As the most frenetic week in MMA comes to an end the sports premier promotion makes its debut in Glasgow, Scotland.
Packed with British and Irish talent the UK cards always feature a plethora of local fighters, if a little low on name value. It almost, and I say almost, always brings a fantastic night of fights. Let’s take a look at the odds provided by 5Dimes for the main card.
Ray v Mafra:
Former Cage Warriors Lightweight champion, Stevie Ray made the jump to the UFC when CWFC went on hiatus, doing so in a seamless manner with a second round stoppage over Marcin Bandel in Poland. Ray has been one of the more active fighters and, at just 25 years old, has managed to rack up 25 professional fights in five years. The proud Scotsman was never going to be missing from this card.
Leonardo Mafra is in his second spell with the UFC and this year racked up his first in in the promotion. Originally appearing on TUF Brazil he was cut after a debut loss to Thiago Perpetuo, only to go on a minor tear in the regionals and get called up again. His second debut was a baptism of fire in facing Rick Story where he fared no better. He now has an official win and makes the long trip from Sao Paulo to Glasgow.
Both fighters are equally matched and I don’t really want to pick Ray on the basis that he is fighting in Scotland, besides the odds are poor. Instead I’ll be taking some of the ‘unders’ and banking that this finishes inside 2.5 rounds.
Recommendation: Under 2.5 Rounds -1 unit at +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes
Edwards v Pawlak:
If his debut was lacklustre then his follow up was electrifying as Leon Edwards justified faith placed in him with a stunning eight second knockout of veteran Seth Baczynski in Poland. Edwards has long been known as a power puncher and lived up to his nickname of ‘Rocky’ in true style.
Pawel Pawlak earned himself a longer stay in the UFC with a fine win over Sheldon Westcott in Poland. This was his first appearance since losing to a returning Peter Sobotta the previous year in Berlin, Germany. Sobotta took that with ease, handing Pawlak his first career defeat.
I’d be giving the edge to Edwards hear based on his last performance and the fact that he is sticking within the British Isles, the ‘home’ support should be sufficient to see him through. Another matchup where the odds are poor and as a result I’ll be looking for an early finish to end the fight.
Recommendation: Under 2.5 Rounds -1 unit at –105 (19/20) @ 5Dimes
Calderwood v Casey-Sanchez:
Two fights ago things were so different for Jo Calderwood. An impressive turn in the TUF house put her in the frame for a title shot, backed up with a dominant performance against Seo Hee Ham. Against Maryna Moroz in Poland she was seemingly on the verge of a title shot, particularly with a visit to Glasgow confirmed. A loss and the landscape changed, hopefully not forever.
With Bec Rawlings late withdrawal an opportunity is granted to promotional newcomer Cortney Casey-Sanchez. Casey-Sanchez is a relative unknown in WMMA as she turned professional only two years and five fights ago; on paper she should be no match for Calderwood, but the same was said of Moroz.
Whilst looking broken on her way to the Octagon in Poland she seemed a different fighter to the one we had previously seen and it was telling in her performance. She clearly underestimated Moroz on the ground and as Casey-Sanchez is no slouch off her back she should be on high alert. I really cannot imagine the UFC booking Calderwood to lose in Glasgow and a cheeky bet on her to win inside the distance awaits.
Recommendation: Jo Calderwood Wins Inside the Distance -1 unit at +125 (5/4) @ 5Dimes
Duffy v Jorge:
With the impact made by countryman Conor McGregor it was only a matter of time before the UFC went looking for the Irish raider and last man to defeat McGregor. When the call came Duffy was ready and waiting using his debut against Jake Lindsey to showcase a striking game that could be amongst the best in the division.
Ivan Jorge is a long time veteran of the MMA scene and certainly someone that the matchmakers will utilise to further the career of a rising prospect. In his three UFC fights to date he has proven his durability by going the distance in each, losing one and winning two of these.
It is near impossible to get any sort of reasonable bet on Duffy to win this fight. He is -800 on the Outright and -240 to win inside the distance. There is a small value play that relies on Jorge to keep a tight defence and that is the fight to last more than 1.5 rounds. Given Jorge’s history it feels probable, but given Duffys punching power it may just be possible.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds -1 unit at +110 (11/10) @ 5Dimes
Pearson v Dunham:
There are very few things in life that are constant; Death, Taxes, Mayweather by Decision and Ross Pearson fighting in the UK. Once Glasgow was announced it was a formality that the Sunderland born fighter would be present, the only question was who he would be facing. Pearson looked to be on a roll last time he fought on these shores after beating George Sotiropoulos and Ryan Couture, instead fighting to a No Contest with Melvin Guillard. A robbery followed against Diego Sanchez and it’s really only been Al Iaquinta who has performed against him since returning to Lightweight.
Evan Dunham is always fun to watch but he has struggled over the last few years with dos Anjos, Cerrone and Barboza all getting the better of him in dominant fashion. One of those is now the champion, one is the next challenger and the other can kick a redwood to a stump so there is no shame here. The facts speak for themselves and he stands at 4-6 from his last 10, it isn’t top ten material and he does appear to have been positioned as that of a gatekeeper.
This has Fight of the Night honours written all over it as these are two fighters who will just throw down and leave it all in the octagon. I am taking Ross Pearson though as he was desperately unlucky not to be awarded the win in Manchester, instead an illegal knee caused a No Contest rather than DQ.
Recommendation: Ross Pearson Wins Inside the Distance -1 unit at +150 (6/4) @ 5Dimes
Bisping v Leites:
It has been a long time since Michael Bisping fought in his home country; in fact it was UFC 120. He has been booked and rumoured since but injuries have taken their toll on the proud Brit and it never came to pass. At 36 years of age it is looking like father time is starting to catch up and, while he was impressive against CB Dollaway, he was wretched against Luke Rockhold, the same applying to Cung Le and Tim Kennedy. He has long campaigned for a title shot but with each passing fight it looks less and less likely. Even if it were given, with the current crop of realistic challengers it would be a clear mismatch. But damn, we Brits love watching him and he will bring a spectacle to town.
Since his return to the UFC in 2013 Thales Leites has looked a completely different fighter to the one who was let go six years ago. That version of Leites was dominated by Anderson Silva and beaten by Alessio Sakara. In 12 fights since he has lost just one. This version of Leites has also learned how to finish, stopping Trevor Smith, Francis Carmont and Tim Boetsch inside of two round. At 33 he isn’t too old to make another run and Bisping is a marquee name that could place him just outside of Jacare, Rockhold and Romero.
I am going to be unpopular here and go for Leites to take the win. I have no reasoning other than history. Bisping has failed to register back to back wins in over three years and is caught in this horrible loop of win and losses that go back nine fights. The cycle says that he loses this fight; who am I to argue?
Recommendation: Thales Leites -1 unit at -105 (19/20) @ 5Dimes
A parlay on this card is tough but I’ll give it a go. To open I’ll take Daniel Omielanczuk at -150 (4/6), Ilir Latifi at -240 (2/5) and Patrick Holohan at -185 (8/15) to round it all off. This pays +255 (5/2) for a single unit.