Fightin’ ‘round the world ...
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads north this weekend, putting on shows in Albany, N.Y., and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. On Friday (Dec. 9, 2016), hard-hitting Heavyweight contenders Derrick Lewis (No. 10) and Shamil Abdurakhimov (No. 15) will headline UFC Fight Night 102, while Featherweight standouts Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis will battle the following evening for the interim 145-pound strap in UFC 206's pay-per-view (PPV) main event.
With two-dozen fights available, fight fans are bound to find one or two worth betting on. And I’m here to help.
What Went Wrong?
Well, we need another infusion, so that tells the story of how last week went. As far as specifics, well ...
I knew Gray Maynard was shot, but I didn’t know he was this shot. Literally the only strikes he threw for the vast majority of the fight were right hooks that fell well short -- he didn’t even think to kick at Ryan Hall’s legs until the third round. All he had to do was keep his hands up, block the head kicks and land a few solid shots in guard before waving Hall back up. Instead, he ran face-first into hook kicks all night and produced zero meaningful offense.
What throws me the most is that Hall clearly isn’t invincible from the guard and Maynard has shut down quality grapplers like Kenny Florian before. If he has so little faith in his submission defense and such little creativity left in his striking, he needs to retire.
I really expected more out of Josh Stansbury. I’m baffled as to why he didn’t pursue the takedown more against Devin Clark -- even his well-timed counter punches failed to faze "Brown Bear" and anyone could see that he was getting outworked. Dumb bet, and one for which I apologize.
Elvis Mutapcic gassed after one round, 80 percent of which he spent in top position doing damage. He repeatedly walked face-first into a taller striker’s firing range with little-to-no head movement and did nothing with his clear grappling edge. You can’t fight much more stupid than he did.
Hats off to Sara McMann, who’s finally living up to the promise her wrestling pedigree, well, promised. I do think the ring rust was a factor for Alexis Davis, who had never been submitted, and she still did some quality work off her back. It was a well-matched fight and McMann exceeded my expectations. So it goes.
UFC Fight Night 102 Odds For The Undercard:
Justine Kish (-210) vs. Ashley Yoder (+160)
Randy Brown (-175) vs. Brian Camozzi (+135)
Gerald Meerschaert (-225) vs. Joe Gigliotti (+168)
Andrew Sanchez (-190) vs. Trevor Smith (+150)
Shane Burgos (-180) vs. Tiago Dos Santos (+140)
Marc Diakese (-310) vs. Frankie Perez (+230)
Ryan Janes (-260) vs. Keith Berish (+180)
Juliana Lima (-230) vs. J.J. Aldrich (+170)
UFC Fight Night 102 Odds For The Main Card:
Derrick Lewis (-190) vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov (+165)
Francis Ngannou (-525) vs. Anthony Hamilton (+415)
Corey Anderson (-400) vs. Sean O’Connell (+325)
Gian Villante (-180) vs. Saparbek Safarov (+158)
UFC 206 Odds For The Undercard:
Misha Cirkunov (-130) vs. Nikita Krylov (+110)
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (-165) vs. Drew Dober (+145)
Valerie Letourneau (-175) vs. Viviane Pereira (+155)
Mitch Gagnon (-160) vs. Matthew Lopez (+140)
Lando Vannata (-165) vs. John Makdessi (+145)
Rustam Khabilov (-200) vs. Jason Saggo (+170)
Zach Makovsky (-160) vs. Dustin Ortiz (+140)
UFC 206 Odds For The Main Card:
Max Holloway (-190) vs. Anthony Pettis (+165)
Donald Cerrone (-265) vs. Matt Brown (+225)
Doo Ho Choi (-220) vs. Cub Swanson (+180)
Tim Kennedy (-155) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (+135)
Jordan Mein (-160) vs. Emil Meek (+140)
Thoughts: We can do this! We can make this happen!
How? Well, mostly with UFC 206's PPV main card, but we’ll scavenge what we can.
UFC Fight Night 102's undercard provides a decent underdog in Frankie Perez and a solid favorite pick in Juliana Lima. Marc Diakese is a physical beast with incredible potential, but his technical grappling remains a work-in-progress and he relies overmuch on his strength and speed in the stand up. Perez is an extremely capable grappler, perfectly well-suited to be his stiffest test to date. Therefore, a moderate bet on Perez -- just based on the style match up -- makes sense.
While Lima isn’t championship material, she’s extremely consistent. This is a woman who has only lost to a future Invicta champion, future UFC champion and former UFC champion ... all by decision. Aldrich, meanwhile, is coming in on short notice with less than a month’s turnaround and struggled badly with her wrestling against Tatiana Suarez. Against a skilled, powerful wrestler like Lima, that’s a loss in the books and money in your pockets.
Leave UFC Fight Night 102's main card alone -- Abdurakhimov is fairly durable and technical on the feet, but it’s hard to forget the time he did nothing to stop Timothy Johnson from ground-and-pounding him into the dirt.
UFC 206's undercard gives a tantalizing bet in Misha Cirkunov. Nikita Krylov’s pressure has felled strong fighters before, but Cirkunov handily dispatched heavy hitters Alex Nicholson and Ion Cutelaba with zero issues. Further, he’s an extremely capable wrestler who is more than Krylov’s match on the ground. Therefore, go big on the Xtreme Couture-trained product.
And now we get to the meat: The UFC 206 PPV main card. Max Holloway, Donald Cerrone and Jordan Mein are your men of the weekend.
On one side of UFC 206's main event, we have Anthony Pettis, who just snapped a three-fight losing streak in a back-and-forth brawl with Charles Oliveira. In the other, we have Holloway -- who has won nine straight and lost maybe two rounds in total in the process. Holloway is just entering his prime and is on the warpath, while Pettis seems to have been figured out and ostensibly matches up poorly against Holloway’s volume and underrated wrestling.
I’ve got Holloway by a wide margin, so bet accordingly.
The Welterweight showdown between Cerrone and Brown really doesn’t make sense from a ratings standpoint -- Brown is 1-4 in his last five bouts and none of those losses were particularly close. He was dropped with head strikes for the first time in his last fight and has pretty conclusively demonstrated that his wrestling will never be up to snuff. Against Cerrone -- who is not only the far better grappler, but just handed two incredibly tough men the first true technical knockout losses of their career -- he’s boned.
Bank on it.
Emil Meek is in UFC entirely because of his elbow knockout of Rousimar Palhares (watch it). Take that away and you have a solid-but-unspectacular striker going against one of the Welterweight division’s slickest boxers. Oh, and let’s not forget the two technical knockout losses Meek has on his record, including one just last year. No amount of ring rust is going to save him from Mein.
UFC Fight Night 102, UFC 206 Best Bets:
- Single bet -- Frankie Perez: Bet $25 to make $57.50
- Parlay -- Juliana Lima and Donald Cerrone: Bet $80 to make $78.43
- Single bet -- Misha Cirkunov: Bet $50 to make $38.46
- Parlay -- Max Holloway and Jordan Mein: Bet $45 to make $66.60
Four more UFC events remain in 2016 to get out of the red. Indeed, it's crunch time -- see you this weekend, Maniacs.