On the heels of a decent UFC 148 PPV card, the UFC will deliver some free entertainment packed with talent at this Wednesday’s UFC on Fuel TV 4. With the number one contender spot on the line for the Middleweight division, a couple of weight class shuffles, and some competitive scraps, we’ll have a great mid-week MMA boost, and a chance to turn a few bucks at the expense of the sport books.
Check out my comparison betting odds, any props that jump out at me and my general confidence in the UFC on Fuel TV 4 fight picks below. Hopefully we can all make some cash to pay our electric bills (damn air conditioner). Now, onto the fights!
Mark Munoz -130
Chris Weidman EV
While I’m not entirely sure Munoz would be willing to fight Anderson Silva, we know Chris Weidman is game in this potential number one contender fight. Munoz has looked great in his Middleweight bouts, having integrated more submission skills into his grappling offense and tightening up his serviceable boxing game. Weidman has been on a much sharper trajectory though, and with a world of potential, you have to wonder if the young lion has surpassed the old. This is a fight that, if it took place in a year I’d be all over Weidman, but for now I’m not sure he’s ready for this kind of opponent. Munoz brings a rock-solid frame and much more elite level experience than the young Matt Serra-Ray Longo project, and I can see him shutting Weidman down and giving Weidman no room to work his long-range boxing. The question of the superior wrestler will be answered for sure, but coming into this fight I have to give Munoz the slightest of edges. Would I bet much on it? Hell no. Will I like watching it? Damn straight.
James Te-Huna -160
Joey Beltran +130
Props: Te-Huna by KO, FOTN, Over 2.5
Two veterans of some exciting bouts will collide at 205lbs in what could be either terribly short, or a UFC on Fuel TV 4 FOTN contender. Te-Huna is a rare breed of fighter that takes “heavy hands” to a whole other level, packing fight-ending power into absolutely everything he throws. For Beltran’s part of this equation, he brings a nearly unstoppable chin to the bout, but has never had the fight smarts or speed to get much done inside the cage. This adds up to being a recipe for either a fast fight from Te-Huna, or a major slop fest if both men lose their wind in the first round. The above two props encompass the best values in this bout in my mind, with the Over 2.5 being there in case it comes in at a positive number. If not, skip it and load up on your straight line, Te-Huna KO and FOTN for a fun wager and decent payday.
Aaron Simpson -185
Kenny Robertson +145
Props: Over 2.5 rounds
What was supposed to be my betting gem of the card was ruined for me, as Jon Fitch came up injured in Aaron Simpson’s debut at Welterweight. Now, Kenny Robertson gets his second shot in the UFC and will be the one to answer questions about what I feel is an ill-fated weight cut. As a 38-year-old vegan at a walking weight of 193lbs, a cut to 170lbs is downright frightening. While Simpson has the power to flatten Robertson with a punch and the wrestling might to hustle the wrestling coach, the potential for a full-body shutdown is huge, and makes any wagers in this fight dangerous. For my money, the Over 2.5 prop might be the best bet if the straight line isn’t valuable, as a weakened Simpson could be finished late in the fight or taken to a split decision.
Francis Carmont -140
Karlos Vemola +110
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Under
The giant hype machine that is Francis Carmont will collide with former Heavyweight Karlos Vemola in a Middleweight affair. Carmont comes to the cage with a weighty endorsement by GSP, but while he’s put together the wins, he hasn’t looked like any kind of future star that I’ve ever seen. Vemola comes into this bout as perhaps the strongest Middleweight I’ve ever seen, but with a skill set better suited for the amateur MMA of his native Czech Republic. While I don’t have much confidence in Carmont as a fighter, I have even less in Vemola’s abysmal striking ability. If this fight stays standing, Carmont should blast Vemola and grab the win, but Carmont’s shaky positional grappling and Vemola’s strength are a recipe for disaster if Carmont winds up on the mat. As such, grab the Under or ITD play, as neither man can survive in the other’s world for long.
Vaughan Lee +160
One of the more exciting fights of the night, TUF 14′s TJ Dillashaw will face British fighter Vaughan Lee in a Bantamweight tilt. Dillashaw, like every Team Alpha Male fighter, brings tremendous wrestling talent and raw athletic ability to the cage, and will prove to be a tough match-up for Lee. Lee is fun to watch due to his unorthodox approach to everything from striking to transitions on the mat, but solid fundamentals will beat unorthodox attacks almost every time. Lee’s best chance here comes from his speed and angled striking, which can catch Dillashaw if he’s too busy pretending to be Urijah Faber and leaving his hands down. With that said, I wouldn’t bet on anything but a Dillashaw win.
