The UFC returns to PPV territory after a relatively lacklustre event in Rotterdam, an event that was always going to play second fiddle to the previous week when McGregor faced Mayweather in Vegas.
Two titles are on the line, yet my favourite bout was scrapped as Junior dos Santos was pulled from the card with two weeks to go.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best of the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Nunes v Shevchenko:
Amanda Nunes was viewed by some as a paper champ, or an interim placeholder until the return to MMA of Ronda Rousey. At UFC 207 that myth was debunked in spectacular style as Nunes picked the former champion apart inside a minute. It was as beautiful as it was ugly and cemented her position as number one.
Valentina Shevchenko has experienced just the one defeat in her UFC career; to Nunes in a fight that she didn’t really start to assert in until the final round. By this time the damage was done and Nunes took the victory, and with it a guaranteed title shot. Shevchenko is no slouch and those who are writing her off as just another victim for Nunes should go back and review the striking power that this woman has.
Tough one to call as it goes one of two ways. Either Nunes finds the finish in the opening two rounds or Shevchenko takes the fight in the last three rounds when Nunes inevitably gasses out. I’ll go out on a limb and take Shevchenko by late TKO, setting up a trilogy fight for later this year in Russia or New York.
Recommendation: Valentina Shevchenko – 3 units at -130 (10/13) @ 5Dimes
Johnson v Borg:
Demetrious Johnson is a man who stands on the cusp of true greatness, in MMA terms at least. He reigns supreme as the best fighter to put on a pair of gloves at 125lbs, number 1 in the PFP list and is tied with Anderson Silva for the most title defences. These achievements and the UFC either cannot market him or the viewing public simply don’t want to watch him fight. For all his accomplishments, his PPV figures are some of the worst the company has seen from a champion. At 125lbs he is a freak of nature, faster, stronger and more rounded than anyone has ever been and I feel that we will only realise what we’ve lost when it has eventually gone.
Ray Borg is a man who gets the title shot, not because he has ploughed his way through the top ten, no it is because the man he faces on Saturday has already done that for him. In some cases, twice. No, Ray Borg is the man of the moment because Johnson has neutered all other men for him. Borg may be the luckiest 125lb’er in the unluckiest position. If he loses, his will be the name that becomes synonymous with Johnson breaking the UFC record for title defences.
It would be the biggest shock in MMA history if Johnson were to lose, he is an untouchable favourite in this fight, more so than in his previous defences. That isn’t to say that Ray Borg doesn’t stand a chance, he does, but to realise this he must revert to the old Ray Borg and rediscover a submission game that he hasn’t been able to showcase in the UFC. He must do what Cejudo couldn’t, and out wrestle Johnson and then he must either dominate him for 3/5 rounds or make him tap. None of this will happen and Mighty Mouse will sit atop the world, if only for a brief period, as the greatest of all time.
Recommendation: Under 4.5 Rounds – 2 units at -125 (4/5) @ 5Dimes