Several key bouts are taking place this weekend as we get two UFC events back to back. Tonight is UFC on FX 4, which takes place in the US, and tomorrow is UFC 147, which takes place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Hereâ€™s a look at four of the best fights and the betting opportunities to be had, via our man Dan at CageWagers
Ross Pearson Vs. Cub Swanson
The first main card fight of this UFC double header weekend kicks off with a featherweight showdown between TUF 9 winner Ross Pearson and WEC veteran Cub Swanson. Having started his UFC career at lightweight, Pearson opted to make the cut to 145Lbs after defeats to Cole Miller and Edson Barboza halted his run through the 155Lb division.
His featherweight debut saw him win an uneventful unanimous decision over Junior Assuncao at UFC 141. Itâ€™s hard to tell how much the weight cut to 145Lbs takes out of Pearson but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that any difficulties he had with making weight last December will be ironed out at this stage.
Cub Swanson is about as inconsistent a fighter as you will find on any major show, he follows lack lustre losses with spectacular wins but can never seem to gain much traction. His brawling style is surely the reason for this as he leaves himself open to a technical counterpuncher and in my opinion this will be his downfall against Pearson.Â
Of the two men, the British import is the more technical, parlaying his Judo skills into solid takedown defence allowing him to work his standup game. If he can keep this one on the feet I believe he will get the better of Swanson, picking him apart with solid boxing and movement.
Fight Pick: Ross Pearson (By Decision: 13/10 with Ladbrokes)
Sam Stout Vs. Spencer Fisher
At the age of 36 and having gone 4-1 in his last 5 UFC appearances, itâ€™s not hard to see the end of Spencer Fisherâ€™s MMA career in sight. Making his UFC debut 7 years ago with a win over Thiago Alves, Fisher went on to be a stalwart at 155Lbs and gained a reputation for putting on exciting fights.
He has fought Sam Stout twice before, both winning one bout so it looks like the UFC are giving him one last shot to conclude this exciting trilogy. The first match was a split decision that went to Stout at UFC 58; Fisher gained his revenge by unanimous decision in 2007 to tie things up at 1-1. Now, 5 years on we finally get to see the definitive match but unfortunately for Fisher I believe this fight is coming several years too late.
Stout has looked very good in many of his recent outings and although he isnâ€™t a title contender at 155Lbs he has beaten some impressive competition over the last few years such as Joe Lauzon, Matt Wiman and a highlight reel knockout of Yves Edwards at UFCÂ 131. Although he is coming off a loss to Thiago Tavares I believe Stout will have a significant speed advantage at this point in time and he will land that trademark left hand on his way to another KO victory.
Fight Pick: Sam Stout (By KO/TKO: 3/1 with Paddy Power)
Gray Maynard Vs Clay Guida
In Friday nightâ€™s main event, two of the lightweight divisionâ€™s top contenders face off for a chance to move ever closer to a title shot. It has been almost 2 years since weâ€™ve seen Gray Maynard in the cage with anyone other than Frankie Edgar so this fight will make a nice change of pace.
Having suffered his first career loss to Edgar at UFC 136 Maynard switched camps to the American Kickboxing Academy and it will be interesting to see how much he has evolved since that KO loss. Fighting off a mark of 10-1-1-1, Maynard boasts one of the best records at the highest echelons of MMA and will be desperately looking to get another title shot now that the belt has changed hands to Ben Henderson, one of the only elite lightweights that Maynard has not already beaten.
Guida is a lot farther away from a title shot than his opponent but has established himself as a tough out for anyone at 155Lbs. Hard to take down and hard to hit, it will take the very best of Gray Maynard to get the job done tonight.
The bookmakers have Maynard down as a heavy favourite in this match, as little as 3/11 while Guida comes in at 5/2. This is a fight of fractions as both men have high level wrestling with solid striking. Guida holds all the cards in terms of submissions with 15 of his 29 career wins by tapout but Maynard has never been submitted and most likely has the grappling savvy to avoid any attacks from Guida.
I see this fight playing out in a similar fashion to Guida Vs. Henderson in that Maynard will just seem to gain the slight edge in all departments on his way to a close and hard fought but clear decision win.
Fight Pick: Gray Maynard (By Decision: 6/5 with Paddy Power/Ladbrokes)
Wanderlei Silva Vs. Rich Franklin
In an unusual UFC PPV card, the finals of TUF Brazil play out on a night where great fights are likely but big name draws are thin on the ground. Many people believe that Fridays free fights on FX are better across the board than Saturdays PPV effort.
Unfortunately from a betting perspective 3 of the 5 fights on the main card feature relatively unknown Brazilian fighters so bookmakers are not offering extensive betting markets for these fights. There is little value on offer in the Werdum Vs. Russow fight where I believe the far superior Werdum will dominate but at odds of 1/5 heâ€™s hardly worth backing.
That leaves us with the main event, a rematch between fan favourite Wanderlei Silva and former Middleweight kingpin, Rich Franklin. Both men are in the twilight of their careers and Franklin is coming into this bout after a 17 month layoff due to a shoulder injury.
Old age and ring rust considered, I donâ€™t see this one being a 5 round war, itâ€™s more of a case of who gasses first, and going on past form Iâ€™d say Silva is the more likely of the two. Franklin is the better athlete at this stage and as we saw in the Chuck Liddell fight he still has plenty of KO power. His most recent losses have been at 205 where Franklin is significantly undersized (this fight will be at a catchweight of 190Lbs) and against top competition (Belfort and Griffin).
Silva on the other hand suffered a devastating KO loss to Chris Leben at UFC 132 before coming back from the brink of defeat to finish Cung Le in his latest outing. He still has the heart that made him Pride Champion, but his chin has deserted him and this will ultimately be his downfall on Saturday night as Franklin will connect at some point.
I believe this fight will end early as neither man will look to drag it out, I see Franklin getting the win by first round KO.
Fight Pick: Rich Franklin (Win in Round 1: 7/2 with Paddy Power)(By KO/TKO: 6/5 with Ladbrokes)