UFC on Fuel 7 Takeaways, Betting Recap

Renan BaraoSo I expected this card to be a bounce back from UFC 156, and it turned out to be just that. Despite some very close betting lines, I felt I had a pretty good read on many of the fights. In going 8-4 on picks and turning in a profit of 2.9 units, that turned out to be true. Here are my thoughts on the card.

Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald

  • Result: Barao via 4th Round Submission
    • This fight played out a bit differently than I anticipated, but with the same fighter winning. I expected the fight to play out primarily on the feet (which it did), with Barao’s range and variety making it difficult for McDonald to land his counters. Instead, Barao forced McDonald to be the aggressor on the feet, something the challenger didn’t look comfortable doing. Prior to the fight, some had pegged McDonald as an aggressive striker, but he’s only aggressive when counterstriking off of opportunities his opponents present him. Barao didn’t provide many opportunities, and McDonald couldn’t create them on his own. I also expected Barao to be content with winning the striking — which he was doing — and to only use his grappling if McDonald started to get the upper hand. Rather than that, he used his grappling to keep McDonald off balance early and eventually caught an arm-triangle in a scramble to finish the fight.
    • Some weren’t as impressed with Barao’s striking as they have been in the past, but I liked his ability to adapt his style based on the strengths of his opponent.
    • Barao may be the best fighter in MMA at finding and applying submissions in scrambles.
    • McDonald didn’t look out of his depth in this fight. The striking was competitive and he was effective at regaining guard and getting back to his feet when taken down. Obviously he’s a step below Barao in pretty much every area, but no so much that I can’t see him becoming champion in the future. Based on some of his interviews the biggest issue will be how badly he wants to become champion, as he’s stated it’s not his ultimate goal.
    • Even though Barao wants to fight Dominick Cruz next, Cruz is still too far away from returning, so he may end up facing Eddie Wineland or Raphael Assuncao instead.

Dustin Poirier vs. Cub Swanson

  • Result: Swanson via Unanimous Decision
    • I have to rewatch this fight, as I had to take my dog out just prior to it starting. From what I caught (the third round), both fighters had tired — which is becoming a recurring theme for Poirier — and Swanson was the more effective grappler, which was somewhat surprising. I had expected Swanson’s wrestling to be good enough to keep from being taken down, allowing him to use his superior striking to win the fight, but I didn’t expect him to win any rounds with grappling.
    • Since the UFC is dead set on only giving Featherweight title shots to Lightweights, I’d be interested in a Swanson/Lamas rematch to determine the next contender after Anthony Pettis. If Lamas is booked, Frankie Edgar and Dennis Siver would be good options as well. Poirier is still yet to beat a top Featherweight — his best wins are Jonathan Brookins and Josh Grispi — so he should take a step back in competition and face someone like Charles Oliveira next.

Cyrille Diabate vs. Jimi Manuwa

  • Result: Manuwa via R1 TKO (Injury Retirement)

    • Well, we learned absolutely nothing from this fight. Manuwa wasn’t able to land his big punches in the first round, which judging from his previous UFC bout could have spelled trouble for him later on. Unfortunately because of the injury to Diabate we weren’t able to find out.
    • The UFC seems to be trying to match Manuwa favourably, but I’d like to see him take on any sort of decent striker or wrestler they can muster up. Depending on the severity of the injury to Diabate, this could be the last time we see him in the UFC due to his age.
  • Betting result: 1U to win 1.8U on Diabate – Loss

Gunnar Nelson vs. Jorge Santiago

  • Result: Nelson via Unanimous Decision
    • Gunnar Nelson faced a big step up in competition, and came through even though it was easily his most competitive fight in a long, long time. For his well-documented faults (namely his chin), Santiago is still a good striker and a good grappler, and a win over him is very impressive. Nelson was competitive on the feet — although I thought Santiago won the first round, and was coming on strong towards the end of the third — but his ground game is what really shone through. Nelson is the only person other than Demian Maia who has really been able to show grappling supremacy over Santiago for prolonged periods of time. Gunnar’s striking still needs a great deal of refinement, and I see a definite cap on his potential based on the current level of his wrestling, but he is still one of the better prospects in MMA at this point.
    • Nelson should take something of a lateral move in his next fight. A fight with Mike Pyle would serve as a relatively safe way for him to continue to advance in his career. Facing someone like Tyron Woodley or Mike Pierce would move Nelson up the ladder more quickly at Welterweight, but they would be far more dangerous. After facing Nelson, Stann and Maia in his last three UFC bouts, Santiago deserves a softball in the form of a debuting fighter or a Damarques Johnson/John Maguire type.
  • Betting result: 0.5U to win 1.375U on Santiago – Loss

