In the coldest time of the year the UFC heads to Winnipeg, Canada for its penultimate card of 2017.
As all eyes glance over the shoulder to UFC 219 there is still a couple of bangers in the Welterweight division to be sorted. I’ve picked these as my top 2 fights on the card and given my thoughts with 5Dimes, as always, providing the odds.
Ponzinibbio v Perry:
Santiago Ponzinibbio made his UFC debut all the way back in 2013, but it has taken him until 2017 and a stunning upset KO of Gunnar Nelson to get the recognition his talent deserves. Argentine by birth, but representing Brazil he has finally cracked the top ten in the rankings he will have one eye on this fight but another on a potential showdown with Darren Till in the other.
Mike Perry made an immediate impact when getting his call to the UFC with a major upset over Hyun Gu Lim. It was win number 8 of a 9 fight run, one which came to an end against Alan Jouban a year ago. Since then he has finished both Alex Reyes and Jake Ellenberger by knockout. Those performances, and his verbal tirade at Darren Till in Gdansk, Poland has put him in a similar position to his opponent. A win may just give him the next shot at rising talent Till.
Both fighters love to bang, they will stand and trade in the pocket, on the mat and against the cage. Ponzinibbio probably has the heavier hands, but Perry edges this in volume and arguably has the stronger chin; at least, for now. The odds are a little to skewed for my liking, so I am going to make a play on the overs and bet that this goes over a round and a half.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds – 2 units at -105 (20/21) @ 5Dimes
Lawler v dos Anjos:
Robbie Lawler really is a modern-day warrior. As the 170lb champion he avenged a loss to Johny Hendricks, defending his belt twice before being finished by Tyron Woodley. The way he lost wasn’t a shock as although Lawler can throw in volume, he also eats a huge amount of it. A clear win over Donald Cerrone put him back in the win column and into bout with huge implications this weekend. This is a fight where #2 meets #4 and cold very well determine the next challenger to Woodley. If not Woodley, then almost certainly an eliminator with Colby Covington as, with respect, nobody wants to see Woodley v Thompson III. Nobody.
Former 155lb kingpin, Rafael dos Anjos has looked revitalised at 170lbs. As the champion he manhandled Anthony Pettis with such dominance that he looked for sure to reign in the division for as long as he wished. Eddie Alvarez put an end to that dream and Tony Ferguson rammed the final nail into the coffin of 155 RDA. Wins over Tarec Saffiedine and Neil Magny at 170 have shown RDA that this is his future.
The deciding factor in this fight for me is the effect that the knockout loss to Woodley had on Lawler’s chin. It was the first KO loss in 12 years for Lawler and, at 35 could signal the end of the road. RDA can pack a punch and if it lands it early enough then it could be goodnight sweetheart. On the flipside, if the chin holds up then how much forward pressure from Lawler can RDA absorb. There are few in the MMA world that can trade like Lawler can, RDA being a possible exception. I don’t see this fight going the distance and I think the odds on in ending inside five rounds are ridiculous.
Recommendation: Fight Doesn’t Go to Decision – 2 units at -160 (5/8) @ 5Dimes