It’s Melbourne, Australia and the Etihad Stadium houses the biggest attended UFC event of 2015. The recently regulated territory is stacked top to bottom with marquee names for a landmark event.
Two titles and three undefeated records are on the line and the expectation is palpable. 5Dimes will be providing you with the odds and I’ll give you the winners. If you followed me last week for UFC Fight Night then you’ll already know that I gave you all three winning tips – read all about it right here!
Struve v Rosholt:
The opening bout of the main card is also one of the hardest to call. Stefan Struve has seen his stock diminish in the last few years as a heart condition nearly ended his fighting career; this was bookended by losses to Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem, both by knockout with the former causing a severely broken jaw. A win over Big Nog has been the sole highlight since 2012 although at only 27 time is more than on his side as he looks to string a couple of wins together.
Jared Rosholt is one of those big lumbering fighters who looks like he belongs in a bar over the octagon. Fighting out of Arlington, Texas this wrestler will be taking on his biggest (literally) challenge to date and one that is a huge step up in class. After falling short against Alexey Oleinik a year ago it remains to be seen whether this is his level or not.
The size difference is huge and it gives Struve all the advantages he needs. He’ll have the reach advantage, the knowledge that Rosholt will struggle to pull down his head into the clinch and a vastly underrated submission game to fall back on. Rosholt has a punch that isn’t as heavy as you’d think but a solid wrestling game that he will almost certainly look to deploy at the first opportunity. The key Is Struve’s chin; if Rosholt can get close enough to connect it could all be over, but if he can’t land flush then Struve should take the cheese. Either way I think it’ll drag on late into the second or third so will be taking the ‘Overs’ here.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 rounds – 2 units at -170 (3/5) @ 5Dimes
Hall v Whittaker:
Uriah Hall pulled off the biggest win, and biggest upset of his fledgling career when scoring with a head kick knockout over Gegard Mousasi who was ranked one of the best in the world at 185lbs. Much has been written about the TUF finalist; he doesn’t have the killer instinct to succeed, he falls short when it matters and he can’t stand with the best in the division. Actually, perhaps he can, he’s doing ok so far. Here he steps in for an injured Michael Bisping in a sleeper for Fight of the Night.
Fellow TUF competitor, and winner of ‘The Smashes’ series pitting England v Australia, Robert Whittaker has encountered a similar start to his UFC career as two early losses put him into pink slip territory. Thankfully he has emerged a better fighter for it, putting together a three fight streak that included a very impressive win over durable Brad Tavares. That remains the marquee name on his record and he will be very keen to add the profile of Hall.
This is one of those fights that is extremely difficult to call as both fighters possess knockout power, yet both are extremely durable; Whittaker has been finished twice in his career and Hall has yet to be stopped. If it goes the distance it is a near certainty for Fight of the Night honours and in the absence of any available odds on that outcome I’ll be taking the bet on this seeing the judges’ scorecards. After that I have no idea where it goes.
Recommendation: Whittaker / Hall goes 3 round distance – 2 units at +100 (1/1) @ 5Dimes
Hunt v Silva:
Mark Hunt returns to his adopted homeland and the country where he had one of his most famous performances. Just two years ago Hunt fought Bigfoot Silva to a five round draw in a legitimate Fight of the Year contender that had the crowd on its feet begging for a title shot for the big man. In three fights since then only a win over Roy Nelson has gone his way as an Interim title shot against Fabricio Werdum and follow up against Stipe Miocic saw him knocked out; the fight against Miocic being particularly brutal to watch.
Since that fight Bigfoot Silva has experienced arguably two of the worst years of his MMA career. Firstly testing positive for banned substances immediately following the fight topped off with successive first round knockout losses to Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir, respectively. A win over the recently retired Soa Palelei being the only positive to be taken during that spell.
Hunt has continued to defy father time and, at 41 surely has his best years behind him. However this man hits hard and that gives him more than a punchers chance. Bigfoot on the other hand is the very definition of a fighter who looks extremely different off TRT than he does on it; his body has aged, his muscle mass has diminished and he has suffered in performance as a result. I can see the situation whereby Hunt connects in the first round and it’s over, very quickly. It certainly won’t be the classic of last time.
Recommendation: Hunt wins in round 1 – 2 units at +120 (6/5) @ 5Dimes
Jedrzejczyk v Letournau:
Propping up Ronda Rousey on the main card is the latest female rising star and current Straw-weight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Known to her legions of fans as Joanna Champion she has eviscerated her last two opponents in devastating style to win and then retain her belt. She remains unbeaten but can thank her lucky stars for a highly controversial decision over future challenger Claudia Gadelha for keeping that record intact. A kickboxer by trade Joanna has honed her striking to emphasise power, speed and pinpoint accuracy and she’s probably the best female in MMA at it.
Valerie Letournau earned her title shot with a laboured, if not decisive; win over the conqueror of Jo Calderwood, Maryna Moroz. With an injury to Claudia Gadelha putting her on the shelf until next year Letournau was the next ranked fighter who was fit enough to take the shot and she’ll need to be at her very best to stand even a punchers chance against Joanna.
Joanna is one of those fighters who just seems to improve with every passing fight. If her title win over Carla Esparza was impressive then the way she tore through Jessica Penne was out of this world and she beat both girls to the point where it became uncomfortable to watch. I don’t see any way that Jedrzejczyk loses, or is taken the distance. I’m only hedging my bets on the off chance she pulls out only the second submission win of her career.
Recommendation: Jedrzejczyk wins inside distance – 3 units at -310 (1/3) @ 5Dimes
Rousey v Holm:
Presently the biggest star on the UFC roster and their top PPV draw is Ronda Rousey. The unbeaten women’s champion has dominated her way to 12 straight wins with only one getting out of the first round. Statistically it will be one of the biggest betting shocks in the company history if she were to lose this.
Former Boxing champion Holly Holm has long been hailed as the most legitimate challenger to Rousey’s crown. Carrying her own unbeaten record through MMA into the UFC she laboured against Raquel Pennington yet was convincing over Marion Reneau. She will have to be around 100 times sharper and at the peak of her career to take a win here. No, really she does.
Holm is overmatched in almost every category here. Her striking isn’t better than Ronda’s and the remainder of her game is far inferior. Rousey is smart, she won’t look for the KO like she has recently and will more than likely revert to old faithful, her indomitable arm bar for the victory. Holm may last more than a round, if given respect but it’s not likely.
Recommendation: Rousey wins by submission – 2 units at -195 (1/2) @ 5Dimes