Here come the Heavyweights!
The biggest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) division will take center stage this Sunday (April 10, 2016) when the Octagon touches down inside Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia, for the first time ever. In the UFC Fight Night 86 main event, Ben Rothwell looks to continue his unexpected resurgence at the expense of former champion Junior dos Santos, while Derrick Lewis steps in on short notice to face Matt Mitrione in the co-main event.
Elsewhere on the FOX Sports 1-televised card, Francis Ngannou and Timothy Johnson welcome Curtis Blaydes and Marcin Tybura, respectively, to UFC.
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Before we get into the numbers, I'd like to make an apology. My advice has been lackluster throughout the year; sometimes it's been bad judging (Marion Reneau vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith, Nina Ansaroff vs. Justine Kish), sometimes it's been bad refereeing (Matt Mitrione vs. Travis Browne), and sometimes my assessments have just been way off (Chas Skelly vs. Darren Elkins, Johnny Case vs. Jake Matthews). Still, no matter the cause, I'm deeply sorry.
In any case, the hypothetical balance has hit almost zero, so I'm adding another hypothetical $200 to it. Let's see if we can't rebuild:
UFC Fight Night 86 Odds For The Undercard:
Nicolas Dalby (-170) vs. Zak Cummings (+150)
Mairbek Taisumov (-300) vs. Damir Hadzovic (+250)
Ian Entwistle (-145) vs. Alejandro Perez (+125)
Damian Stasiak (-125) vs. Filip Pejic (+105)
Lucas Martins (-115) vs. Robert Whiteford (-105)
Jared Cannonier (-155) vs. Cyril Asker (+135)
Bojan Velickovic (-165) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (+145)
Thoughts: While the bulk of the bargains are on the main card, as I’ll touch on later, there is a value here: Zak Cummings.
Dalby is the better striker by a fair margin, but lacks the stopping power and wrestling he would need to shut down Cummings’ overpowering grappling game. Cummings should also enjoy a considerable size advantage, having fought at middleweight and even light heavyweight in the past. Though the short notice has me a bit worried, especially considering Cummings’ aforementioned size and history of weight cutting issues, he’s worth a moderate bet if he doesn’t look too grim on the scale.
UFC Fight Night 86 Odds For The Main Card:
Junior Dos Santos (-130) vs. Ben Rothwell (+110)
Derrick Lewis (-140) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (+120)
Francis Ngannou (-135) vs. Curtis Blaydes (+115)
Marcin Tybura (-175) vs. Timothy Johnson (+155)
Jan Blachowicz (-360) vs. Igor Pokrajac (+300)
Maryna Moroz (-185) vs. Cristina Stanciu (+160)
Thoughts: In descending order of value, Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis, and Ben Rothwell all strike me as worthwhile investments.
Ngannou is gigantic and powerful, which can carry you a fair distance in the heavyweight division, but Blaydes is a goliath in his own right with a solid wrestling background. In addition, Ngannou can be painfully slow and plodding at times, which ought to significantly aid Blaydes’ pursuit of the takedown. He’s certainly worth a look.
At this point in his career, Gabriel Gonzaga has one weapon worth speaking of: a step-back counter right with which he knocked out Shawn Jordan and repeatedly dinged Stipe Miocic and Konstantin Erokhin. His wrestling remains iffy and has jiu-jitsu from both the top and bottom has been strangely ineffective for some time. Against Lewis, who has the takedown prowess to bowl Gonzaga over, the cardio to stay dangerous late, and the raw power to disintegrate the Brazilian’s infamous chin, that’s just not enough. Lewis should score a stoppage before long, so make sure you’re in position to benefit.
Dos Santos, as the venerable Jack Slack broke down in a recent piece, does not like pressure. He repeatedly backs straight into the cage and gets mauled while trying to circle off, all the while lacking the proper foot positioning to unleash his cataclysmic power. Rothwell’s relentless forward march and power, bolstered by a chin that I’d argue is the best in the division at the moment, seem well-equipped to handle the fading Brazilian. As a longtime and loyal fan of Junior, it pains me to say this, but I just don’t think he has enough left in him for a resurgence. A bit on Rothwell makes sense.
UFC Fight Night 86 Best Bets:
- Single bet -- Zak Cummings: Bet $30 to make $45
- Single bet -- Curtis Blaydes: Bet $40 to make $46
- Single bet -- Derrick Lewis: Bet $70 to make $50
- Single bet -- Ben Rothwell: Bet $30 to make $33
Lots of big boys means lots of potential for big finishes. See you Sunday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC Fight Night 86 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you've got riding on the sportsbook.