The Ultimate Fighting Championship host a show in the land of UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk this Saturday (October 21). Jędrzejczyk, preparing for a fight at Madison Square Garden on November 4 against Rose Namajunas, will remain at home for this one, but fans in Gdansk, Poland will be treated to a fascinating crossroads battle at welterweight between dangerous veteran Donald Cerrone and rising star Darren Till, as well as a featherweight matchup between Andre Fili and Artem Lobov.
Matt White takes a look at these two bouts and, with the help of 5Dimes, tells us where we should be putting our money.
Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov
Andre Fili is another graduate from the Team Alpha Male camp in Sacramento, California. Despite some ups and downs, it houses the reigning champion at 135lbs in Cody Garbrandt and looks to be going from strength to strength. After entering the UFC with a 12-1 record in the California regional circuit, Andre Fili has struggled to gain any real traction in the division with consecutive wins so far eluding him. Losses against current 145lb kingpin Max Holloway and future contender Yair Rodriguez indicate the level of opposition this highly-regarded prospect is expected to challenge.
Artem Lobov is known to most casual fans as the training partner of Conor McGregor, and a runner-up in season 22 of The Ultimate Fighter. A veteran in the regional promotions, he has somehow managed to headline a UFC event with a record of 13-13; the term journeyman has never felt more appropriate. Fighting out of SBG Ireland, he will have the weight of Irish support behind him, as well as some fans from the Eastern Bloc.
When reviewing fights, there are patterns you end up seeing, whether you want to or not. Fili has alternated wins and losses since debuting in the UFC, and, if correct, he is due a win. Artem Lobov, although nicknamed ‘The Russian Hammer’, has struggled to put his opponents away and his last win by stoppage came over three years ago in Cage Warriors. Put these two factors together and you have Andre Fili by decision. It’s not a perfect science, but what is? Sometimes these hunches just pay off.
Recommendation: Fili wins by decision – 2 units at +110 (11/10) @ 5Dimes
Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till
Donald Cerrone steps into the Octagon for the 35th time under the UFC/WEC banner, a record that is unlikely to be beaten for some considerable time. A challenger at 155 and 170lbs, Cerrone is the go-to guy for the promotion; a fan favourite who always shows up and is happy to fight four or five times a year.
After dropping two fights on the bounce, both in 2017, Cerrone is already in unchartered territory and a third successive loss could make him question his longevity in a sport known for short bursts.
It may be indicative of the UFC’s positioning of him at 170lbs that Cerrone, a mainstay on US cards, has been booked for a fight outside the US. Overseas events, particularly those in Europe, are typically reserved for local heroes or emerging talents.
Darren Till is one of those fighters very much defined as emerging. A scouser by birth, he was raised in MMA in his adoptive country of Brazil where, in addition to learning fluent Portuguese, he amassed a 12-0 record to get the attention of the UFC.
An emphatic debut win at Fight Night 67 announced Till to a worldwide audience and he was then granted the opportunity to face another surging prospect in Nicolas Dalby. Till dominated Dalby for two rounds before dislocating his shoulder, losing the third round 10-8 to secure no more than a draw. It would be the last time we saw Till for almost 18 months.
I’m unsure whether Saturday night is the moment we see the very best of Darren Till, or whether it will prove to be an example of another prospect elevated beyond his natural gradient. Till has struggled to get the finish against lesser opponents than Cowboy so it’s difficult to envisage the wily veteran being overwhelmed. The championship rounds may be the deciding factor, so I am going for a small play on this going beyond the halfway point.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 Rounds – 2 units at -170 (5/8) @ 5Dimes