Its titles and rematches on display in Los Angeles, California this weekend as TJ Dillashaw defends the belt he took from Cody Garbrandt and there is no love lost between these two. Additionally, Demetrious Johnson graciously defends his belt against Henry Cejudo, with Cejudo hoping to fare better than the original bout.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best of the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Johnson v Cejudo:
With Daniel Cormier winning the Heavyweight title at UFC 226 he not only dethroned Stipe Miocic but also DJ on the P4P list. It’s a list that DJ has topped for some considerable time. With 13 wins, all consecutive, with 11 of those defences of the belt, he holds several UFC records; including most defences and most consecutive wins. He has cleaned out his division, beating all legitimate contenders, some of them twice. In fact, he seems to be improving with every fight. The only challenge left to him is the winner of Dillashaw and Garbrandt. His legacy is secure, but it potentially makes him just the third double champion and reclaims his spot as the Pound for Pound best MMA fighter on planet Earth.
Olympian Henry Cejudo came into MMA after winning the Gold for the USA at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. After only 6 fights on the regional scene he was signed by the UFC as a huge prospect, however he struggled with weight in his early fights and after failing on the scales was pushed to 135lbs. His stay there was short lived as he once again pushed for the opportunity at 125lbs. He got it and eventually secured a shot at the title. While he wasn’t expected to win, he was tipped to give DJ his toughest test on the mat. What was not expected was Mighty Mouse to plough through his opponent in a little under half a round. Cejudo got back on the horse and won a title eliminator with Sergio Pettis for another shot.
One of the biggest problems with gambling is trying to find a decent betting line in a fight where the favourite is so heavily backed. As every opponent DJ overcomes, his odds shorten a little more for the next fight. At -490 Johnson is untouchable and yet, I’d want a lot bigger than +390 on Cejudo to tempt me on a dog bet. No, the value in this fight is on the decision line, with Fight Not Going to a Decision at -135 being a steal. Since winning the belt DJ has finished 54% of his fights inside the distance and I feel that this goes the same way.
Recommendation: Fight doesn't go to decision – 2 units at -135 (20/27) @ 5Dimes
Dillashaw v Garbrandt:
When TJ Dillashaw regained his belt in November 2017 it marked the end of a long road back to redemption for the champion. When he stunned the world and finished [a previously unbeatable] Renan Barao he successfully defended the belt twice before welcoming back Dominick Cruz from an 18-month layoff. Cruz won the belt with a hairs breadth of a decision, and it would be almost 2 years before TJ would get the opportunity to contest for the gold once again. By that time Cruz had been dethroned and the belt was now in the possession of a former team mate, and the relationship ended on an extremely sour note. Dillashaw upset the odds in New York and took back the belt he felt he should never have lost. The manner of the victory only left more questions about why he wasn’t granted an immediate rematch and yet Cody Garbrandt was.
Cody Garbrandt entered the UFC as a 5-0 professional, quickly making a name for himself as a power puncher, finishing his first six opponents inside the distance. His wins came a little too easy and it took a battle of the young lions against Thomas Almeida for him to be taken seriously. Until this point Almeida was considered the pretender to the throne and the more rounded martial artist. Garbrandt demolished him inside two minutes and not only was Almeida never the same again, but nor was Cody. Takeya Mizugaki was the next to fall before facing Dominick Cruz. In an unexpected turn Cody out-thought Cruz, beating him at his own game; with some added showboating to boot. But it was a decisive win and a new champion was crowned. The bad blood with Dillashaw came to head in a title fight in Madison Square Garden’s where the former Alpha Male fighter overcame the current one.
In the first fight my pick was for this fight going over 3.5 rounds, but I’ll admit I slightly favoured Cody on the feet. As this is an immediate rematch I’ve no idea of the mental impact for Garbrandt but I do know how well Dillashaw and his coaches formulate game plans. Duane Ludwig will have Dillashaw ready and prepared for this one and its an opportunity to finish Alpha Male at 135lbs before TJ looks to drop to 125 for Johnson. This time I’m all over TJ.
Recommendation: TJ Dillashaw – 2 units at -120 (5/6) @ 5Dimes