The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was in Phoenix, AZ for the third time in promotional history last Sunday (January 15, 2017) with UFC FIght Night 103: Rodriguez vs. Penn. The night had it’s ups and downs, and with the action now in our rear-view, let’s take a look at some potential match-ups featuring a few of the successful competitors from the evening…
Oleksiy Oliynyk vs. Junior Dos Santos
Oliynyk scored a very impressive first-round Ezekiel choke submission from bottom mount position over Viktor Pesta, and despite it only being the second submission of the year, I think it has a good chance of ending up as the best submission of the year 11-and-a-half months from now when we turn the page over to 2018. The victory puts the Ukrainian heavyweight back in the win column following the first official loss of his UFC career, which came via majority decision against Daniel Omielanczuk. For his next bout, I’d be interested in seeing Oliynyk fill in for the injured Stefan Struve against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos on short notice for next month’s UFC Fight Night 106 in Halifax. The potential bout would serve as the evening’s main event.
Sergio Pettis vs. Jussier Formiga
Pettis earned a unanimous-decision win over short-notice injury replacement John Moraga and now enjoys a three-fight winning streak inside the Octagon. Moraga was a replacement for Pettis’ original opponent, Formiga, and following his victory, Pettis made it known that he still wants the Brazilian. In this razor-thin division, I think there is a very good chance that the UFC puts this matchup together again.
Joe Lauzon vs. Tony Martin
Lauzon and Martin were each successful in their bouts at UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix, with Lauzon taking a controversial split-decision win over former Bellator lightweight title challenger Marcin Held, and Martin earning a unanimous decision over Alex White in what was a one-sided affair. Lauzon and Martin are both excellent grapplers, and I think this would stylistically be a fun matchup, as things could get very interesting when the fight hits the mat, where both 155-pounders generally want to take things. This fight would have a good chance of earning Lauzon his ninth ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus in the UFC and seems like an appropriate step up in competition for Martin.
Walt Harris vs. Alexander Volkov
Harris returned to the win column with a second-round knockout of Chase Sherman. It was without a doubt the most impressive performance of Harris’ UFC career, and for his next outing inside the Octagon, I think it would make sense to see him take on former Bellator heavyweight title holder Volkov, who is 1-0 in the UFC after a controversial decision win over Timothy Johnson. I think a potential Harris versus Volkov bout would be a solid addition to either March’s UFC Fight Night 106 in London or April’s UFC 210 in Buffalo, NY.
Billy Swanson (4-1 AM) discusses his upcoming heavyweight title fight against Justin Gooden (2-1 AM) at Apex Fights 13 on January 21st during a “1 on 1” edition of The Parting Shot Podcast.
Billy also talks about how he spent his holiday season, his training camp for this fight and his work coaching kids.
At UFC 197 last April, Yair Rodriguez took on Andre Fili in what was the stiffest test of his professional mixed martial arts career, and he won that bout by second-round knockout, scoring one of the best knockouts of the year. The victory earned him a main event slot in his next outing, although rather than climbing up the rankings, he took on an unranked opponent in Alex Careres and defeated him by split decision following five entertaining rounds of action that earned both fighters an extra $50k for ‘Fight of the Night’ honors.
Many felt a victory over Caceres in his first main event slot and a five-fight winning streak inside the Octagon would earn the Mexican featherweight a crack at a Top 10 ranked opponent, but the UFC had other plans. They pitted him against a legend. A Hall of Famer. They matched him up with BJ Penn in the former champion’s return to the Octagon.
Rather than see a climb up the rankings, Rodriguez took another step down with this matchup. The fact that Penn is a Hall of Famer does not change that fact. Any hardcore fight fan would tell you that this was going to be a completely one-sided affair.
The Rodriguez versus Penn matchup made absolutely zero sense, no matter which way you looked at it. The only reasonable explanation is that the UFC wanted the outcome we witnressed on Sunday night. For Penn’s return to the Octagon, matchmakers should have given him an opponent closer to his current skill leven and/or age. Throwing a 38-year-old on a three-fight losing streak against a 24-year-old monster on a five-fight winning streak only tells the world you really dislike the veteran and want to see him hurt.
Rodriguez was in complete control of the contest and ended up defeating Penn via TKO early in the second round of action. The victory will now hopefully earn him a ranked opponent his next time out. Had he continued climbing up the featherweight ladder rather than down it following the win over Fili, he would have potentially worked his way into the division’s Top 5 by now.
