It’s that time once again, where the UFC makes its annual pilgrimage to Japan. Headlining the show are two of the biggest men, size rather than stature that the Heavyweight division has to offer.
Not one of the stronger events, not by a longshot, but one where the veterans should be in a position to dominate. This event is nothing more than a warmup to UFC 192 and I’ll be saving most of my units for that one. The odds are provided by 5Dimes; let’s see whether we can pick up a few extra pennies.
Horiguchi v Camus:
Kyoji Horiguchi makes his second UFC appearance in his home country and his first since experiencing defeat to Demetrious Johnson in a title fight. Due to Johnsons prowess the title shot came a lot earlier for the prospect than anyone would really have liked, although it is unlikely to be his last. In that fight he established a UFC record, one that is unlikely to ever be broken, as he was forced to tap out with just one second on the clock in the fifth round. He wasn’t disgraced but he was clearly in with a man who has more experienced and is just fighting at a higher level than almost the entire roster, irrespective of the weight class.
Chico Camus is the man who gave Olympic Champion Henry Cejudo the biggest scare of his fledging career in June. Cejudo, likely to be granted the next title shot at 125lbs, was expected to dominate Camus in their bout, Camus had other ideas. While he lost by unanimous decision it was a lot closer than Cejudo, and the UFC for that matter, would have liked it to be.
So the UFC now has a job on their hands to rebuild Horiguchi as a viable contender and what better place to do it than his home country? The Japanese buzz-saw should be one of the main attractions on a card depleted in name value and he faces a man who will help to bring out the best in him. It’s a tough ask for Horiguchi to stop his opponent but home crowd advantage makes the odds, and opportunity to put on a show, too big to pass up.
Recommendation: Horiguchi wins inside distance -1 unit at +225 (9/4) @ 5Dimes
Mousasi v Hall:
Decorated veteran Gegard Mousasi hasn’t had the best of luck since joining the UFC. Injuries have left him on the shelf while the likes of Rockhold and Souza have made serious inroads towards a title shot. Throw in under-par defeats to the aforementioned Souza and perennial contender Lyoto Machida and he finds himself on the outs in a very tough division.
Stepping into the lion’s den as a late replacement is TUF finalist Uriah Hall. Once thought of as the most feared competitor on the reality show he has flattered to deceive at the highest level. Losing the finale halted the momentum and fear factor surrounding the American and he has been called out on more than one occasion for lacking the mental fortitude to win at this level.
It is very difficult to see beyond Mousasi in this one. Hall, for all his posturing and flashy kicks, isn’t at this level and could be badly exposed by his vastly more experienced opponent. Mousasi has fought at Pride, Dream, K1 and Strikeforce, winning championships along the way. Hall had no shame entering The Ultimate Fighter, with losses to Philippou and Weidman in his early years, but has been found out when the going gets tough. Mousasi may not put him away, only Weidman holds that honour, but he should be too much for him.
Recommendation: Mousasi wins by 3 round decision – 1 units at +110 (11/10) @ 5Dimes
Barnett v Nelson:
Josh Barnett fights for the first time in almost a year this weekend. He hasn’t been seen since eating the elbows of Travis Browne in December 2013. At 37 years old time isn’t on his side and such a long layoff could have a huge impact on the Pride veteran, particularly his overall conditioning, as well as his heart and desire to fight.
Roy Nelson has been a little more active than his opponent but it hasn’t really done him any favours. With a single win in his last five outings he is in dire need of a win this weekend and will know that a loss could see the end of his career at the top level.
It’s a fight that is very difficult to get excited about if I am honest. Barnett can be expected to be ring rusty due to inactivity and he is facing a man who has entered his 40th year with an ever declining cardio. I would expect Barnett to bring the smarter game plan and look to take this into the later rounds given how hard it has proven to put Big Country away and his ability to burn what little cardio he possesses in the opening five minutes. Nelson on the other hand will look to try and land a solid punch early to catch Barnett cold and take the early victory. If he doesn’t get the early win then he will labour for the rest of the fight and is there for the taking. I’m taking Barnett to take the win inside the distance as there is no way this goes five rounds.
Recommendation: Barnett wins inside distance -1 unit at -120 (5/6) @ 5Dimes
We have been doing pretty well on Parlays of late so this week’s is as follows. I’m taking Nick Hein at -270 (1/3), Li Jingliang at -255 (2/5) and Diego Brandao at -240 (2/5) for collective odds of +170 (17/10) for a single unit.