For the first time since May 2016 the UFC heads back to Brazil, as Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino gets to headline an event in her home town for the first time.
As with many Fight Night cards this isn’t stacked with stellar names but it does contain a few standout fights that could have been placed on any card. I’ll be breaking down the top three for betting purposes with 5Dimes providing the odds.
Nelson v Silva:
When Roy Nelson won season 10 of the Ultimate Fighter it was expected that he would be working toward the long game of a UFC title shot. That shot never came as Nelson narrowly fell short whenever the carrot was dangled in front of him. To be fair he has faced a murderers row of opponents, with 8 of the 9 losses coming against fighters who have held a World title at Heavyweight in the UFC or a similarly ranked promotion. Only Derrick Lewis broke that record and he has time on his side to rectify that.
Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva is clearly a man who is drinking in the last chance saloon this weekend, and I can hear last orders being called on him. His record in the UFC is pretty poor, with wins over Travis Browne, Alistair Overeem and Soa Palelei being the only fruits of his labour. Ten fights, three wins and a draw. The other six have all ended inside the opening round, by brutal knockout. Since the introduction of USADA and his doping violation in 2013 he has looked a shadow of the man that beat Fedor.
One thing is clear before this bout even takes places; both fighters are long past their prime. Silva is showing signs of being more battle worn than Nelson, which has been justified by his last 5 performances. This fight can boldly be predicted as going only as long as it takes for Nelson to land the first power shot. If Struve can finish the job in 16 seconds then so can Nelson. If it goes any longer it wont be pretty, not by a long shot but I cannot imagine someone with the hands of Nelson taking longer than 60 seconds to hunt, find and kill Bigfoot.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 Rounds – 4 units at -235 (4/9) @ 5Dimes
Barao v Nover:
Once the most feared man in the world at 135lbs, and #1 in the P4P rankings, Renan Barao now carries the aura of a man who has forgotten how to win. Undefeated for 9 years he swept his way to the UFC Interim Bantamweight title while Dominick Cruz was semi-permanently injured, taking the full title when Cruz was eventually stripped due to inactivity. He was to defend the full belt just once, against Urijah Faber in a rematch from when he won the interim belt. After Faber he dropped the strap to Alpha Male protege TJ Dillashaw in a shocking upset. Injuries and botched weight cuts kept Barao inactive before taking another run at Dillashaw. With the outcome the same he moved up to Featherweight with another loss, this time to Jeremy Stephens.
Phillipe Nover is given an extremely tough assignment in only his third for back in the UFC. Nover, cut after a 0-3 stint back in 2009-10, has struggled in both fights since returning, being on both the right and wrong side of split decisions each fight. Speaking honestly, it feels like Nover is being sacrificed to Barao to get the Brazilian back in the win column and he seems outclassed in every area.
I cannot pick against Barao here, even though UFC results this year tell me that this fight is a simple case of dog or pass, and by that I mean the odds are so poor on Barao that a value play on Nover is the only way to go unless you give it a wide berth. I think I’ve found a little value though as inside the distance is presently available at odds against, a rarity on this card. Nover has only been finished once, on Sunday morning I am expecting this to be the second.
Recommendation: Renan Barao Wins Inside Distance – 3 units at +115 (23/20) @ 5Dimes
Justino v Lansberg:
Making her second UFC appearance, this time in her home town of Brasilia, Brazil is the legendary and feared Cristine ‘Cyborg’ Justino. The long time staple of Women’s MMA was once considered an impossibility for a UFC bout due to contractual issues initially, and weight class subsequently. In fact the latter is so much of an issue that both bouts will be fought at catchweight. Why? Because the UFC doesn’t have a 145lb division, nor does it have any plans to create one. Cyborg almost kills herself getting to 141lbs so for the foreseeable future any match-up with Rousey, Tate or Holm is well and truly off the cards.
Promotional newcomer, Lina Lansberg, is given arguably the hardest task in all of Women’s MMA, and one of the most difficult challenges of any debuting fighter, anywhere. A professional fighter of just four years Lansberg will bring a Muay Thai game that will surely stand her in good stead against Cyborg. Whether it is enough is a different story entirely. A win here would rank in the top five biggest shocks in MMA, easily.
Cyborg opens up as the biggest betting favourite on the entire card and rightly so. At odds of -1250 (more than a 12/1 favourite for the European bettors) I’ll be keeping my money safely in my pocket. Its been 11 years since Cyborg tasted defeat, in her debut no less, and at this rate it could be another 11 years before it happens again. If reports are to be believed then it could well be the weight cut that ultimately topples her, sadly it wont be Lansberg. Like pretty much everyone else, I’ll be taking Cyborg to finish this in under 1.5 rounds. Even those odds are barely worth the risk.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 Rounds – 3.5 units at -350 (2/7) @ 5Dimes