Hoping to piggyback off of this year’s NFL conference championship games, the UFC has moved their Fight Night 59 card to Sunday night. The move should serve to get as many eyes as possible on one of the organization’s rising stars, Conor McGregor as he moves towards a title shot in the featherweight division. The Irish fighter should have no lack of crowd support fighting in Boston, which has a large Irish presence, and he seems to have a favorable matchup against another striker in Dennis Siver. Siver has improved his wrestling significantly since coming into the UFC, but it’s hard to see him stopping the roll that McGregor is on. Oddsmakers and the public agree, as McGregor currently sits a -1000 favorite (bet $1,000 to win $100) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Up until now, that was the only line released for the January 18th event. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas has just opened the remaining betting lines for the event at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Included amongst those bouts are a fantastic lightweight bout which would have been between two organizational champions had it happened a couple of years ago: #5 lightweight Benson Henderson takes on #10 Eddie Alvarez. The card also has a distinct Northeastern flavor, as fighters like Uriah Hall, Costas Philippou and John Howard all find themselves on the card. Northern Ireland’s Norman Parke will make the trip across the Atlantic like McGregor, and he faces his stiffest challenge in the form of Gleison Tibau. ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET) Conor McGregor -600 Dennis Siver +400 Benson Henderson -215 Eddie Alvarez +165 Uriah Hall -170 Costas Philippou +130 Gleison Tibau -210 Norman Parke +160 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET) John Howard -125 Lorenz Larkin -115 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Henderson/Alvarez is a fantastic fight, and there’s a very real chance that Alvarez will go 0-2 after coming over from Bellator following the struggle that went on for his services. I’m really not sure where Benson Henderson is at right now as a fighter. Is he declining, or is the lightweight division just that stacked with top talent that he’s going to struggle on a regular basis? Rafael dos Anjos is one of the best lightweights in the world, but Henderson also struggled against Rustam Khabilov, who presented him a very different set of issues. I think Alvarez’ boxing can give Henderson some serious problems, but Henderson is so good at winning rounds that it’s tough not to favor him in a bout that goes the distance, which I think this one does. My initial lean is very slightly towards Henderson, but at the same time very strongly on the over. Uriah Hall is starting to get back some of the respect that he lost during his TUF stint, and he still has the physical tools to be a solid middleweight fighter. I think he’s certainly the more talented fighter in this matchup. Philippou has always brought solid power, and decent overall boxing technique, but Hall should be able to keep him off balance with his variety of attacks, and I think that allows him to win this fight. Of course, Hall has been tentative in the past, and Philippou’s power could make him react similarly in this fight, but it seems like he’s getting past the psychological blocks that have haunted him in the past. Lorenz Larkin holds a win over the current UFC welterweight champion. That just doesn’t compute in my brain, especially given what a disappointment he’s been since coming over to the UFC. He’s largely allowed his opponents to dictate his fights, and the result has been a string of lacklustre losses. John Howard is exactly the type of fighter who will take advantage of Larkin if he doesn’t come out aggressive here. While I don’t think Howard is as talented of a striker, he’s going to throw more volume, press forward, maybe score a takedown or two, and likely take a decision in this fight. Gleison Tibau seems like a horrible matchup for Norman Parke. Parke isn’t going to score takedowns here, his striking is still developing (and I consider it a few steps behind Tibau’s), and he doesn’t have the power to put Tibau away. This could be the typical Tibau fight where he wins the first two and sputters to the finish line for a 29-28 decision, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him really put it on Parke and either win a dominant decision or even find a submission stoppage along the way if this hits the mat.
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