The UFC returns to our screens this Saturday night with UFC on Fox 3: Diaz vs. Miller. As ever we’re going to break down a few fights from the card and try pick out some recommended plays. We’d a 4-2 night on our fight picks last time out so here’s hoping for an improvement come Saturday night.
There’s two fights on the card with possible title implications (for Diaz and Hendricks specifically; if victorious they will earn title shots according to Dana White) and a few great fights ahead. Sadly it appears that ESPN will be showing the card via delay on Sunday night at the time of writing so if you want to watch it live you will need to go to UFC.tv and Facebook to enjoy what should be a hell of a night of fights judging by the card.
• Lightweight bout: Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
• Welterweight bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks
• Middleweight bout: Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher
• Heavyweight bout: Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson
• Lightweight bout: Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson
• Flyweight bout: John Dodson vs. Tim Elliott
• Welterweight bout: John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss
• Flyweight bout: Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker
• Lightweight bout: Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish
• Featherweight bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Pablo Garza
Preliminary card (Facebook)
• Bantamweight bout: Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis
• Middleweight bout: Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola
So here we go. I’ll start with the main event of the card
Lightweight bout: Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
In this bout you have two of the most durable men in the 155lb division. Both have bet some of the strongest challengers in the division but have always seemed to not be able to climb that final rung of the ladder to earn a title shot. On Saturday night a win for Diaz will most likely put him in pole position to earn a title shot from the winner of Henderson vs. Edgar. Jim Miller could possibly get in there with an impressive stoppage victory but I’d hazard a guess that he’ll be still a fight away.
I’ve recommended a play on Diaz a week ago for this fight and still stand by that. Diaz has a massive reach advantage and knows how to use it to his full advantage. He’s also quite crisp and fluent with his striking as best exhibited in the Cerrone fight where he picked apart the former kick-boxer all night. Diaz’s weakness has always been against powerhouse wrestlers but even then he’s ran the likes of Maynard and Guida close when being on the losing side of decisions.
Miller is a perennial challenger in the division and is at the point of his career where he needs to take that next step or he’ll forever be a gatekeeper to talent progressing. He’s wiped out some impressive opponents like Bocek and Charles Oliveira (when he was the next big thing) but like Diaz has always failed to navigate that final hurdle.
Miller has somewhat awkward stand up and his strengths are his wrestling and jiu jitsu game. He’s ground out many decisions by outworking his opponents and has never been stopped in his three losses.
The problem for me is that I think Diaz has a better defensive guard and a more aggressive top game than Miller. If Diaz stuffs the takedowns or keeps his distance there’s not much Jim can do to counter this.
Recommendation: Diaz for me. Unless he chokes I believe he’s got the best of this fight. With the current prices he’s huge value in my opinion @2/1 on Bet 365 or 7/4 with Paddy Power. Diaz @4/1 on Paddy Power for the decision victory is also interesting value.
Middleweight bout: Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher
This is a classic striker versus grappler match up. Alan Belcher is possibly one of the most talented kick boxers in the division who also has a very decent submission game it must be said. Palhares is the king of the leg locks. If he gets a hold of a submission you might as well have your doctor on speed dial as you’re probably going to need him to repair the damage. If you don’t believe me ask Tomasz Drwal (Palhares kept hold of a heel hook after the referee had called an end to the bout).
If this fight stays standing it’s most definitely going to favour Belcher. Even with the long lay-off he suffered due to an issue with his eye that required surgery before his most recent fight he‘s still miles ahead in the striking game. Whilst his return fight was against a not too impressive opponent in Jason MacDonald; Belcher did have an impressive performance to force a verbal submission from MacDonald following strikes. Belcher is confident in his ability and did attempt to call out Middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva at one point.
Palhares is an awkward guy on the feet. He throws very few kicks and his punching really is just a means for him to close the distance to find a means to get in close enough to grab a limb. He’s extremely stocky (hence his nickname of Toquinho) and along with a great chin he does most definitely have some knock out power. Witness the damage he did to Dan Miller (before he had a premature celebration jumping on the Octagon wall when the fight hadn’t been stopped). Palhares is a bit unpredictable and can sometimes lose concentration (check out the fight with Nate Marquardt to see another example).
Recommendation: I wouldn’t recommend a straight win bet on either men as there’s not much value. However method of victory on Paddy Power is probably your best avenue for profit. Palhares by submission @10/11 or Belcher by points @5/1 on Paddy Power. Probably a fight to stay away from but I think these are the two bets worth looking at for this fight.
Heavyweight bout: Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson:
These two do not do boring fights. If this goes the 3 rounds I’ll be in shock and awe. Pat Barry is a K-1 calibre kick boxer with excellent hands and vicious kicks. If you want a lesson in how to tear someone apart with leg kicks go watch his fight against Joey Beltran. Barry has been involved in some of the best comeback moments of recent memory in the UFC. Sadly for HD he’s been the victim in both situations against Kongo and Cro Cop respectively.
Johnson is one of the former Strikeforce heavyweights that joined the UFC through Zuffa’s acquisition of Strikeforce. Johnson is a man mountain of a man and is lucky to be still fighting. He was the unfortunate victim of a shooting incident that nearly took his life and left him out of the fight game for over a year. He’d gone 0-2 after the shooting incident in Strikeforce before his UFC debut. He faced Joey Beltran and made light work of the Mexicutioner on his way to a dominant KO victory.
Both men share the same weakness in the ground game and they’ve both struggled against grapplers in the past. If you enjoy a stand up fight. I’d tune in for this one early as it’s not going to last long!
Recommendation: Johnson for me. Huge reach advantage against the much shorter Barry. His clinch game is also impeccable. Barry in my opinion should be a 205lb’er so I’ll take the value on Johnson in this one @7/4 on Paddy Power. Johnson for a win in Round 1 is also tastey value @9/2. 14 of his 16 wins come in the first round by KO/TKO.
Other Recommended Plays:
Fight of the Night: Diaz vs. Miller or Johnson vs. Barry are the two most likely in my opinion.
Sub of the Night: Palhares will be favourite in this market. Pablo Garza is a possible victor of this if he can survive Bermudez’s striking skills.
Knock Out of the Night: Tony Ferguson has excellent boxing and faces a sloppy striker in Michael Johnson. That being said if Hendricks repeats his Jon Fitch heroics then it will take something special for that bonus not to be on it’s way to the bearded one.
Other than those fights I’ve already outlined I think there’s a serious lack of value in the current markets. There’s no pricing at the moment for the bonus markets. They’ll usually come up on Saturday or you can contact the bookie directly to get a price. Happy punting folks.