Welcome fight Enthusiasts to UFC 226. As is the custom we’ve lost the Co-main event of Holloway and Ortega which is sad for so many reasons, yet I applaud Holloway, his handlers and the UFC for cancelling this fight and allowing the athlete to recover and return. I’d tell you it will be 2019 before Holloway hits the Octagon next.
Since the beginning of the year I’ve been submitting my main event and other breakdowns to the fine people at VSiN for publication. The deadline for fights occurring on Saturday’s is Tuesday AM which is very early for this handicapper to make solid releases. That said, deadlines are deadlines and the practice has in my judgement sharpened my handicapping skill.
I’m quite aware that 2018 UFC profitability is unacceptable to date, but the seasons are long and (for whatever reason) it seems to take me until this huge UFC weekend to get my fight groove going. Refining my releases will also be a focus while I work my way back to profitability and I’d warn those that while this year has started slowly I can’t expect chalk to continue its torrid 70% performance rate. After last night’s card Favorites are running a smooth 152-65-10.
So, UFC 226 is here, my main event breakdown from Point Spread Weekly is below. I’ll spare everyone the Holloway/Ortega column unless requested.
(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. After all, it’s business).
(below originally published 7-4-18 in VSiN’s Point Spread Weekly)
UFC 226 occurs in Las Vegas this week for the UFC’s annual exposition. The stacked card treats us to two Championship fights Saturday night. The evening’s feature bout tabbed as ‘the Super fight’ is a matchup pitting current UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic against current Light-Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier for Miocic’s Heavyweight title. The co-main event is also a title fight at the Featherweight division and will feature two modern MMA era assassins facing off in Champion Max Holloway and undefeated challenger Brian Ortega.
Stipe Miocic – 240 (Champion) vs. Daniel Cormier +220 Heavyweight Championship (under 265lbs.)
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier entered the UFC in 2013 as a heavyweight but chose to drop to light-heavyweight because his training partner and good friend Cain Velasquez not only competed at the heavyweight division but held its title on two different occasions. Cormier who many consider undersized for heavyweight, fights well larger than his size for he possesses incredible strength, has absolute World Class wrestling ability and exhibits unrelenting forward pressure. Cormier’s advantages lie in his dynamic wrestling ability, his strong will, his ability to smother opponents and not allow them room to breathe (let along strike) and his vast fight experience.
Cormier defeated heavyweights earlier in his career but let’s not forget that he was thirty-four then and now approaches forty. In the five years since he’s competed at heavyweight he’s faced the absolute best of the Light-heavyweight division and smashed every challenger save for two losses to Jon Jones which both were overturned. While Cormier’s resume and history of dominance at light-heavyweight is undisputable, he does face the toughest challenge in his career in Heavyweight Champion Miocic. Cormier approaches his fortieth birthday which is cause for concern as he’s almost five years older than the Champion. As we are aware the five-year age difference favors the younger fighter 65% of the time in fights above 170lbs. As concerning to me is the fact that Cormier seems to be publicly planning career moves past this most arduous confrontation by mentioning other fighters he wants to face prior to retirement. I don’t put it past any intelligent fighter of any age to get caught up in the publicity and limelight of the moment and in my judgement planning a career path past the most important fight in one’s career is most unwise.
Stipe Miocic is the longest reigning UFC Heavyweight in history and this will be his fourth title defense. Miocic owns physical advantages over Cormier besides age, he’s five inches taller than DC and will own an eight-inch reach advantage, for a striking based fighter that is telling. Miocic while not as accomplished a wrestler as Cormier does possess a complete wrestling base. Miocic’s size and take down defense (75% take down defense) will allow him to withstand Cormier’s attempts to work inside and drag this fight to the floor. Miocic’s advantage is on the feet and in space so where this fight occurs is the critical as DC wants to grind, rub, maul and brawl while Miocic wants to battle at distance and batter the incoming Cormier as he attempts to work his way inside. In my judgement Miocic’s size, length and athleticism will allow him to maintain distance from the charging Cormier.
I struggle to think that at forty years old and now fighting up a weight-class against a true heavyweight Champion that Cormier is going to be able to maintain his cardio level carrying that extra weight (he’s been fighting at 205lbs. is comfortable at 220-230lbs. and will be facing a fighter weighing 245lbs). Cormier’s age, this jump in weight against a larger stronger man and his chin (just one year ago DC was brutally KO’s by a Jones leg kick) coupled with Miocic being a natural heavyweight in his prime all contribute to my believing that this is going to be Stipe Miocic’s night..
