UFC 137 finally has arrived. The fights are an array of unevenly matched fights, and a few that offer great value, not to mention the main card which has been drawing intrigue since Diaz announced he would stick his career out in the UFC. All betting odds are taken from Bodog.
5:55 PM Dustin Jacoby (10/11) vs. Clifford Starks (5/6)
This middleweight bout features two undefeated young studs in the 6’0″ Dustin Jacoby and the 7’0″ (!!) Clifford Starks. Starks is a replacment for hte injured Brad Tavares and this fight will no longer be on the pay per view portion of the showing. Jacoby has beat 4 opponents in his last 6 fights who have fought 12 fights or more. He had a TKO vicotry over Ryan Sturdy and a TKO victory over Billy Horne. Conversely, only two of Starks’ opponents were experienced and neither of those victories were won in the same decisive manner as Jacoby’s wins.
Jacoby would prefer to keep this fight standing, as he is a great striker, both with his kicks and knees, and none of his six wins have been by decision. He also had an impressive triangle choke which will work in his favor because the 7’0″ Starks loves to wrestle. His length makes him insane on the mat, but Jacoby isn’t bad on the mat either. Really, Starks best chance, on the mat, is not that great of a chance at all. Starks likes to go the distance and his best chance is to win this one in decision, but Jacoby is a better fighter and has the ability to end this one in knockout. Jacoby isn’t favored by a lot, so this fight offers great value from a bettors standpoint backing the favorite.
Chris Camozzi (2/3) vs. Francis “Limitless” Camont (6/5)
Camozzi has managed to recover from a sad circumstance of a broken jaw, which forced him to withdraw in the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter. He came back in UFC fighting to beat James Hammortree and then he had a split decision against Dong Yang at UFC 121. He was then, however, released from UFC after losilng to Kyle Noke and after winning 2 of 3 fights, he had to have been a bit perplexed to say the least. He then went on to a promo fight against Joey Villasenor, but “suffered” a draw against a guy he should have beat. One of the scorecards was added up incorrectly, though, and he actually ended up winning by split decision. It highlights the ineptitude of UFC, a rare circumstance of human beings unable to add single digit numbers.
Still, Camozzi came back to UFC now and will be facing Carmont in his return fight.
Carmont is 16-7 and while that is a solid record, he is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of fihghter. He has no chance at contention at this point in his career, but is still seeking to continue his career from a financial standpoint, at least. The problem is that he doesn’t have a lot left in that tank. He loses to the best fighters and he lost to guys like Cyborg Santos and Vitor Vianna, who are not even UFC quality.
Carmont has the more impressive fight record. He has beat quality fighters, but Camozzi’s record is marred by the fact that he lost a fight ten fights ago. Carmont just doesn’t step up for quality fighters like Camozzi and he is a true UFC quality level fighter and Carmozzi should win this one, as he is favored to by Bodog.
Ramsey Nijem (20/37) vs. Daniel “Danny Boy” Downes (31/20)
There’s something to be said for a guy like Downes. He’s a pretty big underdog in this fight, but it won’t stop him from competing all out, and this is one where we very well might see an upset. Downes got pounded by Jeremy Stephens at TUF 13, but he absorbed the blows and kept going. He does not let heavy blows cripple him, and he can take the hits. Seeing a guy continue to go at fighters like Downes does makes fans happy. We don’t like to see guys simply quit because they are outmatched physically. Unfortunately, for Downes, he is outmatched physically once again against Ramsey Nijem. Nijem is quick and strong and a lot more “gifted” than Downes. His wrestling game is pretty good, and could give Downes problems.
It’s weird to favor a fighter like Downes, who just doesn’t have an amazing skillset, but something about this fight seems to scream ‘upset!’ Downes only has one good vicotry under his belt against Tie Quan Zhang, and his participation may even seem dubious in UFC but Nijem has only six pro MMA fights under his belt and his record is actually less impressive than Downes. Even considering that Nijem made it to the TUF 13 Finale, he didn’t beat that many good fighters to get there, outside of the decent Chris Cope. Downes will not impress us with his striking or grappling, but he does have enough talent to beat a better fighter here and bettors are wise to take advantage of the nice odds in backing the underdog in this one.
