Fancy a flutter on the UFCPittsburgh main and co-main events? Check out FO’s gambling guide for Luke Rockhold vs. David Branch and Mike Perry vs. Alex Reyes association with 5Dimes.
Perry vs. Reyes
Mike Perry has been in impressive form since debuting in the UFC just over a year ago. In that time, he has accumulated three wins by stoppage, with just one loss in between. The loss was to the vastly experienced Alan Jouban in a fight that was step-up in competition that came a little too early. In his next fight, he demolished Jake Ellenberger. A win over ‘The Juggernaut’ isn’t enough to make you a contender but it does keep the momentum going and a bigger name is always going to add a few miles per hour to it.
If you had asked Alex Reyes on Monday whether he would have been watching this event at the weekend he may just have said yes. If you had asked him whether he was going to compete then he’d have probably just smiled at you. If you had asked him whether there was a chance he’d be co main eventing, he’d have taken your arm off. But that’s where he is on Saturday after Thiago Alves was forced out with injury. On less than a week’s notice, Reyes has his ticket out of the minor leagues and into the UFC with a chance to cause a huge upset as a late replacement.
Three days ago, this was to be a display of glorious ultraviolence between Perry and Thiago Alves, but injury to the ‘Pit Bull’ has ended up giving Perry a far easier assignment on paper. For Reyes, stepping up a weight this is too good an opportunity to decline, but this won’t be a Rocky story. Perry is too fast, too well-rounded and too powerful. I see a Platinum finish before the midway point of the second round as the gulf in class becomes apparent.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 Rounds – 3 units at -130 (10/13) @ 5Dimes
Rockhold vs. Branch
I had to double take when I realised that Luke Rockhold has been inactive for almost 15 months. Sure, there have been injuries and a small contract dispute but considering he went into his last bout as the champion, facing a fighter he had decisively beaten earlier, it was a surprise not to see him push for a rematch with Michael Bisping, closing out the trilogy along the way. Since being benched he has watched Bisping defend the belt just once, while Robert Whittaker has somehow beaten all comers to take the interim belt. Suddenly the AKA standout has gone from beating Chris Weidman to sitting behind Bisping, Whittaker, Romero and GSP. Even Weidman is breathing down his neck. Rockhold needs a win, and to do it impressively.
David Branch is one of those fighters who fought in the UFC back when it was really starting to catch fire. Brock Lesnar was the champion and a wave of new viewers were buying the PPVs. Unfortunately for Branch he was cut from the promotion at 2-2 and sent packing to the minor leagues and WSOF where, incredibly, he reinvented himself in two weight classes, surprising people at light heavyweight while reinvigorating himself at middleweight. Branch was a two-division champion and re-signing him to the UFC was one of easiest decisions Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard had to make. But at 36, his best years may just be behind him in a division with arguably the strongest top five in the UFC.
I hold Luke Rockhold in the highest regard and think he is the best 185lb fighter in MMA. He has his flaws, sure, but he is arguably the most well-rounded fighter the division, and possibly the UFC. Against Bisping he was exposed and humbled, but I don’t see him making the same mistakes again and looking past his opponent. If the underdog has a chance then he would need to be the very peak David Branch – the one who put away Yushin Okami, not the one who limped over the line against Krzysztof Jotko. Rockhold wins, comfortably, and most likely inside the distance for a statement win.
Recommendation: Rockhold wins inside the distance – 3 units at -155 (4/6) @ 5Dimes