UFC on Fuel 7 Picks & Bets
I’ve had a week off to stew about my 4-7 record and losing betting night at UFC 156, so in response I got a chance to watch a bit more tape leading up to this Saturday’s UFC on Fuel card. Given that there are a quite a few fighters who have not had much exposure in the UFC, this was a welcome and valuable gap. I think it uncovered some value especially in the preliminary fights.
As always, we’ll start at the bottom of the card and work our way up:
- Ulysses Gomez vs. Phil Harris
- Pick: Gomez via 2nd Round Submission
- No bet
- While I was tempted to include Gomez in a parlay, I haven’t as of yet. I feel that he has advantages in striking and grappling here, but his wrestling can let him down at times. Harris may be able to get top position as many fighters in the past have, and if Gomez chooses to fight from his back rather than creating scrambles, it would be a good way to lose a decision. Still, as evidenced by my pick this is an unlikely scenario. If Gomez drops below -200 I will look to add him into a parlay.
- Vaughan Lee vs. Motonobu Tezuka
- Pick: Lee via Decision
- No bet
- This is a very tricky fight for me to pick. Lee is the more likely winner, but because he has more ways to win, Tezuka has the most likely path to victory, which is a decision (as he is pretty much incapable of anything else). Lee’s history of being taken down by anybody who wants to take him down is worrisome, but I feel like fighting at home will result in some favourable officiating both on the scorecards and in the form of quick stand ups while Tezuka tries to employ his style of getting top position and then doing nothing. Remember that Tezuka was so inactive from top position that he was stood up from side control. I think he gets some takedowns, but I can’t pick or bet him knowing that he has a style which invites terrible officiating and Lee is the more skilled fighter in all other areas.
- Stanislav Nedkov vs. Tom Watson
- Pick: Watson via 3rd Round TKO
- 2.5U to win 2U on Watson (-125)
- This is one of the fights I broke down over at BetOnMMA.org, and I think it is very simple. Nedkov will be dangerous for the first couple of minutes, but his cardio was horrible at 205 and I expect it to be more horrible at 185. He doesn’t use his wrestling effectively, relies on wild, inefficient haymakers and doesn’t have good defence. Watson is the better technical striker, has better (but not great) cardio, and improving takedown defence. So long as he doesn’t get caught by one of Nedkov’s early bombs, Watson should take over in this fight.
- Josh Grispi vs. Andy Ogle
- Pick: Grispi via 1st Round TKO
- 1U to win 1.05U on Grispi (+105)
- Yeah, I know, betting on Grispi isn’t the smartest thing in the world. In my defence, HE WAS AT AN UNDERDOG PRICE AGAINST ANDY OGLE! That is baffling to me. The guys that Grispi has lost to since his flame out has begun have been Dustin Poirier, George Roop and Rani Yahya. Those fighters all have actual skills in different aspects of MMA. Andy Ogle does not. I see Grispi using his size and grappling to take Ogle down, and then he should just be able to advance position and smash. Even if he doesn’t get Ogle out of there early, he’s just so much more skilled that I still think he takes a decision.
- Danny Castillo vs. Paul Sass
- Pick: Castillo via 2nd Round TKO
- 2.5U to win 2U on Castillo (-125)
- In another fight I broke down on BetonMMA.org, Sass has an obvious submission edge. However, just as in the Michael Johnson and Jacob Volkmann fights, he has no way to use that advantage unless Castillo fights foolishly and allows him to. I see Castillo as a much smarter fighter than either of those two, and he should be able to batter a helpless Sass on the feet for as long as it takes. Obviously if Castillo follows Sass to the ground (I don’t see him being taken down), there is the danger of him getting submitted, but I just see him knowing what he has to do in this fight and where it will be easiest to win, and fighting there.
- Terry Etim vs. Renee Forte
- Pick: Etim via 1st Round Submission
- No bet
- Yawn. Terry Etim is a pretty entertaining fighter, but whether it’s due to the layoff, his opponent, or some combination of the two, I just don’t care about this fight. Etim is the better striker, and has the more effective submission game (even if Forte has better credentials), and I see him putting those two things together to catch a hurt or desperate Forte in a choke to finish this one early.
