The UFC stages its last event for three weeks as it heads to Ottawa, Canada on the run up to the biggest week of the year; International Fight Week and UFC 200.
Rory MacDonald fights for the first time in a year in his home country and faces the conqueror of Johny Hendricks in the main event. Some good fights are on show which means good opportunities to make some money. As always, 5Dimes are the oddsmakers and I’ll be your tip master.
MacDonald v Thompson:
Eleven months ago Rory MacDonald was four minutes away from securing the UFC Welterweight title from Robbie Lawler. It was a fight he was winning, arguably 3-1 going into the fifth round. What happened in that fight will change MacDonald forever as he was literally battered into defeat by an imperious champion. It was the sort of brutality that changes careers, lives and people in general; if the face can be dismantled like that once then the fear lingers that it can happen again, and again, and again. The former protégé of Georges St Pierre has long been hailed as the heir apparent to the previous Kings throne, his next fight, the last on his contract before testing free agency, will now be the biggest of his career. Win and he likely gets the negotiating power for a better deal and a title shot. Lose, and it’s a regressive step that may take years to recover from.
Stephen Thompson is known as ‘Wonderboy’ despite being a sprightly 33 years of age. The Karate standout has been fighting professionally for just six years and racked up just 13 bouts along the way. With a single defeat, a decision to Matt Brown when Brown was just one fight into a seven fight streak, being the only blackspot on his record he really elevated his status when finishing the notoriously durable Johny Hendricks inside a round in February. Thompson cut down the angles and kept his distance from Hendricks and made the former champion look like a debuting fighter as he finished him with ease.
This is a veritable chess match of MMA; MacDonald is calm, composed and doesn’t rush in and take risks. If anything, he will be happy to stalk Thompson around the octagon while looking for the opening to take this to the mat. Thompson will be happy at this game plan as he gets to pick of MacDonald at range, targeting the face that was mashed up by Robbie Lawler as a potential weak spot. I’m siding with MacDonald though, Rory only loses to the very best in the world, Condit and Lawler being the two reverses on his record, and if he does succumb to Thompson then it would mark him down as a real danger man when his title shot eventually comes.
Recommendation: Rory MacDonald – 2 units at +100 (1/1) @ 5Dimes
Cerrone v Cote:
Donald Cerrone returns to the octagon for the first time since Februarys win over the ‘other cowboy’ Alex Oliveira. The four months on the sidelines must represent one of the longest dry spells of Cerrone’s career, given that his schedule regularly allows for 4-5 fights in every calendar year since signing with the UFC. Despite his recent failed title shot against Rafael dos Anjos, that saw him finished in just over a minute, Cerrone has been on a tear for the last three years as he amassed an 8-0 streak, at one point fighting twice in two weeks. The never say no; never say die spirit of the Cowboy has made him one of the most exciting fighters of all time, and a solid fan favourite.
Patrick Cote is now deep into his second spell with the UFC, the first one finishing back in 2010 as he dropped three straight, starting with a defeat to Anderson Silva. Since returning he has strung together six wins, each punctuated by a defeat, firstly to Cung Le and then to Stephen Thompson. The wily veteran has never won more than three in a row in the octagon, it could be put down to luck or it could be an indicator of the ceiling he has reached.
Although Cerrone is entering new territory at 170lbs I just feel that he is levels above where Cote is at right now. Cote has won three on the bounce but the level of opponent faced is inferior and he doesn’t have the power and speed to contend with Cerrone. Cerrone takes the win; I’m not sure how as he has more tools than a hardware store, but I don’t think it will be close either way.
Recommendation: Donald Cerrone – 3 units at -160 (5/8) @ 5Dimes
Bosse v O’Connell:
Former Pro Hockey player Steve Bosse was booked by the UFC to step in and face Fabio Maldonado a year ago when an injunction stopped Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson from breaking his Bellator contract. Bosse stepped up at late notice, and subsequently stepped down again when Rampage was cleared to fight. He remained off the card but lost to Thiago Santos in his formal debut a short while after. Earlier this year he fought James Te Huna in Brisbane, Australia and finished the fight, and subsequently Te Huna’s career, inside a minute.
In five fights in the UFC Sean O’Connell has managed to put together a mediocre run against mid to lower tier fighters. Wins over Matt Van Buren and Anthony Perosh are highlights to a spell that saw defeats to Ryan Jimmo, Gian Villante and Ilir Latifi; hardly the stuff of legend, and yet he is a nine year veteran of the sport.
There is a single bet that I like for this fight; mainly because I don’t really have a huge interest in who wins. It’s a fight that does nothing to advance either man and is really only being staged because it’s in Canada, Bosse’s home country, and the UFC are still repaying Bosse for the Rampage Jackson debacle. Highly unlikely that this gets out of the first round, the odds are reflective of that too.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 Rounds – 2 units at -175 (4/7) @ 5Dimes
Letourneau v Calderwood:
Valerie Letourneau turned a lot of heads when she was not only booked into a title shot with Joanna Jedrzejczyk but managed to hold on for the full five rounds. Such was JJ’s dominance over her previous opponents both in winning, and defending, the belt that she was expected to be blown away by the champion. Even though Joanna won comfortably by unanimous decision Letourneau showed that she has the chops to stand with the best
Joanne Calderwood has experienced mixed emotions since graduating from the TUF:20 house two years ago. A win on the finale card over Seo Hee Ham put her in line for a potential title shot in her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. All she had to do was get past Maryna Moroz in Poland. That fight lasted just 90 seconds as Moroz dominated Calderwood, taking her to the ground and submitting her with ease. In doing so it laid out the blueprint of how to beat the Muay Thai specialist.
Calderwood was originally booked into a fight with Paige VanZant in December, it’s a fight I didn’t like for Calderwood and think she dodged a bullet when injury forced her out. Letourneau is a tough matchup stylistically as she is extremely good on the ground, making her kryptonite to Calderwood. I’d love to see JoJo take the win but I just don’t see it happening.
Recommendation: Valerie Letourneau – 2 units at –175 (4/7) @ 5Dimes