ANOTHER massive night of UFC. David Walker (@WalkerDavid32) brings his usual analysis and best bets to the table.
Nate Marquardt v Thiago Santos | Sunday 02:15
Despite Nate Marquardt shocking everyone last time out with a KO win over CB Dolloway, he appears to be a fighter in steady decline and one whose chin has given out on him.
Had Dolloway pulled the trigger in their encounter, I have little doubt that it would have been another loss for Nate and probably his last fight for the UFC.
As it stands, that surprise victory has prolonged his career and he should get at least one more fight despite being on the end of, what I expect to be, another quick defeat.
Thiago Santos has fought six times in the UFC and four of these fights have finished in the first round (three wins and one defeat), leading to a very low average fight time of 5 minutes 41 seconds.
In his own last six fights, Marquardt has also had three end in the 1st round (1 win and 2 defeats) as well as a 4th fight which ended in the first minute of the 2nd round. As a result, I think there is slight value in the 8/11 on offer with Betway and Coral for under 1.5 rounds.
For a better price with greater risk, Santos is a significant favourite and a fighter on the rise who I fancy to win in the 1st round which can be backed at 5/4 with Bet365.
Demian Maia v Matt ‘The Immortal’ Brown | Sunday 03:30
This is a class in grappler versus striker match up and one which will hopefully excite the fans. Maia is a tactical genius and Brown is a full blooded fighter who does not know how to take a step back and I am intrigued to see whose strategy comes out on top.
Maia has been on a superb run of late, winning his last four fights, including dominating victories over the previously heralded Gunni Nelson and Neil Magny.
By using his dominating grappling and exceptional BJJ, Maia is able to dictate the pace of most fights at this level and, even if he has not always been able to force the submission, he is able to grind out a decision victory.
In fact, Maia has eight decision victories (and five decision losses) to his name whilst fighting in the UFC, helping him to build up an average fight time of 12 minutes and 1 second.
These decision victories are in stark contrast to how Maia began his UFC career when he won his first five fights by submission. In the following 17 fights, he has finished opponents only twice and being finished a solitary time himself.
Brown, conversely, is a man who loves finishing fights in recent years having stopped seven of his last 10 opponents inside the distance. The other three fights were defeats including recent decision defeats to current champion Robbie Lawler and the former champion, Johny Hendricks.
Brown’s toughness and durability saw him last the course in both of these defeats and he is a throw back fighter in his come forward, never-say-die attitude. I expect him to try and take on Maia in this fight but will most likely leave himself exposed to the takedown.
Maia has an average of 2.95 takedowns per 15 minutes and this will test Brown’s 60% takedown defence. Brown himself is no slouch when it comes to wrestling and has an average of 1.83 takedowns per 15 minutes, however, given the Brazilian will be most comfortable on the ground, I expect ‘The Immortal’ one to try and keep this fight standing where he will have the advantage.
Brown lands 3.84 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 54% which will look to test the 62% striking defence of Maia which has seen him absorb only 1.67 significant strikes per minute.
If Brown is able to keep this fight on the feet, he will have a very good chance of winning, although, I do not see him being able to finish the resolute Maia.
With Maia’s grappling prowess and Brown’s durability, I can only see this fight going the distance which can be backed at a very appealing 5/4 with Ladbrokes. If you fancy a riskier punt, Maia can be backed at 21/10 to win by decision with Paddy Power.
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza v Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort | Sunday 04:45
This fight should be a straight forward pick of Souza winning inside the distance but Belfort is a scary prospect with some of the greatest striking that we have ever seen in the UFC.
Let’s start with the underdog Belfort. In the last three years, Vitor has fought three times: losing once in a championship bout in devastating fashion to Chris Weidman and twice beating a 40 something year old Dan Henderson.
Nothing to get excited about in the slightest. It may be coincidence (albeit not likely) that Vitor has been shrouded in performing enhancing allegations for the majority of his career and, as soon as USADA begin proper testing of UFC fighters, Belfort’s body changes dramatically and his performances decline even more radically.
Prior to USADA coming in, Belfort had been the most frightening fighter in the middleweight division with KO victories over current champ, Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping, not to mention a submission victory over current top ranked light heavyweight Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson.
Three to four years down the line and he looks a shadow of his former self when you think back to his fight with Weidman where he was rag dolled in the first round, easily mounted and beaten to pulp without so much as an attempt to defend himself.
Facing him on Sunday morning is a stone cold killer. Jacare should be riding a nine fight win streak, however, an extremely controversial split decision loss to top contender Yoel Romero in his last fight saw that run end. Had Jacare won, he would have most definitely been facing Rockhold for the title and not having to match up against his fellow Brazilian.
From his 14 MMA fights between Strikeforce and the UFC, Souza has won nine by finishing his opponent (the other five went to decision – three wins and two losses). These wins have come via a combination of TKO, KO and submission, highlighting what a well rounded fighter Jacare is.
Surprisingly, Jacare out strikes Belfort with 2.19 significant strikes landed per minute compared to 1.58. Jacare also has a slightly more successful defence, absorbing 2.04 significant strikes per minute as opposed to Belfort’s 2.36.
The defensive accuracy of Jacare is also considerably better at 64%, whereas, Vitor’s is 52%. These statistics would suggest that, should the battle stay on the feet, Jacare will be the more effective fighter.