Ryan Jimmo vs. James Te Huna

  • Result: Te Huna via Unanimous Decision
    • If you were going to tell me that one of these fighters was going to do big damage in the first round and gas in the 2nd and 3rd, I’d have bet my house it would have been Te Huna. Instead, Jimmo continued to show that he’s a completely different fighter since he came to the UFC, and perhaps why he fought so conservatively in the MFC. Te Huna, for his part, did a great job of surviving the early danger, showing vastly improved cardio, and continuing to improve his wrestling and ground and pound games. Jimmo isn’t an easy opponent to take down, and Te Huna had great success doing it from the clinch. I actually scored this fight 28-28 because of the dominant R1 turned in by Jimmo, but R2 could have also been a 10-8 in favour of Te Huna, and Jimmo had absolutely no offence in R3. Te Huna getting the nod is perfectly acceptable in my book.
    • Ryan Bader or Rafael Cavalcante would serve as interesting next steps for Te Huna, while Jimmo would prove and interesting foil for Jimi Manuwa due to both his striking and wrestling ability.

Che Mills vs. Matt Riddle

  • Result: Riddle via Split Decision
    • First, the fact that this decision was split rather than unanimous in Riddle’s favour is an absolute abomination. Aaron Chatfield (who may be the biggest hometown judge in MMA today), score the contest for Mills, when most people didn’t even score a round that way. The book on Mills is that he’s a good striker who needs to work on his wrestling, so if Riddle approached this fight intelligently he would win. Riddle did just that, and continued the trend of him actually fighting to his strengths.
    • Riddle could continue to be a thorn in the side of the British by facing John Hathaway, or could face a Strikeforce import like Jason High in his next appearance, as both would provide a stiffer test in the wrestling department than Mills. Che Mills and Seth Baczynski would make for an interesting fight.
  • Betting result: 1U to win 1.9U on Riddle – Win

Preliminary Fights

  • Renee Forte def. Terry Etim via Unanimous Decision
    • Terry Etim looked and fought like a fighter who got knocked out viciously and was coming off of a year layoff. Forte looked much better at 155, and seems like he was underrated coming off of TUF Brazil.
  • Danny Castillo def. Paul Sass via Unanimous Decision
    • Sass continues to get exposed as a fighter who can’t do much anything as long as you’re ready for his triangle and heel hook attempts. Castillo showed a great deal of confidence in his grappling, and has obviously shored up his submission defence.
    • Betting result: 2.5U to win 2U on Castillo – Win
  • Andy Ogle def. Josh Grispi via Unanimous Decision
    • I sent this tweet after the fight, and it just about sums everything up: “Josh Grispi. There is no aspect of MMA which Andy Ogle is better than you, but you just clearly lost to him. Wow.” Grispi had the perfect opportunity to take Ogle’s back in the first round and just pound him out, but instead he transitioned to a triangle he couldn’t finish, and had nothing left after that. Grispi needs to take some time away from MMA to figure out what is keeping his talents from manifesting in actual fights.
    • Betting result: 1U to win 1.05U on Grispi – Loss
  • Tom Watson def. Stanislav Nedkov via R2 TKO
    • In one of the sloppiest, gassiest, most entertaining brawls in a while, we saw nothing out of Watson or Nedkov we didn’t already know. Nedkov has big power and no gas tank, and Watson has a great chin, good striking, and sub-par wrestling.
    • Betting result: 2.5U to win 2U on Watson – Win
  • Vaughan Lee def. Motonobu Tezuka via Unanimous Decision
    • As just about everyone said pre-fight, all Tezuka can do is wrestle, and the outcome of the bout was dependent on how Lee’s takedown defence has come along. His single leg defence is apparently stellar, although we don’t really know about any other facet of his game, but due to Tezuka’s single-minded approach, that was all he needed to win.
    • Betting result: 0.5U to win 1.525U on Tezuka Decision – Loss
  • Phil Harris def. Ulysses Gomez via Unanimous Decision
    • Harris and Gomez are grapplers, so naturally neither one of them attempted to grapple much in this fight, which made for something pretty horrific to watch. I can understand Harris not wanting to grapple, since most people had pegged Gomez as being better in that realm. However, for Gomez to completely eschew his greatest strength, especially after taking Harris down towards the end of R1, was foolish gameplanning by him and his corner. His corner also did one of the worst jobs I can remember. Telling a fighter he is up two rounds in a very close bout fighting in your opponent’s backyard is not smart, nor is the whole “I’m gonna yell takedown, but I don’t want you to take him down” thing. Head-scratching.

As always, you can keep track of all my bets over at my 2013 Betting History page, or by following me on twitter. UFC 157 is this coming weekend, so we’ll be back before you know it to make some more money at the expense of those getting punched in the face. Until then…

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About bradtaschuk

An MMA enthusiast who also fancies himself a writer, I've been following the sport in depth since moving off to University in the fall of 2004 allowed me more free time than I knew what to do with. Quickly, an obsession with watching as much MMA as possible developed, which has continued to this day in the form of writing and editing articles for various MMA sites, and now to my own blog about my views on the sport.
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