Below these quick picks is the degenerate gambler’s corner for this event.
Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller
Cerrone and Miller are both fighters who are good enough to beat the vast majority of UFC lightweights, but too flawed to succeed against top tier competition. Cerrone’s problem – and I’m a broken record on this – is that he’s far too easy to hit. He absorbed a massive 238 significant strikes in three rounds against Nate Diaz and has absorbed 3.69 significant strikes per minute overall. Fun fact: Cerrone’s significant strike margin of +0.12 per minute is lower than Miller’s margin of +0.25.
Remove the Diaz fights from both fighters’ statistics, and the numbers shift to favoring Cerrone, which makes sense as Cerrone is taller, lands strikes at greater volume, and hits harder. I expect Cerrone to have a significant advantage standing, putting the onus on Miller to take the fight to the ground.
However, I believe submissions are the best aspect of Cerrone’s game. There’s a reason we don’t see Cerrone on his back for long when he fights – he has a very threatening guard that usually deters opponents from grappling with him. Miller is an excellent submission fighter as well, but there’s nothing that indicates Miller will have an advantage on the ground here. Given that Cerrone is probably more capable of taking Miller down than vice versa, I have to consider Cerrone a solid favorite to win this one.
Pick: Donald Cerrone by TKO
Edson Barboza vs. Evan Dunham
I was one of the earliest people on the Edson Barboza hype train, but jumped off after his close fights against Anthony Njokuani and Ross Pearson and loss to Jamie Varner. To my surprise, the Barboza hype train is still rolling along without me – Barboza is currently a -250 favorite to beat Evan Dunham.
Barboza is definitely the more varied and powerful striker, but his flaw is the same as Dunham’s: he’s too easy to hit. Dunham actually has the better significant strike margin, +1.31 to +0.73. I think Barboza can make up for that with flashier techniques and more knockout power, but for me, that adds up to Barboza being just a slight favorite to win this one.
Pick: Edson Barboza by decision
Leonardo Mafra vs. Rick Story
Rick Story is one of the most frustrating fighters in the UFC to me. Either he squashes a low-level opponent like Quinn Mulhern or loses a very close fight to an opponent he should probably beat. Perhaps Story’s win over Johny Hendricks was a fluke? Either way, Story remains a punishing striker with good offensive wrestling.
Story’s opponent in Leonardo Mafra is a fighter who appeared on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil and lost his UFC 147 match to Thiago Perpetuo. If I’m right and Story is a top 15 welterweight talent (and I’m probably not right, given Story’s recent history), then he should blow Mafra out of the water. We will see.
Pick: Rick Story by TKO
Joe Proctor vs. Justin Salas
I’ve seen some people suggest that Joe Proctor is being underrated coming into this match against Justin Salas. Proctor opened as the -140 favorite and quickly moved to a +145 underdog, so maybe there’s something to that. But when I look at the statistics, I don’t see what Proctor does that has people excited. He’s a mediocre striker who enters this match at 0-6 in takedowns.
By contrast, Salas is up 8-0 in takedowns but doesn’t have much of a submission game. He’s a fighter who sits in guard and just grinds his opponent with strikes. It’s possible that Proctor will be able to reverse position on the ground. I just feel like when a good wrestler gets top position, submission fighters struggle to escape that position in today’s UFC.
Pick: Justin Salas by decision
John Lineker vs. Alp Ozkilic
Ozkilic is going to want to take John Lineker down as early as he possibly can. Lineker is a slugger who has landed six knockdowns in the flyweight division, which is second to John Dodson in the UFC. Ozkilic is a wrestler whose striking is… a work in progress, to be nice.
The good news for Ozkilic is that he should be successful in getting Lineker down. The bad news is that Ozkilic hasn’t shown the ability to do much with his takedowns – and it’s likely that Lineker will get back to his feet without too much trouble. If Ozkilic gasses like he did against Louis Smolka, this could be a rough outing for him.
Pick: John Lineker by KO
Lucas Martins vs. Alex White
After looking at his record, I like Alex White as a prospect. As a 6’0″ featherweight, I remain skeptical about White’s ability to stay standing against strong wrestlers. Fortunately for White, he is not facing a strong wrestler in Lucas Martins.
If White’s UFC debut victory against Estevan Payan was any indication, he can put together some serious striking offense in a short period of time. And the one thing consistent about Martins is that his striking defense has been very poor. It seems like a good opportunity for White to showcase how violent he can be again.
Pick: Alex White by KO
YEAR TO DATE
Last Events: 12-9 (57.1%)
Year To Date: 171-91 (65.3%)
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
Last Events: -$1.00
Current Bankroll: $79.66
Total Investment: $211.22
Total Return: $29.66
Return on Investment: 14.0%
Last week, Chris Weidman got the job done against Lyoto Machida, but long-shot bets on Thiago Santos and Alex Caceres were both losers (although I don’t regret the Santos bet; his fight against Uriah Hall was quite close). I was counting on Matt Mitrione to come through for me, but unfortunately his fight against Stefan Struve was canceled. As a side note, I really hope Struve and his doctors know what they’re doing by letting him fight; him fainting in the locker room after reported heart complications makes me uneasy about him competing.
Also note that my silly $1.00 bet on Brazil to win the World Cup went down in spectacular flames. The Hindenburg was less of a disaster than Brazil’s performance against Germany. Good thing it only cost me a dollar…
For this event I have…
Evan Dunham +230: $3.00 to win $6.90 – This fight against Edson Barboza has split decision written all over it. If that’s the case, I’d much rather be on the side of the +230 underdog than the -250 favorite. I think Dunham can really take advantage of Barboza’s lackluster head striking defense.
Rick Story inside the distance +153: $3.00 to win $4.59 – I think Story is just at a much higher level of fighting than Leonardo Mafra. Usually, if one fighter is much better than the other, he finds a way to finish… I’m betting that Story will do that here. I see Story punishing Mafra with a steady stream of punches and winning by TKO.
Mandatory disclaimer: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my plays in any serious way. I’m doing this for fun and as an experiment, not a livelihood. If you make any bets, you do so at your own risk.
Best of luck and enjoy the fights!