Gabe Killian’s Thoughts on Recent UFC Fight Bookings (CMigrator copy 3)

Joe LauzonThe 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… Daron Cruickshank vs KJ Noons Cruickshank will be taking on Noons in what is his fifth professional bout of 2014, and he will be looking to end the year with a 4-1 record, with the only defeat coming against Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision. Noons, on the other hand, has only fought once this year, and that fight came in the welterweight division against fellow lightweight Sam Stout. Both 155-pounders agreed to fight at 170-pounds to avoid a weight cut. The fight resulted in Noons earning a highlight reel knockout of the Canadian, becoming the first to ever defeat Stout via knockout. I expect this lightweight scrap to be very entertaining, as both fighters generally deliver when they step inside the cage. Cruickshank may implement his wrestling again in this bout, but I think it will play out on the feet, for the most part. This bout will take place at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in December, and I think it will have a solid shot at capturing the evening’s ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus. My guess is that Noons will open as a -200 betting favorite over Cruickshank, and at that price, I could see heavy action coming in both ways. Leandro Issa vs Yuta Sasaki I think this will be a fun fight in the UFC’s bantamweight division, as both 135-pounders are very talented on the mat. I expect the fight to hit the mat sooner rather than later, where we will be in for a chess match until somebody secures a submission to earn the tap. It is possible that they cancel each other out and we see them battle for 15 minutes of action, but I have a feeling this one is not going to go the distance. Both of these fighters are finishers, owning a combined 20 out of 30 professional mixed martial arts victories by way of finish. These two are expected to face off at December’s UFC Fight Night 58 in Brazil, which will be headlined by a five round middleweight contest between Lyoto Machida and CB Dolloway. As far as the betting odds are concerned, I won’t be surprised to see either fighter open as the favorite, but because of the hometown edge, my guess is that Issa opens as a small betting favorite. Though, I would not be surprised to see immediate action come the other way, quickly turning the tables and making Sasaki the slight favorite over the Brazilian. Sergio Pettis vs Matt Hobar This is going to be a classic striker vs grappler match-up in the UFC’s bantamweight division, and both fighters are talented in their own right. Pettis is superb with his striking, Hobar has excellent wrestling, and they both have solid jiu-jitsu, though I’d give the edge to Pettis there, as well. I predict the Duke Roufus product will open as a significant favorite in this match-up, likely at -500 and will probably get bet to -700 by fight time. At those odds, I would personally eye Hobar for a value play, but I would by no means be confident, especially after how poor he looked against Pedro Munhoz in his promotional debut. He was knocked out in the first round of that bout, but he rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Aaron Phillips and will be looking to make it two in a row inside the Octagon against Pettis. I think Pettis is expected to make quick work of Hobar here and won’t be surprised if he does, considering the massive advantage he has on the feet. That said, things don’t always go as expected, especially in the world of mixed martial arts, so we will see how this one plays out. These two will be battling it out on the preliminary card for next month’s UFC 181 in Las Vegas. Pettis’ older brother Anthony will be defending his UFC lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez in the co-main event of the evening, with a welterweight title fight between challenger Robbie Lawler and Champion Johnny Hendricks headlining the Pay Per View card. Diego Sanchez vs Joe Lauzon Norman Parke was forced to withdraw from his bout against Sanchez at November’s UFC 180 in Mexico City, leaving Sanchez without an opponent. Stepping in for the injured Brit was Joe Lauzon, making it a much bigger fight for the fans. I have personally been lobbying for Sanchez vs Lauzon on MMA Oddsbreaker and Twitter, and am very happy to finally be getting it. They are two of the most entertaining lightweights in the history of the UFC and own a combined 13 ‘Fight of the Night’ awards; seven for Sanchez and six for Lauzon. They will likely add one more to the collection with this fight, as it is hard to imagine it being anything short of entertaining. More often than not, I think these two will indeed produce a ‘Fight of the Night’ type of fight, so I am very excited and looking forward to this scrap. Lauzon has more going for him and has been looking like the better fighter of the two, so my guess is that he opens as a -160 favorite over Sanchez, even considering the fact that he will be at a hometown disadvantage. At those odds, I could see action coming in either way, but my best guess is that they would come in on Sanchez, taking the betting odds closer to a coin-flip. Though, it’s tough to say, because I could also see very heavy action coming in on Lauzon, driving him up to a crazy 3-to-1 favorite. The reason for that would be that Sanchez has arguably not won a fight since a decision victory over Paulo Thiago which came more than four years ago. Hector Lombard vs Josh Burkman The UFC is bringing back Josh Burkman to take on Hector Lombard, and I think they are just making this match-up to keep Lombard busy. Everybody expects Lombard to walk through Burkman, and I am inclined to agree with them. However, I could see Burkman winning this fight. I can’t see him deserving to win, but I could see him taking a decision that does not belong to him, similar to Lombard’s fight against Tim Boetsch in his promotional debut. I felt Lombard had clearly won that fight, but “The Barbarian” took home the decision. Though in a different weight class, I think Burkman is a better, more well-rounded fighter than Boetsch, and is much faster than him. If Boetsch can steal a decision from Lombard, I would not be surprised to see Burkman to the same. The fight would have to reach the judges’ scorecards for that to happen, and Lombard generally does his best to keep the judges’ from getting involved. This welterweight match-up will take place on the main card of January’s UFC 182, which will be headlined by a light heavyweight title bout between challenger Daniel Cormier and Champion Jon Jones.

Written by Gabe Killian

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