It seems like UFC matchmakers are hoping to provide some violence when the octagon returns to Cincinnati in less than two weeks. The main card of UFC Fight Night 40 should provide some very exciting bouts, and it seems heavily weighted towards fighters who are willing to keep things on the feet and strike. In the main event of the evening, Erick Silva and Matt Brown will trade a variety of offense in an attempt to break into the upper echelon of the welterweight division. Odds were just recently released for this bout at 5Dimes Sportsbook, and Silva was made a small -170 favorite (bet $170 to win $100) with Brown a +130 underdog (bet $100 to win $130). All of the early money has come in on Silva, and his line has moved up to -250, while Brown can now be had for +190. The co-main event features a pair of strikers who have very different styles. Lorenz Larkin is a primarily counter-striking kickboxer, while Costas Philippou is more aggressive and favors his hands. The clash should be interesting, and Larkin’s last bout may provide him a greater sense of urgency this time around. The bout between Erik Koch and Daron Cruickshank should provide a vast array of striking techniques, as both men have KO wins on their resumes from their hands and feet. Koch is the more well-rounded fighter, and may choose to exploits Cruickshank’s weaknesses, or these two may try to prove who is more dangerous while standing. A pair of tall welterweights take the stage next, as Tim Means returns to the UFC a weight class heavier than his previous stint to show his striking prowess off some more. It won’t be easy for him however, as Neil Magny can match him in size and has a superior wrestling game — the reason Means was sent packing from the UFC in the first place. It’s hard to believe it, but Soa Palelei will be going for his third consecutive UFC victory and eleventh straight win overall when he takes on UFC newcomer Ruan Potts, a dangerous South African who has stopped all eight of his opponents, and avenged his only career loss. In 32 career fights, these two men have combined for just one decision (win or lose), so it’s doubtful this bout sees the cards. The first bout of the evening could very well go the distance, but the chances it won’t be entertaining are very small. Louis Smolka was extremely impressive in his UFC debut against Alptekin Ozkilic, taking over in the later stages of the bout to win a decision. His foe here, Chris Cariaso, has only lost to top 10 fighters since signing with Zuffa. This will determine just where Smolka stands in the division at this point. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for the main card of UFC Fight Night 40 at 5Dimes Sportsbook today. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET) Erick Silva -170 Matt Brown +130 Lorenz Larkin -210 Costas Philippou +160 Erik Koch -270 Daron Cruickshank +190 Tim Means -185 Neil Magny +145 Soa Palelei -190 Ruan Potts +150 Louis Smolka -130 Chris Cariaso -110 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: The solid UFC matchmaking of late continues into this event, as I see all of these bouts being fairly competitive. Larkin and Philippou is difficult to call, because even Larkin’s last performance showed two completely different fighters. In the first two rounds he let Brad Tavares do what he wanted, and then he dominated the third round. If he shows up here motivated and has a high output, he’s the more talented fighter and should win the bout, but that’s exactly what most people thought about the Tavares bout too. It’s hard to trust an aging Philippou — who hasn’t looked good since he left Serra-Longo — or an inconsistent Larkin in this spot, but if push comes to shove I’m siding with the younger and more talented fighter. You could almost copy and paste my comments from the previous fight here. Koch is more talented, younger, but has been inconsistent at times. He has a favorable matchup here however, as Cruickshank has struggled with other capable strikers when he’s faced them thus far. He was soundly outstruck by John Makdessi, and I thought Yves Edwards got the better of him too even though he picked up the decision in that bout. The fact that Koch is quite hittable is a bit of a concern, but that has only really reared its head against top competition, which Cruickshank is not. Perhaps the most difficult of the main card fights to call is between the returning Tim Means and Neil Magny. Means has looked excellent on the regional circuit, and really should never have been cut from the UFC in the first place. His striking is devastating, and he’s obviously carried his power up to welterweight. His weakness has always been wrestling, something Magny possesses, but in this bout he has the added challenge of navigating Magny’s six-inch reach advantage. Means is the best fighter that Magny has faced, while Magny will be the biggest fighter Means has faced. I lean slightly towards the skill and aggression of Means’ striking, but if Magny can keep things close on the feet and land a couple of his outside trips to seal rounds, it would not shock me. Mediocre heavyweights, one of whom is completely unproven against even decent competition? Pass. Soa Palelei should win, as Ruan Potts didn’t show much to impress me on tape, but I just don’t trust the Aussie. If Potts has some decent cardio and can take a punch, he might be able to pull off an upset here, but it’s not something I’m interested in putting money on. The only thing I may look at in this bout is the prop that it ends inside the distance, but even in his one loss Potts made it 25 minutes, so even that worries me. Other than the main event, the best fight on the main card is the flyweight matchup between Chris Cariaso and Louis Smolka. I can’t get the image of Smolka losing the first round to Alp Ozkilic, and then getting outwrestled by a completely gassed Ozkilici in the 2nd and 3rd. He showed good development, and solid skills in that bout, but the biggest thing he benefited from was a massive cardio edge. He won’t have that against Cariaso, who also happens to be a better striker than Ozkilic. I question Smolka’s ability to use wrestling to good effect (offensively and defensively), think Cariaso is constantly underrated, and favor the smaller southpaw to take a close decision here, but I’m hoping the public takes the line the other way.
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