As part of their continuing quest to boot losers out of their promotion, the UFC has assembled a fight night card that is chock-full of fighters seeking to prove they deserve to be there and can threaten contenders. While at first glance the paucity of talent might turn fans off, the actual style matchups provide a blueprint for an exciting night of fights. Now we just have to hope the combatants can build upon that solid foundation, rather than dully construct a house of cards that will collapse in a heap like a vast, overextended metaphor.
While most of the fighters are on the small side, there are several big opportunities for betting as well, so sally forth, dear readers. For those that require up-to-the minute betting advice, keep an eye on my feeds on the right side of the page, or email me directly to chat.
Joe Lauzon (-175) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+150)
Lauzon is a hyperaggressive little mutant. He’s small for the division, but he seems to blindside some fighters with his ferocity and unrelenting attack. Unfortunately, he also fades quickly when met with adversity and doesn’t take damage well. Stephens is a very sharp striker with good power and some decent defensive skills in the wrestling and grappling department. Lauzon isn’t a fantastic wrestler, and his hands aren’t that great, so he will be in very deep water until he can get the fight down, at which point he may have trouble finishing Stephens anyway, unless he can roll immediately into a deep heel hook.
The problem with Lauzon’s game against someone with solid defense and heavy hands is that it so often risks him ending up underneath his opponent, where Stephens could probably land some heavy damage to throw Joe off his game badly. I think this is just a bad matchup for Joe, although he may avoid the total embarrassment he would have faced against Hermes. Stephens knocks out a lot of guys, right? Jeremy Stephens by KO round 2.
This is a fabulous bet and I’m putting a good amount of my hard-earned ducats on it.
Cain Velasquez gets some more octagon time in against an opponent that I suspect is secretly Peter Aerts (seriously check out his fight finder profile picture) trying his hand at MMA. Unfortunately for Stojnic-Aerts, Cain is going to take him down, advance position, and maul him horribly, just as he did to Jake O’Brien. Cain seriously has next-level ground and pound from riding on his opponent. Cain Velasquez by TKO round 1.
Interestingly, both of these men had losses at Ultimate Fight Night 15, to opponents with somewhat similar styles to the one they will face at UFN 17. Neer lost to Nate Diaz, a skilled grappler and striker with suspect wrestling, whereas Danzig was dominated by the hustle of a powerful (if miniaturized) wrestler in Clay Guida.
Whereas Danzig now faces a larger, stronger wrestler with far better striking than Guida, Neer is now faced with an opponent with less reach, less dangerous hands, and a less active submission game. Danzig was dominated for a round by Mark Bocek and has had trouble in the past with larger, stronger opponents, meaning Neer could very well physically overwhelm him. On the feet, Neer’s power and reach will give Danzig’s T-Rex arms fits, and on the ground Neer should be able to crush Danzig, defend his submissions, and pound away.
Both fighters are tough, so this fight may be a race to deplete the other’s gas tank. Danzig will have to struggle with a physically dominating opponent, which wore him out against Guida, whereas Neer will have to deal with the lingering effects of cutting so much weight, which held him back late against Nate Diaz.
I think Neer will be able to dominate and beat Danzig up pretty badly, but Danzig’s ground defense and general toughness will prevent a stoppage. Josh Neer by decision.
This is a tough fight for either man, but I think Neer has a definite edge, meaning taking him as an underdog is great stuff.
Johnson is a giant athletic freak with crushing power, an unknown but likely fallible submission game, but a strong enough wrestling game to protect it. Luigi is a skilled fighter that lacks the offensive firepower to put away top level guys. With a solid chin and solid ground game, he can usually grind a decision win against lesser fighters, but when Diego Sanchez outstrikes you for three rounds and fends off your takedowns, Johnson is going to be a nightmare. Johnson doesn’t have a huge amount of striking versatility, but he won’t need it if he can fight the way he did against Kevin Burns, chipping away and looking for the big shot. Luigi could possibly lock in a submission if he can catch Anthony out and grab a takedown, but I expect the fight will consist of Luigi getting hit more and harder than he’d like, getting frustrated, and eventually finished. Anthony Johnson by KO round 2.
If you have less faith in Johnson’s gameplanning than I do, it may be reasonable to take a flier on Luigi, especially if the line improves. Johnson is a young fighter with some flaws, and +275 is pretty long odds to lay against a solid fighter like Luigi.
Emerson is over his head here, plain and simple. Pellegrino is a very tough guy with much improved boxing, which is Emerson’s only real strength. Kurt is a far better submission artist and wrestler than Emerson, so if he ever chooses to fight the smart fight and put the Lord of South County on his back, then he shouldn’t have too much trouble. Unless Pellegrino tards out (as he has done at times in the past) and flails at Emerson in the way Manny Gamburyan did, Emerson is going to have a terrible time trying to land the big shot he needs to win this fight.
Pellegrino has the striking acumen to close the distance without unduly endangering himself, and once he’s got a grip on Emerson, the fight is his to lose. Pellegrino could beat up the week-willed Emerson on the ground or work for submissions to equal success. Kurt Pellegrino by submission round 2.
Emerson is coming off of a flashy finish, which always gives fighters an extra and undeserved boost in the moneylines. Pellegrino is simply a higher-caliber fighter, and I think that will come through in the end, making a basic play a good one.
This is a terrible, terrible matchup for a talented prospect in Jake Rosholt. Jake can wrestle really well, obviously, but his striking is abysmal and he’s still very new to submission wrestling. Miller is a very good grappler who has okay standup, which is more than enough to smash Jake’s face in. Rosholt had a much more favorable matchup against the dangerous but flawed Alessio Sakara, but luck (and Joe Silva) has not smiled on him with this replacement. Putting him against Miller is simply too much too fast. Dan Miller by submission round 1.
Miller is a good bet up to -250 or above since Jake can only threaten to control him for a decision, and it will be very hard to win rounds against a much better grappler than can outstrike you.
Clementi is a big 155er that doesn’t have a ton of actual physical power, despite his size, similar to a giant-sized Marcus Aurelio. Tibau is gigantic, looking exactly like Thiago Alves despite supposedly being 155lbs. Both are skilled grapplers, with Clementi being a slightly better striker and Tibau being a more powerful and dominant wrestler.
Clementi is a very solid all-rounder, but Tibau has what it takes to beat an all-rounder: the skills to force a fight to one area and win there. Tibau can use his muscle to take Clementi down, where Rich will have a lot of trouble getting anything done off his back. If Tibau doesn’t gas himself out chipping away on top, he has the skills to control Rich on the ground for a decision. Gleison Tibau by decision.
Bruno rebounded from an emasculating drubbing at the hands of multi-talented Chris Wilson with a solid performance in winning against Johnny Rees. Riddle is coming off his successful pro debut, where he outmuscled Dante Rivera to a decision. Bruno is small for 170, and seemed physically overwhelmed and helpless against Wilson, being knocked down seemingly dozens of times and mounting no effective offense in the entire affair. Riddle is cutting down from 185, for reasons that escape me, as he seemed more than large enough for that division.
The bout is going to boil down to skills vs. size. Riddle has big physical power, and Bruno has performed poorly while being bullied in the past. However, Riddle is also extremely raw and will have worse technique in every area of the game. If Riddle can’t just smash his way through three rounds, then Bruno will find a way to work his game, gas out the bigger fighter (helped by the weight cut) and get a submission from top position. Steve Bruno by submission round 2.
3u on Jeremy Stephens to win 4.35u
2u on Josh Neer to win 2.2u
1u to win .49u on Dan Miller
1u to win .44u on Kurt Pellegrino