The UFC returns to Anaheim, California to close out the Summer schedule. We’ve got a title fight at Heavyweight, a returning fan favourite and so much more on the card.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best bets on the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Romero v Costa:
Its been a bittersweet year for Yoel Romero. The self-styled ‘Solider of God’ lost a narrow-split decision to Robert Whittaker in their second outing, but on the flipside, he got paid after a tainted supplement left him with a PED ban. The loss to Whittaker wasn’t as devastating as it could have been as Romero missed weight (again) meaning that even if he won the fight, he still wouldn’t be the champion. It was the court settlement that was probably the biggest eye opener for those in MMA circles as $27.45 million dollars was awarded in damages. That’s life changing money for anyone, but for a fighter it changes the reason to even get out of bed in the morning.
Even still, here we are and Romero fights for the first time in 14 months against an opponent with extremely similar physical attributes and an equally explosive fighting style.
Paula Costa brings a 12-0 record, 4-0 in the UFC, to the table. Costa, a stoppage machine, has smashed his was through a few recognisable names in the UFC with Uriah Hall and former champion, Johny Hendricks, being the marquee names. In fairness, while the average MMA fan will know both, Hall has never reached his potential and Hendricks was a shadow of the man who held the belt. Consequently, this is now a huge step up in class for the Brazilian.
The outcome for this fight all depends on the mindset of Romero, and how the layoff has impacted him (if at all). Yoel isn’t getting any younger, he is now 42, and his settlement could change his ambition completely. Costa is a stoppage machine; in 12 fights he hasn’t seen a third round and his cardio will be severely tested by the former Olympian. I see Romero looking to take Costa into deep waters and secure another stoppage in the third round, as he’s done it six times in the UFC its also a flier for me.
Recommendation: Yoel Romero – 2 units at -150 (4/6) @ 5Dimes
Recommendation: Romero Wins in Round 3 – 1 unit at +800 (8/1) @ 5Dimes
Cormier v Miocic:
Reigning champion, Daniel Cormier, returns after an uneventful spell on the sidelines for, potentially his last fight in the UFC. A little over 13 months ago he snatched the title from Stipe Miocic to become a double champion – at the time only the second in UFC history. After defeating Miocic, DC was kayfabe-confronted in the octagon by Brock Lesnar to set up a March superfight. It was a fight that failed to materialise for numerous reasons, WWE, USADA, etc and it meant that Cormier couldn’t fulfil his promise of a retirement by 40. A short turnaround saw him defend against Derrick Lewis and this is where the fun stopped as DC lay inactive for 9 months.
Rumours of a Heavyweight showdown with long-time nemesis Jon Jones have been dismissed by Jones himself, but if DC were to win and continue fighting this is the only fight to make sense. Jones would be prepared to face off at 205lbs, but it would be nearly 2 years since DC made that weight by the time any fight would happen. So, it’s at Heavyweight, Catchweight or it simply doesn’t happen.
Stipe Miocic, even before this bout, is still the most successful Heavyweight champion in UFC history. Not by volume of defences, but by number of consecutives; no other Heavyweight has defended the belt three times in a row.
Even still, his actions since losing the belt haven’t really set him up as a viable challenger. He lost the first clearly, getting knocked out in the first round. Its his inactivity while demanding a rematch that’s left a sour taste. Miocic hasn’t fought since that loss and it’s more a quirk of fate that no other challenger has come to the forefront than it is a match the fans were desperate to see. So far so, I’m surprised its headlining a PPV.
The questions here come down to age and desire again. Cormier is now 40, the big PPV payday he was promised with Lesnar has all but evaporated and this could easily be his last fight, win or lose. He has always stated he wants to leave with his faculties intact and this is a perfect opportunity. Financially he must be set so it comes down to desire and whether he legitimately feels he could beat Jones IF he were to consent to a trilogy fight. The same goes for Miocic, at 36 and still on active duty as an Ohio Firefighter he needs to decide whether he has the hunger to beat Cormier and then go on to [likely] face Ngannou again. I’m going to side with DC, his skillset is a gaping chasm away from Miocic and I’ll be expecting a similar outcome.
Recommendation: Daniel Cormier – 2 units at -140 (5/7) @ 5Dimes
Recommendation: Cormier Inside the Distance – 2 units at -115 (20/23) @ 5Dimes