The UFC hits London, England this weekend with its annual return to the O2 in Greenwich.
An underwhelming card if truth be told, but one that is sure to attract a rabid UK audience. A couple of fights stand out for betting purposes, here are my thoughts and 5Dimes’ odds.
Manuwa v Blachowicz:
Since he almost always seems to fight in the UK you can fully expect Jimi Manuwa to carry the weight of the London crowd during his cage walk. It will mark the first fight for Manuwa since a devastating loss to Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214 in July 2017. In that fight Manuwa was out-Manuwa’d, as the contest ended in just 42 seconds by knock out. For those who are counting, it was the 3rd KO for Manuwa in as many years. Sandwiched between two of those KO’s was the first meeting with Blachowicz in Poland, it was a fight that failed to ignite the fans.
Losing the first meeting with Jimi Manuwa set Jan Blachowicz on a very slippery slope as the Pole went 1-4, the lone win coming against Igor Pokrajac. All losses were by decision; Blachowicz is notoriously difficult to stop. A submission win over Devin Clark in Gdansk, Poland and an underdog decision of Jared Cannonier has elevated him back up the ranks of a division that is conspicuously shallow.
Manuwa clearly has the power to win this, but he has struggled a little as he ages. Couple this with the concussive effects of three knockouts and I’m struggling to find a reason to pull the trigger on Jimi as a bet. On the flipside, Blachowicz isn’t a power puncher and he isn’t known for finishing fights, at least not at this stage of his career. If he does win, its likely by submission. I’m going into this with the opinion that the judges will be required.
Recommendation: Fight Goes to Decision – 2 units at +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes
Werdum v Volkov:
Fabricio Werdum continues his quest for a title shot, and in truth it may not be a million miles way. Werdum was only the second man to hand a defeat to Cain Velasquez; the first to make him tap but lost his belt to the current champion, Stipe Miocic, via first round knockout. That loss was his first in 5 years, derailing a run that stretched all the way back to the latter days of Strikeforce. Since the loss to Miocic he has fallen short, again, to Alistair Overeem while picking up wins over Travis Browne, Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura. The win over Tybura being a particularly laborious affair over 5 rounds in Sydney, Australia. A pre-fight run in with Colby Covington and jet lag may have played some part in the performance.
Alexander Volkov comes into the bout on the back of a 5-0 run stretching back to June 2015 when he last tasted defeat. That loss was to former UFC alum, Cheick Kongo. Since then he has stoppage wins in M-1 as well as 3 victories in the UFC. He came out on the right side of a split decision to Timothy Johnson in a laboured performance, while a little more comfortable in a decision over Roy Nelson before upsetting local favourite, Stefan Struve, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. None of these have really caught the eye and it’s a surprise to see him matched up against the former champion.
If completely fit, then Werdum should have more than enough to put Volkov away. Problem is that Werdum hasn’t looked great in the last year or so, a little soft around the middle and moving like age has started to catch up with him. Volkov, meanwhile is still very much in a growth stage and, at 29, is a veritable baby in an ever-ageing Heavyweight division. Paths to victory are Volkov by strikes or Werdum by submission but my bet will be that it goes on a little longer than it should; over 2.5 rounds to be precise.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 Rounds – 2 units at -130 (10/13) @ 5Dimes