The UFC returns to Anaheim this Saturday (July 29) with the card of the year, if not the decade. This card is everything UFC 200 should have been and then some. It has three title fights, the conclusion to the biggest grudge since Tito and Chuck, and is literally stacked with violent goodness.
Matt White will be guiding us through the main card, top to bottom, starting with the non-title fights in part one, and will, as usual, be offering his thoughts on the action and letting you know where he’d invest his money.
As always, 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Jimi Manuwa was a latecomer to professional mixed martial arts and wasted little time making a name for himself. Breakout performances in the UK at UCMMA and BAMMA brought him to the attention of UFC scouts. He declined them once to get more experience and then, at 11-0, he finally answered the call. Three successive wins by retirement/injury (four if you count his BAMMA appearance) demonstrated the power in his hands. He was overmatched against Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson but returned with two highlight reel finishes of Corey Anderson and Ovince Saint Preux to cement himself at number three.
Volkan Oezdemir is a fighter who has literally come from nowhere to emerge at number five in the UFC light-heavyweight rankings. He was given little to no chance against Saint Preux and even less against the surging Misha Cirkunov. The Swiss fighter, however, took a split-decision from OSP and face-planted Cirkunov inside 30 seconds to announce himself on the main stage.
This match was made to ensure Daniel Cormier or Jon Jones has an opponent on Saturday night (should the worst happen and one of them withdraw), with Manuwa first in line to fill the void and Oezdemir as a second reserve. It’s a dangerous fight for Manuwa, though, with very little to gain and everything to lose. That’s why I am going for a small play on Oezdemir for a huge upset; it would be in keeping with what he has achieved in his UFC career so far. Both fighters like to bang so it’s almost certain it ends early.
Recommendation: Volkan Oezdemir – 1 unit at +150 (6/4) @ 5Dimes
Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone
Robbie Lawler makes his return to the UFC almost a year to the day since being knocked out by Tyron Woodley. That loss, his first in two years, came in the third defence of the title he took from Johny Hendricks at UFC181.
Lawler has carved a reputation as a pure warrior, the type of fighter who appeases the blood lust of the fan and encourages them to buy whatever pay-per-view he is on. His is a record that is a little misleading because it doesn’t tell the true story of what happened on the way. He holds wins over Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald in his successful defences, this much is true. But what his record doesn’t tell you is how many people thought Condit won that fight (I did) and how far behind he was when he literally broke MacDonald’s face in the greatest fight I have ever watched. Two defences could easily have been none, and this fight wouldn’t have even been considered.
I favour Lawler quite heavily here. Cerrone is an all-time favourite of mine but he struggles against opponents with Lawler’s output, espeially when they also possess his power. For output, read Nate Diaz, for power, read Jorge Masvidal and neither of those were close. Combine this with the fact Cerrone is not a natural 170-pounder and all roads point to a ‘Ruthless’ victory.
Recommendation: Robbie Lawler – 3 units at –155 (4/6) @ 5Dimes