UFC Notebook (w/ FREE Play)
It's going to be a very busy upcoming five-week period for UFC (isn't it always?) with four events taking place during that time, including each of the next three Saturdays. Two of the events are pay per views while two are on free tv. During this time, we will get a look at one of the best fighters in the world, Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, who steps back into the Octagon for only the second time in two years.
A word first on my back to back losses with UFC selections (though the free play I gave out in my last UFC article won easily on Glover Texiera!). No one was more upset than me. After starting out here on CoversExperts a perfect 10-0, the losses definitely hit me hard. I will be back, most likely in March, with my next big UFC release. In the meantime, enjoy another complimentary selection at the end of this article.
The first of four fight cards I'll be discussing here takes place this Saturday on FUEL TV from London, England. This is a definitely a card short on big names, but the interim bantamweight title will be defended as Renato Barao faces off against Michael McDonald. The idea here is that the winner, either champion Barao or challenger McDonald will eventually faced injured titlist Dominick Cruz, who has not fought since October 2011 when he beat Demetrious Johnson (now the Champ at Flyweight). Sound complicated? It's really not. I bet on Barao to win at UFC 149 against Uriajh Faber, which he did, and he comes in as better than a 3:1 favorite at some sportsbooks. I actually feel he's a better fighter than Cruz.
The only other real fight of substance on this show is a battle of Top 10 Featherweights (145 lbs) as Cub Swanson meets Dustin Poirier. Swanson is a slight favorite here in what should be a good fight. The winner puts himself in contention for a title shot at Jose Aldo, Jr, who just fended off Frankie Edgar in a very close fight at UFC 156 and whose next opponent is surprisingly Anthony Pettis, who drops down from 155 lbs. That fight is tentatively set for sometime in August.
The next time the UFC will be on pay per view is the final Saturday of February and the story here is the debut of women in the Octagon as Ronda Rousey will do battle with Liz Carmouche. This is not the first time there has been women's MMA, but rather the first time it has been sanctioned in UFC. As I mentioned in my previous article, Rousey, who is likely to attract attention (for a multitude of reasons) is a gigantic (essentially "un-bet-able") favorite.
Elsewhere on the card, there should be some decent fights. Lyoto Machida faces Dan Henderson. Having not fought in 15 months, Henderson is due for a title shot at Jon Jones if he were to win. Urijah Faber and Josh Koscheck can't afford a loss in fights they are significantly favored to win.
The UFC's first show in March will be on free television, also on FUEL, this time coming from Japan. Of the four upcoming shows, this one is most likely to generate the least interest. The only battle of Top 10 contenders -Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard at Middleweight - isn't even likely to be shown on the broadcast. But that doesn't mean there won't be some decent action. Once upon a time, Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez would have been a huge fight. Brian Stann, off a loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 152, probably stands to gain the most - that's if he can defeat Wanderlai Silva in the night's main event.
Finally, we close with the most anticipated of the four shows I'm covering here, that being UFC 158, which will take place in Montreal and be headlined by a Welterweight Title Match between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz. This fight was orginally set to take place some time ago before Diaz's erratic behavior caused him tp lose his opportunity. St Pierre instead defeated Carlos Condit, his fifth consecutive win by decision. Diaz, who lost to Condit in his most recent fight, over a year ago is as controversial and dangerous as any fighter in the sport. Johny Hendricks is probably more deserving of the opportunity to face St. Pierre, but the champ personally asked to fight Diaz because of the bad blood that exists between the two. Hendricks will instead fight Jake Ellenberger that same night and presuming St. Pierre beats Diaz (he's a 5:1 favorite at some books), will get the next title shot.
Just a few final notes from UFC. Rashad Evans can kiss any kind of title shot good bye following his lethargic performance against Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. Evans star is definitely no longer shining. Two big heavyweight bouts were signed this week. New Champion Cain Velasquez makes his first title defense against Antonio Silva. The two men each beat in their respective last fights will also be squaring off as Junior Dos Santos meets Allistair Overeem. Both fights will take place at UFC 160 in May.
For my Free UFC Pick, I'll take Renan Barao to defeat Michael McDonald this Saturday and retain the UFC interim Bantamweight Title
- Power Sports
- December 7, 2016 - 7:30 PM
- Offered at:
- betonline @ 100 Minnesota
1* Minnesota (7:35 ET): Though only 4th in their own division (Central), I actually have the Wild rated as the top team in the Western Conference right now. After concluding a three-game trek though Western Canada w/ a 2-1 win over Edmonton on Sunday, I believe the team has been severely mispriced as they get set to hit the other end of the country
Ironically, Toronto also just concluded a three-game trip through Western Canada. Like the Wild, they beat Edmonton, but lost to Vancouver and Calgary. Unlike the Wild, the Leafs' trip started in Edmonton and worked its way West. Though 10-9-5 overall, Toronto still finds itself in last place in the division as the Atlantic is shaping up to be quite challenging this year. While they've been far better at home than on the road, the Leafs still don't deserve to be the ML favorites in this matchup. They are just 5-11 SU playing w/ three days rest by the way. They are 28th in goals allowed plus were shutout in Calgary last week. The goaltending they'll face here is far stiffer.
What I like about Minnesota is the fact they are 2nd in the league in goals allowed and first in save percentage. Paced by Devan Dubnyk (league leader at .948), the Wild have outscored opponents so far by 15 goals. Dubnyk already has four shutouts and his GAA is 1.63. It's a massive edge for him over Toronto's Frederik Andersen. The Wild have won all five meetings with the Maple Leafs the last three seasons, including a 3-2 home win back in October. Great value here on the better team. 1* Minnesota