Eliot “The Fire” Marshall (4/1) vs. Brandon “The Truth” Vera (1/6)
Vera was cut from the UFC ten months ago after his loss to Thiago Silva at UFC 125. He’ll be coming back to the heavyweight division where he thinks he may far better. He started out his career with eight consecutive victories, including three that ended in the first round (Justin Elilers, Assuerio Silva, and Frank Mir — 69 second TKO). His loss to Tim Sylvia didn’t look good, and after that fight he went only 3-5, accounting for his eventual ousting from UFC. One problem for Vera is coordinating his attacks. He doesn’t back up his kicks with subsequent blows, and he leaves the same lack of follow up issues at bay with his punches and knees. His overall skill set remains oustanding, and he is strong in striking, wrestling, and grappling, but he doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct to put fighters away. He’s kind of one of those athletes you always expect to turn the corner, but who never does.
Fighting Eliot Marshall will help.
Like Vera, Marshall has a lot of tools. He just doesn’t seem to prepare for quick attacks and he lost in the first round of UFC 128. His wrestling game is pretty poor, and it really won’t help against a guy like Vera, who is good at working submissions. Vera will likely impress in every way possible in this fight, as he just has a superior skill set. He’s likely to be able to win this either by knockout, or by decision should he be unable to dispose of Marshall so easily.
Tyson Griffin (2/9) vs. Bart “Bartimus” Palazewski (3/1)
Palaszewski has had time to show what kind of fighter he is, given that he has been in 49 career fights (of which he has won 35), but for a guy that aspires to contend, 14 losses is a lot. He’s split his last 12 fights and there’s nothing to suggest he is going to make any kind of significant rise to the top, as indicated by the very uneven odds.
There is a little to be said for the fact that his losses have come to good fighters. He lost to Deividas Taurosevicius, Ricardo Lamas, Chris Hordecki, Kamal Shalorus, Anthony Njokuani, and Jim Miller. His wins haven’t been that impressive though, with victories over Jeff Cox, Tyler Combs, and Alex Karalexis, though his victories over Anthony Pettis and Zachary Micklewright (not to mention Karen Darabedyan) were pretty solid wins over good competition. He’s not a bad fighter, so it’s surprising to see the decks this stacked against him. The problem is that Palaszewski depends on winning fights by points and against a fighter like Griffin, that isn’t likely. Griffin isn’t an amazing striker but he will out-grapple Palazewski and his wrestling game is pretty top notch. Ordinarily, with odds this uneven, one would expect a clear knockout, but this one will likely go to decision, with the heavily favored Griffin taking it easy on votes.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (1/3) vs. Dennis Siver (12/5)
Cerrone has been making his push for contention in the lightweight ranks for quite some time now. He’s favored to win this fight against a guy that has been ranked higher than him by MMA pundits, so this fight offers a big chance for Cerrone to prove himself against a quality fighter in Dennis Siver. Cerrone is taller and has superior reach at 6’0″. Siver is heavier built, but it probably won’t serve him in this fight, because Cerrone is a good striker and great on the ground as well. Siver definitely wants to keep this one standing as long as possible, and as often as possible.
Siver had his chance. He beat George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127 and then beat Matt Wiman in decision. He then got knocked out by Rafael dos Anjos and it renders him looking more like an average fighter than anything else at this point in his career. He hasn’t measured up against the best of the best, which is what Cerrone is, really. Cerrone doesn’t have great knockout power, though, so the chance for Siver to work away at him will be there. Cerrone has shown a better propensity to finish off fights, though, and while Siver has more power, that may not make a difference.
Siver’s only chance is to keep the fight standing. If he can do that, the odds on this fight significantly change, but the fact is, even if he does keep it standing he is guaranteed nothing. Cerrone is on his way to the top, or at least making another push to get there, and he won’t let a guy like Siver deter him from getting there. Bettors are wise to back Cerrone.
Hats Hioki (1/4) vs. George Roop (3/1)
Hioki comes into this fight highly regarded. He does, however, have a glaring black mark on his record: his loss to Michihiro Omigawa. He lost by a controversial decision, but it was a loss nonetheless, and affect his standings as a fighter, consequently. Omigawa was a far from respectable 7-8-1 going into the fight and it doesn’t look good for Hioki as a fighter. However, when one looks past that blemish, his outlook significantly irmproves. Some even see him as a top 3 fighter in this featherweight division.
