UFC on FX 7 Preview and Bets
This Saturday night, the UFC makes its first trip to Sao Paulo since the Ultimate Brazil card way back in 1998. While Rio is the most celebrated fight city in Brazil, Sao Paulo is the biggest city in the country in terms of population and finance. Due to this, it would have behooven the UFC to put on a better card to gain a foothold in the city than what they’ve offered up.
The main event, and only real relevant fight on this card, pits Vitor Belfort against Michael Bisping in a kind of sort of title eliminator which is characteristic of the UFC’s current policy on title shots. Other than that, the card is filled with Brazilian fighters who look like they’re fresh off of some Jungle Fight cards.
In the main event, we’re either going to see another early Belfort KO (the average time of his 10 UFC wins has been under 2 minutes), or we’ll see the Young Dinosaur fade as Bisping makes him constantly work in this fight. The Brit’s penchant for getting hit in his fights is well-documented, but he has made strides in decreasing the frequency of those occurrences as well as improving his reaction when it does happen. In his last outing against Brian Stann, he was caught towards the end of the first round, but managed to ride out the clock, compose himself, and come back to win the fight. I consider Belfort a better finisher than Stann when he has someone hurt, but I think Bisping will be smart in the early going and initiate clinches to wear the Brazilian down, before taking over with his volume striking and occasional takedowns as the fight wears on. My lean is Bisping, but no bet here because of the danger Belfort presents.
The co-main event looks like it should be on the undercard of a Fuel event, as quasi-finalist from TUF Brazil Daniel Sarafian makes his UFC debut against CB Dollaway. Sarafian has looked the part of an impressive grappler in his young career, and showed flashes of dynamic striking on his ill-fated route to the finals of TUF Brazil, but he is still far from a polished product. His biggest weakness (as is the case with most young Brazilians) is his wrestling game, and that is obviously Dollaway’s strength. I don’t see Sarafian being developed enough in the wrestling game to do much but get put on his back in this fight, and while there is always the possibility of Dollaway diving headlong into a guillotine, I could not pass up the bet on Dollaway by decision @ +255.
Next up, Gabriel Gonzaga faces Ben Rothwell in a bout that people insist on calling a hometown fight for Gonzaga despite his established residence in Massachusetts. Although many people have used whispers of an injury-laden Rothwell camp to pick Gonzaga, I simply cannot look past the fact that he has only once beaten a quality fighter in the UFC (Mirko Cro Cop way back in 2007). Aside from that fight, every time he’s faced someone who actually belonged in the UFC, he’s lost, and in many cases has looked bad in doing so. Ben Rothwell belongs in the UFC, and once you get past the Mark Hunt fight (which was in Denver and after a prolonged absence due to an ACL injury), he has looked alright in the UFC. He’s not a future title challenger, but he’s a big, heavy hitter who is underrated as a grappler, and has finally put the work in to get himself in good physical condition. That combination leads me to believe that he is either going to crack Gonzaga early and finish the fight, or if the rumours of his camp are true, he will still be the better wrestler and should be able to outpoint Gonzaga in a fashion similar to what Brendan Schaub was able to do. To account for both possibilities, I’ve placed two bets on Rothwell, one for him to win straight up @ -105, and another for him to win via decision @ +525.
The final main card bout sees Khabib Nurmagomedov looking to extend his record to 19-0 against Thiago Tavares. A current top prospect against a former top prospect. The problem with Nurmagomedov as a prospect is that he has shown alarmingly little technique, and has won fights primarily on aggression. I personally thought he lost the Tibau fight, and had it taken place in Brazil (as it was originally scheduled) it would have likely gone the other way. I’m not saying that judges in Brazil are completely corrupt, just that with the Brazilian crowd going nuts whenever their fighters do anything, there is an inherent bias. I don’t see Tavares making the same mistake of doing what Tibau did, which was to do as little as possible, and I see that being the difference in this fight. Khabib’s offence can be seen coming from a mile away, and Tavares has the ability to beat him on technique and on the scorecards. I’m taking Tavares to stop Khabib’s Sambo Train, and making a small play on him @ +165 as well.
Moving on to the undercard, I’ll run down picks and bets quickly for each fight:
- Milton Viera is the better striker than Godofredo Pepey, and due to Pepey’s urge to have fights hit the ground in whatever position possible is likely to be in top position where he can advance and threaten with submissions. I don’t see him getting a stoppage, but I do see a fairly clear cut decision. I have included Viera in a parlay.
