Switching betting tactics paid off last week with three winners on the card. As that worked I’ll be sticking with this for a while to see how things go.

With some stellar cards in the future it’s a shame that UFC 186 has turned into a huge anti-climax. Numerous card changes, including this week alone has left a card in need of a pick me up, hopefully our bets will provide that. Let’s take a look at the odds provided by 5Dimes to see what stands out.

Jabouin v Almeida:

Canadian stalwart, Yves Jabouin makes his first appearance in almost a year. That fight, a clear decision over Mike Easton maintained a win-loss record that stretches back to 2012. Versatile and durable this veteran has a career that stretches back almost 14 years but the well is surely starting to run dry.

Opening up as a huge favourite is Brazilian prospect Thomas ‘Thominhas’ Almeida. Seventeen fights unbeaten, including one in the UFC over Tim Gorman, sees this Chute Box standout given a more recognisable opponent.

Although Jabouin is the more recognisable fighter to most, the hype surrounding Almeida suggests that it won’t be that way for too long. Thirteen wins by knock out, three by decision and just his last fight going to the judges makes this a relatively easy pick. Jabouin has been finished in his last three defeats and Almeida inside the distance is a huge price even at odds on.

Recommendation: Thomas Almeida wins inside the distance – 2 units at -140 (7/10) @ 5Dimes

Makdessi v Campbell:

MMA journeyman Shane Campbell makes his UFC debut appearance this weekend in a fight that marks his 12th separate promotion in just 14 fights. With each fight he has moved up in levels going from the Canadian MFC, through the WSoF and finally to the top table of MMA. His kickboxing style has seen him take his last three by TKO.

Standing in his way is long-time UFC veteran John Makdessi. Although he experienced a loss to Alan Alves at UFC 169 prior to that he had been building his career with wins over Renee Forte and, more impressively, Sam Stout and Daron Cruickshank. On a relatively poor card he gets the opportunity to face a fellow Canadian back in Montreal, Quebec.

The worry here is Makdessi’s inactivity over the past 12-18 months combined with a relative unknown in Campbell. Too many times of late we have seen an unknown step in and upset the favourite. On paper Makdessi should have far too much for Campbell, but dumb things can happen in MMA and this may just be the event to bring out the best in Campbell. Call me crazy, but I’ll be taking a flier on the newcomer.

Recommendation: Shane Campbell – 1 unit at +155 (8/5) @ 5Dimes

Bisping v Dollaway:

Michael Bisping makes his octagon return after a devastating loss to Luke Rockhold. That loss probably put paid to any title shot the Englishman is ever likely to receive and firmly establishes him as the true gatekeeper of the 185lb division. At 35 his skills won’t get any better but he remains a solid test for anyone looking to embark on a title run.

Also coming off a loss is CB Dollaway. Just one year since his career defining victory over Cezar ‘Mutante’ Ferreira and he has failed to fully capitalise on what that victory meant. Sure, he beat Francis Carmont in a snoozer but came up short when facing elite level Lyoto Machida.

An ageing Michael Bisping has struggled in the last few years to put any sort of run together, alternating wins and losses in his last eight. Dollaway has run hot and cold but to a lesser extent, the loss to Machida was expected but he probably shouldn’t have dropped to Tim Boetsch. His career builder was the knockout over Ferreira, which was as unexpected as it was violent, it may turn out to be a single bright spark. One thing Bisping has never done is dropped two straight, he is far too good for that and I will be taking him to maintain his record into 2015.

Recommendation: Michael Bisping – 1 unit at -145 (7/10) @ 5Dimes

Jackson v Maldonado:         

He’s baaaaack! The former Pride and UFC champion, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson returns to the octagon after an acrimonious split sent him packing to Bellator. Another acrimonious split, this time with Bellator, has seen him return to the UFC via the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Supreme Court. His on again, off again return has seen more shuffles to the card than on a poker table, and replacement Steve Bosse finally being pushed off the card. At 37 his time must surely be coming to an end and this may be his final run in MMA.

If we didn’t know what was happening with Rampage/Bosse then imagine how Fabio Maldonado felt. Maldonado was pencilled in as the first opponent for Rampage only to have the fight swapped around and potentially put on hiatus. As of now, though, it’s on and the Brazilian known as the ‘Iron Hillbilly’ gets to face a true MMA legend.

In Bellator, Rampage managed to completely reverse the form that saw him exit the UFC. Three losses turned into three wins, albeit against inferior opposition, the most impressive being his final appearance when he outpointed Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal. If THAT version of Rampage shows up then he should have enough to outsmart Maldonado. However, if he comes out swinging and looking to trade then Maldonado may just surprise everyone. Technically limited but with an iron chin, this fighter is durable and can take significant punishment. If Rampage can pick him off with strikes and then take this to the mat he should have more than enough for his opponent.

Recommendation: Quinton Jackson wins inside the distance- 1 unit at +157 (8/5) @ 5Dimes

Johnson v Horiguchi:           

Ranked third in the Pound-for-Pound top 15, the smallest fighter on the UFC roster has been making some serious waves since dropping to 115lbs. Demetrious Johnson found himself occasionally outgunned at Bantamweight but has been unstoppable at Flyweight. With this fight, his sixth defence of his belt, he will have undeniably cleaned out all legitimate challengers. It is hard to make a case for him moving back up in weight, but then you don’t need to. When you are this dominant you just need to sit back and wait for the field to catch up.

Japanese sensation Kyoji Horiguchi has managed to secure a title shot despite only four previous UFC appearances. This is in part due to a lack of competition but also as the UFC wants to ramp up the brand in Japan, there is no better way to achieve this than with a Japanese champion. With just a single defeat to his name he puts a nine fight streak on the line in the ultimate gamble.

Johnson developed a reputation for grinding out results over the years, justified with seven consecutive fights that went the distance, one of those a loss to Dominick Cruz. Since then he has finished three of his last four opponents, twice by submission and once by knockout. Horiguchi is exactly the opposite; a reputation was forged in Japan as an explosive finisher but he has found that the higher the level, the less likely he is to gain a stoppage. Johnson is the runaway favourite and for good reason; he is the champion, he has never been in trouble and he is impossible to hit! He is well versed in five round fights and should have enough to see this out, most likely inside the distance.

Recommendation: Johnson wins inside distance – 2 units at +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes

As for parlay betting this week, we narrowly missed last week but I’ll still be going again. Parlay outright bets on Demetrious Johnson (-1000) with Thomas Almeida (-450) and Quinton Jackson (-300) for combined odds of -125 (4/5). I’ll be putting a single unit down here to round out the night.