The long awaited debut in Mexico City, Mexico is the destination for the UFC this week. While the most popular Mexican fighter in UFC history was forced off the card the replacement in Mark Hunt and subsequent Interim belt on offer looks to have saved the day.
In addition to the loss of Velasquez we also lost Joe Lauzon, Norman Parke and Diego Sanchez but there are still a couple of potentially banging fights to place some bets on. Let’s analyse the main card with odds provided by 5Dimes and see if you agree.
Garcia v Urbina:
As the first event in Mexico I simply cannot fathom the logic in opening a main card with two journeyman fighters, neither of whom has a record that suggests anything exciting will happen. Edgar Garcia returns to the octagon for a second chance at the big time. Unbeaten in his last four fights he has lost almost every fight contested above regional level as two UFC and a single Bellator loss occurred after a single win in the WEC.
Hector Urbina fights at his highest career level this weekend. Two fights in Bellator saw him end with a 1-1 record; nothing outstanding and it is a major surprise that he has been called up to the big leagues. Sixteen wins and eight losses show a distinct lack of potential although 60% of those fights have ended in an early knockout so don’t expect this to go on long.
The edge goes to Garcia by virtue of a marginally better record and more exposure at a higher level. Ordinarily I’d pass on such a low grade affair with little stand out opportunities but my instincts suggest a small play on the ‘unders’ for some interest.
Recommendation: Under 2.5 rounds -145 (7/10) @ 5Dimes
Montano v Heatherly:
With a single defeat in a fight career spanning 14 bouts it’s hardly a shock to see Augusto Montano called up for his debut. The UFC has a habit of promoting events by utilising local fighters on the card and with so few known fighters in Mexico it could just be the opportunity of a lifetime. An explosive finisher on the regional circuit he has been the distance just once in his sole defeat. The remainder of his fights have seen him taken to the second and third rounds just once apiece.
With the most inauspicious of ring names Chris ‘Stump’ Heatherly makes his second appearance in the octagon. His debut set tongues wagging for the wrong reasons as he became the first fighter to be submitted via Omoplata in UFC history. Despite the fight being over midway through the first round he has been given an opportunity to answer the critics and fans alike and demonstrate what made him go 8-1-0-1NC in the preceding two years. That his sole loss came to highly rated Alex Garcia punctuates his potential to many.
As with the opener this is a fight I care very little about. In the grand scheme it means nothing to host this fight on the main card, in fact it deprives some highly rated WMMA stars the opportunity to shine. When studying the form an obvious highlight is the fact that both fighters rarely see the 2nd or 3rd rounds. As a consequence, much like the opener I’ll take a small play on this finishing very early with another bet on the ‘unders’.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 rounds -135 (4/5) @ 5Dimes
Lamas v Bermudez:
Nine months is a long time in MMA as has been proven by Ricardo Lamas. In February this year he was fighting Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title, and now he finds himself at the mid-point of the main card in Brazil. Although he was considered as a suitable challenger his inactivity since transitioning from the WEC meant it should probably have gone elsewhere. He was outclassed by Aldo from start to finish and went back to the drawing board to mount another challenge. He beat Hacran Dias by decision in his comeback and now he gets the highly rated Dennis Bermudez.
Although Bermudez lost to Diego Brandao in the TUF Finale he has arguably come out of the show as the better fighter. Brandao has laboured ever since while Bermudez has strung together seven on the bounce. In truth, a win over Lamas and it may well be between him and McGregor for the next shot at Aldo. Those seven wins have generated four bonus cheques, five if you include his loss to Brandao which has netted him a cool $250,000 over and above his normal pay.
This has Fight of the Night written all over it, and if neither fighter picks up a bonus cheque then you can expect to see some outstanding battles on the card. Bermudez occupies favouritism, quite comfortably, but it should be a lot closer than the odds suggest. I am taking Bermudez by close decision. Both fighters will come out swinging, and swinging wildly but the New Yorker takes it for me.
Recommendation: Dennis Bermudez to win by 3 round decision +155 (6/4) @ 5Dimes
Ellenberger v Gastelum:
TUF Winner, Kelvin Gastelum puts his unbeaten record on the line again when he faces off against the nearly man, Jake Ellenberger. With all the hype over Uriah Hall in TUF it was easy for Gastelum to slip by unnoticed until the final when he was given little to no chance against the power of Hall. He took a narrow decision and has really kicked on from there with wins over Brian Melancon, Rick Story and Nico Musoke.
Ellenberger is a fighter who has hit the skids of late. Back in the summer of 2012 he was a win over Martin Kampmann away from a title shot at GSP. Kampmann ended that opportunity and although wins followed over Jay Hieron and Nate Marquardt consecutive losses to Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler have all but ended his chances of a title shot anytime soon.
It is strange to see a seasoned veteran like Ellenberger receive so little support from the bookmakers but it feels about right based on form. Gastelum is 23 and very much on the up, his skillset should be enough to tie knots in Ellenberger and pose him more than a few problems. He doesn’t have the power game but he does have the ability to submit at will or work a decision and that is where my money goes here.
Recommendation: Kelvin Gastelum to win by 3 round decision +182 (9/5) @ 5Dimes
Werdum v Hunt:
When Cain Velasquez sustained the injury that forced him off the card you could almost hear the whole of Mexico sigh in despair. Their long awaited card was in jeopardy until the unlikely figure of Mark Hunt stepped in when the fight was made for the Interim Belt. Hunt had only recently come off a one sided battering of Roy Nelson in Saitama, Japan, putting himself back in the win column after two winless appearances. Prior to his loss against Junior dos Santos he was being considered for a shot at the full title before that carrot was taken away from him with a knockout loss, potentially forever.
Fabricio Werdum was looking forward to a tilt at the UFC gold or the first time, in his second spell in the octagon. After Junior dos Santos knocked him out early in his own debut Werdum was sent packing to Strikeforce where he tasted a single defeat to Alistair Overeem during his time with the now defunct promotion. His tenure there will forever be marked by the moment he became a legend in MMA by not only beating, but submitting the legendary figure of Fedor Emelianenko, all in just over a minute.
Given that both fighters are nearing the end of their careers, Werdum is 37 while Hunt is 40, both stand at the top of the mountain from which only one may emerge as the King. Hunt has remained active, fighting seven times in three and a half years with nine months on the sidelines due to a staph infection. In the same timespan Werdum has fought only five times, most recently in April as he was prepared to wait for his title shot as the first in line. As the more active fighter the edge goes to Hunt, more so if he can keep the fight standing. If it goes to the ground then it’s all Werdum all night and a submission becomes more than likely.
Recommendation: Werdum wins by submission -105 (19/20) @ 5Dimes