UFC 202 was a roaring success and arguably the card of the year and the event that UFC 200 should have been. It will be extremely difficult for another roster of fighters to produce that level of magic again. The headliner for this weekend’s show from Vancouver was yanked from the UFC 201 card, and as such it suffers a little in the way of anticlimax. As with every card there is money to be made so I’ll be giving you my thoughts backed up by 5DimesLines.com odds.
Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller
In a rematch four years in the making Joe Lauzon has the opportunity to avenge one of his earlier losses against Jim Miller. That fight was a bloodbath as Lauzon succumbed to short elbows early on and the claret began to pour. It didn’t detract from a great fight; lets be honest a little blood always enhances any bout, but ultimately Lauzon came up short. Its been back and forth ever since then as Lauzon has really struggled to string a series of wins together.
Although Miller won the first match his career ever since has taken a downward trajectory. That win set up a four fight unbeaten streak which was brutally ended by Donald Cerrone. Over the next two years Miller went 2-4 and a first round finish of Takanori Gomi at UFC 200 arguably saved his career.
Both fighters fought at UFC 200, both of them winning by knockout, and their recent match-ups have taken on a similar theme. Both have beaten Gomi by first round knockout and both have beaten Diego Sanchez, although Lauzon holds the edge on this one. Personally I see Lauzon taking this fight; if he does then I couldn’t rule out a rubber match to settle it once and for all.
Recommendation: Joe Lauzon – 2 units at -155 (4/6) @ 5Dimes
Anthony Pettis vs. Charles Oliveira
Anthony Pettis was riding the crest of a wave just three years ago. As the reigning champion at 155lb he had seen off Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone and Gil Melendez in consecutive fights. In addition he had been named the new face of Wheaties breakfast cereal and was firmly on the way to the mainstream. Then he met Rafael dos Anjos who didn’t just take his title, he rag-dolled him around for 25 minutes in order to get it. A contentious loss to Eddie Alvarez followed and then a lacklustre defeat to Edson Barboza signaled a drop to 145lb and a new start.
Charles Oliveira fights for the first time in 2016, after a spell on the sidelines since defeating Myles Jury at UFC on Fox 17 in December 2015. That fight in itself was the first step on the road to redemption after a freak injury in a bout with Max Holloway snapped a four fight winning streak. Defeats to Cub Swanson, Frankie Edgar, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller have cast doubts on his potential ceiling and Pettis would be the marquee name without doubt. It could well be all the carrot he needs.
Early fight week photos of Pettis in his weight cut are extremely concerning. At 155lb he was arguably in a weight class that suited him. At 145 he is gaunt, drawn out and looks seriously underweight. With new weigh in regulations this doesn’t feel like a legitimate long term plan. Oliveira has his faults but he is acclimatized to the weight and for this reason I have to side with the underdog. I like Pettis but this doesn’t feel like a good move.
Recommendation: Charles Oliveira – 1 unit at +170 (17/10) @ 5Dimes
Demian Maia vs. Carlos Condit
I’ll say it right from the start; the 170lb Demian Maia is the best Demian Maia. After a spell at 185lbs that culminated in a one-sided loss to Anderson Silva, Maia has revitalized himself at Welterweight and established himself as a legitimate contender. Five wins on the bounce has put him firmly front and centre for the winner of Woodley and Thompson, he just needs to get past Condit to do it. Against the likes of Gunnar Nelson he demonstrated that there is Maia BJJ, and then there is everyone else’s.
Many felt that Carlos Condit was robbed against Robbie Lawler in January’s ‘Fight of the Year’ contender. One judge gave it to Condit but the other two saw for Lawler to retain his belt. It was contentious, but it had a few swing rounds that could have gone either way. Personally, I gave it to Lawler but I wouldn’t have complained if Condit had his arm raised. The disappointment resulted in a flirtation with retirement, luckily for the fan base he was talked around.
While Condit is no slouch in the BJJ department he isn’t on the same planet as Maia and this will be the key area. If Maia can turn himself into the human backpack again then it could be a long night for Condit and he can be submitted. If, however, Condit is able to maintain range and pick his shots then he could take a comfortable decision. It has the potential to be a fight for the ages, similarly it has the potential to be a snoozer. Either way, I’m on Team Condit.
Recommendation: Carlos Condit – 2 units at -130 (10/13) @ 5Dimes