UFC 178 will be a distant memory by the time Pedro Munhoz and Jerrod Sanders step into the Octagon for the UFC’s first ever fight in Eastern Canada. With the UFC coming to town, Halifax, Nova Scotia will host its biggest fights since Trevor Berbick was coming up the heavyweight boxing scene in the late 70’s. The market should be hungry for some high level fights, and with a pair of bouts featuring top 10 fighters, they’ll get exactly that. In the main event, Canada’s biggest MMA star at the moment, Rory MacDonald, will continue to work his way to the title shot which seems like an eventuality at this point. To continue that ascent, he’ll have to go through talented striker Tarec Saffiedine, a winner of five straight dating back to his Strikeforce days. The odds have already been released for this bout, and the public has come in heavy on MacDonald who now sits as a -510 favorite (bet $510 to win $100), with Saffiedine a +370 underdog (bet $100 to win $370) at Several Bookmakers. Up until UFC 178, the co-main event could have very well determined the next bantamweight challenger for TJ Dillashaw, but Dominick Cruz threw those plans on their ear just about as hard as he slammed Takeya Mizugaki prior to picking up the very impressive stoppage on Saturday night. Raphael Assuncao and Bryan Caraway remains and intriguing fight, as Assuncao is very well-rounded and undefeated at 6-0 since dropping to 135. Caraway is 4-1 since coming off of ‘The Ultimate Fighter 14’, and the lone loss was a very competitive bout with the aforementioned Mizugaki which many felt Caraway won. Either would be a worthy title challenger once Cruz and Dillashaw sort out their business early in 2015. The rest of the card is littered with Canadian fighters. Both ‘TUF Nations’ winners, Chad Laprise and Elias Theodorou have spots on the main card along with Mitch Gagnon. Fellow ‘TUF Nations’ vet Nordine Taleb also competes on the main card. Four additional Canadians will be competing on the preliminary card as well, so the local fans should have plenty of chances to make some noise for the canucks on this card. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the full betting lines for UFC Fight Night 54 today at Several Bookmakers. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET) Rory MacDonald -350 Tarec Saffiedine +250 Raphael Assuncao -350 Bryan Caraway +250 Chad Laprise -300 Yosdenis Cedeno +220 Elias Theodorou -290 Bruno Santos +210 Nordine Taleb -290 Jingliang Li -210 Mitch Gagnon -505 Roman Salazar +335 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 2, 8pm ET) Daron Cruickshank -125 Anthony Njokuani -115 Olivier Aubin-Mercier -280 Jake Lindsey +200 Jason Saggo -185 Paul Felder +145 Paddy Holohan -405 Chris Kelades +285 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7pm ET) Albert Tumenov -475 Matt Dwyer +325 Pedro Munhoz -385 Jerrod Sanders +265 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: I may be in the minority, but I really think Bryan Caraway has a shot in this bout. I realize that Raphael Assuncao is the overall better fighter, and if this turns into a 15-minute kickboxing bout that Caraway will be in trouble, but despite Assuncao’s jiu-jitsu pedigree I think Caraway is better in scrambles and a more dangerous fighter on the mat. It’s going to be hard to bet Caraway unless the public goes crazy with the line, because the paths to victory for Assuncao are pretty clear, but I’ll have to wait and see, or perhaps throw a flier on the submission prop. Yosdenis Cedeno and Chad Laprise are similar fighters, which could make for a very fun or very tentative bout. Both like to use a lot of movement to set up the vast variety of strikes in their arsenal. Laprise is a bit more technical with those strikes and Cedeno is more flashy, but they look to accomplish the same end. Each man has solid takedown defense as well, so there’s not much chance of this hitting the ground. In that case, I give Laprise the edge as he has shown superior cardio to Cedeno. Over rounds 2 and 3, he should be able to rack up more points, even if the Cuban finds early success. You could claim that Elias Theodorou and Bruno Santos have similar approaches to fighting as well, but I’d call you a liar. Santos is really one of the more dreadful fighters to watch in the UFC today, as he often pushes his opponent up against the cage looking to garner a takedown, and does next to nothing with it if he does obtain it. Theodorou is much more dynamic with his ground game, as he constantly moves and looks to do damage on the mat, sometimes even enticing scrambles with his opponents. Theodorou’s solid wrestling should get the better of Santos, and his excellent conditioning will almost