By Matt White
We are in for some early Saturday morning activity as the UFC switches time zones to Singapore for the annual pilgrimage to the far east.
It’s a very strange main card, with only four fights and only two of them with an upside. And, for that reason, I am going to avoid the main and co-main events to focus on the two fights I think will be the most competitive.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best of the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Saffiedine v dos Anjos:
Since signing for the UFC in 2013 Tarec Saffiedine hasn’t had the best of times. Injury prone and hardly prolific (2-3), he has had the bad luck of being matched with some solid pressure wrestlers in Rick Story and Rory MacDonald and at UFC 207 dropped a split-decision to Dong Hyun Kim in a bout that only 10% of the MMA media gave to ‘Stun Gun’. His takedown defence stands at 85%, but when he is on the ground he is a little exposed.
Rafael dos Anjos makes his bow at 170lbs after a career fighting at 155lbs; a career that culminated in securing and defending the championship belt. In beating Anthony Pettis we saw dos Anjos at his dominant best, as he literally rag dolled the champion for 25 minutes, and it took just 66 seconds to finish Cerrone, who at the time was on a tear. Back to back losses, however, firstly when he lost his title to Eddie Alvarez and then to Tony Ferguson, cemented the decision to move up in weight.
To claim victory here dos Anjos must do everything in his power to put Saffiedine on his back. If he can do that, he has the tools to outwork him for a decision. Conversely, if Saffiedine can keep this on the feet and his opponent at range, he may be able to strike his way to a TKO victory. I’m going to make a small play on Saffiedine here for two reasons. One, the odds for RDA are just atrocious for a fighter making his debut at a higher weight. And, two, because RDA took some heavy blows in his last two fights and Saffiedine can more than match that.
Recommendation: Tarec Saffiedine – 1 unit at +225 (9/4) @ 5Dimes
Kim v Covington:
Dong Hyun Kim, AKA ‘Stun Gun’, looks to extend his 3-0 winning streak with a victory over a surging opponent. That streak is somewhat fortunate given his questionable win over Tarec Saffiedine at UFC 207, but remains nonetheless. The long-time veteran of the UFC has competed all over the world and suffered only three losses – to current champion Tyron Woodley, former challenger Carlos Condit and, if Dana White is to be believed, the next challenger Demian Maia. It’s an impressive resume regardless, and, if nothing else, shows a serious level of competition.
Colby Covington has impressed since his UFC debut in 2014. His high-pressure wrestling style has seen him pass several veterans and international stars, accumulating many solid finishes along the way. His lone defeat was to Warlley Alves, but that should be taken with a pinch of salt as Alves has done little since. Covington has used social media to claim what he feels is rightfully his: a shot against a ranked opponent. Now he can show the world what he’s really got.
This is a tough fight to call, even though the oddsmakers disagree and have made Covington a heavy favourite. This seems a little disproportionate given how good Kim’s takedown defence is and given the fact he holds the advantage in pretty much every physical area; reach, height and so on. But if Colby is to show he is the future of the division, he needs to impress in a fight like this.
Recommendation: Colby Covington – 3 units at -335 (3/10) @ 5Dimes