There's no UFC this action this weekend. Thankfully there is other MMA on, so you can enjoy a throwback between two legends of the game instead. Chael Sonnen will face Tito Ortiz inside the Bellator cage on Saturday night. Given I don't think there's much value in that fight's odds and I've had a rough last two cards (Sorry Guys). I thought it was time to take a look at some future lines of interest.

We'll start off with next weekend's UFC headliner and work our way through some of the key future bouts that have had betting odds released.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Julianna Pena

Current UFC on Fox 23 Odds: Valentina Shevchenko (22/23) vs. Julianna Pena (1/1)

Personally speaking I think this is a bit like the Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate fight. We've got a pure striker against a fighter who's predominantly a grappler. A lot of weight is being put on Shevchenko's shoulders having ran Amanda Nunes close just under twelve months ago.

Personally I think this may be a case of flattering to deceive. Nunes took Shevchenko down relatively easy in the first two rounds. Once the fight hit the ground, Shevchenko had relatively no offensive grappling. In fairness to her, she did reverse a position late in the second round when an opening was made available by the tiring Nunes. In the third round, a well timed elbow started her ascendancy but the damage had already been done on the judges score card.

Neither Pena or Shevchenko have excellent take down defense. I think Pena is more willing to let the fight hit the ground, due to her in some cases over-confidence in her jiu jitsu. I believe Pena to have a more dominant top game, with a low-mid quality defence from the bottom.

Pena is the better offensive wrestler of the two and this could be key. If she can close the distance without making life easy for Shevchenko's varied striking arsenal, then she has the skills and ability to dominate the fight early on. We're yet to see what sort of cardio Pena has beyond three rounds, but she may not need to prove this with the potential disparity in grappling skills.

Selection: Pena at even money or take the under 4.5 at 6/4.


Nate Marquardt vs. Sam Alvey

Current UFC on Fox 23 Odds: Nate Marquardt (13/10) vs. Sam Alvey (4/6)

I really like Alvey in this fight. I think his under-rated wrestling and his power will see him through against the former Strikeforce welterweight champion. As we've seen on multiple occasions now, Alvey has deceptive power and a nice mixture in his striking game. He can have lulls at times but one he is in a rhythm he's got an overall MMA game that will stifle most.

Marquardt has definitely seen better days. Primarily a kick boxer with great submission skills, he has seen a decline in his career over recent years. Four of his last five losses have come by some variety of KO or TKO. Before that run of losses, he'd only lost by TKO/KO once in his career (to Anderson Silva so it could be forgiven).

Selection: I see this fight largely playing out on the feet. Alvey has an excellent chin and as long as he doesn't over-extend himself into a bad position, I believe he takes home the win.

Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson poster by

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson

Current UFC 209 Odds: Khabib Nurmagomedov (4/6) v Tony Ferguson (6/4)

The best offensive wrestler in the business versus one of the most creative strikers in the company. This will be fireworks. Usually I'm not a fan of interim title fights for no reason, but this I can support just because it gives us five rounds to see how this plays out.

Khabib is best known for his dominant wrestling. Yes he's finished fighters, but his overall striking game leaves much to be desired. As we saw in his last fight, he can be caught and is sometimes wreckless in his pursuit of a grappling exchange.

Ferguson has an excellent striking game. He's also got underrated grappling skills courtesy of a good wrestling and crafty Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game. He's came on leaps and bounds since losing to Michael Johnson back in May 2012. At 32 he seems to be comfortable in all facets of MMA.

One thing that goes un-noticed a lot of the time is his reach. At 76 inches, he's got a physical advantage over the vast majority of the lightweight class. It's something he puts to good use as his ability to use his length is key to getting others to engage at distances that are advantageous to him.

Selection: Either man will deservedly get the next shot at McGregor. If the price on Ferguson gets out to 2/1 territory then I'll be priced into a bet on El Cucuy. At the moment it's a no bet for me.


Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson

Current UFC 209 Odds: Tyron Woodley (11/10) vs. Stephen Thompson (5/6)

After a hotly contested draw in their first fight, Woodley and Thompson will do it all over again at UFC 209. I was actually surprised to see Wonderboy being priced as low as 8/11 with some bookmakers. This fight is still a coin-flip, but I slightly favour Woodley to get the job done this time.

I think his athleticism provides him with a platform that Thompson can't always match. If there's been one problem for Wonderboy in his MMA career, it's that he can be bullied in the clinch. In the clinch, his excellent distance control becomes almost worthless. It becomes about strength and technique in an unfamiliar area to him.

Selection: This is a fight to avoid as far as I'm concerned until much closer to the bout. I can see the potential for Woodley's price to drift out towards 13/10 and Wonderboy's contract to 4/6 territory if not further. If Woodley got up to 6/4 or above I'd be interested but for such a close bout I need a bigger margin to be willing to bet. 

UFC 208 Current Odds: Holly Holm 10/11 vs. Germaine de Randamie (43/40)

I'm not going to do a quick breakdown of this fight as of yet. I've not watched enough tape on Germaine de Randamie to give any sort of meaningful opinion on her skillset beyond the basics we all already know. Yes I have watched her fights, but not recently enough that they're fresh in my memory.

Given that this could be a very similar situation to the Holm vs. Shevchenko fight, I think it's prudent to go watch footage before trying to give anyone advice.

With that I'll leave you. Hopefully we get this column back on the winning track shortly. I don't like losing, especially when I'm potentially influencing other's opinions.









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