By Tony Cline, Staff Writer
On Saturday, the UFC visits Buffalo, NY, for the first time with a pay-per-view card that has some intriguing fights leading into a monster main event:
The main card opens with former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks facing off against Charles Oliveira. Brooks was on a nine-fight win streak before losing his last contest to Alex Oliveira who missed weight for their fight by more than five pounds. Oliveira has lost three of his last four, but those losses have come to the elites of the featherweight division. After missing weight for a fifth time (last fight by nine pounds), Charles Oliveira has been forced to move up to the lightweight division. Both of these fighters are lightning quick, and neither has the power to land a one-punch knockout, so we are likely looking at a decision or a late finish via a choke or volume-punch TKO. Oliveira is a good fighter, but he has struggled against top ten fighters in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions (he was a lightweight earlier in his career). Brooks is definitely one of the top ten lightweights in the world, and he should win this fight. Brooks is currently at -260 and the over/under line is 2.5 rounds, so there’s not much easy money to be made here.
The second fight of the main card will see Thiago Alves return to welterweight to face Patrick Cote. Alves, after being knocked out by Carlos Condit, decided to try his luck at lightweight where he promptly missed weight by seven pounds and then lost a unanimous decision to Jim Miller, a tough fighter but not exactly an elite fighter in his prime. Cote, on the other hand, is 6-2 in his last eight, with his only losses coming to Stephen Thompson and Donald Cerrone, both great fighters in their primes. Cote is the noticeably larger and stronger fighter, and Alves doesn’t present too much danger in this fight. Thiago is likely tough enough to avoid being finished, but it’s going to be a lopsided decision for Cote. Patrick is currently available at -160, and I think that’s a bargain. If you are inclined to place a wager, Cote at -160 is a nice play. If you can get better odds on Cote by decision, take that.
To be honest, I’m not sure why this next fight was placed in the middle of the main card. Cynthia Calvillo has one UFC win, a fairly impressive submission victory over Amanda Bobby Cooper, and her opponent is appearing in a major promotion for the first time. Pearl Gonzalez is 6-1, but her wins have come against mostly inferior competition (a win over Cortney Casey at 15 lbs. being the lone exception). Calvillo is only 4-0 as a pro, but the win over Cooper and an amateur victory over Aspen Ladd were fairly impressive. Calvillo is a -260 favorite, and that is probably where the odds should be, so I wouldn’t bother betting on this one. Calvillo by submission.
The co-main event pits former middleweight champion Chris Weidman against Gegard Mousasi. Weidman is coming off two brutal knockout losses to Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero while Mousasi has won his last four, the last three via KO/TKO. However, it is important to remember that Weidman was hurt in his title loss to Rockhold and was winning the Romero fight until he got caught with a knee. Mousasi’s wins have come against lower-ranked foes, and he has never been able to pull out a win when facing the elites of the division. The question, then, is whether or not Weidman is still one of those elites. I think he is. He’s healthy now, and if he is truly focused, he should once again be able to challenge for the belt. Chris is the better wrestler, and I see him putting Mousasi on his back and then raining down punches. You can get Weidman at -110, a solid bet in this position. I wouldn’t bet on the rounds or the finish because we could see a TKO, a choke, or a decision. I’ll go with the decision as most likely, but not enough to bet on.
In the main event, we see a rematch for the light heavyweight title as Daniel Cormier defends his belt against Anthony Johnson. Cormier was a dominant heavyweight, dropped to light heavyweight to avoid having to fight his training partner for that title, and has pretty much dominated this division other than a single loss to Jon Jones, perhaps the best fighter of all time. Cormier has knockout power, he is fast, he is an Olympic-level wrestler, and he is smarter in the cage. If this goes to a decision, Daniel wins. If it’s a submission, he wins. It’s even possible he scores a knockout. Johnson’s only path to victory lies in the knockout, and he may be the most powerful striker in all of MMA. “Rumble” is 12-1 in his last thirteen fights, with nine of those wins coming via knockout. Ah, but that one. That lone loss was to none other than Daniel Cormier. Some say this time will be different, that Anthony will score the KO and take the belt. I simply don’t see it that way. Johnson has already hit Cormier with pretty much everything he can in the first fight, once literally knocking him backwards 360 degrees. If that didn’t finish Daniel off, I doubt Anthony will be able to do so this time. I see Daniel taking him down, sliding into side control, and pounding on the ribs until Johnson gives up his back for the rear naked choke submission. You can currently get even money odds on Cormier, and I would put as much as I could safely afford on that line. The over 1.5 rounds at -160 isn’t bad either.
The undercard on this event has several good fights as well, especially Des Green vs. Josh Emmett and Irene Aldana vs. Katlyn Chookagian. All in all, I expect an exciting event worth your time. Kick back a little, enjoy the fights, and, if you are so inclined, make a little profit.