The UFC heads to Glasgow this Sunday (July 16, 2017) for a 12-bout UFC Fight Night 113 card featuring local talent, with the headliner pitting welterweights Gunnar Nelson and Santiago Ponzinibbio against each other in an intriguing five-round welterweight matchup. Here are my thoughts on each of the fights (opening odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook and listed in parenthesis)…
Gunnar Nelson (-270) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (+190): This line has seen significant movement since opening, with Nelson dropping all the way to -140 at one point. Money has come back in on him since then (click here to check live odds), but he’s still roughly a dollar cheaper than the opener. That’s interesting to me, given that the only two fighters to defeat Nelson have been able to do so in ways that we haven’t seen from Ponzinibbio. Nobody at 170 pounds can duplicate Maia’s performance against Nelson, so that’s not even an option. Rick Story was able to march forward and pressure constantly for 25 minutes while avoiding Nelson’s takedowns and landing hard shots. That would be the gameplan to replicate for the Argentine, but he hasn’t shown the same wrestling or cardio Story possesses. Across five rounds, I find it difficult to see how Nelson doesn’t drag this one to the ground at some point. Once there, he is one of the absolute best on the mat and I don’t think Ponzinibbio can hang. The fact that the Nelson Submission prop opened at just +150 despite the relatively close line shows you how most expect this fight to play out, and I can’t say I disagree.
Cynthia Calvillo (-215) vs. Joanne Calderwood (+165): Calvillo appears to be one of the better grapplers at 115 pounds, and Calderwood has only lost by submission in her MMA career, but this fight isn’t as clear as it may seem. Calderwood is head-and-shoulders above Calvillo’s previous competition, and she has shown significant improvement in her wrestling over the years. In fact, Jessica Andrade has been the only opponent thus far to score a takedown on Calderwood in the UFC. If Calvillo is unable to do so, Calderwood has her outgunned on the feet and could work to a decision.
Paul Felder (-130) vs. Stevie Ray (-110): After opening a near a Pick’em, Ray has emerged as a decent favorite in this bout. Considering both fighters want to keep this on the feet — both are proficient there, and each has proven durable — the line is now bordering on too long in Ray’s favor. Felder has had some issues in his limited exposure to southpaws in the UFC, and I do believe that gives Ray the slight edge. At the opening price, he was certainly worth a play. But at this point, I’ll be passing.
Jack Marshman (-270) vs. Ryan Janes (+190): There was a point in Marshman’s career a few years back where he went 4-5 against solid — but unspectacular — competition in BAMMA and Cage Warriors. I still struggle to disregard that stretch when considering his fights, and there’s no way I can justify him becoming the -600 favorite he’s risen to in this spot. While he likely wins, I don’t expect it to come as easy as most, and we could certainly see Ryan Janes’ toughness carrying him past the 1.5 round mark at just a -120 price tag.
Paul Craig (-140) vs. Khalil Rountree (+100): Another line which has seen significant movement, Rountree is now nearly a 2-to-1 favorite. I think that’s gotten a bit out of hand, as Craig could submit Rountree just as easily as Rountree could knock out Craig. The opener near a Pick’em (for either man) was justified, as the paths to victory are so clear both ways. Given current prices, Craig by submission near +200 is probably the play, as that would represent how he would win this fight the vast majority of times. The other line not to discount is actually Rountree by decision in excess of +1000. Even if he hurts Craig, he may not be overly anxious to follow to the ground and risk getting caught himself. That could prolong this bout a bit, although a decision is still a longshot.
Justin Willis (-190) vs. James Mulheron (+150): I’m not sure anyone knows what to expect from this fight, and the line hasn’t moved since opening. I think we get a bit of a grind, as only one of Mulheron’s last eight fights has ended in the opening round, and only two of Willis’ five fights have ended in the first. That makes the Over 1.5 round — which has moved between -130 and -140 — a very tempting bet.
Danny Roberts (-175) vs. Bobby Nash (+135): Nash made a better account of himself than I expected in his UFC debut, but I’m curious how much of that was due to Li Jingliang being one of the slowest starters in the game (he had the same problem against Camacho in his most recent appearance as well). Against Roberts, I think he’ll be in a tougher spot from the start and wouldn’t be shocked to see Roberts do enough on the feet to force Nash into a sloppy shot that sees a guillotine or back-take and rear-naked choke finish.
Alexandre Pantoja (-305) vs. Neil Seery (+225): I’m always a bit concerned when a Brazilian fighter travels overseas for the first time, but Pantoja has such a significant advantage in the grappling here that it probably shouldn’t matter. However, if he does struggle with cardio here, Seery is more than capable of putting a pace on him standing. With this potentially being Seery’s last fight, its tough to back him, however, as motivations in this situation are tough to decipher. This will be a pass for me, but I understand why many are backing Pantoja and pushing this line up.
Galore Bofando (-230) vs. Charlie Ward (+170): Ward didn’t look like he belonged in the UFC on tape, and he didn’t look like he belonged in the UFC in his debut. My guess: He still doesn’t belong in the UFC, and Bofando punts him in the head in short order. The two-year layoff makes it difficult to bet, but it’s rare to get a chance to fade a fighter of Ward’s quality under 2-to-1, so I may have to take it.
Daniel Teymur (-210) vs. Danny Henry (+160): Teymur shares many of the same qualities as his brother David, with a decorated striking background. However, he’s also shown more aptitude on the ground. While his size will eventually prove troublesome at 155 pounds (which I don’t anticipate being his long-term home), I don’t see that being the case here. Henry has simply not shown enough technique to back up the height and reach advantage he’ll have here, and I think Teymur exploits the holes he’ll leave.
Brett Johns (-270) vs. Albert Morales (+190): Johns is a dollar more expensive than the opener now, and I think it’s for good reason. Johns is the mythical capable UK wrestler, and he has a controlling ground game to back it up. On the feet, he’s developing his striking as well, but would be best served utilizing his grappling against Morales, who will struggle to find answers for it here.
Leslie Smith (-150) vs. Amanda Lemos (+110): I have never seen Lemos fight. Her record looks impressive, but she hasn’t faced anyone of note (or of any reasonable experience), and this will be her first fight outside of Brazil. Making this trip to fight a pressure-fighter like Smith could see Lemos fading late, but I don’t know enough about her to warrant a bet on that theory.
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