He’s superior to Roop on the ground. 12 of his 24 career wins have come by submission. Six of those 12 were triangle chokes. He’s also a great striker and is pretty tall for a featherweight fighter, so Roop won’t be able to utilize his usual advantages in height and weight. Roop dominated the hell out of Josh Grispi at the TUF 13 finale, and Grispi is a tall featherweight too, so it showed Roop is not a one trick pony with regard to utilizing his length on opponents. He tends to leave his blows short armed and is best from close distance, but Roop is good with his elbows in tie ups too.
Roop has just lost too many fights to ultimately be taken so seriously as a fighter. Hioki probably wants this on the ground, but has an advantage striking, anyway. Hioki will dispose of Roop, the real question is whether he’ll be able to handle the fighters he faces after this fight, namely Aldo or Mendes. The odds for this one aren’t all that valuable though, and I don’t advise dropping a bet on the favored Hioki due to the fact that Roop has a number of ways of winning this one. I’m not suggesting Roop wins this, but his chances are better than the 3/1 odds, if only slightly.
Scott “Young Guns” Jorgenson (2/9) vs. Jeff “The Big Frog” Curran (13/4)
From a fan’s perspective, many are probably confused as to why this fight is on the main card. Jorgenson is a good grappler and decent wrestler, but will find himself up agianst Curran and his strong Brazillian Jiu-jitsu background. Curran has no knockout game at all, though, so to speak of.
Jorgenson is 16-4 in MMA and his quick hands and feet will enable him to get a lot of good looks at take downs. Curran is a good boxer and MMA fighter, and is 33-13, but has fought a lot of small promos and will be getting a real challenge tonight in Jorgenson. Jorgenson should be able to get this on the ground and take advantage of being on top. Curran probably will wonder what hit him, as he isn’t the quickest at defending take downs. Look for Jorgenson to win this in a unanimous decision, and even at such uneven odds, it’s not an unreasonable proposition to collect on his superior fighting skills in this one.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (12/5) vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson (1/3)
Roy Nelson, proverbially the fat boy of UFC, has taken it upon himself to get into better shape, but he is facing Cro Cop, an aged warrior who has been on a fast track down in reccnet times.
Cro Cop debuted at UFC 70, and got knocked out by Gabriel Gonzaga, then lost to Cheick Kongo at UFC 75. He won over Mostpha Al-turk, but then was destroyed by Junior Dos Sanots. His 3-5 record in the UFC leaves a lot of people wondering how he is still in the UFC, and his days seem numbered, to say the least.
Like many fights, though, Nelson just has more to offer long term in a fight. He’ll likely wear away at Nelson with a series of blows that will drastically affect his stance, as he doesn’t weather attacks that well. Nelson should win this by TKO, perhaps even early in the fight.
Cheick Kongo (5/4) vs. Matt “Meathead” Mitrione (20/31)
Kongo is a great French kickboxer and he just beat Pat Barry in June, knocking out Barry in the first round, after looking early on as though he were completely outmatched. He won a unanimous decision over Cro Cop at UFC 75. He is now 16-6 and this main event fight should be a pretty good one.
Mitrione is 5-0. He knocked out Kimbo Silve in May of 2010 and then beate Joey Beltran, Tim Hague, and Christian Morecraft, all solid victories. This heavyweight fight is sure to be a boxing match for hte most part, though neither fighter is ultimately afraid to take it to the ground, if the fight leans that way.
At 20/31 odds, Mitrione offers a lot of value here. He’s undefeated for a reason, and while Kongo has a great skill set, Matrione will win if he can get this one down to decision, and I believe he can.
B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn (20/27) vs. Nick Diaz (21/20)
Finally, the main event: an evenly matched fight between two very good fighters, that never even would have came to be if not for Diaz stepping in at hte last minute. Diaz was going to be a boxer, but thought about it twice, but still doesn’t seem properly focused for a fight like this. He said his heart wasn’t in it.
He’s won 10 straight, but the best opponent was Paul Daley and while his conditioning is top notch, his wrestling game is not, and he lacks knockout power, as well.
Penn is going to have to use the best of his great boxing and footwork to exploit the holes in Diaz’ defense. His conditioning has been in question, and that could be a problem, because this fight is unlikely to end early. Penn is a much better fighter than Diaz is accustomed to going against, despite a 25-7 record. Penn, overall, has a better skill-set though, and should win this one, likely by a unanimous decision.
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