Its March which means its time for the UFC to make their annual pilgrimage to London, England and the O2 centre for another stacked Fight Night card.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best of the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Edwards v Nelson:
Leon Edwards can count himself a little unlucky not to be fighting in the main event as he is clearly one of the two top 170lb’ers in the UK right now. Riding a 6-0 streak, his last defeat came to new Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman and was topped off with a win over Donald Cerrone in Singapore. Edwards was clearly aggrieved at the oversight and lobbied throughout the press conference that he should be facing Till. I’m sure the UFC have hedged their bets in the event of an issue with Masvidal during fight week.
Regular readers will be only too aware of my thoughts on Gunnar Nelson. Gunni, as he is known to his friends, is a martial artist in the truest sense. He isn’t a trash talker, nor is he controversial in any way. No, he is the type of fighter that lets his skills do the talking for him. He has lost just 3 fights in 11 for the UFC, two against high pressure wrestlers and one due to a controversially unseen eye poke that resulted in a TKO. His submissions are a thing of beauty as are his transitions on the ground.
This is a fight that will be won or lost on the ground. We all know how good Nelson is off his back or in mount, but the questions remain on Edwards. I’ve watched Edwards time and time again have nothing but success with his striking, only to shoot for a takedown that ends up stifling the momentum. While he isn’t a slouch in the grappling department, he is going up against the elite here. By contrast, we’ve seen that Nelson struggles when getting hit, particularly in the face and will often look to shoot for his own takedown to avoid it. If I’m honest I see Edwards trying the exact same thing again and getting caught either in a guillotine or rear naked choke by a superior practitioner. Nelson is the pick, with a small play on a submission victory for added interest.
Recommendation: Gunnar Nelson – 2 units at +125 (5/4) @ 5Dimes
Recommendation: Nelson by Submission – 1 unit at +190 (19/10) @ 5Dimes
Till v Masvidal:
After being the first fighter to bring the UFC to his hometown of Liverpool, Darren Till headlines the annual March card from London, England. Just 6 months ago Till was fighting for the 170lb belt in Dallas, Texas on UFC 238, ultimately coming up short against then-champion, Tyron Woodley. It was the first loss in his professional career and one that Till will look to rebound quickly from and get the momentum going again.
His rise in the rankings has been predicated on wins over Donald Cerrone and Stephen Thompson, the latter being the Liverpool card. If the Cerrone performance was electrically charged then the Thompson performance was anything but, with Till limping to a somewhat disputed decision win with little in the way of offence.
Jorge Masvidal makes his way across the pond for his first UFC appearance in almost 18 months and, like Till, looks to get back in the win column after experiencing back to back defeats.
Masvidal is a true warrior and one who always comes to fight. His durability is almost legendary with 24 bouts since he was last stopped – a submission loss when fighting in Bellator way back in 2009. Of those 24 bouts, 18 went to a decision with the remaining going to ‘Gamebred’ by KO or submission. With 45 fights on the clock at just 34 years old, and a prior career as a bareknuckle street fighter, it is fair to wonder how many more miles can be squeezed out of this engine before it collapses in a heap.
This is a tricky fight to pick a solid bet for. While I do fancy Till to get the win, he hasn’t been in with a guy who will keep walking forward like Masvidal does, and will do so for five relentless rounds as well. There is a little value in playing Till outright, so I’ll be looking for the fight to go to a decision, which feels locked in unless Masvidal chin has evaporated or Till gets caught cold.
Recommendation: Over 4.5 Rounds – 2 units at -115 (20/23) @ 5Dimes
Honourable mentions go to the following, so look to play these in a small parlay; Tom Breese (-140) & Arnold Allen (-140). Both are undervalued and given winnable fights. The parlay pays just shy of 2/1 (+200) and is worth a flutter in front of a home crowd.