Q & Anik is an article featured exclusively at MMAOddsBreaker.com that goes 5 rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik offering his unique insight on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: Top featherweight contender Max Holloway is one of the hottest fighters in the UFC, riding a nine-bout winning streak, and finally has the opportunity to fight for a title. Do you think his opponent Anthony Pettis has a big experience advantage based on his past championship history, and how much of an impact do you think that could have here? Does Holloway have any real weaknesses? Anik: There is no denying Pettis’ championship experience and success, but Holloway has gained valuable miles as he’s worked his way to the top of the division. Obviously, he learned a lot going 15 minutes with Conor McGregor in 2013, and he hasn’t lost since. He has any number of different ways to beat you, he’s Hawaii-tough, and he’s headlined in the UFC before. Any weaknesses we have seen in the past seem to have been shored up. I think Pettis will have his moments on the feet, as he does against most anyone, but Holloway is prepared to go a hard 25 minutes, and he can take a shot. Holloway also has a lot more experience in this weight class than Pettis does. This will be just the second cut to 145 pounds in the UFC for Pettis. That bears watching. But Sean Shelby told me Pettis had no issue with the fight being extended from three to five rounds. Both of these guys are truly elite, and they’ll be ready. 2nd Round Q: Pettis enters this interim title bout off a come-from-behind victory against Charles Oliveira but had lost his previous three fights. What do you believe his state of mind will be like in this spot as a solid underdog, a role he has not been in since he upset Benson Henderson in the WEC days? Anik: Oh, he’s super confident. And how could you not be when you’ve won and defended the UFC championship up a weight class? He smashed some of the best lightweights of the era, so I’d imagine that gives him a great deal of confidence about how he’ll fare long term at featherweight. He believes he’s the stronger man here and just the better and more dangerous all-around fighter. I’m curious to see them stare down during fight week to see the size discrepancy. Holloway is obviously tall for the weight class, but could be giving up some strength here. Ultimately, the last thing I worry about is Showtime’s confidence. Been there, done that. Just gotta get through the fight before the fight, the weight cut. 3rd Round Q: You have long been a fan of welterweight Matt Brown, who like Pettis is in desperate need of a win after dropping four of his last five. Meanwhile, Donald Cerrone has come on like gangbusters since moving up to 170. Is this Cerrone’s first real test in this division or will he roll again as the favorite? Anik: This definitely is not Cerrone’s first real test in the weight class. Patrick Cote and Rick Story both qualify as legitimate threats, and he finished both of those guys — emphatically and inside the distance. I can’t remember any welterweight beating up Cote like that, and Story has been a perennial contender/ranked guy for much of his UFC career. Matt Brown is a challenge for any welterweight, durable as hell, and he should be hungry and desperate. He always fights that way, though. Fascinating fight between two guys who used to train together and who have a lot of familiarity with one another. Cerrone seems really hard to fade at the window, though, given how outstanding he has looked in the weight class thus far. 4th Round Q: Who are you more interested to see following long layoffs, middleweight Tim Kennedy against Kelvin Gastelum or welterweight Jordan Mein versus Emil Weber Meek? And who has the tougher matchup? Anik: All due respect to Jordan Mein, whom I’m glad to see back. But I’m really excited to see Tim Kennedy return for the first time since 2014. I have long pegged him as a future champion of a major MMA promotion. It hasn’t happened yet, and time is no longer on his side, but Kennedy, on any given Saturday night, can compete and beat the best middleweights in the world. We’ve seen some line movement toward Gastelum this week. Perhaps that speaks to Kennedy’s layoff, or some other perceived distractions. I see value on Kennedy in that -140 range, and thought for sure the price would be steeper on him. He doesn’t want to stand and trade for 15 minutes with Gastelum, but he’s the naturally bigger guy. And I think Gastelum will have a hard time with Kennedy’s pressure on the ground. 5th Round Q: There are a lot of Canadians fighting early on this card in Toronto, and the Americans struggled at UFC 205 in New York City. Do you think the pressure could be too much for some of these guys, or do you see them coming through with big wins? That being said, who do you like the most value-wise? Anik: I usually don’t read too much into the hometown factor in MMA. We’ve seen fighters buoyed by it, most notably UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic recently in Cleveland, and we’ve seen other fighters sort of crumble under the pressure. For the most part, less travel is a good thing. But when guys lose at home, it’s usually because of the opponent and not any added pressure. Some might see some value on John Makdessi in the +160 range. I thought he looked terrific his last time out and I like him a lot as a striker. That said, I’d be really careful fading Lando Vannata, whose only pro loss is to Tony Ferguson in a fight he almost won. I think Vannata will be hell-bent on getting his first UFC win. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His opinions posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.
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