The Octagon returns for the first time in 2018 with UFC Fight Night 124: Stephens vs. Choi from St. Louis, Missouri.
This is a card that’s has a few fun fights on the main card that offer some nice value for those of you who fancy a flutter.
For this edition of the FO Gambling Guide, we’ll look at the featherweight main event where Jeremy Stephens takes on Doo Ho Choi, and the middleweight co-main, in which Vitor Belfort may make his last stand against Uriah Hall.
5Dimes, as always, provides the odds.
Uriah Hall v. Vitor Belfort
When Uriah Hall first appeared in the UFC on The Ultimate Fighter he was hailed as the second coming of Anderson silva. It was a moniker that didn’t last as he made it past a few mid-tier fighters, coming up short against anyone with even a hint of ambition. The one exception to this rule was when he beat Gegard Mousasi with a stunning comeback in 2015. It’s a sentence that I still have trouble writing because I don’t really understand how it happened. Mousasi rectified the imbalance in the force, handing Hall his third consecutive loss. However, a win over Krzysztof Jotko in September put ‘Prime Time’ back on track with arguably the most impressive win of his career.
Vitor Belfort makes, what could be his final appearance this weekend. That’s something I have been writing for the last three years because since the UFC changed their position on TRT, Belfort has been a shadow of himself. In his pomp, he managed to string together wins over two soon-to-be-champions in Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping, while ending the only fighter in the division older than him, Dan Henderson, twice. Losses to Chris Weidman, Jacaré and Mousasi followed and were brutal. Another brutal loss to Kelvin Gastelum was overturned into a no-contest before he achieved his first win in two years over the reanimated corpse of Nate Marquardt. It was little to get excited over.
This fight goes one of two ways. Either Belfort wins in the opening minute, or he loses. Belfort has a gas tank for around 60 seconds when he needs to get the job done or he is toast. Hall should be able to keep him at range with his kicks long enough to survive the onslaught, and then finish Belfort at will. If it goes to a decision then may the lord have mercy on our souls, we could be in for a rough ride.
The bet: Hall to win inside the distance
Stake: 2 units at -155 (20/31) @ 5Dimes
Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi
You must feel for UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens. His most famous moment in MMA is now when Conor McGregor famously proclaimed, “Who the f**k is that guy?” and a meme was born. While winning ratio of 50% inside the Octagon is nothing to get too excited over, 26 fights at this level is worthy of respect. Thirteen losses don’t really tell the whole story too, as they have come against a murderer’s row of opponents including: Lauzon, Pettis, Cerrone, Swanson and Edgar. He’s well worthy of his #11 ranking, but he seems to have settled into a role as a high-level gatekeeper. He’s most famous for his knockout power, and how people stay down when he hits them, but just three KO/TKO wins in seven years suggests that perception might not be that accurate.
Doo Ho Choi started his UFC career on a 3-0 roll before Cub Swanson handed him his first loss in the promotion, and only the second of his career. As fights go, it was an absolute barnstormer and the World MMA Awards Fight of the Year for 2016. It was a fight that came at a price as ‘The Korean Superboy’ sat on the bench for almost 13 months. While he may look like a strong wind may blow him over, Choi is a fighter who can really pack a punch. He has eight consecutive wins by KO/TKO, with an 86% of his total victories coming inside the distance.
Daniel Cormier breaks down the UFC Fight Night 124 main event
When reviewing this fight, I really wanted to back Stephens, I really did. While Choi lost to Swanson, Cub isn’t known as the hardest hitter in the division and he was very nearly finished on more than one occasion. If Stephens connects then it could be game over, but I feel that Choi will have too much movement for this to be of any real concern. There isn’t a huge upside to taking a prop on Choi inside the distance, so I’ll play safe and bet him on the outright win. If it goes the distance, it is likely to be Fight of the Night, if not early Fight of the Year material once again.
The bet: Doo Ho Choi to win
Stake: 2 units at -155 (20/31) @ 5Dimes