Saturday, 10 September 2016

UFC 203 picks sponsored by the Devon Corporation

I'm relatively new to following MMA but enjoy it a whole lot. I thought it would be fun to write a brief preview for UFC 203 as I had some thoughts about the matchups. I have gone back, watched old fights, listened to podcasts, read up on the subject and am learning all the time. I feel I do a pretty decent job of picking up on certain trends but this can be such an unpredictable sport and your best-laid plans can be waylaid be one lucky punch.

With that said, let's dive into the action- right after the jump.

[C] Stipe Miocic vs [3] Alistair Overeem

Cleveland has had an unusuallygood sports year thus far with Stipe Miocic crowned UFC Heavyweight Champion in May and the Cavaliers winning the NBA title a month later. Miocic returns home to defend the belt for the first time on Saturday and, spoiler, I think he will lose it. By far the most important factor in my thinking is that in both previous Heavyweight title boits, the champion has lost on home turf; Cain Velasquez submitted in the third round at UFC 188 in Mexico City and Fabricio Werdum getting knocked out in Brazil at UFC 198.

In both cases the champ, spurred on by a partisan crowd, overpursued and paid the price. I can envision the same happening in this fight. While Overeem's complacency has been a weakness in the past, I think he will be fully motivated fighting for a championship. He may not hold the belt for long but hold it he shall by, let's say, TKO in the third.

Overeem opened as an underdog at +140 but has since been bet down. He is still +125 at bet365 which is satisfactory but reflects the fine margins in which this fight will be won or lost.

[1] Fabricio Werdum vs [6] Travis Browne

This one ought to be really easy. Browne is a late replacement for Ben Rothwell with only a month to prepare for the fight. This is the second time they will face off, their first meeting taking place at UFC Fox in 2014 with Werdum taking a lopsided decision. Browne was training at Jackson-Wink at that time, considered one of the best camps in the business. he now trains with Edmond Tarverdyan, empirically by far the worst coach out there. Since joining the Glendale gym, former top contender Browne is 2-2 with both wins coming against fighters who are no longer in the UFC and his most recent loss an uncompetitive beatdown two months ago at UFC 200.

I expect this to be equally ugly. Although Browne has never been submitted in his career, there is a first time for everything. I certainly think he will get finished at any rate. As far as the betting goes, this feels like a stay away.

CM Punk vs Mickey Gall

With the way UFC 203 has been promoted, you'd think this was the main event. Although many have been critical of the UFC allowing a guy who has fought zero professional fights ever on a PPV card, i'm intrigued. I don't think it's the worst thing in the world to attempt to garner casual interest... as long as you don't take it too far though. Earlier in the week I was leaning topwards CM Punk but thankfully got talked out of it. I also watched the Evolution of Punk mini-series and though he claims he won't be the same guy as shown there, it's not saying much because he looked really far off. +275 doesn't seem generous enough on Punk even despite the fact these two have a total of just under four minutes pro MMA fight time between them. I'd like him to win I just don't see it at this point.

[2] Urijah Faber vs [12] Jimmie Rivera

Faber is one of the best lighter weight fighters in MMA, he does not lose to prospects. Rivera is on a very impressive win streak numbers-wise but the quality of opposition is not exactly awe-inspiring. Faber is a big step-up in competition and I don't believe he can bridge it.

[6] Jessica Andrade vs [7] Joanne Calderwood

There has been a lot of hype over Andrade's move to strawweight with lofty predictions and suggestions that she would easily flatten Joanna Champ but it's all on the basis of one fight. Her first opponent in the division was Jessica Penne, a former atomweight so while she is undoubtedly a skilled boxer who held her own against bigger girls at bantamweight, I need to see more diversity from her vbefore I'm convinced. I think it's a toss up as to who wins but my guess would be 29-28 decision for Andrade with Calderwood winning the third. She's not ready for the champ.

My picks: Overeem, Werdum, Gall, Faber, Andrade

Chris picks: Miocic, Werdum, Gall, Faber, Andrade

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