A big weekend of UFC action coming up and our man David Walker (@WalkerDavid32) picks out his best bets.
Demian Maia v Carlos Condit | Sunday 01.00 | BT Sport 2
The main event from Vancouver this weekend sees that classic grappler (Maia)/striker (Condit) match-up as two of the 170lb division’s elite fighters go head-to-head in what could be considered to be a number one contender battle.
Maia is a veteran of the sport, having begun his UFC career back in 2007 and has fought against some of the biggest names such as Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, Chris Weidman and Rory McDonald.
As a highly decorated BJJ black belt, Maia has developed a dominating positional ground game in recent years where he has prevented his opponents from getting into the fight.
With this dominant style, Maia has won five in a row (two submissions, three decisions) by grappling his opponents to the canvas before methodically securing positions that have both nullified their weapons, whilst allowing Maia wear the opposition down but also to work for submissions.
Many casual fans do not appreciate this style as Maia works to his strengths and avoids long exchanges on the feet. However, MMA purists and fans with a greater depth of knowledge appreciate the mesmerising displays of grappling from the Brazilian.
The complete opposite on Maia is Condit – ‘The Natural Born Killer’ – and never has a moniker been more fitting.
Dating back to his WEC days, Condit has been involved in some of the greatest battles ever to take place inside a cage; he simply does not do boring fights and the fans love him for it. Look at Condit’s previous fights with Lawler, Hendricks, GSP and McDonald and you will get a flavour for what I am talking about.
Whereas Maia uses his suffocating jiu jitsu to suck the life out of his opponents, Condit attempts to steal their souls by constantly coming forward with high volume kick, punch and elbow combos.
As with fellow JacksonWink fighters, Condit is an incredibly creative striker who utilises the step in elbow and oblique kick to great effect. When you then add in Condit’s natural athleticism allowing him to throw head and body kicks from almost any angle, you get one of the most exciting fighters in the business.
But who will come out on top? Which style will prevail?
Maia has stopped one opponent via strikes in his last 10 UFC fights and with an average significant strikes landed per-minute of 1.83, he does not offer a considerable threat in this department.
As previously mentioned, Maia will look to dominate in the grappling and will try to utilise his 2.96 average takedowns per-15-minutes to get Condit fighting off his back.
Maia would have considerably higher takedowns if he wasn’t so suffocating when on the ground. Very few of his opponents are able to get back to their feet once he digs his hooks in and, in reality, he should have a much higher average that 1.2 submissions attempted per-15-minutes.
However, Maia has talked about being happy to take his time and working the positional game rather than rushing for submissions and losing his advantage. With Maia’s ground dominance, Condit may have some difficulties.
With a very poor takedown defence of 39%, there is little doubt ‘The Natural Born Killer’ will spend time on the ground and it will come down to what Condit can do when put in this position.
Maia tends to go for an opponent’s back so it will be very difficult for Condit to land his damaging elbows that he used to devastating effect against the likes of Rory McDonald.
I am a huge Condit fan and believe that he is without question one of the greatest fighters in modern day MMA, however, I feel that Maia is going to have too much dominance on the ground and invariably that will cost the Albuquerque native.
Maia can be backed as the underdog at 11/10 with Ladbrokes and I back him despite feeling the Brazilian should be a little bigger in price.
Where more value can be found is in backing Maia to win via decision at 11/4 (Coral) – six of Maia’s last eight fights have gone to decision and he has won won of them.
Equally, Condit has seen his last four match-ups against top-five opponents go to decision and he has only managed to win one of these in a very tactical battle against Nick Diaz for the term title.
For the fight to go to decision alone is an appealing 5/4 with BetVictor but, as mentioned, I will be going for Maia to win courtesy of the judges.
Joe Lauzon v Jim Miller | Sunday 00.00
December 2012 saw one of the most entertaining and bloody lightweight wars that MMA has ever seen.
The Octagon was swathed in blood as both Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller battled it out during an epic 15-minute encounter that has become synonymous with both men.
There is no doubt that the rematch was booked in an attempt to replicate that night and the fans will be hoping to see more of the same.
Since their initial boutp, neither fighter has set the world alight as they have mixed some solid wins with surprising defeats.
Lauzon has lost a further three fights since his defeat to Miller although he has four victories, including a notable stoppage win over Mike Chiesa.
Miller, too, has four victories since that December night which has matched his four defeats.
It’s is a fair reflection of where both fighters currently sit in their careers as they could both be considered journeymen, whose intention is to put on as many exciting fights as possible before their fighting days come to halt.
Throughout their UFC careers, it cannot be denied that Lauzon and Miller are exciting fighters. To date, Lauzon has won ‘Fight of the Night’ on six occasions and Miller four (their initial battle in 2012 won FOTN for both).
I have been unable to find a bookie offering FOTN markets but if you can track this down, be sure to wager on this match-up. I
n terms of what markets are available, I feel that the 8/11 on offer by William Hill for Lauzon to win is far too big.
Although he looked appalling against Evan Dunham in 2015, J-Lau was exceptional in his victories over Diego Sanchez earlier this year at UFC 200 and in knocking-out Takanori Gomi in July 2015.
When the Boston-native is focused and applies himself to training, he is a serious threat to most of his fellow 155lbers.
Whereas Lauzon has recent wins over Chiesa and Sanchez, Miller has lost to both fighters and in his decision loss to Sanchez, he looked particularly poor. Although Miller rebounded with a KO finish of Gomi at UFC 200, it should be noted that the Japanese star’s best days are far behind him.
Lauzon has made no secret of wishing to avenge his loss to Miller and he will attempt to do so in a manner that will see him return to the top of the performance bonus charts.
As a result, on top of backing Lauzon to win, I feel that a small stake on him to win via KO/TKO at 4/1 with Paddy Power is well worth a look.
Demian Maia v Carlos Condit – Demian Maia to win (11/10 Ladbrokes)
Demian Maia v Carlos Condit – Demian Maia to win by decision (11/4 Coral)
Joe Lauzon v Jim Miller – Joe Lauzon to win (8/11 William Hill)
Joe Lauzon v Jim Miller – Joe Lauzon to win by KO/TKO (4/1 Paddy Power)