Anthony Njokuani -185
Rafael Dos Anjos +145
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance
An interesting pairing takes place in the Lightweight division as elite kickboxer Anthony Njokuani faces Brazilian fighter Rafael Dos Anjos. Njokuani has been a favorite of mine due to his precision attacks and evolving takedown defense, but having shown holes on the mat in the past, Dos Anjos makes for a sketchy opponent. The thing that should stop Dos Anjos from being able to execute his game plan here are that his basic striking with an emphasis on leg kicks will prove to be nearly useless against a masterful muay thai fighter like Njokuani. Much like how Tibau stuck Dos Anjos at the end of his punches for much of their fight, Njokuani brings superior range and skills to this match, and should be able to replicate something similar. The big question mark is still within the takedowns though, as Dos Anjos BJJ from top position is more than enough to submit Njokuani if he finds himself truly stuck on the mat. As such, I’d recommend an ITD play paired with your Njokuani straight bet as a hedge, and if Njokuani’s odds aren’t within range, give it a pass all together.
Alex Caceres -125
Damacio Page -110
Props: Caceres ITD
Athletic and talented with a huge upside, Alex Caceres will put his UFC career on the line, taking on a similarly positioned veteran in Damacio Page. Caceres was thankfully spared the axe after his split decision loss against Edwin Figueroa, due to an overzealous two point deduction for groin kicks. Having shown great improvement in his time inside the cage, he’ll take on a WEC veteran who has struggled to knock the ring rust off. Page brings massive punching power and a deceptively sound grappling game, but his injuries and time away from the cage have cost his career in the last several years, making him ripe for the picking here if Caceres can pull it off. While this fight is almost too close to call, Page’s penchant for high-risk attacks could spell disaster against a gifted striker like Caceres, who can time Page’s reckless jumping attacks and cause major harm. This combined with a slick submission game gives Caceres a small edge in my book and puts value on the Caceres ITD prop.
Chris Cariaso -130
Josh Ferguson EV
Another pair of solid Flyweight entrants will look to shine as muay thai champion Chris Cariaso faces the gritty Josh Ferguson. Ferguson had some fair showings within the TUF house and on the Finale, but is looking to put more W’s on his record as a 125lber. Having a natural style of striking and surprisingly slick grappling for such an unassuming frame, Ferguson might turn a few heads if he can put this fight onto the mat. Cariaso isn’t someone to roll over for an opponent though, no matter how outsized and outgunned he’s been in his UFC career. In a division where Cariaso won’t be giving away six or seven inches of height and reach to every opponent, the American muay thai juggernaut stands a great chance of doing some damage, and the heavy hands of Ferguson will have a hard time making their way to his chin. This fight comes down to Ferguson’s ability to make this a grappling match and Cariaso’s use of clinch defense. Considering the amount of issues a monster like Mizugaki had with Cariaso, I have to give him the nod to implement his own game plan and keep his job in the UFC.
Rafael Natal -240
Andrew Craig +190
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
A somewhat surprising entrant into the UFC Middleweight mix, Andrew Craig will look for his second win as he faces BJJ ace Rafael Natal. Craig came into the UFC on short notice from Legacy Fighting Championships, but managed to grind out a commendable win against Kyle Noke in his debut. He’ll face a tough stylistic match-up though in Natal, whose highly technical grappling game and raw strength will likely halt Craig’s grinding style in its tracks. Natal specializes in the judo aspects of BJJ which should help redirect Craig’s offense, while Natal’s striking is simply too much for Craig. Even so, Natal isn’t the best finisher out there and Craig isn’t likely to stop, so grab the Over and a heavy dose of Natal’s line if it’s within a reasonable range.
Raphael Assuncao -240
Issei Tamura +190
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
A solid fighter whose been haunting the undercard as of late, Raphael Assuncao will face the bizarre Issei Tamura to kick off this card. Assuncao isn’t anything special as a muscle-bound, top-game BJJ fighter with basic boxing skills, but he does everything just well enough to get by. Conversely, we have Tamura, who has a very limited arsenal with the natural power of a life-long grappler. This is a fight where Tamura will find himself as the smaller man against someone known for walking through the offense of much harder punchers, and I can’t see Tamura’s simple wrestling and punches getting him out of here with a win. If you’re looking for a UFC on Fuel TV 4 parlay anchor or just something to drop a few bucks on to kick your night off, this isn’t a bad wager at all.
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