If the Krakow card was difficult to get excited about then the same cannot be said about this weeks. With four fights stacked from top to toe on the main card, and an undercard that is better than some recent Fight Night main cards, there are plenty of betting opportunities to consider. Picking winners has been a little unkind recently so this week I am going to switch things up a little in terms of format and I’ll be giving myself eight units to play with.
MMA bets are normally very short priced meaning that you go to props for value. This week sees plenty of value in outrights, and I will be throwing in a cheeky parlay for good measure too; the first I have recommended since starting this column. So without any further ado, let’s look at the odds provided by 5Dimes to see what stands out.
Herrig v Van Zant:
Relative newcomer Paige Van Zant makes her second UFC appearance off the back of a solid win over Kaillin Curran in her octagon debut. For almost 13 minutes she swarmed over her counterpart, seeking the finish throughout. At just over the midway point of the final round she got it; with that a new star was born. Easy on the eye, tonnes of charisma and skills beyond her years; the UFC may have just unearthed a true marketable diamond at 115 lbs.
Ultimate Fighter contestant and long-time staple of WMMA, Felice Herrig is looking to build on her debut win over Lisa Ellis. Defeated in the reality show quarter-finals to Tecia Torres she looked to bounce back in her official debut. Despite winning by second round arm bar she was, at times, overpowered by her opponent for much of the opening round. While not her biggest challenge as of yet, she does now face the biggest fight of her career.
This is one of those fights where it has been a lot of fun to research. Like many modern fighters both Van Zant and Herrig are social media savvy, appearing on virtually every outlet daily. For good reason too, as Jo Calderwood lost her chance for a title fight meaning that a high profile win over a high profile name could catapult one of these ladies into the reckoning. Evenly matched physically, there is little to separate them. Van Zant has moved camps a few times, settling in Alpha Male recently. Those guys are on a tear and I feel that they will have ‘12 gauge’ fully prepared for this.
Recommendation: Paige Van Zant – 1 unit at -140 (7/10) @ 5Dimes
Swanson v Holloway:
Cub Swanson makes his first appearance since a late loss to Frankie Edgar in November. That loss, arguably the latest stoppage that will ever be seen in the octagon, put the skids on a six fight winning run that included knockouts over Ross Pearson, Charles Oliveira and Dennis Siver. With Jose Aldo taking out the top five in his division comfortably it was anticipated that a win over Edgar would see Swanson given another shot. His first ended inside 10 seconds by flying knee and he is desperate to redeem himself.
With a five fight winning streak of his own to protect Max Holloway looks to cement his advancing reputation with a win over truly world class opposition. So far when facing next level opposition he has come up short, losing a contentious split decision to Dennis Bermudez, was submitted by Dustin Poirier and dominated by Conor McGregor who fought two rounds with a torn ACL. If he is to crack the top five then now is the time to win big.
Holloway is durable and very difficult to finish, combined with his punching power and high level cardio he will be prepared to engage in a three round war. His best way to beat Swanson is by submission (of which he has very few) or to outwork him over 15 minutes. Swanson is rarely outworked, has virtually gone five rounds in each of his last two fights and has far more experience at this level. Swanson to win by decision, although a stoppage is not unlikely in a real contender for Fight of the Night.
Recommendation: Cub Swanson – 2 units at -150 (4/6) @ 5Dimes
Jacare v Camozzi:
Once again the injury curse has robbed of us of a highly anticipated match up. With the withdrawal of original opponent, Yoel Romero, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza has gone from a potential number one contenders fight to just having a fight. Without a loss in four years, and on the business end of a seven fight streak the Brazilian submission machine will need to keep his focus on a far inferior opponent, one that just doesn’t match up to the one he trained for.
Less than nine months after being cut by the UFC, going on a four fight skid along the way, Chris Camozzi is back. It may only be for one fight and perhaps a good performance will see him given a winnable fight to prolong his career. That skid was started by the main he has returned to face this weekend and he put up little offence last time, it remains to be seen what he can do with the benefit of hindsight.
This has the makings of an exhibition fight, something to keep the fans amused but it is no longer a co-main event. Jacare ploughed through Camozzi first time out and the chances of a different outcome are remote. He opens up as the bookmakers favourite at odds of -1500 (1/15) making him virtually unbackable. The biggest value is under 1.5 rounds at -200, it’s horrible for betting but there you go.
Recommendation: 3 units at Under 1.5 Rounds -200 (1/2) @ 5Dimes
Machida v Rockhold:
I have written before about what a special fighter Lyoto Machida is, and how much of an honour it is to watch him perform in MMA. In a rarity for this sport he has spent the majority of his career in the UFC debuting at UFC 67 in 2007. Decorated at Light Heavy and reinvigorated at Middleweight his is a legacy that has been tarnished with some cheap losses, Rampage and Phil Davis come to mind, but to be in contention at 36 is testament to his ability. He may never be champion again but he’ll never stop trying.
Former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold has won his last three fights inside the distance, stopping some highly durable opponents along the way. When Strikeforce folded he lost his belt, and his initiation to the UFC was one borne of fire as he was thrown in against a resurgent Vitor Belfort. With a single head kick Belfort secured a title shot and handed Rockhold his first career loss in six years. Rockhold, at 30 years old, has plenty of time ahead of him but is desperate to fight for a belt that he never technically lost.
Until submitting Tim Boetsch and Michael Bisping in back to back fights, many viewers completely underrated the submission game of Rockhold, despite him winning five in a row in Strikeforce by that method. His forte is finishing opponents, as is demonstrated by a single fight going the distance in 15 attempts. Machida is comfortable anywhere. You want a stoppage, he’ll give you a stoppage, you want a three or five rounder, he’ll happily oblige in that too. Many times he has been written off and many times he has come back. Rockhold feels like the hungrier fighter to me, and one that is more likely to test Chris Weidman than Machida. For that reason I am backing the Californian, but I won’t be disappointed to see Machida get another crack.
Recommendation: Luke Rockhold – 1 unit at -160 (5/8) @ 5Dimes
I said that I would also be adding in a cheeky little parlay for you, well here it is. Combine Van Zant, Swanson and Rockhold and that adds up to combined odds of +354 (7/2). I’ll be putting a single unit down here.