With another week of favourable results we head down under to Adelaide, Australia for the latest UFC on tour.
The last time the UFC headed to Australia they ended with a contentious draw between Mark Hint and Bigfoot Silva. On the previous visit there was a mix-up with scorecards when Demetrious Johnson fought Ian McCall – is this a case of third time lucky, or should we be looking for an erroneous draw option? Let’s take a look at the odds provided by 5Dimes to see if this is a real possibility.
Matthews v Vick:
The main card kicks off with arguably one of the most intriguing fights on the card. Australian Jake Matthews puts his unbeaten record on the line against James Vick. Matthews, a two-time UFC winner and walking submission machine participated in the TUF: Nations series, losing in the first round. His only defeat to date, but as an exhibition bout his record remains unblemished.
Also unbeaten is James Vick, himself a semi-finalist on the TUF: Live series, losing to eventual winner Michael Chiesa. Vick holds the prized scalp of Ramsey Nijem as the biggest of his three wins to date.
Given the relative inexperience of both fighters I would have expected this to be a pick ‘em, where both fighters are evenly matched. Instead we open with Matthews as a clear favourite although I am not convinced why. Comparing apples to apples, Vick has fought a better calibre of fighter, at a higher overall level and is my pick to squeak a narrow victory to start a bad night for the hometown fighters.
Recommendation: James Vick – 1 unit at +155 (31/20) @ 5Dimes
Perosh v O’Connell:
At 42 years of age Anthony Perosh is the oldest man on this card, and only behind Dan Henderson as the oldest fighter on the UFC roster. He also co-holds a record, one I am sure that he’d rather forget but he is the recipient of the joint quickest knockout in UFC history at just seven seconds to Ryan Jimmo.
Sean O’Connell makes only his fourth UFC appearance, in the process looking to improve his record from the 1-2 it presently stands at. Losses to Ryan Jimmo and Gian Villante put him on the slope and a win over Matt Van Buren delayed the inevitable cut.
It is odd that this fight makes the main card, although it’s likely to have to capitalise on Perosh, one of the few Australian fighters to have fought at the top level. But Perosh is past it, and O’Connell is unlikely to progress any further. Even with the loss of Jon Jones from the 205lb scene won’t save either of these two. My fear is that this is one fight too many for Perosh, and although he wasn’t disgraced against Ryan Bader I don’t expect to see his hand raised here.
Recommendation: Sean O’Connell – 1 unit at +135 (27/20) @ 5Dimes
Tavares v Whittaker:
Fresh from a win over Nate Marquardt in January, snapping a two fight skid in the process is Brad Tavares. Hawaiian Tavares has impressed in the UFC thus far, grinding out decisions in seven of his eight wins. Two losses, deservedly to Yoel Romero and unluckily to Tim Boetsch put a cap on what has an impressive run that could have cemented his place inside the top ten.
Fighting out of his native Australia is hometown favourite and TUF: Smashes winner, Robert Whittaker. Like his opponent, Whittaker has also recently broken a two fight losing streak and looks to maintain the progression achieved with clear wins over Clint Hester and Mike Rhodes.
Two extremely contrasting styles meet here as Tavares is the type of fighter who is happy to grind out a win, whereas Whittaker favours the earlier finish. Tavares is essentially my lock of the night and one of the few fights where I am compelled to take him by method of victory rather than just outright. He may not always win but when he does it means money.
Recommendation: Brad Tavares wins by 3 round decision – 1 units at +220 (11/5) @ 5Dimes
Miocic v Hunt:
Naturalised Kiwi, but adopted Australian, Mark Hunt returns to the UFC and Australia for his latest appearance. Stepping in at late notice to face Fabricio Werdum for the Interim Heavyweight Title in Mexico he came unstuck and was knocked out for only the third time in his MMA career. He was put in that position after dominating Roy Nelson and thrilling the world with a Fighters Only Fight of the Year candidate in the draw with Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. At the age of 41 it remains to be seen how many more opportunities at this level the Cinderella Man will get.
Stipe Miocic returns after a slightly contentious, but hard fought loss to Junior dos Santos in December. Contentious as some thought he did enough against the former champion to take a decision, hard fought after the last three rounds where the fight was won. In short, the second best Heavyweight in the World couldn’t finish him with strikes, only Stefan Struve has achieved that, and both careers have taken different trajectories since then.
Younger, faster and more agile on his feet Miocic will be very hard to hit and should be in a position to keep Hunt at bay throughout the opening rounds; where he can set up the platform for success. Although matching Bigfoot for five rounds Hunt faded towards the end of the dos Santos fight and with his age and size being a factor – he is one of few fighters that needs to cut weight at Heavyweight – you wouldn’t bet on him being too effective later on.
Recommendation: Stipe Miocic- 1 unit at -225 (4/9) @ 5Dimes
With only four on the main card a parlay will be tough to pick. However, I am going to go for a co-main and main event double, as well as an underdog double. Outright bets on Stipe Miocic (-225) and Brad Tavares (-150) for combined odds of +140 (7/5). In addition, Outright bets on James Vick (+155) and Sean O’Connell (+135) for combined odds of +500 (5/1) I’ll be putting a single unit down on each to round out the night.