Lazar Stojadinovic (11-5) discusses his upcoming fight against Mike Richman (18-6) at LFA 2 on January 20th during a “1 on 1” edition of The Parting Shot Podcast.
Lazar also talks about how he ended up training at American Top Team, how this deal with LFA came together and a potential jump to the UFC.
Jay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix, Arizona. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsBreaker.com.
Cyril Asker vs. Dmitri Smoliakov
Asker: Once he was able to secure the takedown, he dominated this fight. He maneuvered well to full mount and secured the position with strength to throw strikes until the referee was forced to stop the bout. Upgraded from F to D-
Smoliakov: He looks physically strong, but he struggles with conditioning and he didn’t show any answers once taken to the ground. Poor performance and likely will be cut with this defeat. Downgraded from D to F
Joachim Christensen vs. Bojan Mihajlovic
Christensen: He fought very cautious in this bout, not putting himself in danger at all. He’s smart in that he’ll combine range striking and then find his way into the clinch controlling the exchanges wearing his opponents down with knees. He just doesn’t possess the explosion necessary to beat the better light heavyweights on the roster. If he made his way to the UFC earlier, I think he could of creeped to close to the Top 15 of the division. Unfortunately at 38, it is too late for him for that kind of surge. Downgraded from D+ to D
Mihajlovic: A very poor performance. Even moving down to light heavyweight, he is undersized. Poor movement and his only semblance of offense is winging punches. I can’t see him winning a fight in the UFC. Downgraded from D- to F-
Walt Harris vs. Chase Sherman
Harris: Perhaps his best performance in the Octagon. Harris took his time and wasn’t overly aggressive in the striking exchanges. He used a nice mix of punches and kicks to inflict damage before landing a devastating left to floor Chase Sherman. Grade remains D
Sherman: His movement was solid in this fight as he has the type of workout that could do well in the heavyweight division. His problem is that he doesn’t have the punching power, and more importantly lacks the head movement to avoid his opponent’s power strikes. Until he improves his head movement, he will struggle in the UFC. Grade remains F
Nina Ansaroff vs. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger
Ansaroff: Speed was a major difference in this fight, as she was the first to engage. However, she showed a nice ground game by getting her opponent to the ground and controlling for large portions of this fight. A dominant win for Ansaroff. Grade remains C-
Jones-Lybarger: Looked sluggish in this fight. A tough weight cut may have played a part in performance. She was too easily put on her back and showed zero ability to get back to a standing position. With three straight losses, it’s difficult to see her getting another chance in the UFC. Downgraded from C- to D+
Tony Martin vs. Alex White
Martin: He fought smart going to his bread and butter of grappling. He forced White against the cage and was able to secure takedowns throughout the fight. He avoided lengthy striking exchanges and therefore White’s striking power to win an easy decision on the scorecards. Grade remains C-
White: The move up to lightweight was a tough one, as he was forced to face a big fighter in that weight class that is grappling first. White just didn’t have the physical strength and takedown defense to force Martin into a standing exchange where he would have an advantage. Grade remains D+
Oleksiy Oliynyk vs. Viktor Pesta
Oliynyk: Looked old and sluggish, but then he secured a choke while being mounted. First time I’ve ever seen that in the UFC. He certainly is a one-trick pony, but his submission game is very slick. Grade remains D
Pesta: He’s a young heavyweight, so he certainly has time to develop, but this isn’t the first time where he looked good early and then was caught as the fight progressed. Experience is something he really needs and could use some time outside the UFC to get it. Downgraded from D to D-
Augusto Mendes vs. Frankie Saenz
Mendes: A very good overall performance against a solid veteran. He’s known for his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but was unable to hold his opponent on the ground, although he had surprising success in the striking exchanges. The fight went to a split decision, but he ultimately got his hand raised. I’d like to see him take on a better striker for his next test. Grade remains C
