The UFC heads back to Chicago, Illinois this weekend for an eagerly awaited rematch for the 135lb belt.
A four fight main card is smaller than we are used to in recent weeks but it is not short on name value and entertainment. Let’s take a look at the odds provided by 5Dimes to see what really stands out.
Lauzon v Gomi:
Joe Lauzon remains one of the most entertaining fighters to watch in the UFC, particularly at 155lbs, irrespective of winning or losing. Although he has never quite gotten to the level where he has fought for a belt, his 13 post-fight awards ensure that he remains a fan favourite and can draw a crowd. At 31 he may never fight for a belt but that’s ok, for as long as he remains competitive and active I’ll be happy to pay to watch him fight.
Takanori Gomi is one of the few fighters that fought in Pride and is still active at high level combat sports. While it is positive to see a veteran still active in MMA it is a bad thing for Gomi as Pride veterans haven’t fared too well in recent years. With a record of 4-5 in the UFC it is clear his best days are behind him, with small successes coming against lower tier fighters while the upper tier has beaten him comfortably.
I really only see one outcome to this fight and it isn’t good news for Gomi. Lauzon has the tools to knock out or outpoint him; however his submissions are where he earns his corn. Lauzon has submitted 18 of his 24 opponents, collecting bonus cheque after bonus cheque along the way. He should have the advantage in all areas and should be taken to make the Japanese veteran tap at will.
Recommendation: Joe Lauzon Wins by Submission -1 unit at +120 (6/5) @ 5Dimes
Barboza v Felder:
With a loss in his last fight proving to be a huge setback in his surge up the rankings, Edson Barboza must effectively go back to basics if he is ever to fulfil his destiny of challenging for the Lightweight belt. A solid unbeaten run saw his name discussed as future stars but losses to Jamie Varner, Donald Cerrone and Michael Johnson have all set him back a year or two.
A veteran of the Cage Fury Fighting Championship scene, Paul Felder announced himself to UFC fans across the globe with a stunning spinning backfist knockout over Danny Castillo. Impressively, Felder took the fight at late notice and finished the notoriously durable Castillo in the second round. He possesses an undefeated record that he puts on the line against a very dangerous opponent.
The paths to victory in this fight are pretty clear; if Felder stands in front of Barboza then he will be kicked to a stump. However, Barboza is extremely hittable, and if caught he doesn’t always respond too well, particularly if his opponent is able to swarm on him to capitalise. Felder has managed to finish seven of his ten opponents in style, and could easily lay hands on the Brazilian and if he does then Barboza could easily be finished. I am a big Barboza fan and genuinely believe that one day he will reach the top, every good run starts with an impressive victory and I fancy him to do it here.
Recommendation: Edson Barboza -2 units at –145 (7/10) @ 5Dimes
Tate v Eye:
Miesha Tate makes her return to the octagon looking to build on successive wins for the first time in four years. Three in a row, all by decision, have put her on the verge of another crack at Ronda Rousey. Having already lost two to the current Women’s champion the demand will be minimal to see her get a third but in a relatively shallow division four consecutive wins may just be enough to make it happen.
Standing opposite her on Saturday evening will be Jessica ‘Evil’ Eye. Eye has experienced a full range of mixed emotions since signing with the UFC as her three appearances have resulted in a win, a loss and a No Contest due to a failed post-fight test. Her last fight against Leslie Smith will be remembered for all the wrong reasons as Smith’s ear literally exploded in the octagon forcing a Dr’s stoppage. No publicity is bad publicity and it has certainly helped to advance her reputation.
On experience and ability alone the advantage goes to Tate. Sure, she has her losses but the former Strikeforce Women’s champion is more rounded and durable than Eye and should be taken to squeeze out a close decision.
Recommendation: Miesha Tate Wins by 3 Round Decision -1 unit at –105 (19/20) @ 5Dimes
Dillashaw v Barao:
Opening up as a huge underdog in the original fight, TJ Dillashaw was expected to be little other than cannon fodder for then champion, Renan Barao. Barao had looked unbeatable until taking a heavy punch from the Team Alpha Males prospect in the first. It was a punch that set the tone for the fight and Dillashaw didn’t let up for over 22 minutes. It was to be the most impressive 22 minutes of his life.
A little over a year ago it was unfathomable that the nine year undefeated veteran, Renan Barao, would be mauled for almost five rounds before being finished. But that is exactly what happened and the fall from grace led to a crunching landing. Pencilled in for an immediate rematch, a poor weight cut opened the door for Joe Soto before finally settling on a warm up against Mitch Gagnon. No disrespect to Gagnon, but he isn’t the type of fighter Barao should really be facing and at the third time of booking he gets his rematch for the belt.
Huge questions are to be asked of both fighters going into this fight. For Dillashaw it will simply be whether he is the new Matt Serra or the new Frankie Edgar. For Barao it is whether he is the new GSP or the new BJ Penn. Only one can go away with the belt, while the odds are heavily on the side of the champion it shouldn’t be forgotten that Barao is younger and far more experienced than Dillashaw. It could be telling if it goes into the later rounds. Barao cannot be as bad as he was in the first fight and while I won’t be picking him to win I will expect him to make a better show as this fight goes deep into the championship rounds.
Recommendation: Over 4.5 Rounds -1 unit at +145 (6/4) @ 5Dimes
The parlay of the week has been kind of late, so I’ll look to maintain some momentum here. In some closely matched fights I’ll be taking Eddie Wineland at -165 (8/13), Zak Cummings at -290 (7/20) and Ramsey Nijem at -145 (7/10) for a +265 (13/5) treble for a single unit.