assuredly wear the Brazilian down to the point of a late stoppage or wide decision in this bout. I like Theodorou for parlays, but the rest of the world probably will as well. Jingliang Li performed better than expectations in his UFC debut, but he was facing an extremely limited fighter in David Michaud who was a blown up 155er. Things will be different against Nordine Taleb, who is a massive welterweight with a fairly well-rounded skill set. Li will struggle to take this to the ground to work his grappling, and Taleb has a sizeable advantage on the feet, so he should put on a dominant performance which will make the hometown fans happy. He’s another fighter who could be key in parlays. Mitch Gagnon is one of a few fighters who has to deal with a late replacement opponent on this card. After originally being scheduled to face striker Rob Font, he now takes on more of a grappler in Roman Salazar. That should be music to Gagnon’s ears, as he’s the better grappler in this fight and has probably taken his striking up a notch or two in preparation for Font as well. The line will end up steep here, but depending on how confident you are in Gagnon’s ability, the submission or decision props could offer some value. A fun striking battle headlines the preliminary card, as Daron Cruickshank and Anthony Njokuani square off. Cruickshank has struggled with technical strikers in the past, and not only is Njokuani technical, but he’s also got significant height and reach advantages in this bout. A look at their bouts with common opponent John Makdessi would lead you to believe that Njokuani can keep Cruickshank on the end of his jab and stifle his offense, but perhaps Cruickshank will follow the blueprint many wrestlers have used to beat Njokuanki as he definitely is the stronger grappler of the two. This one is tough to call from a straight pick perspective, so I think the value lay with Njokuani. A potential parlay partner for Taleb is ‘TUF Nations’ runner-up Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Jake Lindsey simply isn’t a UFC caliber fighter, and Aubin-Mercier should easily be able to ground him and dominate on the mat. Even on the feet, the youngster from Tristar showed nice improvement between his time on the show and the finale against Laprise, and at just 25 years old, those improvements should continue. Felder/Saggo is an interesting striker/grappler matchup. Former CFFC champion Felder his six of his eight wins by (T)KO, while eight of Saggo’s ten have come by submission. This will be a case of whoever is able to get the fight into their realm. Felder may take a bit of solace in the fact that Jesse Ronson was able to avoid some of Saggo’s takedowns en route to earning a split decision back in 2011, and he could attempt to replicate that fight. I’m just not sure he’ll be able to. I’m on the fence with this one, leaning slightly towards Saggo at this point, but definitely passing as far as a bet goes. Another late replacement, Dartmouth’s Chris Kelades makes his UFC debut on less than a week’s notice, as he takes on Patrick Holohan. The Irishman impressed everyone earlier this year with his dismantling of Josh Sampo in Dublin. The fact that he took out a wrestler so easily in his UFC debut was nice since he failed to get into the TUF house after being outwrestled by Canadian Josh Hill. Kelades has a decent wrestling game of his own, but with such short notice it’s going to be hard to see him matching Holohan’s pace for 15 minutes. Paddy should pull off the win, but don’t be shock if Kelades makes a competitive bout out of it. Matt Dwyer has spent his entire career in British Columbia’s Battlefield Fight League, and aside from a slam KO loss in 30 seconds, his record is unblemished with seven wins and seven (T)KOs. His last two victories have come against UFC vets DaMarques Johnson and Shonie Carter, which are impressive scalps early in a career. Albert Tumenov is always looking for the knockout as well, so this bout should be fireworks and should end quickly. As far as a side, I lean Tumenov, but may be more interested in playing the under on this fight. Opening up the card is a bantamweight duel between top prospect Pedro Munhoz and Jerrod Sanders, who made his promotional debut at 155. Sanders had some success with takedowns, but was largely outmuscled by Yosdenis Cedeno in that bout, and honestly this matchup isn’t much better for him despite the physical advantages he may have. Munhoz is the more technical of the two strikers and far more dangerous on the ground. I could easily see Sanders diving for a takedown from too far out and getting caught in Munhoz’ very dangerous guillotine, but even if that doesn’t happen he should pick up the win.