With changes aplenty on this week’s card the UFC returns to Florida for a nine fight event.

In a strange turn of events the US Visa system was down and prevented the majority of booked overseas fighters obtaining a work permit to fight. Consequently opponents were moved, fights changed events and the planned TUF Finale has been pushed back. Either way, there are some excellent betting opportunities still available so let’s check out the odds provided by 5Dimes to see if you agree.

Santos v Bosse:

It has been a whirlwind few months for Steve Bosse. Plucked from relative obscurity to face Fabio Maldonado after the legal troubles with Rampage Jackson, only for that fight to go ahead and be dropped again, all in the space of a fortnight. Still, that type of commitment goes a long way with the UFC and it was no surprise to see him booked again, albeit in a far lower profile fight. The main issue is that he hasn’t fought for two years, another two years prior to that and only 11 times in a career that now spans eight years. In those 11 fights he does hold notable wins over UFC veterans Marvin Eastman, Houston Alexander and Wes Sims.

Thiago Santos has really struggled to get any form of run together since experiencing his first defeat back in April 2012. Since then he has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, four of which have come in the UFC. He possesses an explosive striking game that saw him easily despatch Ronny Markes and Andy Enz inside the first round.

For Bosse it could be argued that this opportunity has come a little late in life and a little too early in his MMA career, he cannot reasonably be expected to be anything more than a passing sideshow. It is also difficult to have confidence in Santos, a man who has failed to win back to back fights in the last three years. In a fight short on quality and high on finishing potential I see it ending relatively quickly.

Recommendation: Under 1.5 Rounds – 1 unit at +120 (6/5) @ 5Dimes

Ponzinibbio v Larkin:

A contestant on the TUF Brazil second season, Santiago Ponzinibbio should have been a finalist in the tournament but a broken hand in the semi-finals put paid to that and cost him the chance to enter into MMA folklore. He was matched against a relative unknown in Ryan LaFlare for his formal debut, one that he decisively lost on points. Still, he showed enough promise in the TUF house to get another shot at the big time and this time he didn’t disappoint; firstly knocking out Wendell Marques and then taking a decision from Sean Strickland.

It is hard not to look at Lorenz Larkin and ask the question “where did it all go wrong?” Just three years ago he was taking a decision win over Robbie Lawler, the same Robbie Lawler who is now UFC Welterweight Champion. Since then losses to Francis Carmont, Brad Tavares, Costa Philippou and Derek Brunson have left this one-promising fighter teetering on the brink of obscurity. He has managed to regain a little credibility with a solid win over John Howard but nothing to set the world alight.

The outcome of this fight hinges on which version of Larkin shows up. We already know that Ponzinibbio will come in and throw down, looking to capitalise on his strong striking and jiu-jitsu game. I just can’t see Larkin taking the win here; I should be able to see it as clear as day, but this is a fighter who just looks shot to pieces and devoid of any confidence. For that reason, I am taking the ‘Gente Boa’.

Recommendation: Santiago Ponzinibbio – 1 unit at +185 (15/8) @ 5Dimes

Machida v Romero:

Lyoto Machida makes his quickest ever return to the octagon following his one-sided loss to Luke Rockhold in April. On reflection it wasn’t the loss that bothered me, Machida has lost before and he will lose again, but the manner of the loss will remain with me for a long time. He wasn’t just beaten; he was beaten down, utterly dominated by the new number one contender. Machida looked old, slow and moved with the body language of a man who has taken one too many fights. And that is why it is such a surprise to see him back this quickly.

The self-styled ‘Soldier of God’ Yoel Romero makes his return from an injury that shelved his bout with Jacare Souza. A latecomer to MMA, but possessing wrestling of an Olympic standard he courted controversy against Tim Kennedy due to an excessive mid-round corner session, one that Kennedy claimed gave him a second wind and turned the tide in his favour. He has been little short of dominant in his career to date, a single loss coming to Rafael Cavalcante in the last days of Strikeforce, and took home a performance bonus with a superb flying knee knockout in his UFC debut. He is older than his opponent, but bears few of the battle scars.

I think this is a cracking matchup and one that is Romero’s to lose. Although Machida deploys a predominantly Karate style he is like an eel on the ground, almost impossible to pin down and keep two hands on. Rockhold solved that puzzle, and Phil Davis contentiously did the same and it would be hard to see Romero not having any success in this area. At the odds available a two unit play on Romero to win outright would be too rude to pass on.

Recommendation: Yoel Romero – 2 units at +160 (8/5) @ 5Dimes

For this week’s parlay bet I am taking Leandro Silva at -150 (4/6), Antonio Carlos JR at -190 (8/15) and Hacran Dias at -185 (8/15) for a +290 (29/10) treble for 1 unit.

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