As a New Year begins so does a new slate as we wipe the record clean and start off with a fresh bankroll. 2014 ended prosperously and I am hoping that 2015 starts with a bang.

If a bang is required then the UFC have set up a card loaded with fireworks as every bout on the main card is potential Fight of the Night material. The title fight has had me salivating for a while now and shouldn’t disappoint. There are a lot of betting opportunities for this card and I see some real money to be made so let’s analyse the main card with odds provided by 5Dimes to see if you agree.

Lombard v Burkman:

Putting an unimpressive start behind him is Hector Lombard who now embarks on a new career at 170lbs. A big ticket signing from Bellator he went 1-2 at Middleweight before the decision was made for him to drop a weight class. He looked revitalised in despatching Nate Marquardt before finishing the UFC career of Jake Shields. As a result he is now being talked about in title eliminator terms.

Making his UFC return after six years away is Josh Burkman. Burkman has most recently been plying his trade at World Series of Fighting where he fought on five of the first nine cards that promotion staged, with a win over Jon Fitch being both the highlight and most controversial.

For a returning fight it looks like Burkman is being thrown to the wolves. His last tenure in the UFC was hardly glorious and with a dangerous opponent like Lombard this could be even less glamorous and potentially short lived. Lombard has a highly developed skill set and very heavy hands. Throughout my research I had Lombard taking this by knockout, but as Burkman has never been knocked out I am going to perform a last minute switch. Burkman has been susceptible to submissions at which the Cuban is no slouch. While he hasn’t submitted anyone since 2011 he retains the ability to do so and at these odds is worth a tickle.

Recommendation: Lombard wins by submission +1190 (12/1) @ 5Dimes

Horiguchi v Gaudinot:

Entering the UFC with a record of 14-1 is the Japanese version of the great white hope. Kyoji Horiguchi is a hugely impressive fighter who has already won three straight since signing. While his opponents to date have hardly been contenders, you can do no more than to beat the man in front of you and do it well.

With a highly impressive win over Phil Harris scratched from the record due to a post-fight test going awry you have to go back to May 2012 for the last official UFC win for Louis Gaudinot. It remains his only win after losing in the TUF house and surprisingly came over John Lineker, one of the hardest hitting Flyweights in the sport.

It is impossible to look past Horiguchi in this one. Gaudinot is not really a step up in class for him and it feels as if the UFC are employing wrestling style tactics to get him ‘over’ with the fans, feeding him potential victims along the way. No disrespect to Gaudinot but it is a mismatch and one that Horiguchi should deal with comfortably inside the distance.

Recommendation: Horiguchi wins inside distance +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes

Tavares v Marquardt:         

After winning five in a row it feel strange to be talking about Brad Tavares with his back against the wall but with two consecutive losses that’s exactly the position he is in. While there was no shame in losing to a dominant Yoel Romero it was the loss to Tim Boetsch that will be particularly hard to swallow. Throughout the fight Tavares was in control en route to a comfortable win but got sucker punched and it was over. The UFC seems to be a little more lenient with fighters losing three in a row at present but Tavares won’t want to take the risk.

Nate Marquardt is another who finds himself in a slightly precarious position. In beating James Te Huna in a poor main event in New Zealand he snapped a three fight skid. Despite one loss taking place in Strikeforce the record books show Marquardt at 3-4 in his last seven under the UFC banner. With his previous history with Dana White a loss could very well be the final straw.

Tavares will know to keep his distance early on and weather the storm, if he can do that then his superior conditioning should see him through as an ageing Marquardt tires. Tavares by decision used to be one of the safest bets in MMA, on Saturday it cashes again.

Recommendation: Tavares wins by 3 round decision +270 (27/10) @ 5Dimes

Cerrone v Jury:      

Donald Cerrone looks to start in 2015 where he left off in 2014, on a tear. Wins over Martins, Barboza, Miller and a debuting Eddie Alvarez in 21014 have expunged memories of losses to dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis in 2013 and are proving once and for all that the man known as Cowboy may just be maturing at the right time into a legitimate championship contender.

In a 15 fight career Myles Jury is yet to taste defeat as a professional fighter. A loss in the TUF house to eventual runner up Al Iaquinta put paid to his chances of winning the event but laid the foundations for personal development that has been beyond all expectations. Against Cerrone he faces his biggest challenge yet safe in the knowledge that a win would see his name on the lips of the MMA media for the remainder of the year, with the possibility of a title shot on the horizon.

I find myself leaning quiet heavily towards Cowboy in this one, although I concede the Jury is a potential future champion, right now Cerrone is at the top of his game and has so many paths to victory that I cannot see beyond him. Jury has his chances but this may just be a little too early in his career to take out such a seasoned and relevant competitor. I’ll be taking a piece of Cerrone by decision in a thrilling three rounder.

Recommendation: Cerrone wins by 3 round decision +175 (7/4) @ 5Dimes

Jones v Cormier:    

This fight has all the makings of a modern day classic. With Jon Jones you have the youngest champion in UFC history, the most title defences in Light Heavyweight history and is one of the most polarizing figures of recent times. While Jones started his career in the role of All American hero he hasn’t so much as fallen from grace but is in the midst of a gentle slide. He has been unstoppable inside the cage despatching all who step before him. It is testament to the man and the fighter that only one opponent has even come close to beating him and he blazed a trail through the rest.

As one of the most likeable men in the UFC Daniel Cormier will carry a lot of anti-Jones campaigners on his shoulders come fight night. After winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and making the jump to the UFC he made the gutsy decision to drop to 205lbs. In part due to not wanting to compete against long time training partner and current UFC Heavyweight kingpin, Cain Velasquez, and in part due to a desire to dethrone the undisputed king of the 205;b division. His opening two fights in the weight class saw him destroy Patrick Cummins inside the first and rag dolling Dan Henderson in the most undignified manner before locking up the submission. With Olympic level wrestling DC could just about be the biggest threat to Jones in this or any other year.

Takedowns will be the key for this fight. Cormier and Jones both have the ability to take down an opponent at will, but the edge goes to DC. On the feet then Jones ticks the boxes as his unpredictability seems to know no boundaries and he will come at DC from all angles and with a huge reach advantage. Jones has the wider skillset and as neither fighter has actually lost a fight (ignoring the Matt Hamill travesty) it’s hard to predict where the win comes from. Heart and head are locked together so my gut says to go with Jones. Cormier is used to being hit by big Heavyweights so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he won’t get knocked out but Jones could lock on an unorthodox submission or take a razor thin decision. Submission is overpriced and I’ll be taking a small piece of that action.

Recommendation: Jones wins by submission +554 (11/2) @ 5Dimes