Revitalised and rejuvenated; that’s exactly how I feel after a three week break from studying numerous fighter tapes. It is a case of no rest for the wicked as this weekend’s event is a precursor to another double header next weekend.
The UFC returns to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a highly anticipated rematch that we have all been waiting for. The undercard isn’t too sloppy either and, as expected, Brazilians fill a slot in each of the 11 scheduled bouts. I am winning on back to back events and as they say everything comes in threes let’s put that to the test. My record in 2014 has greatly improved in Brazil; I just need to sprinkle some of that magic over the rest of the world.
Ferreira v Dariush:
Highly impressive in his debut, not so much in his follow up was my assessment of Beneil Dariush earlier this year. A solid submission win over Tony Martin in August and I am starting to go with my initial lean of how far can this kid go? While a win over Charlie Brenneman should be taken with a pinch of salt the loss to Ramsey Nijem was the first of his career and posed the first serious questions of him. Those were answered with abundance against Martin.
What Dariush failed to do against Nijem his opponent, Carlos Ferreira completed with precision and lethal accuracy. Unbeaten throughout his career he has come through unscathed in a minor test against Colton Smith and a huge step up in Nijem. He gets the opportunity to go 12-0 in his native Brazil and really put the 155lb division on notice.
Dariush got swarmed by Nijem in a tactic that was reversed on Nijem by Ferreira, and it is a tactic I’ll expect the Brazilian to employ again. Both have an excellent ground game with submissions to burn and this is where Ferreira will switch up and go for the power. Dariush can be finished and I think he will be again at the midpoint of the fight.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Carlos Ferreira by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 7/2 (+350) @ BetVictor
Elkins v Martins:
Lucas Martins enters the octagon on Saturday on a bit of a tear. His debut was an ill-fated affair, succumbing to the lethal leg kicks of Edson Barboza in an eye watering experience. Since then he has taken out Jeremy Larsen, Ramiro Hernandez and shocked the world by finishing the highly rated, and much lauded Alex White late in the fight. With that win he elevated himself to the middle order and a main card slot. It’s an enviable position and one he should grab with both hands.
His opponent is Darren Elkins who is coming off a loss to Jeremy Stephens in January this year. Stephens outclassed Elkins en route to a unanimous decision win. In Elkins defence he has faced a high calibre of opponent during his UFC tenure winning more than he has lost. To his detriment his style is effective but isn’t the most fan friendly and in Brazil, where decisions have been known to require some explaining, he needs to dominate if he expects to take a decision there.
This goes one of two ways; either Elkins takes a grinding decision or Martins gets the stoppage. For Elkins to win then the fight will be ugly, not entertaining and be extremely one sided. Given how the card has been matched I would be surprised if that were to be the case. I’ll be taking Martins to get the win and stop Elkins in the third. There is some nice money available for the stoppage and I’ll be on that.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Lucas Martins by KO, TKO or DQ – 12/5 (+240) @ Paddy Power
Maldonado v Stringer:
A temporary, albeit unsuccessful, flirtation with the big boys sees Fabio Maldonado return to life at 205. Stepping up as a last minute replacement for Junior dos Santos he ultimately came unstuck against rising star Stipe Miocic. Although his time spent at 205 so far has been less than stellar it is a division that suits his build and fighting style. While unlikely to ever trouble the top five he does stand out as a stern test for an unexposed chin.
Making his second UFC appearance is Hans Stringer who looks to maintain an unbeaten record that extends back four years. An unspectacular debut saw him fall on the right side of a split decision in Brazil and earning him a return trip. As a kickboxer by trade he represents a solid stylistic matchup for the boxer in Maldonado.
When a kickboxer meets a boxer then you can expect one of two things; either the fight ends early with a solid knockout or we have a brutal and bloody three rounder. Stringer is untested at the highest level but has shown durability with a single knockout loss to date. By contrast Maldonado has been stopped twice both coming at the hands of heavy punchers in Teixeira and Miocic. Miocic is arguably the more useful fighter and I’ll be taking a small piece on him to get back in the win column via decision where he comfortably takes the opening round, does just enough to take the second and is chased down in the third.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Fabio Maldonado by Decision – 13/8 (+162.50) @ BetVictor
Teixeira v Davis:
For the co-main event we have two fighters who will be desperate to erase the memory of defeat last time out. In what can only be described as an upset Phil Davis, known by many to be a very high level wrestler and tactician was literally manhandled by Anthony Johnson en route to a decision win. It is usually Davis who looks to take the fight to the mat and grind out a decision but had no answer to the power and wrestling of Johnson. Brazil has been a happy hunting ground for Davis as he recently, albeit highly contentiously, took a unanimous decision over hometown favourite Lyoto Machida in Rio.
After going on a 20 fight tear, remaining unbeaten for nine years Glover Teixeira was expected to be the biggest challenge to Jon Jones to date. This didn’t live up to the billing as the champion comfortably dominated the challenger over five rounds. Even at 34 years of age this will not be the final time we see Teixeira challenging for the belt as he more than has the skills to cement his place as a top five ranking Light Heavyweight.
Teixeira has an excellent ground game as well as being comfortable in the stand up. Davis, by contrast has a tendency to take the fight to the map and keep it there, dominating by wrestling or looking for the tap. Glover has had a decent amount of success against wrestlers as his wins over Ryan Bader and Kyle Kingsbury will testify to, although they ended up fighting his fight rather than their own. Whatever happens here one fighter will be picking up consecutive losses in a career first. My money is on Glover; he is the better all-round fighter and could take a hometown decision.
Recommendation: Method of Victory – Glover Teixeira by Decision – 6/5 (+120) @ Paddy Power
Aldo v Mendes:
It is always good manners to discuss the champion first and Jose Aldo is a champion worthy of the name. Unbeaten in nine years, former WEC king and the only champion that the UFC has ever known in its Featherweight division; Aldo has cleaned out his division to the point where he faces his first career rematch. Awarded the belt after the WEC folded he has racked up only six fights in three and a half years as injury and contender cannibalisation has taken effect, with only Frankie Edgar posing questions that he has not been able to answer with leg kicks so devastating that they could fell a redwood. If he makes his way past Mendes again, as many feel he will then a possible showdown with Conor McGregor awaits him.
Chad ‘Money’ Mendes came up short in his previous bout with Aldo as a rush of blood, a sneaky fence grab and a knee to the head ended the fight inside a round. That was two and a half years ago and the loss arguably helped Mendes more than the win helped Aldo. While Aldo has spent time on the shelf Mendes has racked up five wins on the bounce including four consecutive by knockout. The assistance of Duane Ludwig will see Mendes more adept in the striking game and he enters the octagon a far more rounded fighter than he did in the initial meeting.
I expect a much closer fight this time round as Mendes knows that a loss would render him irrelevant at 145lbs for as long as Aldo remains the champion and fear is a great motivator. Aldo has been guilty of taking his opponents a little lightly, stepping on the gas in the first three rounds while cruising in the last two. If Mendes can avoid the leg kicks and take one of the opening three then he takes a huge step towards dethroning the champion. According to the Chinese zodiac this is the year of the horse; forget that as this is the year of the underdog, particularly where Nova Uniao is concerned. Firstly Barao fell, as did Cabral and Markes while Johnny Eduardo upset Eddie Wineland. Chad Mendes could easily round off an unexpected year for the gym. I am not going to hedge with method of victory markets or round betting, when taking the underdog play it simple. I’ll be taking Mendes by a huge upset.
Recommendation: To Win the Fight – Chad Mendes – 85/40 (+212.50) @ Paddy Power