UFC Fight Night 109: Raucous home crowd can push Gus to glory

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UFC boff Callum Wilson (@CallumWilsonSJ) marks our card for UFC 211.

UFC Fight Night 109 | 28th May 2017 | BT Sport 2

Returning to Europe for another night of mixed-martial- arts entertainment, the UFC strolls back to Sweden this Sunday.

Featuring the prodigal son and face of Scandinavian MMA, Alexander Gustafsson, a rather dilapidated card is on show in Stockholm this bank holiday, and although it isn’t teeming with talent – there are a few betting angles on this card that seem off.

As with the modern protocol for European cards, the line-up does not necessarily boast house-hold names or even particularly notable fighters – but it does have Misha Cirkunov. Throughout this break-down I will run through two fights and my recommendations on how I think they’ll play out.

Riding an enormous wave of momentum, whilst at the same time having regulatory issues with the UFC is the previously mentioned Cirkunov, who takes on Volkan Oezdemir in a Light-Heavyweight showdown in the co-main event.

Then, I run through Gustafsson’s chances and how the Mauler over hauls the gritty Glover Teixeira in the main event of what promises to be an interesting card for MMA betting.

Misha Cirkunov v Volkan Oezdemir | Sunday 19:00

Misha Cirkunov is a dangerous gentleman. Born in Latvia, but fighting out of Ontario Canada, Cirkunov is deceptively talented in all aspects of MMA.

Although most of his UFC portfolio has showcased his relentless grappling ability, and a killer instinct when hunting for submissions – he also has a deceivingly good stand up game.

Picking up recent victories over the likes of Ion Cutelaba, Nikita Krylov and Alex Nicholson, Cirkunov has quietly dismissed some real contenders within the Light-Heavyweight division.

This has led to the proclamation of Cirkunov being touted as the next big thing at 205, with a take-down heavy game that frustrates and tires opponents in equal measure.

Whilst Oezdemir is certainly no joke, as highlighted in his win over interim-title challenger Ovince Saint Preux, I think he does have a variety of fundamental flaws I expect Cirkunov to circumnavigate.

In terms of the betting angle, the money line at 1/4 doesn’t inspire me with a great deal of value. Consequently, I’m looking at the props for how the fight will end, and two spots jump out at me.

One blot on the copy book of Oezdemir was shown in his most recent loss to Kelly Anundson where he was continually taken down.

This coupled with the outrageous grappling ability of Cirkunov give me full confidence that he will control this fight on the ground, and eventually I see his relentless pressure leading to mistakes and the consequent finish on the mat.

Alexander Gustafsson v Glover Teixeira | Sunday 20:45 | BT Sport 2

As in a plethora of other sports, the advantage of playing or fighting in your home town can often go under appreciated. Giving that extra last push, fighting through pain barriers that are dismissed due to the adrenaline, there are a plethora of benefactors of fighting with the support of your home crowd.

Heralded as not just the premiere Swedish fighter in the world, but also adopted by the entire Scandinavian fight fan demographic as their face of MMA – Gustaffson has carried the torch for what seems like an eternity.

The reception he will receive when he runs out in the main event at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm will be deafening, and I believe will push him over the line in a key fight in the 205-pound division.

Taking on vet Teixeira, the Swede is looking to continue his everlasting presence at the top of the top of the Light-Heavy weight ranks.

There is no getting away from the fact the Swede has suffered several defeats in his most recent run at the title, although when you look at the calibre of opponent – it’s perhaps no surprise.

Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are among the top fighters in the entire world. Gus got things back on track with a much-needed win over Jan Blachowicz in his most recent outing.

Teixeira is the quintessential gate-keeper at 205 and by no means an easy outing for anyone on the roster. When he can, Glover his displayed a savvy octagon knowledge and an ability to grind out opponents.

This in mind, I still believe Gus has the stronger cardio that I see coming into play in a 25- minute fight. I expect early pressure from Glover and I think we’re going to see him try and finish the fight early.

I anticipate Gus withstanding the barrage in the first round, and Glover tiring with Gus pulling away in the latter stages of the scrap.

Despite the step-up to take on Teixeira, I expect a solid game plan and execution from the Swede, with an ability to fight on the outside and work at range. Two major stats in Gus’ favour are height and reach, enjoying a 3-inch advantage in both categories.

Using his length, I expect Gus to adapt a cautious approach and to showcase an unwillingness to hit the mat with BJJ practitioner Glover, and by point scoring and efficiency I see Gus taking the win by decision.

Best Bets

Misha Cirkunov v Volkan Oezdemir – Misha Cirkunov to win in rounds 1-3 (4/6 Sky Bet)

Misha Cirkunov v Volkan Oezdemir – Misha Cirkunov to win via submission (Evens 888 Sport)

Alexander Gustafsson v Glover Teixeira – Alexander Gustafsson to win money-line (1/3 Skybet)

Alexander Gustafsson v Glover Teixeira – Alexander Gustafsson to win via decision (9/4 Skybet)

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