Welcome fight Enthusiasts to UFC 231. This slate is stacked with talent and dynamic match-ups. Over the last several weeks I have been trying to remain selective in anticipation of this card and the upcoming UFC 232. I believe there are a few mangy mutts carousing this card. Let’s find them and convert their efforts into profit.
This Holloway vs. Ortega fight was originally scheduled for July so this week in ‘Point Spread Weekly’ I go back to the article published then and add to it based on my thoughts from this past Tuesday Dec. 4th which was the deadline for my position.
As usual I will have updates to this main event and other releases immediately following.
(All GambLou.com releases are understood to be a standard/hypothetical $100.00 per position unless otherwise stated. We employ $100.00 to easily track results as every GambLou.com release is recorded and accounted for each Monday AM in the “Money Morning’ report. On line, up to date reporting for all sporting events we work is available by accessing the ‘Profitability’ tab on the Gamblou.com webpage. The Profitability tab displays win percentage, gross profit and bottom line profitability up to date in real time. It’s business).
--originally published 12-5-18—
After numerous obscure Fight Night events over the course of the last several weeks the UFC serves us filet mignon this week with a deeply talented UFC 231 slate from Toronto Canada. There are numerous fights on this card that feature well matched competition and interesting clashes of fighting styles.
Due diligence and selectivity are mandatory practices for profitable underdog bettors in the UFC as to date in 2018 Favorites are 268-125-15 (65.7%).
Let’s begin start Saturday’s main event which was originally scheduled for UFC 226 this past July. I’ll post my column submitted (and published) on Point Spread Weekly prior to that fight (but before it had been pulled) providing a glimpse of my thoughts at that time. After that column I’ll add comments which address the relatively important dynamics that have surfaced since that fight was cancelled and which I believe factor greatly in this outcome.
Max Holloway -130 (Champion) vs. Brian Ortega +110 Featherweight Championship (145lbs.)
This fight features two abundantly talented, state of the art mixed martial artists each with their own dynamic expertise and approach to excellence.
In Brian Ortega we have a BJJ savant spoon fed by Rener Gracie. While Ortega is master class in BJJ he has also greatly improved his striking making him a relatively complete MMA fighter other than Ortega has shown limited ability to effectively wrestle.
Ortega has benefited by a substantial size advantage in recent fights as he’s been the larger, taller, longer man in the Octagon (save for his fight against Moicano) but this will not be the case Saturday as Holloway is the slightly taller combatant with relatively equal reach.
Ortega has been able to focus completely on his stand up in recent fights while offering little if any deterrent against the takedown as he is confident that any fighter foolish enough to take him to the floor will be submitted. This allows Ortega the freedom to strike with no fear of the floor.
Ortega’s striking while improved is still unrefined and is in no way on par with his opponent Saturday night. Ortega’s striking is power based and in the heat of battle he can be wide and at times wild while fighting upright. Besides improving as a striker Ortega is also evolving in the area he needs most to improve upon, strike defense. How Ortega chooses to attack Holloway will be the intrigue of this fight for I see little chance of Ortega winning a stand-up battle.
Twenty-six-year-old Max Holloway will enter his fourth title defense a confident fighter who since his decision loss to Conor McGregor in 2013 has won twelve straight UFC fights (nine of those via the finish). Holloway will be the taller, faster fighter who will utilize a diverse and precision based Muay Thai/boxing striking arsenal to take this fight to the challenger. Holloway must utilize and maintain space to control Ortega and keep him at the end of his lethal strikes and kicks. Holloway’s effective striking will be utilized to force Ortega into pressing the fight to Holloway thus allowing Ortega to become predictable and open to Holloway’s precision striking attack while Ortega works to get inside.
I do not see Ortega being able to compete effectively against the striking and movement of Holloway as he did against the forward stalking, wild, swinging Moicano who in their fight one year ago took the fight directly to Ortega before getting caught in a guillotine in the third round. At the half way point of round two of that fight Moicano had landed forty-seven (47) head strikes on Ortega. This not only demonstrates that Ortega can take a shot but it also is evidence that his defense against a striker is suspect and Moicano is in no way as precision based or refined a striker as Holloway.
Holloway’s precision striking, awkward movement and counter attack coupled with his eighty-three percent (83%) take down defense will force Ortega to become predictable. Ortega will eventually need to gain his way inside to drag Holloway down or force him against the fence if he is to have any chance of getting his hand raised. When this happens Ortega plays right into the strength of the fluid moving lethal striking Max Holloway.
Holloway opened -180 in this fight and it’s my opinion that Ortega’s recent knock-out of Frankie Edgar (which the fighting public has fresh in their minds) is fueling favor to Ortega. This in turn is creating value for the Champion who in my judgement is poised to defend his title Saturday night in impressive fashion.
Fight pro’s that follow the UFC comprehensively were aware that just prior to that first fight in July, Holloway was displaying a unique lack of response to questions, an overall sluggishness and slurring leading up to the fight. The last minute cancellation was due to the fact that during fight week Holloway was forced into making a couple hospital visits for what was described as acute concussion-like symptoms*.
The result of the cancellation had Holloway and camp delving into what really had happened as they strived to get Max back to health. The information available from his interviews since July are a mix between the unknown, concussion symptoms and even the addressing of depression and mental health**.
So today as I assess this fight, I must say everything has changed except the lines on the scrap. Let’s begin with pricing. As you read above Holloway opened -180 in the first fight and at the time of cancellation was he -130. When this fight re-opened the price came as it had closed in July, Holloway -130 to Ortega +110 and it sits close to that number now.
