makes what could be his last appearance in the octagon. On the sidelines for almost two years after shocking Rich Franklyn in Macau, he returns in arguably the best physical condition of his life. Numerous photographs have surfaced of a taut and toned Le which has prompted a few jibes from his opponent.
It is clear that the UFC are aiming to market the name value of Le as a film star in Macau to sell some tickets and raise the profile of MMA in the region. At 42 his time is running short, although his relative lack of activity may have prolonged his shelf life longer than expected. For as long as the fight is standing then Le can keep Bisping at length with a flashy array of kicks. Bisping, however, has his origins in kickboxing and should prove himself more rounded than his opponent and take the win. Submission attempts will be thin on the ground and I don’t expect a 35 and 42 year old to last five rounds so Bisping takes this by knockout. Most firms are going 6/4 – 15/8 but Paddy Power have put up a ridiculous 11/5. Get on.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Michael Bisping by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 11/5 (+220) @ Paddy Power
Pyle v Mein:
When you talk about veterans of MMA, particularly those that are still active then one cannot imagine that the name of Mike Pyle isn’t introduced. A 15 year professional and now at 38 years old it is strange to see Pyle co-headlining a card in 2014. Using wrestling terminology it seems an ideal time for Pyle to put someone over, an up and comer, someone who can legitimately be viewed as a name for the future.
Right down to his nickname, Young Gun, Jordan Mein is very much a fighter for the future. Although in the fight game for eight years and competing in 37 professional fights it would surprise some that Mein is still only 24 years of age. During his time as a professional he has faced the likes of Matt Brown, Rory MacDonald, Tyron Woodley, Mike Ricci and the recently re-signed Joe Riggs. From that list he has only had his arm raised against Riggs, which shows the magnitude of the task ahead. Mein has martial arts in his blood and surely it is only a matter of time before the potential is converted into results.
In his penultimate fight Mein went toe to toe with Matt Brown in a war that was Fight of the Night despite being only six minutes long; same timescale for Pyle and he lasted just 29 seconds. Pyle favours the submission, which is a relative weakness for Mein but he needs to be able to get close enough to make it effective. If Mein has learned anything from experience it is that if he can stand and bang then he can put bodies away. For Pyle, this may be a fight too far. Mein wins by TKO.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Jordan Mein by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 11/8 (+137) @ 888Sport
Henderson v dos Anjos:
Former Champion Benson Henderson gets straight back on the horse for his third bout of the year in an attempt to secure the next title shot should Gil Melendez take the belt from Anthony Pettis. Failing that, he will look to face Melendez should Pettis’ injury not clear up in time. Barring the Pettis fight Henderson has done little wrong in the three years since importing from the WEC. The loss to Pettis was magnified as it was the second career loss to the same fighter. It makes a trilogy less likely unless the positions are reversed and Pettis is once again chasing the belt that Benson holds.
From a low key beginning Rafael dos Anjos has developed into the fighter that everyone expected a man of his size to be. A win over Donald Cerrone was nullified by a loss to Nurmagomedov and he conceded a few spaces on the board to the Dagestani with that defeat. He now needs to get past Henderson to book himself as the next challenger to the title. Although his opponent sits atop the pile both combatants will be very aware that the recent signing of Eddie Alvarez has potentially changed the landscape, more so should be take the win over Cerrone in a few weeks’ time.
All signs point to another ‘point fighting’ performance by Henderson. As he has done in all bar one of his fights he has done enough to steal each round, or steal enough of them to squeak a decision. In his last outing he did something amazing, he submitted a fighter who had never been submitted and it was a breath of fresh air. Although dos Anjos has a submission on his record it was a verbal tap due to injury so it doesn’t really count. Henderson has an excellent submission game although we are yet to really see this in the UFC, but one thing is clear; Paddy Power have priced this very wrong. Taking 8/1 about a 3/1 shot is too good to ignore but this is value betting; you don’t have to think it is realistic and you don’t have to like yourself for doing so but value makes money. If you do follow it, please try not to sit in front of the TV with your fingers over your eyes every time a solid punch to the jaw lands.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Benson Henderson by Submission – 8/1 (+800) @ Paddy Power