The UFC returns to Europe this weekend as Gdansk, Poland holds what is likely to be the final European card of 2017.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best of the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Fili v Lobov:
Andre Fili is another graduate from the Team Alpha Male camp in Sacramento, California. Despite some ups and downs it houses the reigning champion at 135lbs in Cody Garbrandt and looks to be going from strength to strength. After entering the UFC with a 12-1 record in the California regional circuit, Andre Fili has struggled to gain any real traction in the division with consecutive wins thus far eluding him. Losses against current 145lb kingpin Max Holloway and future contender Yair Rodriguez indicate the level of opposition this highly regarded prospect is expected to challenge.
Artem Lobov is known to most casual fans as the training partner of Conor McGregor, and a runner up in the TUF:22 series in his own right. A veteran in the regional promotions he has somehow managed to headline a UFC event with a record of 13-13 and the term journeyman has never felt more appropriate. Fighting out of SBG Ireland he will have the weight of Irish support behind him, as well as some fans from the Eastern Block.
When reviewing fights there are patterns that you end up seeing, whether you want to or not. Fili has alternated wins and losses since debuting in the UFC, if correct then he is due a win. Artem Lobov, although nicknamed ‘The Russian Hammer’ has struggled to put his opponents away, his last win by stoppage coming over three years ago in Cage Warriors. Put these two factors together and you have Andre Fili by decision. It’s not a perfect science, but what is? Sometimes these hunches just pay off.
Recommendation: Fili Wins by Decision – 2 units at +110 (11/10) @ 5Dimes
Cerrone v Till:
Donald Cerrone steps into the Octagon for the 35th time under the UFC/WEC banner, a record that is unlikely be beaten for some considerable time. A challenger at 155 and 170lbs, Cerrone is the go to guy for the promotion; a fan favourite who always shows up and is happy to fight 4-5 times a year.
After dropping two fights on the bounce, both in 2017, Cerrone is already in unchartered territory and a third successive loss could make him question his longevity in a sport known for short bursts.
It may be indicative of the UFC’s positioning of him at 170lbs that he has been booked for a fight outside of the US, because Cerrone is a mainstay on the US cards and overseas events, particularly those in Europe are reserved for local heroes or emerging talents.
Darren Till is one of those fighters who is very much defined as emerging. A Scouser by birth, he was raised in MMA in his adoptive country of Brazil where, in addition to learning fluent Portuguese he amassed a 12-0 record to get the attention of the UFC.
An emphatic debut win at Fight Night 67 announced Till to a Worldwide audience and he was granted the opportunity in Dublin to face another surging prospect in Nicolas Dalby. Till dominated Dalby for two rounds before dislocating his shoulder, losing the third round 10-8 to secure no more than a draw. It would be the last time we saw Till for almost 18 months.
I’m extremely undecided whether this is the time we see the very best of Darren Till, or whether it’s another prospect elevated beyond his natural gradient. Till has struggled to get the finish against lesser opponents than Cowboy so it’s very difficult to envisage the wily veteran being overwhelmed. The championship rounds may be the deciding factor so I am going for a small play on this going beyond the halfway point.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 Rounds – 2 units at -170 (10/17) @ 5Dimes