Saturday, 22 October 2011

A look at the betting on UFC 137

So here we go again.

If you're keeping score it was 5 out of 7 on my predictions for the last UFC card. Out of the darkness of being wrong twice; I did point out that Lauzon could get the shock win by submission and that the key to Stann winning was him keeping Sonnen from getting the fight to the ground. Ultimately his inability to do just that lead to Sonnen controlling him on the ground and ultimately lead to the Sonnen victory. I must say I was massively off the mark with regards Sonnen when it came to possible ring rust and he has seemed to add some much needed jiu jitsu skills to help his already excellent wrestling game. Anyways on to the UFC 137 card.

The fights I'm going to concentrate on are:

Main card

Preliminary card (Spike TV)

Preliminary card (Facebook)

Here we go. First up the main event.
Welterweight bout: United States B.J. Penn vs. United States Nick Diaz

Originally both men had different opponents on this card but due to Nick Diaz no-showing two press conferences he was removed from a scheduled title fight with GSP to be replaced by Penn's original opponent Carlos Condit. Both men are extremely similar fighters in style. They've both excellent hands and are amongst the elite as far as technique in their boxing is concerned. Both have excellent chins and are able to absorb a lot of punishment. This is before we get to the ground game aspect which is yet again extremely evenly matched. BJ has an excellent top game but his guard when off his back can leave something to be desired. Diaz in a similar vein to his brother Nate and the rest of the Cesar Gracie camp is happy to be on top or attacking from his back.

Diaz has gone toe to toe with a number of K.O artists in his time most recently Semtex Daley and Cyborg Santos. The Diaz punches in bunches method has become a legend in it's self and Diaz's condition is not in question as he is famous for keeping up the tempo of his fights.

BJ on the other side of things has had a bit of a resurgence after being out-pointed by Frankie Edgar in their two lightweight encounters. Questions over BJ's conditioning and weight cut have been brought up with his performances in those fights. Especially since a change in his training regime had seen BJ put on some more muscle to his frame. Some had suggested his motivation wasn't there and BJ himself has said he struggles some days with the thought of continuing as a fighter. His will can be borderline bi-polar at times judging by his own statements. However a return to welterweight seems to have re-ignited the fire in his belly and an impressive knockout of Matt Hughes and a draw against Jon Fitch have seen BJ move back into the welterweight title picture with a possible title shot being available should he beat Diaz. This could lead BJ back to a fight with GSP which would have some huge emotional implications for BJ. In that fight his corner threw in the towel after round 4 and BJ himself was incensed by what became known as Greasegate. BJ has continued the excellent strength and conditioning programme he started for the GSP fight and is looking dangerous. He has recently voiced his desire to have a run at a title whether it's at 170lbs or 155lbs. Is it possible? Yes if BJ wants to do it he will. Don't be shocked if you see the Prodigy wear UFC gold again.

Recommendation: BJ Penn by decision. I think this is going the distance as both men cancel each other out in a lot of areas. I think that Penn has a higher pedigree than Diaz and will sneak this.

Heavyweight bout: France Cheick Kongo vs. United States Matt Mitrione

In what could be a massive fight for Matt Mitrione's career prospects he takes on Cheick Kongo. This is going to be a fight with some interesting implications on the heavyweight division. If Kongo takes this then he has the momentum to get him into a contender position in the division. He'd be possibly two fights removed from a title shot. A loss for Kongo will see him most likely play the role of gatekeeper for the rest of his MMA career. Mitrione the former professional American Football player finds himself in an enviable position early on in his UFC career and takes on the biggest test of his skills to date.

I think this fight is going to take place mainly on the feet. Mitrione has shown a penchant for letting his hands go in his previous fights and appears to have a very good chin and a lot of confidence in his striking. To date the Meathead has won four of his five fights by KO or TKO against an ever higher quality of opponent. Going with this strategy may be a big problem as Kongo has shown himself to be one of the most dangerous strikers in the division.

Kongo has been in the UFC heavyweight top 10 for a few years now and has had numerous notable victories. He's also been known to have several issues in his career. First his take down defense has been horrendous and as a fighter that was primarily a striker it's a neglected part of his game. He seems to have worked on both his take downs and take down defence in recent years but it's yet to be seen whether this will help him against the elite of the division. The other aspect of Kongo's game that has came into question is his discipline. He's earned the nickname "CupCheick" for his numerous low blows in fights. 