Saenz: He forced Mendes to dig deep and fight strong over 15 minutes. It was a dog fight, and he was hurt a few times in this fight. He recovered well but just wasn’t able to land enough big strikes to get his hand raised. Saenz is 36 years old, and it seems he may be on the downside of his career. He’s taken a lot of damage in his last few fights. Grade remains C
Drakkar Klose vs. Devin Powell
Klose: Athleticism played a key part in this fight. He was able to bull rush Powell and push him against the cage. He dominated in the clinch and was never in trouble in this bout. He should have pushed for a finish, but still this was a clear victory for him. Upgraded from D to D+
Powell: He’s certainly tough, but the rest of his skill set simply isn’t good enough to have a successful run in the UFC. Grade remains D-
John Moraga vs. Sergio Pettis
Moraga: He was outstruck on the feet and took far more damage in this bout compared to Pettis. He was able to score a couple takedowns late in the fight but was unable to do much with them. With three straight losses in the UFC, it’s likely his last fight in the promotion. Downgraded from C+ to C
Pettis: His striking was strong early in this fight, rocking Moraga in the first round. He needs to work on putting a consistent 15 minutes in the Octagon. Too many times, he takes his foot off the gas. His win at Fight Night 103 was his best in the UFC and should move him close to a Top 10 ranking. Upgraded from C+ to B-
Court McGee vs. Ben Saunders
McGee: His work rate is still strong, but his inability to consistently land with power made it difficult for him until Saunders slowed down in the third round. This fight was close on paper and on the scorecards. Grade remains C-
Saunders: He landed the bigger strikes early in the fight, but the tide began to turn as he grew tired late in the fight. He snuck out a win on the scorecards but could easily have lost a decision as well. Grade remains C-
Marcin Held vs. Joe Lauzon
Held: He had a lot of success with securing takedowns and maintaining top position in this fight. He didn’t inflict much damage when he secured those takedowns, leaving the fight to the judges. Given the controversial nature of the loss, I believe he deserves another opportunity in the UFC. Grade remains C
Lauzon: He was able to land with regularity in the standing exchanges but struggled with defending takedowns. Despite being outworked on the ground, the judges gave him a surprising decision. His takedown defense was a real flag in this fight. Downgraded from C+ to C
BJ Penn vs. Yair Rodriguez
Penn: Yes, Penn was facing a rising prospect, but he was never in this fight. Speed was a real issue, and he faced a significant amount of head kicks with little ability to defend. This was a mismatch. Penn has no business competing in the UFC again. Downgraded from C- to D+
Rodriguez: A complete mauling from start to finish. His leg kicks were sharp, and Penn had no idea where and when they were coming from. Rodriguez landed big kicks throughout the fight and was able to finish Penn in the second round for a signature win on his resume. A Top 10 opponent is next for the rising featherweight. Upgraded from C+ to B
Jessica Andrade vs. Angela Hill rescheduled for UFC Houston
Per MMA Rising, the strawweight matchup between Jessica Andrade and Angela Hill has been rescheduled for UFC Fight Night 104 early next month. Initially, this bout was called off due to Hill not meeting the four-month testing window by USASA, which caused the original UFC 207 clash to be cancelled.
Andrade (15-5) has been on a roll since dropping down to strawweight, earning back-to-back stoppage victories over Jessica Penne and Joanne Calderwood. Hill (6-2) rejoins the UFC after being released from the promotion in 2015 following a 1-2 stint, with losses to Tecia Torres and Rose Namajunas. She heads into this matchup off four straight wins in Invicta, claiming the organization’s 115-pound title over Livia Renata Souza via split decision last May.
UFC Fight Night 104 takes place on February 4th in Houston, Texas.
ToutMaster 2017 (presented by MMAOddsBreaker.com and TheMMA-Analysis Podcast) kicked off with UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix, Arizona.
This is the third year of the ToutMaster competition with Kyle Marley the winner in 2015 and Wes Reynolds the 2016 winner. ToutMaster continues to grow with 189 entries in 2017 (up from 117 entries in 2016.)
The payouts for ToutMaster 2017 are as follows:
With the first event now complete, are here are the top 20 standings (including ties):
We have a five way tie atop the standings. Each of the leaders picked 11 of the 12 fights correctly, including the only underdog to win on the night (Augusto Mendes). As was to be expected after the first event, there’s a log jam at the top of the standings with the Top 17 overall separated by one point or less.
