I’m probably one of the few people that’s disappointed by this card. You see, it’s chock full of exciting mini-size fighters, many of whom are in fights with divisional importance. (Who ever thought we’d be talking about a 135-pound fight with divisional importance.)
No, I’m not that disappointed in the card, I’m disappointed because I’ve managed to get my Public Bet History out of the deep red, and back up to a net loss of -1.95u over 54.03 units of betting, so the pink. My Bet history is medium-rare. I wanted to blacken it here, but I don’t really feel there’s a lot of value available in many of these fights. Oh well, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so I will save my capital for better opportunities, like bailing out multi-national lenders.
Champ Miguel Torres (-525) vs. Manny Tapia (+400) (for bantamweight title)
Miguel Torres is the man at 135. There’s no denying it. Still, this is a very young division in North America, as far as being centralized, so he’s going to have to work very hard to really reign as champion, with so many young guns coming for his strap. Torres has a very entertaining game, with an aggressive and varied kickboxing attack on the feet, and the kind of guard that has dangers around every corner. Add to that the fact that Miguel has championship cardio (and I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to the wolfcut) and you realize that a 34-1 record in MMA didn’t come in a box of Cracker Jacks.
Matched up with this whirling dervish is Manny Tapia, a big (for a little man) plodding slugger. Tapia has a fairly simple game: punch the other guy in the head real hard until he stops moving, whether it be on the feet or on the ground. He has the power and the takedown defense to make this game work for him, but he will be in way over his head should he try to ground and pound Miguel.
On paper, Torres should have another notch in his mullet in fairly short order. He’s probably technically a better striker than Tapia, with more reach, although he has less power. Should the fight hit the ground, Torres will have little difficulty twisting Tapia up posthaste. Tapia looked out of sorts on the ground with Antonio Banuelos, leaving openings that Torres would have exploited.
So, Miguel is rightly a strong favorite. However, there is still something that keeps this fight interesting: the intersection of Torres’ pride and Tapia’s power. Against Yoshiro Maeda, Torres exhibited some signs of wanting to “prove himself” to be a true tough guy, getting into slugfests when he’d be better served picking his shots or taking the fight to the ground. It resulted in him getting cut open and bloodied, and could have been much worse. If Torres takes Tapia on head-on like this and just makes it a scrap, there’s a chance that Tapia could put him in the dust. A small one, but it’s still there. Nevertheless, my official prediction is Miguel Torres by submission, round 1.
However, I feel that +400 doesn’t give Tapia’s power enough credit here. Even if he doesn’t have quick feet, he has fast hands, and Torres’ night could end very quickly if he gets in the way of a Tapia uppercut. I have a small play on Tapia here, because I think there’s a little value.
Brian Bowles vs. Will Ribeiro
This fight should be a real treat. Bowles is a tough, solid fighter, but Ribeiro is seen by many as the next big thing for this weight class. His background on the Olympic boxing team for Brazil actually might lead one to underestimate his striking game. In addition to some of the fastest and crispest hands in MMA, Will throws a huge variety of spinning and jumping knees, kicks, and elbows and attacks the body regularly to open his opponent up, instead of simply headhunting. The guy is simply a firecracker. Bowles will likely have to resort to grappling to have a shot at winning, but I think that Ribeiro will turn out to be the superior grappler, and even if he’s not, he certainly has the skills to defend against Bowles submission attack, if he can’t prevent the takedown. Will Ribeiro by decision.
Ribeiro is a decent underdog at many books, which I feel is an exploitable error. Medium-size play on this one.
Wagnney Fabiano vs. Akitoshi Tamura
Fabiano is the real deal—a multi-dimensional top-tier talent. Tamura is solid but underwhelming. Wagney is going to knock his block off. Wagnney Fabiano by TKO ground and pound round 1.
1u on Will Ribeiro to win 1.15u
.25u on Manny Tapia to win 1u