Welcome to a brand new MMA Plus Betting Guide with your resident degenerate gambler Stuart Rogers. This week we take a look at UFC Fight Night 105 also known as UFC Halifax from the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the main event which will see two top-10 heavyweights collide as the on-form Derrick Lewis takes on Travis Browne to determine who will put themselves into the contender conversation.
After the first four UFC events of the year, we found ourselves off to a respectable start at +14.5pts profit over all bets with clear profit for every event of 2017 so far apart from the small 2pt hit we took last week due to voided bets with Ian McCall pulling out and small losses. This week we look to get back on track with plenty of good value bets to be had up and down the card.
UFC Halifax Main Event
Travis Browne (18-5-1) 10/11 vs. Derrick Lewis (17-4) 10/11 – Heavyweight
A straight up pick’em in the main event this week as Travis Browne seeks redemption after four losses in his last six fights against the streaking Derrick Lewis who looks to put himself amongst the elite with his sixth win in a row.
Although Browne has experienced difficulty in recent times, it’s easy to forget the fighter he once was, when he was christened ‘the future of the heavyweight division’ after knocking out Stefan Struve and Josh Barnett. Then came defeats to the elite of the division and “Hapa” is all of a sudden “persona non grata” for many MMA fans and tipsters alike…. However not for all of us as I really like him to get the win he so desperately needs in Halifax.
Lewis has been surging up the division and putting wins together for the best part of two years however there’s a reason that after five straight wins, he is only now being given a real test of his contender credibilities. He has looked awful in a lot of his wins including losing three rounds in his last fight to the underwhelming Shamil Abdulrakhimov, who took him down at will and was only put away after fading in the fourth round. Even Roy Nelson was landing takedowns on “The Black Beast”.
With this being his first real test against the upper echelon of the heavyweight division, Lewis will once again hit his glass ceiling when facing Browne and his streak will be brought to an end. The Hawaiian will hopefully look like the fighter of old after spending less time at Glendale Fight Club and relocating a big portion on his camp to Black House MMA.
Tip: Browne to win in Rounds 3, 4 or 5 at 13/2
UFC Halifax Main Card
Hector Lombard (34-6-1) 20/27 vs. Johny Hendricks (17-6) 23/20 – Middleweight
Sam Sicilia (14-7) 27/20 vs. Gavin Tucker (9-0) 5/8 -Featherweight
Elias Theodorou (12-1) 21/20 vs. Cezar Ferreira (11-5) 4/5 – Welterweight
Sara McMann (10-3) 1/6 vs. Gina Mazany (4-0) 17/4 -Womens’ Bantamweight
Paul Felder (12-3) 4/17 vs. Alex Ricci (10-4) 16/5 – Lightweight
After a difficult run of both weight cuts and bad losses, Johny Hendricks steps up to middleweight for the first time and will look to get back in the win column over Hector Lombard. Hendricks has looked past his best lately however, we can’t overlook what part the weight cuts have played into that and if he will look much better here. Lombard is a spectacular first round fighter but if you weather the early storm, he’s gassed out and finished by the second round. Tempted to play the underdog but I’m very likely to pass as there’s just too many variables.
Making his UFC debut, local Halifax fighter Gavin Tucker looks to remain undefeated as he faces promotional veteran, Sam Sicilia. Although Sicilia isn’t anywhere near troubling the top-15 of the featherweight division, he has won nearly as many of his 11 bouts as he has lost and is a solid lower tier fighter. Tucker, on the other hand, is completely untested and although impressing on the Canadian regional scene, he has never faced anyone of UFC level causing me to lean to the side of the more experienced Sicilia at good value prices.
In another close match-up UFC Halifax, Cezar Ferreira comes off the best year of his career, after three straight wins in 2016, to face popular Canadian Elias Theodorou. Ferreira has looked very impressive lately with his ground game really coming to the forefront and has only really troubled by power punchers in the past. That certainly isn’t “The Spartan” who himself likes to go to ground but that could be his downfall in this one against the Brazilian.
Don’t touch Sara McMann at those prices as there’s little to be earned even though she’s guaranteed victory in an on-paper gimmie match against debuting Gina Mazany and get on Paul Felder as “The Irish Dragon” will surely use his crisp striking and toughness to outwork Alex Ricci over three rounds.
Tip: Sicilia, Ferreira to win and Felder to win by decision at 6/1 (treble)
UFC Halifax Prelims
Nordine Taleb (12-3) 16/5 vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (23-3) 4/17
Carla Esparza (11-3) 10/29 vs. Randa Markos (6-4) 23/10
Aiemann Zahabi (6-0) 10/23 vs. Reginaldo Vieira (13-4) 37/20
Jack Marshman (21-5) 31/20 vs. Thiago Santos (13-5) 10/19
Ryan Janes (9-1) 13/5 vs. Gerald Meerschaert (25-8) 4/13
With a rather bare prelims card this week, it still offers some fascinating match-ups and again there’s some life to be found in some of the money making underdogs we like so much. I fully expect Santiago Ponzinibbio to continue his recent improvements and look convincing over a returning Nordine Taleb who is coming back from nearly a year off due to injury and is now 35-years-old.
The hype and momentum behind Aiemann Zahabi coming into his debut seems real from the footage I’ve seen, and although it’s lower quality guys, stories have leaked for years about the 29-year-old schooling some tough UFC competitors in the Tristar gym. This fight over Reginaldo Vieira seems like a set-up fight for the Canadian in his own backyard.
From the other three bouts, I think all three underdogs have paths to victory. Ryan Janes has a black belt in BJJ and if the fight goes to the ground, can submit Gerald Meerschaert just as others have with seven of his eight losses coming by submission. Carla Esparza may be part of the old breed of women’s MMA being left behind as her one-dimensional wrestling approach leaves her struggling unlike during her days as a Strawweight champion. Randa Markos could easily expose this however, I’m not quite ready to bet against “Cookie Cutter.” The best option seems to be Welshman Jack Marshman who can match the firepower of Thiago Santos and grab the big upset over the Brazilian powerhouse at UFC Halifax.