Most Contentious Pick: Ben Saunders (108) / Court McGee (81)
Consensus Underdog Pick (More contestants picked underdog than favorite): 0-0
The UFC heads from Phoenix to Denver in two weeks for UFC on Fox 23. With a fight card that has more variation in odds, we should see more separation in the standings.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was in Phoenix, AZ for the third time in promotional history last Sunday (January 15, 2017) with UFC FIght Night 103: Rodriguez vs. Penn. The night had its ups and downs, and with the action now in our rear-view, let’s take a look at which of the evening’s competitors we may no longer see going to work inside the Octagon…
ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK
Moraga stepped in on short notice as a replacement for the injured Jussier Formiga against Sergio Pettis and lost the bout via unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards following three rounds of action. The loss puts him on a three-fight losing streak following a pair of unanimous decision losses to Joseph Benavidez and Matteus Nicolau. Due to the short notice nature of the bout, I could see the UFC giving Moraga another shot at cracking back into the win column, but the UFC does not usually care about the details behind a loss. I think there is a good chance that they will serve Moraga with his walking papers, but I would definitely not be surprised to see him back inside the Octagon, especially considering how razor-thin the UFC’s flyweight division is.
Saenz came up short in a split-decision loss to Augusto Mendes last night and is now on a three-fight skid inside the Octagon, including a unanimous-decision loss to Urijah Faber and a third-round TKO at the hands of Eddie Wineland. Considering the close nature of the bout, I could see the promotion giving him another crack, however, the UFC is not know to be too friendly, so I think it’s more likely that he will be receiving a pink slip from the promotion.
Pesta suffered the first-ever Ezekiel choke submission in the UFC first round at the hands of Alexei Oliynik in the first round and is now on a three-fight losing streak in the UFC. He was winning the bout and had mounted Pesta on the mat when the Ukrainian snuck in a choke from bottom position. It was an incredible submission, with a very good chance of being the best of the year 12 months from now.
Jones-Lybarger went into her bout against Nina Ansaroff with her back against the wall, coming off back-to-back defeats against Tecia Torres and Randa Markos. She suffered her third straight loss against Ansaroff, being submitted via rear-naked choke in the third and final round of action. Following three straight defeats, I think there is a good chance we have seen the former RFA women’s strawweight champion inside the Octagon. However, I would not be surprised to see the promotion keep her around, considering how small the UFC’s women’s strawweight division is.
Mike Richman (18-6) discusses his upcoming fight against Lazar Stojadinovic (11-5) at LFA 2 on January 20th during a “1 on 1” edition of The Parting Shot Podcast.
Mike also talks about being on the sidelines due to a PED suspension, why he’s moving back up to featherweight and a potential jump to the UFC.
Five Props is a column featured on MMAOddsBreaker.com after every major MMA event that highlights the biggest underdog prop bets to cash out from that card. Here are five UFC Fight Night 103 prop bets that cashed big based on the closing odds at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
1) Augusto Mendes by Decision (+401)
Mendes returned from an extended layoff following his short-notice Octagon debut, when he suffered the first loss of his pro career via first-round knockout at the hands of current UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. In his return Sunday night in Phoenix, he took on Frankie Saenz and defeated him via split decision following three closely contested rounds of action. Mendes managed to earn his first UFC victory and took home an extra $50k for ‘Fight of the Night’ honors. Meanwhile, those who took him to win by decision cashed out at a very nice +401.
2) Tony Martin by Decision (+227)
Martin defeated Alex White via unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards to make it two in a row for himself inside the Octagon. Many questioned his cardio, but it held up for all three rounds, as he was able to out-grapple White for the majority of 15 minutes of action to pick up the unanimous nod. Congratulations are definitely in order to those who gambled on Martin to take this fight on the scorecards, as most bettors felt he was likely to win by submission.
3) Nina Ansaroff by Submission (+656)
Ansaroff stepped into the Octagon with her back against the wall and snapped her two=fight winning streak by dominating and ultimately submitting Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger via rear-naked choke in the third and final round of action. She followed up nicely on her girlfriend Amanda Nunes’ win over Ronda Rousey with the impressive performance. Those who wagered on her to win by submission made out with a very sweet +656, so congrats if you were on that one!
4) Joachim Christensen by T/KO +255 (+255)
Christensen defeated Bojan Mihajlovic via TKO in the third round to pick up his first UFC victory. He dominated the fight until catching Mihajlovic with a clean uppercut in the third that put him down and out of commission. It was an impressive performance and victory by Christensen, who kindly allowed those who wagered on him to win this fight by T/KO to cash out at a solid +255.
5) Cyril Asker by T/KO (+350)
Asker made short work of Dmitry Smoliakov in this contest, finding himself in mount position early and scoring a first-round TKO finish. The Frenchman impressed in his second UFC appearance in getting his first taste of Octagon victory. Those who wagered on him to defeat the Belarussian by T/KO cashed out at a cool +350.
A $100 parlay on these five props would have netted $197,755.