MMA Odds and Ends for Friday: MacDonald/Saffiedine Booked For Halifax

Rory MacDonald JabWhen the UFC announced plans to hold an event in Halifax for the first time, many expected that T.J. Grant would end up headlining. The Nova Scotia native was on a five-fight win streak and scheduled to face Benson Henderson for the lightweight title back in 2013, but a concussion suffered in training camp for that bout has kept him out of action ever since. At this point, the date of his return is as questionable as ever. With that in mind, the organization still needed to find a suitable headliner for the October event. Yesterday they announced that bout, as Canadian Rory MacDonald will face Tarec Saffiedine. At first glance, this bout seems like a step down for MacDonald, but from a tactical perspective Saffiedine is probably better equipped to deal with his striking than Tyron Woodley was. Still, MacDonald always receives support at the betting window, so expect this line to open very much in the Canadian’s favor. That wasn’t the only high-profile match which received attention on Thursday either, as rumors swirled about two potential bouts for upcoming pay-per-views: Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez – UFC 178 Eddie Alvarez’ move from Bellator to the UFC has been talked about for over two years now, and with the new management team over at the Viacom-owned promotion, he may finally have a way out. While it is only speculation at this point, many sites seem to be under the impression that a bout with top lightweight contender Donald Cerrone is all but booked for UFC 178. This would be an extremely entertaining bout between two fighters who combine spectacular offense with so-so defense, and would make the UFC 178 even more anticipated than it already is. The line for this bout would be interesting, as sometimes fighters coming from another promotion get too much respect from fans, and sometimes they are completely discounted. I would expect Cerrone to be a slight favorite at open, but where the public takes it from there is anybody’s guess. Glover Teixeira vs. Phil Davis – UFC 179 This bout is a bit more finite at present, as both Teixeira and Davis have verbally agreed to face each other with the target event being UFC 179. Both are coming off of losses in their last outings, but remain among the top fighters at light heavyweight. Whoever wins will jump back into contention, while the loser has a much longer road ahead if they hope to stay relevant in the division. Given Davis’ struggles against another power striker with good takedown defense in Anthony Johnson, this does not seem like a favorable stylistic matchup for him. The line will likely reflect just that, with my guess being that Teixeira opens slightly under 2-to-1. The list of booked fights continued on Thursday night and Friday morning, as bantamweights Iuri Alcantara and Russell Doane will meet at UFC Fight Night 51 in Brazil. With Alcantara looking incredibly impressive in his win over Vaughan Lee and Doane barely squeaking by against Marcus Brimage, the Brazilian will likely open a sizeable favorite here. Another addition to UFC 178 comes in the lightweight division, as Kevin Lee and Jon Tuck hope to continue their winning ways. Tuck has always been seen as a fighter who has plenty of potential but hasn’t been able to reach it as of yet. Lee also seems like he has a high ceiling, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know how high he’ll get at this point. Lee have garnered more support at this point from bettors, and I expect that to continue here with him being a moderate favorite. There were also two additions to the UFC Fight Night 53 card in Stockholm. Sweden’s own Magnus Cedenblad returns to the Octagon to face undefeated English prospect Scott Askham. Cedenblad’s grappling has been his most impressive trait in the UFC, but he has solid striking as well. Against Askham, he’ll likely look to take things to the ground however, as seven of Askham’s wins have come via (T)KO. Cedenblad will open the favorite here, but it is a competitive bout. A bit further down on the card, Mairbek Taisumov will welcome Marcin Bandel to the Octagon in a striker versus grappler matchup. Taisumov has a big edge on the feet, but will need to be extremely wary of Bandel’s dangerous leg lock game if he hopes to get back on track. This could be another spot, like in his last bout, where Taisumov opens too high and the underdog could have some value. While European MMA is on the docket, it should be noted that Cage Warriors announced much of their September card in Wales. The event will see both their welterweight and bantamweight titles up for grabs. Top Danish prospect Nicolas Dalby looks to retain his title and undefeated record against Gael Grimaud, while Cory Tait and Toni Tauru will determine a new champion at 135lbs for the promotion.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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