A big weekend of UFC action coming up and our man David Walker (@WalkerDavid32) picks out his best bets.
Demetrious Johnson v Henry Cejudo | Sunday 04:00
The co-main event of UFC 197 sees the number two P4P fighter and current flyweight champion Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse' Johnson face undefeated Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo in what many feel is his toughest match up for a number of years.
Mighty Mouse is simply exceptional. His wrestling, striking, movement, intelligence are all elite level and since he moved to 125lbs from 135lbs, he has not looked back.
With every fight, he improves and strives to continually get better and has set his sights on breaking Anderson Silva's record of 10 straight title defences. Mighty Mouse is currently on eight and will be looking to take no chances against Cejudo when the two match up on Sunday morning.
Cejudo has taken to MMA exceptionally well and is currently 10-0 with four straight wins since coming into the UFC. Despite his history of cutting weight as an Olympic wrestler, Cejudo has encountered real difficulty in making weight during his MMA career. Now employing a nutritionist to help with the cut, he feels that this is something he has overcome and will enable him to become a much better fighter.
Without dismissing Cejudo, I feel that this fight has come much too early in his MMA career and that the nous of DJ will be too much over the course of a five round fight. Both fighters have similar stats, but Johnson's are against a much higher caliber of opponent and over a more prolonged period.
Cejudo has the slightly better striking with 3.78 significant strikes lands per minute compared to Mighty Mouse's 3.46 – both fighters hover around the 50% accuracy mark.
Despite Cejudo having a better defensive, avoiding 70% of strikes, he still absorbs two significant strikes per minute in comparison to Johnson, who absorbs 1.81 strikes despite his lower 65% defensive success.
The grappling is where I would have expected Cejudo to outmatch Johnson, but Olympic wrestling is very different to MMA wrestling and Cejudo is clearly still trying to make that transition as he has a very poor takedown accuracy of 33%, helping him to an average 2.25 takedowns per 15 minutes.
Johnson, a successful high school wrestler, has a much better accuracy of 53% and 3.62 takedowns per 15 minutes. Cejudo will be hoping that his 100% takedown defence continues against the current champ in order to help him stay in the fight.
As I mentioned though, this is a bridge too far for Cejudo at this early juncture of his MMA career and I feel that Mighty Mouse will be able to control and dictate the majority of the fight. As much as the champ would love to get an impressive finish, the statistics point towards a decision victory.
To support this view, DJ has an average fight time of 17 minutes 52 seconds and has seen nine of his 13 UFC fights go to decision. Cejudo has had four fights in the UFC and all of these have gone to decision, resulting in an average fight time of 15 minutes.
Should this fight go the way of decision as I expect, Demetrious Johnson will be the victor and this can be backed at 5/4 with Skybet.
Jon Jones v Ovince St Preux | Sunday 05:30 | BT Sport 2
UFC 197's main event should have seen Jon Jones face off against current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Unfortunately for everyone involved, DC pulled out injured a fortnight ago and after Rumble Johnson and Rashad Evans were both unable (or unwilling) to step in at short notice, OSP was happy to oblige and challenge Jones for the interim LHW belt.
It has been argued by many that Jones is still the official champ, having never lost his belt inside in the Octagon. However, his misdemeanours outside of the cage have had a direct and negative impact on the undisputed greatest MMA fighter of all time and, as a consequence, the belt was rightfully stripped from his waist.
Jones feels that he must demonstrate beyond all doubt that he is the rightful LHW champion and he will look to set about proving this in the early hours of Sunday morning.
In reality, this fight is all about Jon Jones. He has technically never lost inside the Octagon, spanning 16 fights under the banner of the UFC (there is one defeat against his name but this was an unjust disqualification in a fight that he had already pulverised his opponent in), and will be looking to continue his undefeated streak against his outmatched opponent in OSP.
Jones looks focused and from his Instagram posts, it is clear to see that he has been much more dedicated to his training than ever before. Physically, he looks more powerful and with his declaration that he is clean and sober, he should be mentally in much better shape for his return to the Octagon.
Add in the fact, that Jones was training to face the current champ for the real belt, and I think OSP will be faced with a very dangerous proposition.
Jones is a silly price to win as expected so there is absolutely no worth in even looking at the straight win. The value in this fight lies in total rounds. Jones has an average fight time of 13 mins 27 seconds and only one of his past nine fights has gone under 1.5 rounds.
Granted Jones has been facing a killer's row of opponents but he has not been the kind of fighter to finish opponents early due to lacking that explosive striking that can finish a fight in a split second. Instead it is usually the accuracy and pressure of Jones that defeats his opponents as he lands 4.26 significant strikes per minute with a highly impressive 54% accuracy.
OSP has the kind of power that Jones would love to have in his arsenal, but getting close enough to Jones in order to land is the problem. Jones has a 4″ reach advantage and due to his unorthodox striking and punishing oblique kicks, he keeps his opponents at bay. As a result, OSP will most likely not be able to get close enough to Jones to make his power count, resulting in the fight being prolonged.
With an average fight time of 9 minutes and 31 seconds, OSP tends to get beyond that 1.5 round mark and this definitely sticks out for me as being the best valued bet at Evens with Bet Victor. This means that should the fight go past the 7 minutes 30 seconds mark, we have a winner.
I am also having a small personal stake on Jones by decision at 9/1 with Bet365. With this being his first fight back after a long layoff, allied to the fact that his last three fights have gone the distance, I am happy to plump for the value in this.
Demetrious Johnson v Henry Cejudo – Demetrious Johnson to win via decision (5/4 Skybet)
Jon Jones v Ovince St Preux – Over 1.5 Rounds (Evens BetVictor)
Jon Jones v Ovince St Preux – Jon Jones to win via decision (9/1 Bet365)
Although I have not done any write ups for these fights, I also feel like there is value in the following:
Carla Esparza v Juilana Lima – Carla Esparza to win via decision (11/10 BetVictor)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima v Cint Hester – Marcos Rogerio de Lima to win via KO/TKO (11/8 BetVictor)
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