Fight fans were able to take a step back from the UFC after four events in seven days with a week and a half off. But the busiest month in UFC history goes on with its fifth event, this one LIVE and FREE on Fox, the 20th installment on the nationally televised station. Last year, this event was being headlined by a Bantamweight title bout. This year, it’s a different type of Bantamweight bout as former champion Holly Holm takes on European prospect Valentina Shevchenko and Edson Barboza welcomes Giblert (does r/mma read my articles?) Melendez at Lightweight.
Main Card- Fox (8 PM EDT, 5 PM PDT, 1 AM BST)
- Women’s Bantamweight- Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko
- Lightweight- Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez
- Heavyweight- Francis Ngannou vs. Bojan Mihajlović
- Women’s Strawweight- Felice Herrig vs. Kailin Curran
Preliminary Card- Fox (6 PM EDT, 3 PM PDT, 11 PM BST)
- Bantamweight- Frankie Saenz vs. Eddie Wineland
- Featherweight- Darren Elkins vs. Godofredo Pepey
- Welterweight- Kamaru Usman vs. Alexander Yakovlev
- Lightweight- Michel Prazeres vs. J.C. Cottrel
Early Preliminary Card- UFC Fight Pass (4 PM EDT, 1 PM PDT, 9 PM BST)
- Welterweight- Alex Oliveira vs. James Moontasri
- Welterweight- Hector Urbina vs. George Sullivan
- Featherweight- Jim Alers vs. Jason Knight
- Heavyweight- Luis Henrique vs. Dmitry Smolyakov
Frankie Saenz vs. Eddie Wineland
This scintillating Bantamweight bout between Frankie Saenz (11-3 MMA; 3-1 UFC) and Eddie Wineland (21-11-1; 3-5) is the featured prelim bout joining the likes of Michael McDonald, Brandon Thatch, Michael Chiesa, Demian Maia, and Cat Zingano to be the featured prelim bout.
Saenz won four straight bouts, all title fights, to get into the UFC when he faced Nolan Ticman at UFC Fight Night 47. He continued his hot streak with three wins in a row at Bantamweight against Ticman, Iuri Alcantara, and Sirwan Kakai. He got a huge step up in competition as he faced top Bantamweight Urijah Faber as the featured prelim bout at UFC 194. A hard fought battle saw Saenz lose his first fight in over three years as the former WEC champion Faber out did him in every aspect of the fight game. The Arizona native has relied on heavy pressure on top and striking from a distance in the UFC with 2.25 Takedowns per 15 min. and 4.28 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM). His downside is how often he gets hit as he’s absorbed 130 Significant Strikes over his last two fights.
Wineland is the former WEC champion when he beat Antonio Banuelos for the inaugural Bantamweight title. His reign was short lived as Chase Beebe took the title in his first defense. After ending his WEC time with four straight wins, Wineland was given Urijah Faber in what would end up being a title-eliminator bout at UFC 128. He was handled easily as ‘The California Kid’ controlled the fight. He put together two wins in a row over Scott Jorgensen and
Brad Pickett to earn an Interim-title bout against Renan Barao at UFC 165. He was the butt of one of the best knockouts in history as Barao hit him with a spinning back kick to the head. That has started a plunge of losing three of his last four to Barao, Johnny Eduardo, and Bryan Caraway. Caraway is tenth all-time in the division for Striking Defense with 62.7% over his UFC career.
Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez
The co-main event is a competitive Lightweight bout between top ten guys in Edson Barboza (17-4; 11-4) and Gilbert Melendez (22-5; 1-3).
Barboza is coming off the biggest win of his career against Anthony Pettis at UFC 197. The fight was competitive, but the size of Barboza was the ending factor. After starting out his career with 10 straight wins, he ran into former Strikeforce champion Jamie Varner at UFC 146. He lost the fight by TKO for the first loss of his career. Another three fight win streak was halted by Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone as he lost by Submission. He’s 4-2 in his last six with wins over Evan Dunham, Bobby Green, Paul Felder, and then Pettis most recently. Barboza is tied for tops in the active division with 8 Knockdowns tied with Cerrone and Michael Johnson.
Melendez is the former Strikeforce Lightweight champion with four title defenses running right into the UFC. 7 straight wins gave way to an automatic title shot upon joining the UFC against then-champion Benson Henderson on Fox. The fight was as close as it could be with Melendez losing by Split-decision. He came back with one of the best fights of all-time as he beat Diego Sanchez by decision at UFC 166. Another chance at the title eluded him as he was finished by Anthony Pettis at UFC 181. He last fought at UFC 188 when he lost another split-decision to now champion Eddie Alvarez. He was suspended after his post-fight drug test came up positive and he was suspended for 12 months. ‘El Niño’ has decreased output (3.28 SLpM, down from 3.66) and increased his striking absorption (2.76 SApM, up from 2.11 SApM).
Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko
The main event is just the second non-title women’s bout to headline an event, the first to do so on Fox. This honor goes to former champion Holly Holm (10-1; 3-1) and Valentina Shevchenko (12-2; 1-1). The first was a Strawweight bout between Rose Namajunas and Paige VanZant.
Holm was undefeated before her last fight at UFC 196 against Miesha Tate. She made her long-awaited UFC debut at UFC 184 in the co-main event as she won a struggling fight against Raquel Pennington. Her second fight was a much better approach as she handily beat Marion Reneau, out striking her 65 to 29. Her dominant performance earned her a shot at superstar champion Ronda Rousey in front of the biggest crowd ever for a UFC event. She shocked the world with a second round KO to take the belt. Her first defense was scheduled for UFC 196 against Miesha Tate. She was winning the fight when she got taken down and submitted in the fifth round by a Rear-Naked choke. Holm steps as one of the best strikers in the division with 3.46 SLpM, 67% Striking Defense and has only been taken down by Tate.
Shevchenko just made her UFC debut in December when she beat former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman at UFC on Fox 17. She won the fight with her grappling despite being one of the most decorated strikers in the women’s divisions with a career 58-2-1 record as a kickboxer and 2-0 as a boxer. She gets a big step up in competition as she faced now Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 196. Despite being dominated in the first round and a half, the Russian made a bid at the end as she ended the fight on top of Nunes. She has yet to get her striking going in the UFC with just 60 Significant Strikes Landed in 30 minutes of cage time. Her grappling has picked up what her striking left behind as she has landed 5 takedowns in the UFC.
Holly Holm vs Bethe Correia targeted for UFC: Singapore main event
After losing a closely contested inaugural UFC featherweight title fight, Holly Holm is set to return to the division where she became a champion in a headlining spot.
According to reports from MMAFighting.com, Holm is currently pencilled in to take on former title challenger Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111 on June 17th. The women’s bantamweight bout is scheduled to be the showcase main event as the UFC makes only its second visit to Singapore.
Holm (10-3) is currently on a three-fight losing streak, the longest in her combat sporting history, and most recently fought in the main event of UFC 208. Before losing to Germain de Randamie in February of this year, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ had lost back-to-back fights to Valentina Shevchenko and Meisha Tate, the latter in Holm’s first women’s bantamweight title defence.
Correia (10-2-1) meanwhile, is currently undefeated in her last two fights, a split-decision victory over Jessica Eye and, more recently, a majority draw with Marion Reneau at UFC Fight Night: Fortaleza.
Both Holm and Correia have two common opponents throughout their careers in Raquel Pennington and Ronda Rousey but have recorded very different results against the pair. Where Holm has defeated both Pennington and, more famously, Rousey at UFC 193, Correia’s only career defeats have come against the two 135 pounders.
UFC Fight Night 111 will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and currently has three other former Zuffa champions booked for the June event. Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski is set to face Marcin Tybura while former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos will make his first foray to welterweight against the last Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine.
*WATCH* UFC 208 Embedded – Episode 5
The 5th episode of UFC 208 Embedded is now available for viewing via the UFC’s official Youtube channel.
“On Episode 5 of UFC 208, featherweight title contender Germaine de Randamie embraces the inclement weather with a snowball fight. Brazilian middleweight Anderson Silva pranks a UFC staffer and shines at open workouts. His opponent Derek Brunson and headliner Holly Holm also engage with fans at the special event, held inside a famed boxing gym. Then the fighters, including Jacare Souza and Glover Teixeira, cut their final pounds before Friday’s official weigh-in. UFC 208 Embedded is an all-access, behind-the-scenes video blog leading up to the inaugural women’s featherweight title fight taking place Saturday, February 11th. See it live on Pay-Per-View and UFC.TV.”
UFC 208: Betting Preview
UFC 208 is upon us this weekend and our betting experts on both sides of the Atlantic take a look at the best bets to bolster your bank balance this weekend.
Kevin Jones’ Picks
Randy Brown to beat Belal Muhammad -145
Muhammad’ s nickname is “Remember The Name.” We also need to remember that he was knocked out in a little over a minute by a guy with a .625 winning percentage in his last fight against 10-5-1 Vincente Luque. Jamaicans are known for being bangers and “Rude Boy” is no exception. They don’t get much easier to call than this one. Randy will have a 5″ height advantage as well as 7″ in reach on his opponent. That is very reminiscent of last week’s fight between James “The Texecutioner” Vick vs Abel Trujillo where the Texan was victorious. The Spanish Town native who now fights out of Queens, New York owns three UFC wins compared to Belal’s one. The only loss on his record is to a still undefeated Michael Graves. Brown has also proven that he is no slouch on the ground, while Muhammad has never won a bout via submission. The line on this fight should be closer to -250 than where it currently sits. With the hometown crowd behind him, Brown gets the W one way or another on Saturday night.
