Let’s be honest, Tuesdays are useless. They’re just a day removed from Monday, but too far from the end of the week to get you excited about anything. What makes them a hell of a lot better though is some prime UFC on Fuel TV bouts. Our mid-week MMA fix will feature a possible number one contender bout, as Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier takes on fan-favorite “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.
Being as Tuesdays are pretty far away from your paycheck as well, let’s take a look at this card and see if we can’t get you some free cash from your friendly neighborhood bookie. Below is my comparison betting odds for the event, any props that catch my eye, as well as my general confidence concerning X-factors in these matches. Now, onto the fights!
Dustin Poirier -200
Chan Sung Jung +160
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
One hell of a fun fight awaits us in this main event, as Louisiana’s Dustin Poirier faces the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung. Both men have put together some impressive wins, and I’d assume the winner here will be facing Denis Siver for a number one contender spot. Poirier brings a high level of striking, but truly shines with his BJJ mat work, having tapped his fair share of fighters with his tricky guard game. Jung is no stranger to grappling though, and while he boasts an infamously stout chin, he’ll want to avoid trading blows with Poirier and look to implement his submission game in this fight. The issue I think Jung has here is that he’s content to stand and bang, which won’t serve him well against an accurate and talented striker like Poirier. Failing a takedown, I think Jung winds up taking punishment like any Zombie should, and while he lives to see the end of the fight, I don’t see the judges being kind to him. While the Over should cash, don’t hit it if it comes in at worse than -160, as it’s still possible for this to end before that O/U break.
Amir Sadollah -160
Jorge Lopez +130
Props: Sadollah by Sub
A fan favorite despite not being able to beat elite fighters, Amir Sadollah will take to the cage again, facing off against deflated prospect Jorge Lopez. Lopez came into the UFC with a great deal of hype behind him as a Wand Fight Team bruiser, but found his heavy offense and wrestling weren’t going to be enough to crack into the big leagues. Lopez style may actually work against Sadollah though, who himself hasn’t shown much top-level skill, and has spent the majority of his career bouncing back from injuries. Sadollah’s muay thai game, bottom game submissions and sweeps, as well as his high-octane fight style can all undo Lopez here, but my money is on a triangle off a failed takedown. Look for a prop for a Sadollah Sub, although I wouldn’t bet the rent on it due to injury concerns.
Donald Cerrone -240
Jeremy Stephens +190
Props: Stephens by KO, FOTN
Looking to bounce back from a lopsided beating by Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone takes to the cage again, facing crushing puncher Jeremy Stephens. Cerrone has been a legitimate force in the division, and with a work ethic that saw him fight five times last year, seems poised to break into the top-tier if he can put away some elite-level competitors. While Stephens isn’t in that elite bunch, he serves as a great fight opportunity for Cerrone to get back into the swing of things and test his stand-up defense; his only glaring fault. While Stephens does have a chance here, his presence on TUF as an assistant to Team Cruz leads me to believe he isn’t getting the training he needs to take this fight to Cerrone. Despite this, a very small play on Cerrone by KO could pay out huge if Cerrone hasn’t fixed his punch defense, and a similar bet on FOTN couldn’t hurt here either.
Yves Jabouin -185
Jeff Hougland +145
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Under
One of the more entertaining and dynamic strikers at Bantamweight, Yves Jabouin will enter the cage again, taking on Jeff Hougland. Jabouin has experienced an up-and-down career in the Zuffa cage thus far, but comes into this fight with more than enough firepower to deal with Hougland. While Hougland isn’t a bad fighter, he’s a BJJ guy who sets up his game with muay thai, and will find himself severely out-gunned on that battlefield. Having a lack of real offensive grappling techniques to use against Jabouin, don’t expect Hougland to stay awake long in this fight, as Jabouin lands fast combinations and puts Hougland down in the first round.
Fabio Maldonado -130
Igor Pokrajac EV
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/ Under (2.5)
It’s not likely to be pretty, but to hell if it won’t be fun, as Fabio Maldonado faces off against Igor Pokrajac. Both fighters are known for being brutes in the cage, with Maldonado’s professional boxing skills contrast nicely with Pokrajac’s simple offensive style. This is going to be a tricky fight, as Pokrajac brings some takedown ability and a bit of size to this fight against the undersized LHW in Maldonado. What he lacks in size though, the Brazilian makes up for with his hammering punch combinations and smart body work, and could catch Pokrajac in one of those moments where he seems to be at a loss whether to shoot or punch. That halting style is what Maldonado can capitalize on with his smooth offensive work, and while this could be a close one, I have to give the Brazilian an edge to clip Pokrajac and put him down and out. Betting wise, I like the Under if it’s set at 2.5, but wouldn’t go crazy on it unless it’s at -150 or better. Otherwise, look for a straight line, or just sit it out and enjoy.
Tom Lawlor -400
Jason MacDonald +300
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Under, Lawlor Inside 1st Round
Confidence: Extremely High
Tom Lawlor has been dishing out punishment since his TUF 8 debut, yet his fame is more due to his inventive weigh-in costumes and entrances than any fighting ability. This doesn’t do his actual combat prowess justice though, as Lawlor brings submission wrestling skills, as well as some of the most frighteningly accurate hands you’ll in the cage today. His opponent is somewhat of a MW relic, yet Jason MacDonald makes what I’m feeling is another ill-fated appearance in the UFC. I don’t want to be cruel, but MacDonald has never been able to deal with pressure in a fight, having the dubious distinction of two submissions to strikes, as well as retirement on the stool in the UFC to date. These are not actions of an elite fighter, and Lawlor isn’t the guy to hope for an easy fight with. This is the best wager you can make on this card, as Lawlor brings exactly the right combination of aggression and power to finish MacDonald and make us all some money. Hit the above props and potentially the straight line, as MacDonald’s only hope is a quick submission, and the Under will cover you there. While I think Lawlor KO’s MacDonald, I’d recommend against the KO bet due to the aforementioned history of tapping out to strikes, as this will ruin your bet.
