UFC on Fuel TV 8 Picks & Bets
This Saturday marks the UFC’s return to Japan, which is looking to be a more frequent occurrence after the organization saw some success with UFC 144 last February. Unlike the previous card featuring a Lightweight Title fight between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson, this card caters a little more directly to the Japanese fans. The top three fights on the card feature former Pride FC standouts, and the remainder of the event showcases some of the best Asian fighters, and some of the better Asian prospects in the sport today. Although the card is taking place in Japan, there is quite the emphasis on Korean fighters as the UFC is still trying to break into that new market.
Let’s run down the card and see if we can’t find some value:
- Marcelo Guimares vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
- Pick: Lim via 2nd Round T/KO
- 0.5U to win 0.525U on Lim to win via T/KO (+105)
- I was very unenthused about Guimares prospects of having a long, successful UFC career both during and after his debut against Dan Stittgen. As a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practicioner with limited striking, his wrestling is simply not where it needs to be for him to consistently win bouts at this level. Expect Lim to stuff the takedowns and batter Guimares on the feet until he puts the Brazilian away late in the first or early in the second.
- Pick: Lim via 2nd Round T/KO
- Alex Caceres vs. Kyung Ho Kang
- Pick: Kang via Decision
- 1.15U to win 1U on Fight Goes the Distance (-115)
- Very tough fight to call, but given the fact that Caceres won’t have his normal length advantage I have to lean towards Kang. Caceres is porous defensively in every area, and his length is what usually hides some of those holes. Without being able to keep Kang way out of range, Caceres will be taken down with ease (as he always is) and Kang should be able to advance position and threaten with subs. The most likely scenario is that this fight goes to a decision, but if Caceres gets sloppy — as he has been known to — I could see Kang locking up a submission which is why I threw Kang ITD in a round robin.
- Cristiano Marcello vs. Kazuki Tokudome
- Pick: Tokudome via Decision
- No bet
- Really tough to get a read on this fight because neither fighter is spectacular. Marcello has faced the better competition and has the more dangerous ground game to go along with his wild striking, but if Tokudome lands one solid shot he could end it. Tokudome’s defence isn’t much better than Marcello’s, but his striking basics in terms of how he moves and throws punches are better. I think those things can carry him to a decision in a striking battle as Marcello tries to wing punches rather than utilize his superior grappling. (Note: I’ve been back and forth on this fight the whole time, and I originally published this article with a pick of Marcello. I apologize for the change.)
- Bryan Caraway vs. Takeya Mizugaki
- Pick: Mizugaki via Decision
- 1.5U to win 1U on Fight Goes the Distance (-150)
- Another competitive fight that I think should go the distance. Mizugaki is the better boxer, has good enough takedown defence to stop Caraway from getting on top, and good submission defence when he is on top. That points to Mizugaki getting the better of the striking exchanges, and piling up points from top position. Caraway has looked much better since returning to Zuffa for his second stint, and has found a home at 135. If he can figure out a way to get top position in a scramble or if Mizugaki tires and he gets takedowns, I can see Caraway coming away with the victory here, and as such I added him to my round robin.
- Riki Fukuda vs. Brad Tavares
- Pick: Tavares via Decision
- No bet
- This is the closest fight on the card, and you can’t blame anyone for having a poor read on it. Fukuda and Tavares are essentially carbon copies of each other. Decent strikers with decent wrestling who get in close fights and go to decision the majority of the time. I expect lots of clinch work here as they spend time jockeying for position, but I see Tavares eeking out the win by staying busier when they are at range. The only thing to bet here is the ‘Fight Goes the Distance’ prop as parlay fodder which sits at -275 right now.
- Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani Yahya
- Pick: Hirota via Decision
- No bet
- Hirota goes from facing one of the biggest Lightweights in the sport (Pat Healy) to one of the smallest Featherweights here, and I really think that size will play a factor. Yahya has struggled in the past with fighters who he is either unable to take down or who have a good solid base when they set up in top position. Hirota is both. I had to stay away from a bet here though because Yahya doesn’t always need to get a takedown to start working his grappling, so he may be able to finagle a submission here anyways.
- Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Dong Hyun Kim
- Pick: Kim via Decision
- No bet
- Bahadurzada needs to land early or Kim is going to close the distance, take him down, likely take his back, and just make life absolutely miserable for him. Perhaps Siyar can take solace in the fact that Kim’s only real loss (note that I thought he won the Parisyan fight which was later changed to a No Contest) came by knockout to Carlos Condit, but at the same time, Condit is a much more versatile striker than Siyar. For a guy who spends so much time in back control, it’s surprising that Kim only has one career submission, but seeing as two of Bahadurzada’s four losses have come via tapout, perhaps he will get another one here. Another possibility is that Kim could force a stoppage with ground and pound from that position. The prop for Kim to win via T/KO currently sits at +1200, and I may have to take a stab.
- Hector Lombard vs. Yushin Okami
- Pick: Lombard via 2nd Round TKO
- 0.77U to win 1U on Lombard via T/KO (+130)
- 1.3U to win 1U on Lombard Inside the Distance (-130)
- This is a similar stylistic match-up to the previous fight, but while Bahadurzada doesn’t have particularly good takedown defence, trying to get Lombard to the ground is like trying to uproot a tree. While Okami will have his normal size advantage here, I don’t think it will matter. Okami’s takedowns come from inside the clinch, where Lombard just happens to be an Olympic Judoka. The takedown attempts will be stifled, and at some point Lombard will land one of his power punches on Okami’s increasingly fragile and hittable chin. If Lombard goes into the ultra-conservative mode that we saw against Alexander Shlemenko and Tim Boetsch, Okami could win a decision by pushing him up against the cage for periods, so I added that into my round robin as a hedge of sorts.
- Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez
- Pick: Gomi via Decision
- 0.5U to win 1.865U on Gomi via Decision (+373)
- I was thinking of betting Gomi in this bout before the weigh-ins, but Diego missing weight and once again looking poor on the scales at 155 (or 158 in this case) forced my hand. I still don’t see Gomi stopping Sanchez, but between Diego’s poor wrestling, a tough cut, and the assertions that he is now a smarter fighter who picks his shots better, I can see Gomi outpointing him on the feet. Sanchez’s best bet would be to constantly move forward and force Gomi to fight at a faster pace than he is comfortable at, but I’m not sure he is able to do that at Lightweight.
- Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve
- Pick: Struve via 1st Round Submission
- 1U to win 1.15U on Struve via Submission (+115)
- So… Mark Hunt is really short for a Heavyweight, he hits really hard, and he’s a pretty terrible grappler. Stefan Struve is very tall for a Heavyweight, has some of the best grappling for the division, but he gets hit a lot. This fight isn’t going to last long, no matter which way it goes. I lean towards Struve, since he has shown resilience even after getting rocked, while Hunt’s ground game just sucks all the time. Still, Hunt by KO is a viable possiblity, and it found its way into my round robin as the fourth pick.
- Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann
- Pick: Stann via 1st Round TKO
- 2.78U to win 2U on Stann via T/KO (-139)
- Oh how I wish we had time travel capabilities, because a 2004 or 2005 version of Wanderlei against Stann could be an all-time level slugfest. 2013 Wanderlei? Not so much. This should be exciting while it lasts, but Stann is going to find what’s left of Silva’s chin and that should be all she wrote. Even if Wanderlei does land some shots early, Stann has shown the fortitude to take them and keep coming. That is the biggest difference in this fight, and even though I feel like Wanderlei is betting suited to bulking up and fighting at 205, I don’t think this is the fight to show it.
- 1.5U to win 17.77U – Round Robin – Bryan Caraway (+175), Mark Hunt via T/KO (+207), Yushin Okami via Decision (+320), Kyung Ho Kang Inside the Distance (+341)
As always, you can track my bets on my 2013 Betting History page, and follow me on twitter to call me a fool or just be in awe of my genius. I am also now editing and contributing for MMA Oddsbreaker, so be sure to head over to the site and check out my work.