- Ronny Markes is big and is a good wrestler for a Brazilian. Andrew Craig is tough, and we know this because he has so many defensive liabilities that he’s shown us time and time again (even going back to his HDNet days). The combination of these two things points to a pretty easy Markes decision win, unless Craig goes nuts and lands another head kick out of nowhere like in his last fight. I have included Markes in a parlay.
- Diego Nunes and Nik Lentz should be on the main card, as this is easily the 2nd best fight on the card. Nunes has been floating around the top 10 at 145 for a while, and Lentz looks to be on his way in that direction after a mostly successful run at 155, and a sterling performance in his Featherweight debut. While Nunes often makes for a difficult opponent to fight, Lentz is the type of guy who makes life miserable for anyone in the cage with him. I see Lentz getting his hands on Nunes, pushing him up against the cage, and slowly imposing his wrestling. This may look like the Andre Winner fight, and you can be sure the Brazilian fans won’t be happy about it, but I see Lentz coming away the victor in another decision. I have a straight bet on Lentz @ +145, although picking him to win a decision is another route one could go.
- Now we’re starting to get into fights where I know very little about the short-notice Brazilian fighters. We know what Edson Barboza is all about. Technical Muay Thai used to set up his flashy strikes. From everything I’ve heard about Lucas Martins, he is also a fine striker, but not on the level of Barboza. I’ve picked Barboza, but there was no bet here as I’m more interested to see how Barboza rebounds from the KO loss to Jamie Varner.
- The first (and younger… and better) Alcantara brother on this card, Iuri, makes his UFC Bantamweight debut after an impressive Featherweight campaign. Prior to losing against Hacran Dias, Alcantara had defeated Michihiro Omigawa, Felipe Arantes and Ricardo Lamas in his Zuffa career. Now that he is both moving down in weight and facing a fighter who belongs at 125, he should roll here. Good luck at Flyweight, Pedro Nobre. I’ve included Alcantara inside the distance in a parlay.
- Iuri’s elder brother Ildemar is stepping in on short notice as so many other fighters on this card have had to do, and is fighting up from his normal weight of 185 to do so. Luckily for him, Wagner Prado should also be fighting at 185 eventually, so he shouldn’t be too much smaller (although he will definitely be at a size disadvantage). More importantly, Prado also holds the striking and wrestling advantages in this fight, which sounds weird given how inept his wrestling was against Phil Davis. I’ve got Prado in this fight, but I’m not sure if he gets the KO or takes it to decision. Either way, he too is in a parlay.
- Finally, Francisco Trinaldo looks to build off of his successful UFC debut in facing CJ Keith who has had weight issues in both of his UFC appearances. Trinaldo really shouldn’t struggle here, as Keith was blitzed by Ramsey Nijem in his previous UFC bout. Trinaldo is a harder puncher and better overall grappler than Nijem, plus his ability to ragdoll opponents with his immense strength makes up for his lack of technical wrestling chops. Massaranduba will make quick work of Keith, and he finds himself in one of my parlays to boot.
- Michael Bisping over Vitor Belfort via Decision
- CB Dollaway over Daniel Sarafian via Decision
- Ben Rothwell over Gabriel Gonzaga via 2nd Round TKO
- Thiago Tavares over Khabib Nurmagomedov via Decision
- Milton Viera over Godofredo Castro via Decision
- Ronny Markes over Andrew Craig via Decision
- Nik Lentz over Diego Nunes via Decision
- Edson Barboza over Lucas Martins via Decision
- Iuri Alcantara over Pedro Nobre via 2nd Round Submission
- Wagner Prado over Ildemar Alcantara via 1st Round TKO
- Francisco Trinaldo over CJ Keith via 1st Round TKO
- 2.1U to win 2U on Ben Rothwell @ -105
- 1U to win 1.45U on Nik Lentz @ +145
- 0.5U to win 0.825U on Thiago Tavares @ +165
- 0.5U to win 1.275U on CB Dollaway to win by decision @ +255
- 0.5U to win 1.345U on 3-team parlay (Prado, Iuri Alcantara ITD, Trinaldo ITD) @ +269
- 0.5U to win 1.8U on 2-team parlay (Viera decision, Markes decision) @ +360
- 0.25U to win 1.315U on Ben Rothwell to win by decision @ +525
- Total Stake: 5.35U
- Potential Winnings: 10.01U