While the betting line on the fight has remained mostly unaltered from their first scheduled fight in July it is my judgement that the total dynamic of the fight has been altered.
Athletes are at their essence and in their prime very insecure. Insecure because they realize their time is limited and they strive to take advantage of each and every opportunity to remain as relevant as possible both for their ego and for their business. Add to this that the UFC ‘had’ and ‘has’ another fighter on hand and primed to step in to fight Ortega in the case Holloway was unable to return to defend the Featherweight title or in the case that Holloway can’t make it to the Octagon Saturday. So to say Holloway is experiencing pressure from the UFC to defend and his own self-administered pressure to fight Ortega is not overstated.
Is Holloway rushing back? He could be feeling pressure to retain HIS title by defending it and he sure does not want to allow others the spotlight that he himself has worked so tirelessly to attain. But is he 110% healthy?
We’ll all know soon enough if Max is really ready to fire Saturday but as far as betting this fight is concerned I’ll allow the recent news to completely change my direction in this fight as I was vehemently for Holloway last July but now I am concerned.
Holloway still seems a bit off from my deep research for this title fight. His speech still seems a bit slippery and his manner deliberate. He’ll need to prove to me that the events of the last six months have had no effect on him as I can’t simply believe that four or five months can completely cure someone from issues so critical to a fighter as their ‘mental health’ and potential physiological effects of depression.
I do not believe that the Max Holloway of July is the same man and fighter as he is today. The forms of struggles he’s experienced can be complex and in the fight game mental and physical health is of major importance especially when we begin to address not only concussion-like symptoms but now we bring in depression. I know so little of each so I’ll hold off on commenting but this I will say:
Max Holloway’s absolute best performance will be required Saturday to defeat Brian Ortega and I’m not completely sure we’re getting Holloway at 100%.
I’ll have a complete UFC 231 slate breakdown at GambLou.com after Friday’s weigh-in results have taken place. Enjoy the fights.
* “Max Holloway breaks silence on UFC 226 withdrawal” By: Mike Bohn|July 6, 2018 2:40 pm MMA Junkie.com. Link: https://mmajunkie.com/2018/07/max-holloway-breaks-silence-on-ufc-226-withdrawal-addresses-ortega-mcgregor-khabib
** “Morning Report: Max Holloway opens up about battling depression after UFC 226” By Jed Meshew @JedKMeshew Oct 11, 2018, 8:00am EDT Link: https://www.mmafighting.com/2018/10/11/17959694/morning-report-max-holloway-opens-up-about-battling-depression-after-ufc-226.
--Updated 12-8-18 11am EST--
Yesterday after closely scrutinizing both sets of weigh-ins and also enlisting the help of my MMA mentor and dear friend John Crouch who is the Coach and owner of the MMALab here in Phoenix I released:
Crouch indicted that in his opinion the camp and inner circle of Holloway handlers would be very wary of Max’s condition and in his thoughts he felt they would not allow him to compromise himself. This may seem common sense and I still poked at Crouch regarding perhaps organizational pressure influencing Max to hide any issues etc. from camp which Crouch acknowledged as a possible yet very difficult to actually pull off (these couches are like family to their fighters especially at the MMALab). Anyway I hope this helps you understand my back and forth regarding my final position on this fight.
Aubin-Mercier -135 vs. Burns +115
In a fight pitting two outstanding grapplers often times we’ll see that the fight takes place on the feet. While both of these men have rapidly gained striking acumen it is Aubin-Mercier who I will give a slight edge to in the stand-up only because Burn’s beak has in the past show itself to be weak. So Burns will want to get this fight to the mat where he will have clear advantage over AB who on the floor is quite capable but nowhere near the level of BJJ artist that Burns is. AB will strive to keep this fight standing in my estimation and will try to touch the Brazilian on the teeth and control the fight from striking distance. I believe Burns is the more athletic, explosive fighter who will be able to manage this fight while upright until he can forge his way inside to get a grasp of AB and drag him down where Burns will manage to make this a maul on the matt eventually and earn this victory most likely via decision.
Theodorou -135 vs. Anders +115
Theodorou is a well-rounded fighter who has several peripheral business opportunities working as he solidifies himself as a legitimate top fifteen fighter in the UFC’s Middleweight division. I find it amazing that this young man can manage movie parts, writing, doing commercials and training for top level UFC opponents. I wonder if his attentions are 110% focused on fighting although I completely respect and commend the young man for preparing for life after fighting (something very few fighters or athlete’s for that matter are able to undertake during their athletic careers). Theodorou is large for the weight class and while he has more experience in the cage than does Anders, it will be Anders that is the more explosive, athletic and powerful fighter. I feel this fight is guile against grit and in my estimation it should be lined as it was at opening (Anders -125) so we’ll take the line value on the former linebacker.
Dawado -195 vs. Bochniak +175
Dawado is an explosive local fighter who’ll have the crowd, athletic ability and a five-year youth advantage over the more deliberate well-rounded grinder in Bochniak. If Bochniak can navigate the first five minutes without taking too much damage from this explosive powerful Canadian and steer this fight into the final seven minutes, then I believe his unrelenting forward pressuring style and toughness may begin to ebb the explosion from Dawado. Bochniak gained mucho confidence after his performance last out on short notice against Magomedshapirov and he caught my eye in doing so. Flyer
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