The UFC heads to Rotterdam this weekend with their first ever Netherlands event. Unusually for events in 2016, this card has been relatively untouched by injuries and has remained solid. I’ve got my eye on some underdog picks this week.
Krylov vs. Barroso
Nikita Krylov is a fighter who has been on an upward trajectory since debuting as an under-sized heavyweight. After a rocky start to his UFC career as an undersized heavyweight, three consecutive first-round finishes see him take a step up in competition.
Francimar Barroso has an opportunity to add to wins over Ryan Jimmo and Elvis Mutapcic. Neither were outstanding performances but they erased a split-decision loss to Hans Stringer. A win and he approaching top 10, but the loss keeps him on the fringes of #15-20.
At 205lb Krylov is a different beast and I’ll be picking him outright to take a relatively comfortable win.
Recommendation: Nikita Krylov – 3 units at -155 (4/6) @ 5Dimes
Tumenov vs. Nelson
This is arguably the most stylistically interesting fight on the entire card. Albert Tumenov has proven himself to have extremely heavy hands for a welterweight. With the majority of his wins coming by knockout and all, bar one, of those having been in the first round, he has demonstrated time and time again that he can get the job done.
The wheels have fallen off the Gunnar Nelson bandwagon of late as he encountered defeat for the first time against Rick Story. He followed up with an impressive underdog performance against Brandon Thatch but was manhandled by grappling master Demian Maia. Such was Maia’s dominance that two of the three judges at ringside gave two 10-8 rounds. There was an argument that it could have been all three. This is a different style of fight though, arguably closer to Thatch than anyone else and Gunni showed he can strike first, strike hard, take the back and submit. Outside of Maia, he’s probably the next best in the division at doing it.
I’m more than happy to take the underdog here. Nelson remains a very special talent and should be far too slick on his feet and on the ground for the Russian to handle. I’d normally take him by submission, but I’m playing it safe.
Recommendation: Gunnar Nelson – 1 unit at +155 (6/4) @ 5Dimes
Silva vs. Struve
Since returning from a nine-month suspension due to elevated testosterone, Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva has looked like a shadow of his former self. Having lost three of his last four, all by way of KO/TKO stoppage, albeit against top competition, Silva needs a win here to remain at all relevant in the heavyweight division.
Likewise, Nethlerlands’ own Stefan Struve has had a tough time of it since coming back off a long layoff due to health problems. He has lost two of three, and is coming off a disappointing decision loss to Jared Rosholt. This is a must-win for both men, and Struve will need to fight smart to give himself the best chance of winning.
Struve isn’t the hardest puncher on the block – he’s certainly no Mark Hunt – and while I expect him to get the business done I think he could take at least one round to get warmed up.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds – 1.5 units at +145 (29/20) @ 5Dimes
Overeem vs. Arlovski
With an impressive win here, don’t be surprised if Alistair Overeem get the chance to fight the winner of Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title. After a sticky spell where he went 1-3, Overeem has put together three consecutive wins for the first time in his UFC career. With the current state of the heavyweight division that’s sufficient call for a title shot and with it, Overeem gets a chance to complete his impressive collection of MMA belts by adding to his Strikeforce and Dream titles..
Andrei Arlovski has certainly made the most of his second spell in the UFC. Originally released back in 2008 he limped through an unproductive spell in Strikeforce before finding his groove in a few upstart promotions. But coming off a stoppage loss to Miocic means he’ll need a win here if he wants to remain considered a top heavyweight contender, and a title shot next is less likely for him than it is for Overeem.
Though it’s not the most likely outcome, it is inconceivable that this goes the distance. The line is set at 1.5 rounds and I’ll be taking narrowly over.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds – 2 units at +100 (1/1) @ 5Dimes