After a two week break from the action the UFC heads to Rotterdam for their first show in Holland. Headlining the card is the biggest name in Dutch MMA as Alistair Overeem looks to put on a show for his adopted home.
Unusually for events in 2016 this has been relatively untouched with injury problems and a solid card remains intact. I’ve got my eye on some underdog picks this week and 5Dimes will be posting the odds.
Krylov v Barroso:
Nikita Krylov is a fighter who has been on an upward trajectory since debuting as an under-sized heavyweight. His debut, a loss to Soa Palelei was one of the worst fights I’ve ever watched and I had money on Palelei. He did secure a win over Walt Harris before dropping to 205lbs where he was choked out by OSP. There is no shame in that as OSP only recently went 5 round with Jon Jones. Three consecutive first round finishes in a row and gets another step up in class.
Francimar Barroso has an opportunity to add to wins over Ryan Jimmo and Elvis Mutapcic. Neither were outstanding performances but they erased a split decision loss to Hans Stringer. Losing to Stringer is a poor benchmark for a fighter with a few limited years ahead of him. A win and he is bordering top 10, but the loss keeps him on the fringes of #15-20.
Barroso has never been submitted and this will be a problem for Krylov as this is his go to manoeuvre. He does possess some dynamite in his hands and feet as he displayed against Walt Harris and if he catches him flush then he could finish this nice and early. At 205lbs Krylov is a different beast and I’ll be picking him outright to take a relatively comfortable win.
Recommendation: Nikita Krylov – 3 units at -155 (4/6) @ 5Dimes
Tumenov v Nelson:
This is the most interesting fight on the entire card. Albert Tumenov has proven himself to have extremely heavy hands for a welterweight. With the majority of his wins coming back knockout and all bar one of those have been in the first round, he has demonstrated time and time again that he can get the job done.
The wheels have fallen off the Gunnar Nelson bandwagon of late as he encountered defeat for the first time against Rick Story. He followed up with an impressive underdog performance against Brandon Thatch but was manhandled, schooled if you will, by the grappling master, Demian Maia. Such was Maia’s dominance that two of the three judges at ringside gave two 10-8 rounds. There was an argument that it could have been all three. This is a different style of fight though, arguably closer to Thatch than anyone else and Gunni showed how to strike first, strike hard, take the back and submit. Outside of Maia, he’s probably the next best in the division at doing it.
Friends tell me that Tumenov will destroy Nelson. Nelson is far too hittable, that he won’t be able to take the punches. The same thing was said about the Thatch fight. I’m more than happy to take the underdog here, Nelson remains a very special talent, not taking anything away from Tumenov but he should be far too slick on his feet and on the ground for the Russian to handle. I’d normally take him by Submission, but I’m playing safe after a couple of bad beats lately.
Recommendation: Gunnar Nelson – 1 unit at +155 (6/4) @ 5Dimes
Silva v Struve:
Four years is a long time in this sport. Go back to 2012 and Silva was taking his first steps toward a title shot, his second encounter with Cain Velasquez. Between 2012 and 2016 the years weren’t kind to him as Silva took a TRT ban, going 1-4 with 1 No Contest. Since the ban he has come back looking a shadow of his former self, both in physicality and durability. While never the most gifted fighter on the planet he had completely lost his chin with Arlovski, Mir and Hunt finishing him inside a round. He fared better against an ageing Soa Palelei but that remains his sole career highlight in that time.
In the same time period Stefan Struve has experienced a similarly poor vein of luck. Once riding a four fight winning streak, that included a knockout of current challenger Stipe Miocic. Since that impressive performance in Nottingham, England he was diagnosed with a heart defect, fainted in the dressing room before his comeback, finally going 1-3 when he stepped back into the octagon. Like his opponent, his sole highlight in that time is a gruelling five round win over Big Nog.
It’s hard to get excited about this fight since there is little remaining upside for either fighter. Silva is shot to pieces and his chin has long departed, the years haven’t been kind and it could be time for him to move to a less competitive promotion. Struve is a little less battle worn, although no less depleted than his opponent and more likely to be able to resist a punch or two. Struve isn’t the hardest puncher on the block, he’s certainly no Mark Hunt, and while I expect him to get the business done I think he could take at least a round to get warmed up.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds – 1.5 units at +145 (29/20) @ 5Dimes
Overeem v Arlovski:
Whisper it quietly, but after four years under the UFC banner a win on Sunday just might see Alistair Overeem fighting for the world heavyweight title. It’s true, we’ve been here before and circumstances let us down but this really could be it. With Velasquez semi-permanently injured and Werdum knocking on 39’s door Overeem should be primed for a call, even if it as a late replacement, to fight the winner of Werdum and Miocic. After a sticky spell where he went 1-3, with those defeats all coming by way of knockout, he has put together three consecutive wins for the first time in this promotion. With the current state of the heavyweight division that’s sufficient call for a title shot and with it, Overeem gets a chance to complete the full house of MMA belts.
Andrei Arlovski has certainly made the most of his second spell in the UFC. Originally released back in 2008 he limped through an unproductive spell in Strikeforce before finding his groove in a few upstart promotions. After losing to Anthony Johnson, at heavyweight nonetheless, it took just two wins for him to get that call. Four wins on the bounce took him into an eliminator in a crazy bout with Stipe Miocic; one that lasted a mere 54 seconds. The Belarussian hasn’t had to wait too long for another chance and he should be geared to grab it with both hands, at 37 years of age he won’t get many more opportunities.
Jackson-Wink are in an unenviable position for this fight. On one hand they have the kudos of two top fighters facing off, but on the other hand it is likely to divide the gym. The coaches have done wonders for Overeem, protecting his chin and showing him how to win again. They have done the same for Arlovski, taking a forgotten man almost to the pinnacle of his profession, even if he has fallen a little short. This one comes down to who lands the first peach of a shot; if Arlovski does then he could crumple Overeem, if Overeem does then I think Arlovski can take it, but not too many of them. One thing is clear; it is inconceivable that this goes the distance. The line is set at 1.5 rounds and I’ll be taking narrowly over.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds – 2 units at +100 (1/1) @ 5Dimes