UFC is getting more and more popular so we got keen follower of the sport David Walker (@Walkerdavid32) to give us his best bets for Thursday night, the first of three outstanding MMA cards on consecutive nights.
Fight Night 80 | 11th December 2015
Fight Night 80 kicks-off arguably the biggest week that the UFC has ever had. With fight cards planned on three consecutive nights for the first time ever, culminating in what is undeniably the greatest UFC fight card EVER on 12 December – UFC 194 (more about that later in the week) – the UFC have invested heavily in this week and will hope that the fighters deliver.
Judging by the cards put on each night, it will be difficult to see anything but drama and unadulterated excitement buoyed by the most partisan MMA fans in the world from both Brazil and Ireland (I will be one of these in the midst of the madness this week!).
Looking at Thursday's event in this article, there a few fights which will be extremely entertaining and if you have never paid much attention to the UFC before, I would wholeheartedly recommend jumping on board this week.
Rose Namajunas v Paige VanZant | Friday 04.30
The first fight to look at is the main event between Rose ‘Thug' Namajunus and Paige '12 Gauge' VanZant.
This will be the first time that a female fight (outside of a championship fight) has headlined any form of UFC event and it speaks volumes about how the UFC's top brass feel about VanZant.
Take aside her fighting skills for a second and focus on VanZant's physical appearance; her incredible likability and charm makes her a dream from a PR perspective. A down to earth, sweeter than sweet, hard working girl like VanZant is exactly who the UFC want to promote their company rather than some boorish oaf who sells the misconception that MMA is simply a violent sport.
VanZant fights out of Team Alpha Male, which is one of the strongest fight camps for the 135lb, and 145lb men's divisions with their fighters, lead by Uriah Fäber, having challenged for UFC belts on numerous occasions.
VanZant trains alongside these warriors and her skill set has improved exponentially over the past 24 months as a result. With an extremely aggressive and dynamic fighting style, VanZant mixes wrestling with non stop striking to wear her opponents down and has lost only once in her seven-fight professional career.
Although the quality of opponent that VanZant has faced to date is somewhat questionable, she’s three wins by decision, two by submission and one by TKO, VanZant is well rounded and capable of finishing fights in most areas. It is very understandable, given the media hype and her impressive career to date, why '12 Gauge' is the bookies favourite (4/7 Bet365). However, there is simply no value in back the UFC's golden goose in my opinion.
It is crazy how short some people's memories are in the fight business as it was only in 2014 that during season 20 of TUF featuring female straw weights for the first time, Dana White referred to Rose Namajunus as ‘the next Ronda Rousey'.
Rose torched her way through the tournament stopping three opponents inside the distance only to lose in the finale, which saw Carla Esparza lift the inaugural straw weight title. Since then, Namajunus has fought only once, winning in devastating fashion by submission in the first round. So it is very surprising to see ‘Thug' Rose as an 8/5 (William Hill) outsider.
Namajunus has had eight professional fights (three inside TUF competition) and has W6-L2. Of the two losses, one was the aforementioned to Carla Esparza and the other was to Teica Torres, who is also the only person to have beaten VanZant.
All of Rose's victories have came via submission and four of these inside the first round! Namajunus by submission in the first is a very tasty 10/1 (Paddy Power), but more realistic and holding incredible value is Namajunus to win via submission at 10/3 (Paddy Power).
This is undeniably going to be an exciting fight and much of the media's build up will be focusing on Paige VanZant but I, for one, am not going to sleep on the ‘Thug'. Rose should have too much power for VanZant to wear down in this one, so get backing Namajunus for that value bet.
Jim Miller v Michael Chiesa | Friday 03.00
Jim Miller (25-6-0) against Michael Chiesa (12-2-0) sees two superb grapplers going head-to-head, although they are at different stages of their respective careers.
Miller is a UFC veteran having fought 20 times previously for the organisation (14-5-1 no contest). Throughout his impressive career, Miller has been on the cusp of challenging for the belt but has fallen short at the final hurdle on a number of occasions.
His last three fights have seen him lose twice whilst sneaking the most recent fight via split decision. It could be argued that Miller's best days are behind him and thinking of the damage that he has been on the receiving end against the likes of Joe Lauzon (despite winning) and more recently Donald ‘Cowboy' Cerrone, it is a question worth asking.
Michael Chiesa is the winner of TUF 15, which was undoubtedly one of the most difficult seasons of the competition given the level of fighter involved. Chiesa is fantastic to watch and mixes an improving striking game with a very high-level submission style.
Despite losing fairly recently to UFC veteran Joe Lauzon (due to injury, Chiesa wanted to continue fighting), the Team Alpha Male fighter is one that many MMA experts expect to see move up the rankings and potentially challenge for the belt in the future. Chiesa is a best price of evens (BetVictor) and is worth dabbling on at that price.
A more interesting market for this fight is to win via submission. Seven of Chiesa's nine stoppage wins have come via submission and 14 of Miller's 17 stoppages have also come via the same method.
Unfortunately for us, there is no price for the fight to end by submission on its own but Miller is a very teasing 4/1 (BetVictor) whilst Chiesa a lofty 5/1 (BetVictor). I will be backing both of these, as I feel very confident looking at the stats and knowing both fighters, that this will be a fight of the night candidate ending in submission victory for one of these fighters.
Rose Namajunas v Paige VanZant – Rose Namajunus to win (8/5 William Hill)
Rose Namajunas v Paige VanZant – Rose Namajunus to win via submission (10/3 Paddy Power)
Jim Miller v Michael Chiesa – Jim Miller to win via submission (4/1 BetVictor)
Jim Miller v Michael Chiesa – Michael Chiesa to win via submission (5/1 BetVictor)
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