With the hastily renamed Fight Night 83 upon us this weekend the UFC embarks on a run of three events in three weeks, the annual London show being sandwiched in the middle.
This card has been affected worse than any other this year with Tim Means being forced out of the main event, closely followed by Thatch v Bahadurzada switching to UFC 196 and just this week the removal of John Lineker. There are still some excellent fights on the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds on all of them.
Bermudez v Kawajiri:
Cast your mind back two years. After beating Clay Guida, Dennis Bermudez positioned himself at #5 in the 145lb division. The only fighters ahead of him were Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson and the-then champion, Jose Aldo. Bermudez was riding high with a 7-0 streak and being considered as a legit challenger if he could break the top five. Back to back losses to Lamas and Jeremy Stephens have seen him plummet to #9 and the emergence of Conor McGregor has changed the shape of the division as well as the UFC. Two years is a very long time in MMA as this TUF finalist is now finding out.
At 37 he isn’t quite at the heights of gatekeeper status, but Tatsuya Kawajiri is certainly a milestone to be overcome. One of the most experienced fighters at 145lbs, if not the UFC, this veteran has competed at KI, Dream, Pride, Shooto, the list goes on. His early style of finishing fights early has been replaced with a top-heavy grinding style. It isn’t something that is fan friendly, but he carries a near legendary status with the MMA hardcore that keeps them tuning in time after time.
I find this a fight almost impossible to get excited about, as it just isn’t going to be a spectacle to watch. If anything it’s going to be a lay and pray, stand up sit down type of affair. As an NCAA Division 1 wrestler you can expect Bermudez to have solid wrestling and be able to strike on the ground; we know that this is Kawajiri in a nutshell. Comparatively speaking, few have finished Kawajiri and recent form suggests that Bermudez will also struggle so I’ll be taking him by a clear decision.
Recommendation: Bermudez wins by 3 round decision – 2 units at +137 (7/5) @ 5Dimes
Brunson v Carneiro:
A prominent figure during the last days of Strikeforce, Derek Brunson has made a better start to life in the UFC than he experienced in the defunct San Jose promotion. Possessing a record of 5-1, with the long loss coming to title contender Yoel Romero is a stark comparison to the back to back losses he experienced prior. A debut win over fan favourite Chris Leben set the scene for Brunson to score wins over Lorenz Larkin, Ed Herman and Sam Alvey. Now sitting at 3-0 from his last three bouts it’s time to step up the level of competition to make a run at the 185lb top ten.
At the age of 37 Roan Carneiro is back with the UFC and making a second run with the promotion. Originally making his debut back in 2007 with a win over Rich Clementi, three losses from his next four fights saw his first spell come to an end as he was released. The next seven years were spent on the regional scene where he experienced a single loss. His comeback fight was against Mark Munoz at UFC 184 where he won in an upset.
As fights go this is one whereby picking a winning bet is hard. I’ve no doubt that Brunson carries the edge, but at -400 I can’t touch that. The prop lines look to be the best value and I find myself leaning towards Brunson inside the distance. It’s not inconceivable that the judges are called into action but I’d hope it isn’t necessary. As time isn’t on the Brazilians side, it could very well end his second spell in a similar manner to his first.
Recommendation: Brunson wins inside distance – 2 units at -135 (8/11) @ 5Dimes
Cerrone v Oliveira:
In December of 2015 Donald Cerrone finally stepped into the octagon for a title shot. It had been a long time coming for the WEC and UFC veteran and fan favourite. Sadly, it was a shot that lasted little more than a minute as Rafael dos Anjos dismantled Cowboy on the feet. Cerrone being Cerrone wanted to get back on the horse sooner rather than later and booked himself into a new bout at 170lbs for his first attempt at Welterweight. Issues with USADA saw original opponent Tim Means pulled from the card and replaced with the other Cowboy in the division, Alex Oliveira.
Oliveira is the other Cowboy in the division, although far less recognisable than his American counterpart. A five year veteran of the sport he is a relative newcomer compared to his opponent, but has amassed a passable record of 3-1 during his UFC tenure. As a late replacement this is arguably a matchup borne of necessity than pure matchmaking but the fans will benefit from watching two fighters who like nothing more than to throw down.
This is less of a test for Cerrone and more of a test for Oliveira. In a 10 year career Cerrone has only lost to the very best that his division has had to offer in current, and former champions dos Anjos and Benson Henderson, twice, Anthony Pettis, Jamie Varner and TUF 5 winner, Nate Diaz. The level of opponent merely faced by Oliveira doesn’t even come close. In a 5 round fight I cannot see beyond Cerrone. Sure, he can be caught cold; Oliveira certainly has the striking to achieve that but his ground game is way inferior to Cerrone making it only a punchers chance that he succeeds. Cerrone likes to brawl and if he gets his way then he ends this in the opening three rounds with a submission being the most likely.
Recommendation: Cerrone wins inside distance – 2 units at -160 (5/8) @ 5Dimes