- Che Mills vs. Matt Riddle
- Pick: Riddle via Decision
- 1U to win 1.9U on Riddle (+190)
- In what has been a shockingly long UFC career (this will be Riddle’s 12th UFC fight), this is the first time he has been a betting underdog. That is interesting since I think this is a pretty even fight (hence the bet on Riddle). Riddle has been improving his gameplans to go along with his solid wrestling base and physical tools. Now that he’s actually aware of jet lag being a real thing, he should be more prepared to fight overseas, and I think Mills is someone he can wear on with his wrestling and physicality. Mills is the better striker here and has improved his takedown defence, but I don’t think he’s prepared to deal with the pressure Riddle is going to put on him for three rounds.
- Ryan Jimmo vs. James Te Huna
- Pick: Te Huna via 1st Round TKO
- No bet
- If you only saw Ryan Jimmo’s UFC debut, you have a gross misunderstanding of who he is as a fighter. Jimmo is a very passive, defensive fighter. His style has been tricky for overmatched foes on the Canadian regional circuit to figure out, but the same tactics will get him beaten up against a fighter like James Te Huna. The New Zealander is at his most dangerous in the first round, while Jimmo often gets off to slow starts, and I think when Te Huna connects he’s going to hurt the Canadian and put him away early. Even if that doesn’t happen and Te Huna’s questionable cardio comes into play, Sokoudjou was able to get the better of Jimmo over the course of five rounds, and we all know the kind of cardio issues he brings to the table.
- Gunnar Nelson vs. Jorge Santiago
- Pick: Nelson via Decision
- No bet
- I was very tempted to pick and bet Santiago here, but a couple factors kept me away. He has one of the weakest chins in MMA, trains with one of the most disjointed camps in MMA, is taking his first fight at 170lbs after competing at 185 for his entire career, and is taking this fight on short notice. If he was fighting a run of the mill European fighter and not one of the best prospects in all of MMA, I’d give him a better shot, but I see Nelson getting takedowns regularly and this being a similar fight to Santiago/Maia.
- Cyrille Diabate vs. Jimi Manuwa
- Pick: Diabate via 3rd Round TKO
- 1U to win 1.8U on Diabate (+180)
- The final of my BetonMMA.org breakdowns, I see a lot of value in Diabate as the underdog here, and his line has increased to +210 since I placed a bet on him. Manuwa is overhyped in my opinion, as his offense is limited to looping punching and flashy kicks. For a guy with as much speed and power as he has, his strikes take longer to get to the target than they should. In contrast, Diabate doesn’t have the raw speed of Manuwa, but his strikes are much crisper, much more accurate and come in straight lines. Diabate also has a 5.5 inch reach advantage which should go a ways to keeping Manuwa on the outside in the first round when he is at his most dangerous. After that, we saw Manuwa’s cardio issues against Kyle Kingsbury, and should the same come to the forefront against Diabate, he runs the risk of getting hurt on the feet, or taken down and submitted. I think Manuwa is still too one-dimensional for a fighter like Diabate who is very skilled in that one dimension, and better elsewhere.
- Dustin Poirier vs. Cub Swanson
- Pick: Swanson via 2nd Round TKO
- No bet
- If any fight on this card screams “stay away”, this is it. Swanson could knock Poirier out or box him up for a decision. Poirier could submit Swanson in a scramble, or win a striking battle if Swanson breaks his hand for the umpteenth time. There are too many ways for this fight to play out for me to feel confident about a pick, let alone a bet. Poirier has been hurt badly on the feet by Jonathan Brookins, Swanson has been submitted by Jens Pulver. Would you be shocked if either guy was able to finish the other in a flash? Me neither. That said, I give Swanson the slight edge because of Poirier’s hittability and Cub’s ability to avoid the takedown.
- Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald –
- Pick: Barao via Decision
- No bet
- I mentioned earlier that I considered putting Ulysses Gomez into a parlay, and Renan Barao would be the fighter I would parlay him with. I would prefer Barao’s line to come down a bit more, and I expect it will closer to fight time, so that parlay option is still open. As far as the fight goes, you can see my detailed breakdown here. Many people are predicting Barao to take the fight down in order to win, but I think he has the advantage on the feet as well. Quite simply he is a more accomplished fighter against more accomplished opponents than McDonald. The challenger has the potential to win via knockout on a perfectly timed counter, but I see it being his only route to victory, and an unlikely one, as Barao is a far better striker than those he has been able to knock out, and even better than strikers like Chris Cariaso and Edwin Figueroa who McDonald struggled with at times. Finally, with Dominick Cruz being out of action for so long, I just consider this a Bantamweight Title fight.