Gabe Killian’s Thoughts on Recent UFC Fight Bookings (CMigrator copy 1)

Donald CerroneThe fight cards on the UFC’s calendar continue to fill up, with new fight bookings being announced on a near-daily basis. Here are my thoughts on some of them… Jim Miller vs Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – This lightweight match-up will headline the UFC’s July trip to Miller’s backyard of Atlantic City, NJ. Both of these 155-pounders were very recently successful in bouts resulting in first round submissions, with Cerrone getting Edson Barboza to tap to a rear naked choke at UFC on FOX 11, and Miller putting Yancy Medeiros to sleep with a guillotine choke at UFC 172. Fresh off wins and looking to continue building their streak, I think this match-up is a perfect fit. It is a fight you would generally expect to get the night started for a FOX or Pay Per View main card, but I think it works as a five-round main event on a New Jersey card. Even though this lightweight contest is scheduled for five rounds, I personally don’t see this fight reaching the fourth or fifth. I would expect a finish, most likely a submission by either party, within the first ten minutes of the bout. Cerrone holds the advantage on the feet, but on the mat is where I think this fight will be the most entertaining. I would hope the fight does indeed hit the mat, so we could see some grappling exchanges between a couple of high level Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. I’m still not fully sold on this being a headlining bout, but it is without a doubt one lightweight scrap I very much look forward to. I expect Cerrone to open as a slight betting favorite in this bout, simply for his advantage in the striking department. My guess would be he opens anywhere from -130 to -160, but with a hungry and motivated Jim Miller fighting in his own backyard, I wouldn’t be surprised to see action come in on the New Jersey native and tighten up the lines closer to a pick ’em, or possibly making “Cowboy” a slight underdog. Gunnar Nelson vs Ryan LaFlare – We’re looking at a welterweight bout that will co-headline the UFC’s trip to Ireland this August. Headlining the event will be a five round featherweight bout between Cole Miller and Ireland’s own Conor McGregor. That bout was recently announced, as well, but is one that I feel has been in the cooking for some time. Nelson vs LaFlare is a fight that pits together a pair of undefeated fighters in the UFC’s 170 pound division. I personally hate this fight, because I am a fan of both fighters and it’s going to be unpleasant seeing one of their successful, undefeated runs come to an end. I would have preferred to keep these two from facing each other, and allow them to continue to work their way up, as I see them as two of the best up and coming prospects in the 170-pound division, along with Kelvin Gastelum, Brandon Thatch and Jordan Mein. Nelson last saw action less than two months ago at UFC Fight Night 37 with a first round submission victory over Omari Akhmedov, while LaFlare is coming off a unanimous decision victory over John Howard last month in Abu Dhabi. Though this is not a fight I am eager to see, I don’t doubt it will be a great one. I think both of these guys are very good, so I am expecting a real chess-match of sorts. I expect Nelson to open as the betting favorite in this match-up, because the fight is in Europe, and he holds advantages in striking, submissions, and most importantly, conditioning. He has great cardio, while LaFlare has been gassed in the third round of every fight he’s had. Even though LaFlare is undefeated, I still expect Nelson to open as a considerable favorite, possibly in the -230 to -260 range, though I would not be surprised to see him get bet up to -400 by fight time. That’s my best guess on how the odds will play out, but it does not reflect how I feel. I expect “Gunni” to end up a big favorite, but I personally think the fight will be closer than those odds would suggest. Hatsu Hioki vs Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira – Now this is one featherweight match-up I cannot wait to see! I just hope that the fight does not entirely take place on the feet, and we get to see grappling exchanges between these talented submission artists. Hioki and Oliveira are amongst the tallest 145 pounders in the division. Hioki last saw action at the TUF China finale two months ago, taking a unanimous decision victory over Ivan Menjivar, while Oliveira is coming off a third round submission victory over Andy Ogle at UFC Fight Night 37. I very much look forward to this match-up and strongly hope it does not result on a striking affair. The trouble is that sometimes when you put two talented