Side Note: Getting +140 odds on under 2.5 rounds is not a bad value play here as well.
Marcin Tybura to beat Justin Willis -180
Obviously “Tybur” has much more experience than his UFC debuting opponent when you look at their records. Marcin has also fought against tougher competition in M-1 Challenge. After gaining his first UFC win in his last fight over Viktor Pesta, he has gotten those first UFC fight hiccups out of the way. There are too many heavyweights that are cutting to get to 265 lbs. Sitting at a hair under 250 lbs, the Pole should be able to go at it harder and for longer than the bigger Willis. Justin has power, but so does everyone else in the heavyweight division. Outside of that, pretty much all that Justin has going for him is that he trains at American Kickboxing Academy. That is meaning less and less in a time where these gyms are expanding and taking in fighters that they may not have 5 years ago. Tybura may try to take his heavier opponent down to negate the 4″ reach disadvantage he is facing. By taking a grappling approach, he will be able to drain his opponent’s energy and even if he does not finish Willis by either by submission or ground and pound, that will benefit him as the fight goes on. The rule of thumb is to usually avoid betting on heavyweights unless you are placing a wager on the under, and under 1.5 rounds at -130 in this one is not a bad play. There is just not enough known about Willis to risk that he will not last longer than that. Laying less than 2 to 1 against a guy with only 5 fights and one loss making his promotional debut, now that is enough of a reason to make an exception to the rules of betting heavyweights.
Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie under 4.5 rds -105
Despite the narrative that you will see being force feed to you Holm, who is coming off of two defeats, was never widely considered a top pound-for-pound women’s boxer. She does not have that much power in her hands as evident of her boxing knockout percentage of 24%. In MMA her KO% improves to 58%. However, Holly is a southpaw that uses her jab well to maintain a distance to where she can utilize her devastating kicks. Even though she looks a bit stiff on her feet at times, she does get into angles where her straight left can bust up an orthodox fighter who is not used to seeing it coming from where she throws it. Germaine’s knockout percentage of 33% is nothing special, but she has stopped her last two opponents who had a combined record of 13-1. “The Preacher’s Daughter” was KO’d twice inside a boxing ring and they were both brutal. “The Iron Lady’s” pedigree she brings from Kickboxing, where she was never beaten, and Muay Thai actually is greater than Holm’s boxing pedigree. Putting it bluntly she is more accomplished than Holly outside of MMA. Betting the under and women’s fights can burn you more times than not, but this is not just any other fight. It is for the inaugural title and we should expect for both of these ladies to leave it all in the cage. This is a fight that will stay standing and one or the other will catch their opponent before the last half of the fifth round. Hard to call which one of leaves N.Y. with the gold but take the under and you will be hit your last bet of the night and join them.
Darren Russell’s Picks
Holly Holm to win via decision – 9/4
This fight will be a case of who has the better stand up with Holm, a former Boxing world champion facing off with de Randamie who is a former kickboxing and muay thai world champion. I think Holm has the endurance to go the distance, despite losing the decision to Shevchenko and getting “put to sleep” by Miesha Tate and will find more comfort in facing a lower level opponent in Germaine de Randamie. I think 9/4 is great odds and I think it’s crazy that Holm is the underdog… People have written her off since the demise of Ronda Rousey but she’s a tough tough cookie!
Glover Teixeira to win by KO/TKO/DQ – 11/4
The real factor in which way this fight goes is purely down to how Glover Teixeira has dealt with the crushing thirteen-second knockout defeat to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 202. Glover has bounced back before after decision losses to Jon Jones and Phil Davis but, was knocked out for the first time since his MMA debut back in 2002. The man facing him in Jared Cannonier is a lot less experienced, has only recently dropped down to light heavyweight and probably on paper this is a mismatch, depending on Glover’s state of mind. His biggest enemy is himself!
Anderson Silva vs Derek Brunson – Fight to go the distance 6/4
Anderson Silva is widely considered to be the most talented athlete to ever enter the octagon, but without an official win since UFC 153 in 2012, can Anderson break the drought and get back to being in contention for a final run at the UFC title?
With Derek Brunson in the way, who always seems to fall up short when he gets a big fight (against Whittaker, Romero and Jacare) it won’t be an easy test for “The Spider” but I don’t expect Silva to finish Brunson or vice versa. I think it will be a cagey affair with Brunson looking to utilise his wrestling and Silva trying to strike Brunson from range and I think Brunson might be accused of showing Silva too much respect. I hope I eat my words but this seems too good of a bet to turn down.
Treble – Belal Muhammad, Ian McCall & Marcin Tybura – 6/1
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