The main event of the FOX Sports 1 prelims for UFC 167 is a lightweight encounter between Donald Cerrone and Evan Dunham. It’s a fight that could very well end up capturing the evening’s “Fight of the Night” trophy as it pits two of the division’s most exciting fighters against one another, and thus it’s a bout I’m very much looking forward to watching and one you should be looking forward to viewing, as well. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook sees Cerrone as a slight -115 favorite (bet $115 to win $100), while the comeback on Dunham is -105 (bet $105 to win $100). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Cerrone at -180 and Dunham at +140, meaning the early action has come in on the dog Dunham. I agree with the line movement as I am also picking Dunham for the upset win this weekend. Here’s why. Although Cerrone has been one of the top-10 lightweights in the world for over five years, he is finally showing signs of a decline after years of being in wars and “Fight of the Night” candidates. It takes a toll on your body to be an exciting fighter, and Cerrone’s epic battles against Nate Diaz, Jamie Varner and Benson Henderson, just to name a few, have likely taken a few years off of his career. Obviously, Cerrone is a richer man for it — he has collected seven Fight of the Night awards, two KO of the Night awards and one Sub of the Night awards during his WEC/UFC tenure — but he has been looking slower in his last few bouts. Case in point, his most recent battle against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 27. This was a fight where Cerrone was the favorite in, and he definitely looked good in round one, but he started to slow and tire and ended up losing the last two rounds clean to drop a decision. Yes, this was coming off of a dominant win over KJ Noons, but don’t forget in the fight before that Cerrone was TKOed with a body kick by Anthony Pettis and in the fight before that he was almost knocked out by Melvin Guillard. All were entertaining fights that the fans have appreciated, but they taken their toll on Cerrone’s body and he’s now talking about dropping to 145 pounds after this fight against Dunham in order to reinvent himself. Personally, I think a drop to 145 would be a terrible move by “The Cowboy” and that he should continue to stay in the UFC lightweight division, win or lose against Dunham. After all, Dunham is no chump — he’s 7-4 in his UFC career with three Fight of the Night bonuses and one Submission of the Night award — and he arguably is coming off a win over dos Anjos in his last fight at UFC on FX 8 (the judges in Brazil robbed him there). And even though, yes, he technically has five losses in his last eight fights, keep in mind his fight against TJ Grant (a top contender) at UFC 152 was very close, and his loss to Sean Sherk at UFC 119 was one of the biggest ripoffs in UFC history. So don’t just look at Dunham’s record and assume this guy is mediocre; he’s far from that, actually, and in my opinion is the most underrated lightweight on the entire UFC roster. I expect a stand-up war between Dunham and Cerrone in this one, and it’s a fight that will likely go to the judges’ scorecards. While I think Dunham may lose the first round like he normally does, I expect him to really start turning up the pace in rounds two and three and stealing a tight decision on the cards. At the current moneyline of -105, I’d probably pass, but if Dunham reaches plus money territory again then I’m going to have to take a shot at him with a straight bet. But the bet I’m most eyeing is the OVER 2.5 rounds total, which is currently listed at -195, as I fully expect this one to be a three-round war, and I think it’s going to win “Fight of the Night” at UFC 167 so I’m going to take a flier on that prop, too.
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