grapplers in the cage together, a striking battle is what often takes place. There is not too much else to say about this one; it’s either going to be an incredibly exciting fight that features some great grappling exchanges, or a snoozefest of a kickboxing match. While Oliveira has been showing improvements in striking the department, I would still give the advantage to Hioki, and the fight starts out on the feet, so for that reason I think Hioki will open as the betting favorite for this bout. I would guess he opens anywhere from -140 to -180. I could see money coming in on Oliveira, but I could also see Hioki getting bet to -240. Line movement on this one will be tough to predict. Neither featherweight looked great in their last outing, as most expected Oliveira to submit Ogle in the first round, but he was unable to do so until the third, and Hioki looked awful in his third round against Menjivar, losing it on all three judges’ scorecards. Hioki has a one-inch height advantage over the Brazilian, but their reach is identical at 73”. In this match-up, either they will both look horrible by keeping it on the feet, or it will hit the mat and likely they will both look fantastic. Andrei “Pitbull” Arlosvski vs Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub – It’s the return of the original Pitbull! The UFC re-signed Arlovski because they needed an opponent for Schaub and there was no one on the roster suitable for the TUF season 10 veteran. He was expected to face Mark Hunt, but Hunt could not fight until September, and Schaub did not want to stay out of action for that long. Schaub has said that his MMA heroes growing up were Mirko Cro Cop and Arlovski; he has already faced and beaten Cro Cop, and is thrilled to get the chance to fight the Belarusian. They have done some training together when Arlovski first started training at Jackson-Winklejohn MMA in Albuquerque, NM, where Schaub was training at the time. Schaub last saw action nearly eight months ago, scoring a first round submission over fellow TUF season 10 veteran Matt Mitrione. It was a d’arce choke submission, which was the first d’arce choke submission victory in UFC heavyweight history. Alovski’s last fight was five months ago on the Belarusian regional circuit, scoring a second round TKO over veteran Andreas Kraniotakes. This is one heavyweight match-up that I happen to like, and expect it to be fairly entertaining, provided Schaub does not use the same game-plan he used against Lavar Johnson. I don’t believe he will, because Arlovski does not pack the one-punch knockout power Johnson did. This fight will take place on the UFC 174 main card on Pay Per View next month, with UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson defending his title against Ali Bagautinov in the headliner. I expect Schaub to open as the betting favorite in this contest, perhaps at -200, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see money come in on the veteran Arlovski, considering the knockouts he has been scoring lately and the very low confidence people have in Schaub’s chin, which is arguably the worst in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Myles “The Fury” Jury vs Abel “Killa” Trujillo – Jury will attempt to keep his undefeated streak alive and go 6-0 inside the Octagon when he takes on the Blackzilian product in Trujillo. Coming off back-to-back second round knockout victories, “Killa” will be looking to make it three in a row by handing Jury his first official defeat. I think this is going to be an exciting match-up in the UFC’s lightweight division, and it is one I will not miss. Jury is better than Trujillo everywhere, but I believe Trujillo is the tougher fighter. This could either be a fight Jury controls all 15 minutes of, or it could be a close war that Trujillo gets the better of. Trujillo’s striking has been improving drastically from fight to fight, since the time he has been putting in with striking coach Henri Hooft. I think this fight has a great chance of being an exciting war on the feet, even though Jury will be trying to keep it as technical as he can. Is Trujillo’s striking defense and carelessness is like it was in his last bout, Jury could put his lights out. For however long this fight lasts, I am expecting it to be a good one. I assume Jury will open as the betting favorite, though I can’t guess what the line will be; whether -150 or -300, I will not be surprised. If it’s the former, Jury will look like a good play. If it’s the latter, Trujillo looks like he’s worth a shot as a live dog. So, it will probably be -230, making it difficult to feel good about playing either side.

Written by Gabe Killian

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