After last week's double-header the world famous Octagon moves down under. UFC Fight Night 101 will take place this Saturday night in Melbourne, Australia. Originally this card featured a main event involving former champion Luke Rockhold taking on Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. With Rockhold missing out due to injury. The main event of the evening will be Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson in a clash of top ten middleweights.
I have to say I thought this card was quite top heavy when it was announced and losing the original main event has definitely impacted the must see value of it.
There's a lot of newcomers and local performers which makes it very difficult to get adequate video for selections to make an informed opinion. As we frequently advise in this column; do not risk what you can not afford to lose. It's equally important to not bet for the sake of betting. With that said I believe there's minimal opportunities on this card so I will be only suggesting two picks.
Robert Whittaker vs. Derek Brunson
A year ago Whittaker was scheduled to face Michael Bisping. An injury robbed the Kiwi of the opportunity for a breakthrough win. The UFC provided him with a dangerous opponent in Uriah Hall as a replacement. Whittaker went on to win decisively against a misfiring Hall. Whether this was another off night for Hall or a great night for Whittaker is up for debate.
The former welterweight stand out moved up to 185lbs after struggling with the weigh cut required to get to the lower class' limit. Since moving up to middleweight he's retained the power and excellent movement that made him a highly thought of prospect. His attacks are still boxing heavy and he's relied on his agility to make up for a little bit of a size disadvantage to the majority of the weight class. I still believe his most impressive performance came in the knock out victory over Brad Tavares and rate that higher than the Hall victory.
Brunson is a former Strikeforce roster member who has been on a tear of late. His last four fights have ended in first round stoppages. Brunson probably has a power advantage over Whittaker and definitely has a wrestling advantage. Anyone doubting Brunson's wrestling skills should witness his fight with Yoel Romero. Ultimately he was unsuccessful against the Cuban but that loss marked his a fighter to watch.
Brunson is deceptively quick aided by his long reach. He seems to catch people from unorthodox angles that let him swarm. He mixes this up with a variety of head kicks that keep opponents guessing.
He's got an underrated jiu jitsu game also. Anyone that witnessed his last submission victory when he submitted Houston in under a minute will be aware of how quickly he take a back and get a choke. I think this is an area that many people haven't thought about. I think Brunson has the better chin of the two and has faced tougher opposition overall during his mixed martial arts career. Both men are still improving and it's almost a pity that they're meeting at this point as I'd of loved them to get a chance at a top five fighter who's coming off a loss.
Selection: I personally think Brunson's size and wrestling could see him control where this fight goes. He's shown an ability to use his range against a more explosive opponent in the past in Romero. I can see him winning this by KO or submission as I don't see this going five rounds. I'm siding with Bet365 offering 6/4 for Brunson to win by KO/TKO or Sub. If he was 4/5 or bigger for a straight win I'd favour that but I'm confident this doesn't see the distance.
Jake Matthews vs. Andrew Holbrook
I think Jake Matthews has the potential to be a top 15 fighter in the lightweight division. At 22 he's got ample time to improve his skill-set. The one thing that worries me about him currently is that he's been decisively beaten the two times the UFC have given him guys on the verge of being ranked.
He's got a well rounded game and is probably the best local prospect that you will see on this card. In Holbrook he will face a wily pro. One thing I'm confused about with Holbrook is despite an amateur boxing background he seems very ill at ease with striking. We've seen him rocked on numerous occasions in his brief UFC career to date.
Both men are decent grapplers and will probably cancel each other out on the ground if we get into a straight grappling match. Holbrook has looked to be very active on the ground as has Matthews when given the chance. I personally think this is the underdog Holbrook's best route to victory but I do favour the Celtic kid to take a home win.
Selection: I'm going to take a chance on the Matthews by KO/TKO prop at 11/4 with Bet Victor. I think this is Matthews best road to a victory if we're ignoring a decision. The line is too steep at 1/4 for a straight win.
With that we're done for another weekend. Have you seen any interesting bets for this week's card? Sound off in the comments section.
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