Brad Tavares -160
Dongi Yang +130
One of my favorite TUF dark horses, Brad Tavares will look to rebound from his first professional loss, taking on Korean MW monster Dongi Yang. Tavares is a well-rounded individual who appears to have a high ceiling in the UFC if given the right match-ups, and Yang appears to be a great test for the young fighter. Yang is perhaps one of the strongest fighters at Middleweight due to a career fighting as a Heavyweight and has a seriously dangerous top game. Tavares surprised a lot of folks, myself included, with his ability to hit takedowns on Aaron Simpson in his last fight, and this shows a positive direction for the young man who could spell trouble for Yang here. This isn’t a great bout to bet on, but I feel Tavares has a slight edge due to his hand speed and overall game, making a straight wager at strong odds possible.
TJ Grant -200
Carlo Prater +160
A grappler who’s always been matched tough, TJ Grant finally catches a break at LW, taking on Brazilian Luta Livre fighter Carlo Prater. Prater comes into this off of an avalanche of disapproval after a blown call in his last fight, having been awarded a DQ win in a short fight with Erick Silva. This fight has potential to be a great exhibition of grappling savvy, but I don’t count on Grant wanting to play on the mat with Prater unless he’ll be firmly in control. Considering Grant’s submission defense and much underrated shot, I see Prater being dumped on his back early and often here while Grant piles on the damage from top and hunts for the sub. This fight could go in a lot of directions and doesn’t make the best betting fodder, so look for that straight line or pass altogether.
Rafael Dos Anjos -185
Kamal Shalorus +145
Props: Dos Anjos ITD
Two guys who have confused the hell out of me in their careers will clash on Fuel, as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Kamal Shalorus. Dos Anjos is one of the better functional bottom game BJJ guys in the division, yet he’s made himself a career based on his surprisingly sharp muay thai skills. Shalorus on the other hand has clearly displayed he’s not UFC material, yet finds himself in a last-ditch effort in the promotion. My problem with Shalorus is that he’s shown absolutely no improvement since day one in the cage, relying on wild overhand punches and takedowns with no submission or ground and pound offense. While this won him fights in the WEC, he’s faced the harsh reality of dealing with complete fighters, and will have no easy time with this bout either. Dos Anjos has had trouble with wrestlers before, but Shalorus horrid stand-up should leave Dos Anjos all the room he needs to pepper Shalorus with strikes. This will lead to either a KO, or will force the wrestler into a desperate shot that leads to a submission for the savvy Dos Anjos. While this all plays out well in my head, I have an abysmal record of correctly predicting both men’s fights, so I’d recommend caution if tailing my play here.
Jeff Curran -200
Johnny Eduardo +160
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
The original jack-of-all-trades will get one more fight in the UFC, as Jeff Curran takes on Brazilian kickboxer Johnny Eduardo. Curran has always been a great fighter, but one who tends to drop a lot of fights to wrestlers due to his willingness to fight off his back. This leads to a less than fantastic record, but one that has no bearing on a fight like this. Curran’s tight boxing and athleticism should mess well with Eduardo’s somewhat plodding standing offense, and this fight isn’t even close if it hits the mat. While the outcome is a bit sketchy, look for Curran to pull off the win with his forward movement, combination punching and reliable takedown attack. Betting wise, the Over should cash here and I’d like a nice Curran straight line, but don’t go crazy if you don’t find value.
Francisco Rivera -185
Alex Soto +145
Props: Rivera by KO
Vicious striker Francisco Rivera makes a deserved return to the UFC, taking on Mexican stand-out Alex Soto. Rivera is someone who was matched tough right off the bat and never got to show his true talent in the cage, but will take yet another short notice fight to try to right the ship. Soto is a well-regarded prospect from Mexico, but Mexico hasn’t produced much buzz as an MMA mecca, with the majority of their combat sportsmen coming from the Boxing world. Both men make the claim of having great hands, but comparing their skills on tap, Rivera has the tighter all-around game and superior power. While Rivera’s ground game is still suspect, I don’t see this hitting the mat, and count on Rivera landing a devastating blow standing for a KO finish.
Marcus LeVesseur -120
Cody McKenzie -120
Props: Fight Ends Inside The Distance/Under
Confidence: Very High
Oddly enough, the fight I’m most interested in is the curtain jerker, as TUF 12′s Cody McKenzie faces UFC newcomer Marcus LeVesseur. For those unfamiliar, LeVesseur comes to the UFC as one of the greatest Division 3 wrestlers of all time and came up the MMA ranks based on an outrageous work rate that’s seen him fight twice a month for years. While his record indicates a lack of serious training, LeVesseur’s natural talent is apparent with his in-ring performances, and should make a strong addition to the division. If I were to pick a foil for a wrestler though, I might just pick McKenzie to ruin their debut. McKenzie isn’t good at much, but what he is good at is snaring grapplers with his freakish strength, unorthodox attack patterns, and relentless pacing. While LeVesseur has the striking ammo to jack McKenzie up here, I do worry that he’ll search for a quick takedown and find himself choking in short order. In all, this is a dead even affair, but I’d favor and ITD play here due to the defensive faults of both men.