Looking at the grappling stats, Jacare is even more dominant and I fully expect him to try and exploit this area. Jacare has a very impressive average 3.49 takedowns per 15 minutes and once he gets his opponents down, he is very reluctant to let them back to their feet.
Whilst on the ground, Souza attempts an average of 2.0 submissions per 15 minutes and Vitor will need to improve his 51% takedown accuracy should he wish to avoid Jacare’s suffocating ground game.
Should Souza struggle to land the submission, I fully expect him to ground and pound Belfort to defeat, much in the way Weidman did at UFC 187.
Souza to win by finish is only 1/2 with Bet365 so it is literally a toss up between the 11/10 on offer from Coral for the submission victory and the 6/4 that BetVictor are proving for the TKO/KO. With 16 of his 22 professional wins in MMA coming by submission, I am going to play the numbers game and go for the win by submission.
Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if this fight is finished in the 1st round (by either fighter) and that can be backed at 5/4 with Ladbrokes.
Fabricio Werdum v Stipe Miocic | Sunday 05:15
This is going to be such a difficult fight for both men and I fancy an upset in this one; the comparative stats for both fighters suggests that the underdog is very much alive in this fight.
Fabricio Werdum first fought in the UFC back in 2007 and had a fairly mixed run with two wins and two defeats by the time he lost to Junior dos Santos in 2008 and moved to Strikeforce.
After the UFC bought the rights to Strikeforce, Werdum returned to the UFC in 2012 and has won all 6 of his fights since and, as a result, has seen him crowned as UFC heavyweight champion following his outstanding performance as he defeated Cain Velasquez.
Werdum has always been an exceptional BJJ mixed martial artist culminating in his submitting Fedor Emelianenko back in 2010. However, since returning to the UFC, it has been the progression of Werdum’s striking that has stood out and it is no surprise that this coincided with his return to training under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro.
Against the former champ Velasquez, Werdum’s striking was spectacular and his mix of elite BJJ and devastating striking have made him champion for a reason.
As I mentioned, however, Miocic is a very viable pick in this fight and has the skills to negate Werdum’s abilities; the Ohio native is a former NCAA division 1 wrestler and a Golden Gloves champion.
This fight marks Miocic’s first championship bout but he has main event end before and was a whisker away from earning a title shot when he lost a razor thin decision to Junior dos Santos (who has also defeated Werdum) back in 2014.
At times, nerves can get the better of fighters in these circumstances but Miocic has proven he is more than ready having prepared for five round fights in three of his last four.
Furthermore, look back at Miocic’s reaction after his victory over Arlovski last time out and it is clear that this man is ready. Add in the fact that Stipe is a part time fire fighter on top of being a potential UFC champion and I think we can forget all about nerves.
At the beginning, I mentioned the surprising stats in this match up and here they are. Although Werdum is the more lauded grappler, his 1.80 takedowns per 15 minutes pales compared to the 2.14 of Miocic.
With his wrestling background, Miocic has a 70% takedown defence and this should suffice to stave off the ground attacks when you consider that Werdum’s takedown success is a lowly 32%. The grappling would appear to be in Stipe’s favour when looking at these numbers.
Equally, with the standup, Werdum has received huge plaudits for his improvement in this area but his 50% striking accuracy and 3.29 significant strikes landed per minute are slightly less favourable than the 49% accuracy of Miocic and the 4.87 strikes landed.
Despite eating more significant strikes per minute (3.26 to 2.17), Miocic has a better defensive striking percentage at 62% to Werdum’s 57%. Whilst close, it would again seem like the numbers slightly favour Miocic in this area.
Werdum is a moderate favourite at 1.64 with Matchbook but there is definite value in the 2.44 on offer from the same bookie for Miocic and this is what I will be looking to capitalise on for the main event.
A second bet in this fight lies in the fact that both men are extremely durable with average fight times of 10 minutes and five seconds for Werdum and Miocic coming in at 11 minutes and 12 seconds.
In the history of both fighters, the only defeat that has come before the 3rd round was when Miocic lost to Stefan Struve in 2012. I think there is enough of an enticement in the 7/4 on offer from Coral for the fight to go the distance to take it as well.
Nate Marquardt v Thiago Santos – Under 1.5 rounds (8/11 Betway)
Nate Marquardt v Thiago Santos – Thiago Santos to win in 1st round (5/4 Bet365)
Demian Maia v Matt Brown – Fight To Go The Distance (5/4 Ladbrokes)
Demian Maia v Matt Brown – Demian Maia to win via decision (21/10 Paddy Power)
Jacare Souza v Vitor Belfort – Jacare Souza to win via submission at (11/10 Coral)
Jacare Souza v Vitor Belfort – Fight to end in Round 1 (5/4 Ladbrokes)
Fabricio Werdum v Stipe Miocic – Stipe Miocic to win (2.44 Matchbook)
Fabricio Werdum v Stipe Miocic – Fight To Go The Distance (7/4 Coral)
Francisco Trinaldo v Yancy Medeiros – Francisco Trinaldo to win by decision (7/4 Bet365)
Warlley Alves v Bryan Barberena – Warlley Alves to win in the 2nd round (9/2 Paddy Power)