After the insanity of Fight Night 61 in Brazil the UFC returns home to Las Vegas. Much like the bookies we took a bath as 10 out of 11 underdogs won, including the last 10 in a row. Can it happen again? Could the most hyped Women’s fighter since Ronda Rousey lose on the same card as Rousey? Let’s have a look at the odds provided by 5Dimes to see what happens if it does.
Ferguson v Tibau:
What do Tony Ferguson and Gleison Tibau have in common? They experienced their last losses to Michael Johnson. It’s a pointless stat but a good opener. After some extensive time off Ferguson is looking to make up for lost time and fighting at every available opportunity. This fight is his third in nine months, with is as regular as he is going to get. A win here and that’s five in a row, Dana White please take notice.
Gleison Tibau makes a quick turnaround only a month after a hard fought win over Norman Parke in Boston, USA. An extremely large fighter for the 155lb division he is typified by a dominating fight style as his uses his size to great advantage. Riding a three fight streak of his own he knows another win puts him up against a top five opponent.
With a height, reach and striking accuracy advantage this is Fergusons to lose. While Tibau will look to take it to the ground Ferguson has a more than reasonable takedown defence and as long as he can use it then he should be able to keep the Brazilian at arm’s length en route to a unanimous decision win. Not many stop Tibau and it would be a major shock should that happen.
Recommendation: Ferguson wins by 3 round decision +205 (2/1) @ 5Dimes
Jouban v Walsh:
Alan Jouban returns after an unexpected loss to Warlley Alves in Brazil. The Muay Thai specialist lost by unanimous decision after blazing a trail through previous opponents. He took a performance bonus in his UFC debut when he demolished Seth Baczynski with a single punch and is looking to regain some momentum.
The Australian fighter and former competitor on the TUF Smashes season, Richard Walsh looks to rebound from his own decision loss to Kunimoto in Japan. That was just the second loss of his professional career, and to do so via split decision shows how close he was to maintaining an impressive record.
Jouban opens up as a huge favourite and if Fight Night 61 has taught us anything it is that bookmaker odds mean little once the cage door closes. In this case I think they have it spot on though as Jouban should have more than enough in his arsenal to see off the Australian. Odds say that it ends inside three, I say it doesn’t.
Recommendation: Jouban wins by 3 round decision +161 (8/5) @ 5Dimes
Koscheck v Ellenberger:
So rarely do fighters meet inside the octagon with near identical recent records. Although he hasn’t fought for around a year and a half Josh Koscheck remains a loss from being cut. A traditionally grinding fighter Koscheck has tended to utilise his outstanding wrestling to take decisions. When he isn’t able to take it to the ground then he comes unstuck as was demonstrated by Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley. Concussive effects are cumulative and it remains to be seen whether Koscheck has a chin left or not.
Also in desperate need of a win is Jake Ellenberger. From an enviable position as potential challenger the wheels have literally fallen off the ‘Juggernaut’ and three consecutive losses leave him in a precarious position. It wasn’t so much that he lost, all fighters lose at some stage, but the manner in which he lost suggests that his chin and heart have abandoned him.
This is tough, not because both have the ability to win, but because both have the ability to lose, and badly. When both fighters appear to have no chin then the first punch ends the fight. Koscheck is arguably the more skilled fighter but at 37 his best years are long behind him and ring rust could be telling. I don’t see this going the distance and with Ellenberger having the heavier hands I hope that one of these guys is put to pasture.
Recommendation: Ellenberger wins inside distance +102 (51/50) @ 5Dimes
Pennington v Holm:
Raquel Pennington faces her biggest career challenge yet. With a mixed record in the UFC the former Invicta fighter looks to build upon her recent win over Ashlee Evans-Smith. A split decision loss to Jessica Andrade prior to that dented what could have turned into a decent run. Now she gets a huge opportunity, to derail the hype of one of the UFC’s biggest female signings.
After some extensive negotiations, some of which broke down only for dialogue to resume again we finally get to see Holly Holm inside the octagon. Holm, like tonight’s challenger and champion is unbeaten in her career and makes her UFC debut after previously fighting in Legacy and Bellator. As the former WBF, IBF and WBAN Women’s champion she clearly has some skills and is considered to be the next logical challenge for Ronda Rousey.
To date Holm has destroyed everyone she has faced inside the cage, the majority by deploying her superior striking game. By contrast, Pennington has laboured in her wins and been completely dominated in her losses. As such, this looks like a match made for Holm to showcase her talents. It would be a shock of epic proportions if Holm was to lose and she is priced out of a bet on the outrights. I’ll be taking a decent chunk on her winning inside the distance as those odds are far too high.
Recommendation: Holm wins inside distance +146 (6/4) @ 5Dimes
Rousey v Zingano:
There was a time where any analysis was irrelevant; like the endless repeats on TV and the most predicable game of Cluedo ever – it was Rousey, with the arm bar in the first round. Mystery solved. At ten fights unbeaten the best fighter in Women’s MMA history has developed a striking game that saw her two most recent fights end by brutal stoppage. It is scary how much she is evolving from an outstanding Judoka to dominant champion.
When Cat Zingano beat Miesha Tate to secure a title shot it appeared that she had the world at her feet. Personal tragedy and injury shattered that perception and put life into focus as well as benching her for a year, Returning with a TKO over Amanda Nunes ensured that she retained her number one contender slot, reminding the fans and promoters alike that ‘Alpha’ is here to stay.
An unbeaten record is a glorious thing to create and when two records collide there can only be one loser. With quick hands and a solid ground game Zingano represents the biggest challenge that Rousey has encountered. But Rousey is a tour de force and has so far looked unstoppable in her career. With all bar one win coming in the very first round her time in the octagon is limited but her ability is endless. So few challenges remain for the champion and while she may end up losing one day, this isn’t it. Her new striking game should be enough to finish Zingano for the very first time, probably in the second round.
Recommendation: Rousey by KO/TKO +340 (7/2) @ 5Dimes