Another busy weekend in the world of MMA is highlighted this weekend as the UFC returns to Brazil. This card is sandwiched in between events for both Bellator and WSoF meaning a great weekend for the hard-core fan.
After taking a close look at the fights on show, as well as the betting, I have noticed some glaring holes in the bookmaker’s prices. Let’s take a walk through the card and see if you agree with me. Brazil cards can be death or glory, here is hoping for the latter.
Andrade v Pacheco:
As fights in WMMA go this could be one that potentially shapes a champion of the future. In her three UFC fights to date I have been impressed with the skillset of Jessica Andrade. I correctly took Liz Carmouche to beat her in her debut and she didn’t disgrace herself. In her follow up she literally battered Rosi Sexton into retirement in one of the most one-sided fights you will ever see. This was followed up with a split decision over Raquel Pennington and showed that this 22 year old has a bright future at the top level. A few years away from contesting a belt, it will surely only be a matter of time before the opportunity arises.
Larissa Pacheco makes her debut and has been handed a very tough assignment. The unbeaten Brazilian holds a 10-0 record, most recently in Jungle Fight and has been rewarded with a hometown opportunity on the biggest stage of all.
To be undefeated is a great thing, but it doesn’t triumph over experience and this is where Andrade has a significant edge. She took the likes of Sexton, who has a fighting style similar to Pacheco, and battered her for 15 minutes. It remains to be seen how Pacheco copes with this type of onslaught and it’s very likely that she simply won’t. For that reason it’s Andrade by knockout for me and an impossibly large price which is sure to be smashed in closer to the fight time.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Jessica Andrade by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 11/1 (+1100) @ 888Sport
Alcantara v Doane:
Iuri Alcantara continues on the comeback trail after losing to Urijah Faber last year. In a lopsided decision loss he found himself outclassed by a far better fighter but he has responded to this very well. A split decision over Wilson Reis got him back in the win column and a very quick knockout of Vaughan Lee followed. He is comfortable in the stand up and on the ground and likes to finish his fights early; he doesn’t see many decisions.
Russell Doane took a split decision in July over Marcus Brimage and makes a quick turnaround looking for his third UFC win of the year. Making his promotional debut in January it has been an impressive year for the young Hawaiian who could easily match Donald Cerrone and rack up five fights in his debut year for the company.
Both fighters like to look or the finish and both are equally matched in all areas bar experience. Here is where Alcantara takes the edge and fighting at home in Brazil should be enough to hand Doane his first loss under the UFC banner. Doane has never been knocked out but he has been submitted twice, look for Alcantara to take advantage of this potential weakness and secure the tap.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Iuri Alcantara by Submission – 9/4 (+225) @ Boylesports
Ponzinibbio v Oliveira:
Santiago Ponzinibbio will be hoping for a much better time than he experienced in his debut fight where he was literally rag dolled by a highly impressive Ryan LaFlare. Ponzinibbio was a finalist in the TUF series and although injury forced him out, the UFC saw enough to take further chances on him. As with LaFlare he gets another unknown quantity and will know that he needs to make this count.
In light of recent events the unfortunately nicknamed ‘War Machine’ Wendell Oliveira may wish to revert to his Brazilian nickname of ‘Negao’ instead. The heavily built debutant is a late replacement and essentially gets a free pass to make a name for himself in the UFC. A slow starter in MMA he has developed a fearsome record of late on the regional circuit and gets an opportunity to beat an Argentine on Brazilian soil to make himself an instant hero.
This is a strange fight to make the main card and one that does very little for either opponent. We haven’t really seen enough of either fighter to make a sound judgement. Ponzinibbio carries a few submissions in his arsenal, and this appears to be the main weakness of Oliveira. As a result, I’ll be taking an impossibly large price of 9/1 being offered about the method of victory market.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Santiago Ponzinibbio by Submission – 9/1 (+900) @ 888Sport
Santos v Escudero:
On paper this fight should be one of the biggest tests of Leonardo Santos’ career to date. At the age of 34 the TUF Brazil winner is looking for his first legitimate win in the UFC since taking home the trophy. In his official debut he was the beneficiary of some dubious refereeing which saw his opponent, Norman Parke, deducted a point. Although Parke clearly had the best of the exchanges that deducted point was enough to secure a draw, keeping him undefeated in seven.
Returning to the UFC after a long hiatus appears to be in vogue at the moment as Efrain Escudero is re-signed after two years away. Escudero was cut after back to back losses in his second stint, which itself was sandwiched between fights at Bellator. Since then he has fought in regional promotions worldwide to remain active.
Although Santos is the older fighter his best years in MMA look to be ahead of him, something that cannot be said for 28 year old Escudero. The younger fighter had made a promising start to his career but really struggled to get any form of run going and he has suffered for it. Santos should be able to take his recent experience and performances to another level and easily secure a decision victory
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Leonardo Santos by Decision – 15/8 (+187.50) @ Unibet
Tibau v Hallmann:
Piotr Hallmann has experienced mixed emotions since entering the UFC only a year ago. From a shock debut win over Francisco Trinaldo, by submission nonetheless, he found himself outpointed by Al Iaquinta shortly afterwards. Fast forward to June 2014 and another submission win, this time over Yves Edwards, and he is back in the win column looking to turn this into a streak.
As a fighter who appears to have been around forever it is easy to forget that Gleison Tibau is still only 31. As an unfeasibly large 155lb’er he possesses little of the power his physique alludes to and focuses on securing the submission or taking the decision. Present in the UFC since 2006 he has amassed a record of 15-8 in that time despite fighting some very decent fighters, including Rafael dos Anjos who he took a split decision from.
Submission artists will typically nullify each-others key skills so don’t be expecting anyone to be reaching for the tap here; Hallman has never been submitted and Tibau just the once in 39 fights. This is a fight almost certain to see the judges and I’ll be siding with the Brazilian to take this comfortably.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Gleison Tibau by Decision – 5/4 (+125) @ Boylesports
Silva v Arlovski:
Fresh from a contentious win over Brendan Schaub, Andrei Arlovski continues his comeback in the UFC. Although a personal recommendation of mine I have to admit to feeling a little aggrieved that the decision went in his favour; in truth he just didn’t deserve it and Schaub should have been given the win. That matters little to the giant Belarussian who make it three on the bounce and 7-1 with one No Contest in his last nine.
Making his return after a nine month ban is Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. Silva participated in a five round war with Mark Hunt last time out that impressed the watching world greatly, despite the Australian judges being unable to determine a winner. Without a win since February 2013 Silva will be keen to chalk up a win and further his standing in a shallow division.
Although this is a rematch the initial fight means very little. Held in Strikeforce in 2010 Silva was the victor with a decision over three rounds. This fight is very different; firstly Silva has been fighting at a much higher level than Arlovski and will no doubt have improved as a result. Secondly, this is over five rounds, something that Arlovski hasn’t achieved in over seven years. The layoff will serve Silva well and he should prove to be far too strong for Arlovski and I expect him to put him away in the later rounds, probably four or five.
Recommendation: Round Betting – Antonio Silva – Round 4 – 18/1 (+1800) @ 888Sport