The UFC returns to Mexico for the second time in 2015, this time debuting in Monterrey.
With a late replacement in the Main Event we have lost a banger and replaced it with a technical Jits-fest. 5Dimes will be providing you with the odds and I’ll be reviewing the main action.
Formiga v Cejudo:
Jussier Formiga has had a rough introduction to his time in the UFC with his opening three bouts against the three of the five most recent challengers to Demetrious Johnson’s belt in Dodson, Cariaso and Benavidez. While overcoming Cariaso he fell short to Dodson and Benavidez, both by stoppage but after stringing together three in a row a win over a decorated Olympian may be all that he needs for that final push.
Olympic champion Henry Cejudo is 3-0 in the UFC and 9-0 throughout his career. After overcoming some weight cutting issues that threatened his very participation at 125lbs he has smothered three extremely tough opponents for a complete shutout on points. He hasn’t lost a round and, whisper it quietly, but this could be the gig that lands him a title shot; it just won’t be in Las Vegas.
Cejudo opens up a -500 favourite and this is of little surprise. He hasn’t put a foot wrong in his career and he is a legitimate challenger for the title. There is a small chance that the fight can end early in a finish but that isn’t Cejudo’s style and, while I cannot write off Formiga, I fully expect the Olympian to smother him for three rounds for a very lopsided decision.
Recommendation: Cejudo wins by 3 round decision – 2 units at -163 (8/13) @ 5Dimes
Lamas v Sanchez:
Ricardo Lamas has been a mainstay of the Featherweight division for a number of years now. Given his shot at Jose Aldo a year ago he fell to a one-sided defeat that ended a run of four consecutive wins. Rebound victories over Hacran Dias and a stunning submission of Dennis Bermudez he came up short as Chad Mendes ended his night early. Although the same age as his opponent on Saturday night he arguably has a few more years in the tank over the next man.
Since ‘The Nightmare’ became ‘The Dream’ his career has turned into a bad one. The winner of the inaugural TUF series he has been little short of a legend in the octagon. While never tasting championship gold he has been involved in more Fight of the Year bouts than any other fighter in MMA and he knows how to excite a crowd, even if it is just in tasting defeat. But for two hotly disputed split decision victories; the latter an inexplicable decision over Ross Pearson he would be 0-5 and without a win since 2011. Note, even the UFC doesn’t recognise the Pearson win.
One thing I can say with ease is that Sanchez is near impossible to finish. It has only happened once in his career and that was a Drs stoppage by BJ Penn. Outside of that if he wins or loses its pretty much by decision. Lamas, by contrast, can be finished but I am not sure that Sanchez has the capability to do that and I’ll be picking the bully by decision. It’s going to be a blood and guts, thriller of a decision, possibly with a twist of controversy, but it’s a decision win.
Recommendation: Lamas wins by 3 round decision – 2 units at -115 (9/10) @ 5Dimes
Magny v Gastellum:
Participating in a main event for the first time is TUF semi-finalist Neil Magny. Magny took this fight as a late replacement for Matt Brown to prevent the fight from being scrapped altogether. What many fail to realise is that Magny is probably one of the most underrated fighters competing at 170lbs. After going 1-2 in his first three fights he put together a 7-0 streak with five of them coming in 2014 alone. A loss to BJJ specialist Demian Maia is the only thing stopping him from making that nine in a row. He beat Erick Silva in an upset and is really scratching at the top five begging for an opportunity and his willingness to fight on late notice may see him get it.
As the winner of the TUF series that involved Uriah Hall it was easy to forget that Kelvin Gastelum was even there until the final, such was the hype on Hall. That win maintained Gastelum’s perfect record, one that was extended further until he ran into Tyron Woodley. That fight was marred by a very poor weight cut that nearly hospitalized him and he still managed to win the fight according to one judge. So bad was the weight cut that Dana White made the executive decision to move him to 185lbs where he destroyed Nate Marquardt in two rounds. A further opportunity, probably the last he’ll get at 170lbs, presents itself.
The big decider here may well be the weight. If Gastelum has a bad cut then it could be a long night for the Arizonan but if all goes well then the 24 year old phenom (is it too early to call him that?) could have too much for Magny. At 6’3” 170lbs shouldn’t come easy for Magny but it does, so his weight will be on point no matter what but his paths to victory are slimmer. He doesn’t possess knockout power, it’s unlikely he’ll out wrestle Gastelum and it’s almost inconceivable that he’ll pick him apart with a superior BJJ game. All signs point to a Gastelum win and I’ll stick my neck out on him to finish it inside the distance.
Recommendation: Gastelum wins inside distance – 2 units at +126 (5/4) @ 5Dimes