This fight opened in February Miocic -170 which was unusually low in my estimation (I did manage an aggressive position there) and the line has steadily risen since. Current pricing is more reflective of true odds on this match-up in my judgement and for that reason this fight is a pass for me.
Current pricing: Miocic -200 vs. Cormier +185
Cormier weighed in 246 and has not fought at that weight (or higher) since September of 2011 when he was thirty-three years of age. I believe DC’s weight is an indication that he’s going to completely “sell-out” to get inside on Miocic and try to maul him to the mat and make this a wrestling match. Miocic must be aware of this and fend off DC with take down defense as Cormier tries to force this fight to the floor.
This is the key to this fight as I believe Miocic can control this fight on the feet and pepper DC with strikes all night long especially after a round or two when Cormier begins to wane. Cormier’s size makes me feel less inclined to take this fight Over the three rounds because I just don’t believe a thirty-nine-year-old fighter with his years of wear (yes he also has advantage like experience going for him also) can overtake undefeated Father Time and overtake one of the worthiest heavyweight fighters in UFC history. If Miocic moves under -200 I would consider a release and will do so publicly via twitter if the number becomes attractive enough.
Hooker -120 vs. Burns +110
Angelo Dundee was rich in fight slang and one thing he would always warn, “Never hook with a hooker”. This is the advice I want to give Gilbert Burns in this fight. “Gilbert, grapple with Hooker and by all means don’t get too intoxicated with your recent success in the stand-up and think you can bang with this kid. I believe Burns is the more equip fighter and has been improving his wrestling which he is going to need tonight to get past a long angular one-dimensional striking based fighter in Hooker. Burns must take this to the floor and when he does he’ll own enough advantage to be able to harness Hooker.
Millender -160 vs. Griffin +150
Millender is a tall, long, striking based fighter entering his second fight in the UFC. In his first outing he was matched against a 5’8” Thiago Alves who is as old and slow as I am for crying out loud. Yes, Millender won impressively but to me he looked raw, swung wide and at times had those hands low and his beak protruding. Millender has what it takes to be a talent in the UFC but he is raw. I believe the past inconsistency of Griffin can be used to his favor here for he looked impressive painting Perry’s fence last out and I feel he is not getting the respect for that improvement. Griffin has the speed and ability to get inside of Millender, touch him up and expose the younger, less refined, more one-dimensional fighter.
Felder -150 vs. Perry +140
I’ve been blabbing about this fight all week. A true mixed martial artist in Paul Felder on short notice moves up to 170lbs. to fight a raw, wild, bar room brawler who is trying to refine his game in Mike Perry. In past fights I have faded Perry because of his premium pricing (chalky) and his lack of any real MMA ability other than brute power, unrelenting pressure and an ability to take dynamic damage. BUT….that was against large, powerful top contenders in the Welterweight Division. Perry matches up well to a fighter in Felder that wants some distance and does not take well to being bullied and backed up. Perry rather than heavy chalk finally comes as a mangy mutt in this fight and I believe it is an advantageous position for him. He’s spent time at Jax/Wink (which Felder also has) and while you cannot take the stripes off a Zebra in one camp, I do believe that Perry wants/needs to improve to remain relevant in the UFC and in this fight he is well matched. Flyer.
Ngannou -340 vs. Lewis +310
Important to note is that Ngannou trained for a spell at the UFC performance institute prior to his Championship fight with Stipe Miocic in January then returned to train there prior to this fight. After watching the weigh-ins, my feel is that he’s quite serious about his career based on the lean body he showed up with when he weighed in at 253lbs. (ten pounds LIGHTER than his fight with Miocic in January). I originally wanted to side with Lewis in this spot based on Ngannou being raw and in need of fight improvement and conditioning but after seeing Ngannou and realizing that Lewis has had past struggles with his back and the ability to absorb body shots I must reconsider. The only position on this fight I’d entertain is Francis Ngannou via TKO/KO -140 to -150. I’m interested to see if Ngannou can perform up to the improvement his body has shown (as well what this Performance Institute has provided him) from January to now. I am a believer in the technology and progressive approach of the UFC Performance Institute and believe Ngannou may be leading the charge as it’s body of proof.