Image Credit: David Manning | USA TODAY Sports
#1 Fabricio Werdum vs. #4 Mark Hunt:
This fight is definitely going to be looked at as striker vs. grappler, and with good reason, but it’s not entirely that. While Hunt is definitely the better striker and Werdum is the higher level grappler, that shouldn’t completely dictate the outcome of this fight.
Werdum may not be the same striker that Hunt is, but he is a much longer, larger man and has shown major improvements on the feet. Werdum’s range will be a big factor here, using his jab as well as the straight punches and kicks to keep Hunt on the outside, preventing him from landing any big shots. In addition to range, Werdum will also need to utilize movement in order to keep the fight where at a distance where he can hit Hunt, but Hunt can’t hit him.
As for Hunt, the only way I see him winning this fight is if he catches Werdum in the early going, likely in the opening frame; because as we know, if Mark Hunt connects cleanly it’s lights out for anyone. Outside of that, however, I don’t see any other way Hunt can come away with the victory.
Other factors going into this fight are that Mark Hunt took the fight on short notice, overweight and in Mexico where the elevation levels are very high. All three of those factors will surely be a detriment to Hunt’s cardio, so if he doesn’t get the job done quickly, he won’t win this fight.
When all is said and done, Werdum should walk away as the interim UFC Heavyweight champion, likely by taking Hunt into deep waters and finishing him somewhere in the later rounds.
My Pick: Werdum
Favorite: Werdum (-440) Underdog: Hunt (+355)
#7 Jake Ellenberger vs. #11 Kelvin Gastelum:
Ellenberger and Gastelum have quite a few similarities. Both men are shorter, stockier Welterweights and both are wrestlers first who have developed high-pressure striking games.
Gastelum is a highly-touted up-and-comer and at only 23 years of age has defeated some very good opponents, but Jake Ellenberger is the highest level of competition the young Mexican-American has faced to date.
Gastelum always comes to fight, and his best strategy here may be to mix things up, as it’s nearly impossible to keep constant pressure on Ellenberger and stay on the inside against him without getting knocked unconscious. Gastelum needs to mix up takedowns and throw a wide variety of strikes from many angles in order to keep Ellenberger on his heels, because if we’ve learned one things about Jake in his last two fights, if you can keep him from coming forward, you can shut him down.
For Ellenberger, he just needs to follow what is surely the game plan in coming forward and being the aggressor. Jake needs to get in there and bully the bully, keep moving forward and keep Gastelum on his heels in order to make him uncomfortable. Ellenberger should also throw in some takedowns when needed to test Gastelum’s takedown defense.
While it’s never a good idea to base predictions off of an emotional factor, this fight is much more important for Jake Ellenberger. Jake has lost his past two fights, yes, they were to the number one and two ranked Welterweights in the world, and while a third straight loss may not cost him his job, it would send Ellenberger to Welterweight obscurity. Sure, a loss would set the undefeated Gastelum back a bit, but it definitely isn’t make or break.
My Pick: Ellenberger
Favorite: Gastelum (-200) Underdog: Ellenberger (+170)
#4 Ricardo Lamas vs. #7 Dennis Bermudez:
This is another fight where both men are very similar. As former collegiate wrestlers, both Lamas and Bermudez are wrestlers first in MMA, but have both developed their striking games. Hell, they even have the same professional MMA records, both are 14-3 coming into UFC 180. What’s even more wild is that both men have won four fights by T(KO), three by submission and seven by decision.
Considering that the wrestling will likely be a wash, this fight will come down to striking. If this fight stays standing, I think the advantage goes in the direction of Bermudez. While Lamas is no slouch in the striking department, his most devastating striking comes through ground and pound when he has his opponent on their back. Bermudez, on the other hand, has used his improved stand up game to finish his last two opponents, knocking out Jimy Hettes and completely out striking the always game Clay Guida, which set up a submission victory.
In order for Lamas to win, he will likely need to find a way to get this fight to the mat and submit Bermudez, as Bermudez’s weakest attribute may be submission defense, with all three of his losses coming via submission; Lamas’ Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt could definitely come in handy on Saturday night.
In the end, I see Bermudez getting the win in Mexico City and extending his winning streak to eight.
My Pick: Bermudez
Favorite: Bermudez (-180) Underdog: Lamas (+155)
Augusto Montano (-225) > Chris Heatherly (+190)
Edgar Garcia (-200) > Hector Urbina (+170)
Yair Rodriguez (-170) > Leonardo Morales (+145)
Jose Quinonez (-220) > Alejandro Perez (+185)
#6 Jessica Eye (-245) > #13 Leslie Smith (+205)
Gabriel Benitez (-350) > Humberto Brown (+290)
Henry Briones (-120) > Guido Cannetti (even)
Marlon Vera (-250) > Marco Beltran (+210)
*Odds Courtesy of BetDSI