MMA Odds and Ends for Thursday: UFC Announces Return To Cincinnati, Three Fights Booked So Far

Rafael Natal The UFC is returning to Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 10, as the promotion yesterday confirmed the event’s date and location, as well the first three fights for the card. The most high-profile of the three matches is a middleweight bout between Rafael “Sapo” Natal and Ed “Short Fuse” Herman. This was a fight that was originally set to take place at UFC 167 before Natal was shifted to fight Tim Kennedy at UFC Fight Night 31, while Herman instead fought Thales Leites. Both fighters lost to their respective opponents, so considering they both still have similar rank in the UFC middleweight division and are each coming off of a loss, this fight still makes a lot of sense to be booked. Stylistically, it’s a fun fight as well as both fighters are generally in pretty good fights that feature high-level grappling and fun, although sometimes sloppy striking. “Sapo” had a solid 2012, going 3-1 overall in the Octagon, while Herman went 1-2 overall (1-1 as a middleweight) with a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Trevor Smith at UFC on FOX 8. Although Herman should be the underdog on paper, he does hold several advantages in this fight, especially in the chin department. So if this fight stays on the feet, I think Herman could have a slight edge, while if it hits the ground it’s pretty even as well. So it’s a good fight all around. Still, I see “Sapo” opening around -180 for this fight against Herman. I think either guy can win the fight and unless the line is better than I expect on either fighter, this already strikes me as a fight to pass on for a bet as it’s more than likely going to be a competitive decision once it hits the judges’ scorecards. And we all know the judges are never to be trusted. Next up is a heavyweight bout between Soa “The Hulk” Palelei and former EFC African heavyweight champ Ruan “Fangzz” Potts. I think it says a lot that the UFC is booking this fight for Potts’ debut considering Palelei is already 2-0 in his return to the Octagon with two knockouts while Potts hasn’t fought anyone of note in Africa. The UFC must see some raw, untapped potential in Potts, and they are feeding him a guy who has a number of flaws in Palelei. So it seems like a spot where the UFC newcomer could come through with a win. Palelei is likely to be overvalued here coming off back-to-back T/KO wins in the UFC, while Potts is unknown. I think Palelei deserves to be a small favorite here, but not by much, and if Potts is available at decent plus money, he will likely be worth a bet. And finally, a lightweight bout between Ben Wall and Justin Salas was booked. This is a fight between two 155ers barely clinging to the roster, and unless this wins FOTN the loser is going to get booted from the UFC. This is not a fight I’m particularly interested in, but it should be fairly competitive. I’d peg Salas as a slight fav based on name value, but Wall could win this fight for sure.

Written by Adam Martin.

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