The UFC stages its last event for three weeks as it heads to Ottawa, Canada on the run up to MMA’s biggest week of 2016; UFC International Fight Week. Rory MacDonald fights for the first time in a year in his home country and faces the conqueror of Johny Hendricks in the main event, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
Letourneau vs. Calderwood
Valerie Letourneau turned a lot of heads when she was not only earned a title shot against Muay Thai killer Joanna Jedrzejczyk but managed to hold on for the full five rounds. Such was JJ’s dominance over her previous opponents, both in winning and defending the belt, that Letourneau was expected to be blown away by the champion. Even though Joanna won comfortably by unanimous decision, Letourneau showed she has the chops to stand with the best
Joanne Calderwood has experienced mixed emotions since graduating from the TUF 20 house two years ago. A win on the finale card over Seo Hee Ham put her in the title contention picture; all she had to do was get past Maryna Moroz in Poland to be considered among the top contenders. Unfortunately that fight lasted just 90 seconds as Moroz submitted Calderwood. ‘Jo Jo’ rebounded with an emotional win in her hometown of Glasgow last July. I’d love to see the Scot take the win but I just don’t see it happening.
Recommendation: Valerie Letourneau to win – 2 units at -175 (4/7) @ 5Dimes
Bosse vs. O’Connell
Former pro hockey player Steve Bosse was booked by the UFC to step in and face Fabio Maldonado a year ago when an injunction stopped Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson from breaking his Bellator contract. Bosse stepped up at late notice, and subsequently stepped down again when Rampage was cleared to fight. He then lost to Thiago Santos in his eventual UFC debut a short while after. Earlier this year he rebounded impressively when he fought James Te Huna in Brisbane, Australia and finished the fight – and Te Huna’s career – inside one minute with a devastating KO.
In five UFC fights, nine-year veteran Sean O’Connell has managed to put together a mixed run against mid-level talent. Wins over Matt van Buren and Anthony Perosh are highlights while his low points have seen losses to Ryan Jimmo, Gian Villante and Ilir Latifi.
It’s highly unlikely that this gets out of the first round and the odds are reflective of that fact.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 rounds – 2 units at -175 (4/7) @ 5Dimes
Cerrone vs. Cote
Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone returns to the Octagon for the first time since February’s win over fellow ‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira. The four months on the sidelines must represent one of the longest dry spells of Cerrone’s career. Despite his recent failed title shot against 155lb champ Rafael dos Anjos that saw him finished in just over one minute, Cerrone has been on a tear for the last three years and is now looking to put a fresh streak together at 170lb.
Patrick Cote is now deep into his second spell with the UFC, the first one finishing back in 2010 as he dropped three straight. Since returning he has earned six wins and has looked especially good since dropping to 170lb – his lone loss in the division coming to top title contender Stephen Thompson.
Cerrone takes the win in my mind – I’m not sure how as he has more tools than a hardware store, but I don’t think it will be close either way.
Recommendation: Donald Cerrone to win – 3 units at -160 (5/8) @ 5Dimes
MacDonald vs. Thompson
Eleven months ago Rory MacDonald was four minutes away from securing the UFC welterweight title from Robbie Lawler. But victory was snatched from him in the final round when he was crumpled by a finishing punch from the seemingly indestructible champion – the World MMA Awards ‘Fight of the Year’ award, at least, was some consolation. Win here and he likely gets a second title shot; lose and it’s a regressive step that could take years to recover from.
Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson has been fighting professionally in MMA for just six years but has an accomplished kickboxing and karate career that spans much further back into his early childhood. The striking sensation looked better than ever in his last performance when he became the first man to finish former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks inside one round.
This is a veritable chess match of MMA. MacDonald is calm, composed and doesn’t rush in and take risks, while Thompson will be happy to pick off MacDonald at range. It’s a tough call but I’ll be siding with the Canadian.
Recommendation: Rory MacDonald to win – 2 units at +100 (1/1) @ 5Dimes