This weekend marks the UFC's first pay per view of 2017. UFC 208 will take place in Brooklyn's Barlay Center as New York once again holds a historic event for MMA. The main event of the evening will see the crowning of the inaugural women's featherweight champion.
Fighting for that honor will be “The Preacher's Daughter” Holly Holm and “The Iron Lady” Germaine de Randamie. Holm of course is a former women's bantamweight champion, who famously dethroned Ronda Rousey in front of a record crowd at UFC 193. The Iron Lady is a kick boxing legend who boasted an unbeaten record prior to transitioning to MMA.
We also have some of the middleweight division's best on display. Anderson Silva looks to return to winning ways against Derek Brunson. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will try to force his way into the title picture with an impressive performance against Tim Boetsch.
The event is filled with interesting match-ups and plenty of betting opportunities.
Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter ever to the grace the UFC in my opinion. At 41 years old, the speed may be slowing and the chin my may be declining. Saying that, I do believe that there is still enough evidence to say that Silva is still dangerous. The former middleweight kingpin has not officially won in over four years. That fact doesn't tell the whole story though.
He initially defeated Nick Diaz by decision in 2015, following a hiatus due to the horrific leg break he suffered in the second Weidman fight. The Diaz win was later overturned to a No Contest, following a positive drugs test. He returned in February of 2016 in a controversial loss to Michael Bisping. I'm not going to get into the if's and buts of that fight, but it's one that proved that Silva could still hold his own with the best in the division.
Derek Brunson is a former NCAA Division II wrestler. He has trained with Greg Jackson in the past, but I'm not sure if he's still with Jackson-Wink officially since opening his own gym. Brunson has faced a decent batch of competition in recent times. He's coming off a vicious knock out loss to Robert Whittaker, following a five fight win streak.
Brunson has a propensity to strike wildly as he closes the distance, he also displays a decent wrestling game. Anyone doubting that should see his fight with Yoel Romero. His over-hand left is his weapon of choice and I think this is his best strike. He does try to grapple with his opponents, but his explosiveness and ability to cover distance sees him land some devastating strikes. He has eight first round TKO's to his name, of which four have come in his last five fights.
Selection: I side with the former champion in this one. I think Brunson has a style that will see him engage Anderson and force Silva to counter-strike. At 6/5 I believe Anderson can outpoint or knockout Brunson. I think there's enough value to take that risk. I would recommend a small play. There is an equal likelihood that a wild exchange from Brunson sees him catch Silva and get a TKO.
As the odds would suggest, this is seen as a mismatch. Jacare Souza is expected to dominate and should be able to use his world class grappling to stifle Boetsch. Souza is on the cusp of the title shot he craves. The UFC have given him a bout that I think plays to his strengths.
Boetsch is a durable fighter, but he's also slow and plodding with his movement. The biggest x-factor in this fight is whether or not Boetsch can land a heavy blow on Jacare. Boetsch made an art-form out of comeback victories. Anyone who hasn't seen his bout with Yushin Okami should jump onto YouTube or Fight Pass and enjoy the madness.
Selection: There is no value at all in Jacare to win at 1/6. There is however in a TKO at 5/1. Jacare is a mixed martial artist with excellent fight IQ. I believe he will try to take this fight to the ground as quickly as possible. From there, he is at a massive advantage with his BJJ pedigree. Boetsch has shown weaknesses on his back in the past against lesser competition. Souza has shown more versatility in recent fights. He has decent power and is willing to trust his ground and pound, rather than only go for submissions. In fact, three of his last seven stoppage victories have been by KO or TKO.
Wilson Reis vs. Ulka Sasaki: I believe this is a fight unlikely to see the judges scorecards. Reis is one of the best in the division and has added improved striking to his excellent grappling arsenal. Sasaki is aggressive and dangerous. It's a rare opportunity in the flyweight division to choose an inside the distance market, but with this fight it seems about right. 11/10 with Sky Bet currently when the under 2.5 rounds is at evens with a lot of bookmakers. Get on it whilst it lasts.
Randy Brown vs. Belal Muhammed: The odds for this one started as a pick'em, then the money started to pour in on Randy Brown. I'm not 100% sure that is the play here. Brown at times has struggled to pull the trigger and seems almost to second guess himself. Muhammed is a guy who will get into a rhythm and still has power when tired. Belal is fighting on short notice but I do believe there's the possibility of him springing an upset. For that reason I'm taking him at 6/5 to claim a second UFC victory.
Keep An Eye On
If the line on Ian McCall keeps climbing, I will be forced into a play. He's currently at 11/10. Anything above 5/4 and I'm going to make a bet. I'm also interested in the Dustin Poirier submission line at 6/1. I think these are two to think of if you're doing a trixie or lucky 15 type bet. I'm also tempted by Holm's line, which is just climbing all the time. I think at 13/10 there's enough of a reason to get in there. Even at the current 11/10, I'm seriously interested. Don't be shocked if Holm takes this to the ground. At 20/1 a submission prop could be worth a sneak fiver or two.
Sound off in the comments here or on our Facebook page with your selections for UFC 208. If you're going to do any bets, please do not bet what you can not afford to lose. Enjoy the fights folks.
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