Even with all that said Kongo's heart can not be taken into question after his performance against Velasquez when he was dominated only to rock the current champion twice as well as his comeback of the year performance against Pat Barry.

Recommendation: Cheick Kongo. Kongo's striking is of K1 level and his chin and recovery times are excellent. Kongo is also the man that rocked the current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez twice to the point where if he hadn't gone for a clinch he may have knocked out the still unbeaten Velasquez.

Heavyweight bout: Croatia Mirko Filipović vs. United States Roy Nelson

This could be a fight of the night contender. Expect both men to come out swinging in this fight. Big Country and Cro Cop are both in danger of losing their jobs due to recent lacklustre performances. Both men are at varying stages of their careers and it must be said that it's Nelson that needs the victory more urgently of the two fighters if his career prospects are to improve.

The legendary Cro Cop is most famous for his highlight reel knock outs in Pride but his UFC career has never really taken off.  His UFC victories have came against a lower grade of fighters and when put in against top guys he has struggled. His old quote of right leg hospital left leg cemetery might still get chuckles but he is largely speaking a too one dimensional fighter to be still relevant at the top of the division. Personally speaking I think a loss could spell retirement for Cro Cop. His best days are behind him and this can be seen in his struggles against mid-tier opposition.

Big Country is coming off the back of two losses as is Cro Cop. Big Country's performances in these fights has left serious questions over his ability to go at full pace for 3 rounds. He showed a lot of heart in both fights in that he was swinging to the end as well as illustrating his iron chin against JDS. He's now 2-2 in the UFC and has to know that a victory is required to get him back on track. Despite the look of Big Country he is a serious threat to all heavyweights in the UFC. He has an excellent skill set range and is as dangerous on the ground as he is on the feet. Having won the Ultimate Fighter TV series to get his UFC contract it is still to be seen if Nelson can make the steps necessary to become a contender.

Recommendation: Do not judge a book by it's cover. Big Country Nelson should pick up a win here.

Lightweight bout: Germany Dennis Siver vs. United States Donald Cerrone
This is a huge fight in the lightweight division. Both men are coming off the back of impressive wins and which ever fighter takes the win in this will find themselves thrust into the title picture at 155. Siver has shown a massive improvement in his overall game since his UFC debut in 2007. He is currently on an impressive 4 fight winning streak and has shown great striking skills as well as some amazing balance in his takedown defence when beating George Sotiropoulous in Australia. 
Cerrone is in the middle of a career resurgence himself and since the WEC was folded into the UFC has been on an absolute tear. He holds a five fight win streak heading into this fight (2 in the WEC and 3 in the UFC) and has finished three of his last four fights in impressive fashion. His most recent victory was an impressive TKO of Charles Oliveira and the Cowboy looks like he is ready to put himself back in the title picture.

Recommendation: This is going to be a fight of the night contender and I have to favour Cerrone. He's fought a tougher quality of opponent and has a stronger overall MMA game in all areas in my opinion.

Light Heavyweight bout: United States Brandon Vera vs. United States Eliot Marshall
This is another match with huge implications on the future job prospects of the two fighters. Vera comes into the fight on the back of a career reprieve thanks to Thiago Silva's masked drug test. Vera who at one point was the hottest prospect in the UFC's heavyweight division and had the balls to call out Chuck Liddell as he'd aspirations of being the first man to hold the UFC heavyweight and lightweight belts at the same time. 
Marshall is a talented jiu jitsu practitioner and  is also a former TUF contestant who has fought his way back to the UFC after being cut previously from the organisation. He earned three wins outside of the UFC only to return to be on the receiving end of a vicious knock out from Luiz Cane. This is a hard fight to break down as both men have had a history of under-performing at times. With the stakes as high as they are for both fighters it could lead to a huge fight from both men or a snooze fest.


Recommendation: Brandon Vera to take this one. If Vera is on form there is very few that can beat him. He really needs to use his excellent Muay Thai game more as he has some vicious leg kicks and knees in the clinch.

So that's it for the UFC 137 card from me. I would have liked to put an extra fight or two in here but I think these six are the fights that are a bit more open especially with winning bets in mind.

Happy punting.

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