The UFC will return to Japan this weekend for their annual card in the home of PRIDE. UFC Fight Night 75 will feature a man very familiar to PRIDE audiences, as Josh Barnett takes on Roy Nelson in a bout which could have some impact at the top of the newly interesting heavyweight division. The co-main event includes a fighter who began his career during the tail end of PRIDE and stuck around to become one of the best fighters in DREAM before making his way over to North America. Gegard Mousasi will face Uriah Hall in a bout that could show some technical striking or be perplexingly slow. Only the top two bouts have lines released thus far, with Barnett clocking in as a -260 favorite (bet $260 to win $100) and Nelson a +220 underdog (bet $100 to win $220) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Mousasi has been installed as a -450 favorite over Uriah Hall, who has a comeback of +360 attached to his name. Below those two bouts, the card is filled with Japanese fighters, as each fighter contains at least one competitor from the hosting country. Those include: recent flyweight title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi, lighter weight legend ‘Kid’ Yamamoto, and one-time WEC bantamweight title challenger Takeya Mizugaki, amongst a host of others. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for the remaining bouts on UFC Fight Night 75 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET) UFC Fight Night 75: Nelson vs. Barnett September 26, 2015 | Saitama Super Arena | Saitama, Japan Roy Nelson +160 Josh Barnett -210 Over 1.5 -175 Under 1.5 +135 — Uriah Hall +250 Gegard Mousasi -350 Over 2.5 -180 Under 2.5 +140 — Chico Camus +285 Kyoji Horiguchi -405 Over 2.5 -260 Under 2.5 +180 — George Roop +175 Takeya Mizugaki -245 Over 2.5 -180 Under 2.5 +140 — Norifumi Yamamoto -170 Yoshihiro Yamaniha +130 Over 2.5 -150 Under 2.5 +110 — Teruto Ishihara +175 Mizuto Hirota -245 “Road to UFC: Japan” Tournament Final Over 2.5 -190 Under 2.5 +150 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 2, 8pm ET) Katsunori Kikuno +160 Diego Brandao -210 Over 1.5 -155 Under 1.5 +115 — Keita Nakamura +160 Li Jingliang -210 Over 2.5 -190 Under 2.5 +150 — Yusuke Kasuya +200 Nick Hein -280 Over 2.5 -170 Under 2.5 +130 — Naoyuki Kotani +190 Kajan Johnson -270 Over 1.5 -180 Under 1.5 +140 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30pm ET) Roger Zapata -110 Shinsho Anzai -130 Over 2.5 -155 Under 2.5 +115 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Chico Camus is a fighter who will rarely get blown out by opponents, but simply doesn’t possess the skills necessary to defeat the best in the flyweight division. Against Kyoji Horiguchi, Camus will struggle in the striking exchanges with the speed disadvantage he is likely to face, but may be able to keep the fight close if he can work his way into the clinch. Horiguchi’s excellent movement probably won’t allow that to happen, and I see the hometown working to a very similar decision as the one we saw against Louis Gaudinot. Mizugaki/Roop is a difficult fight to call because it seems that both fighters are on a decline at this point, and we haven’t seen Roop in over a year. Between his layoff, age, the travel, and his tough weight cut to 135, I have to favor Mizugaki in this matchup. However, Roop has a strong clinch wrestling game that could give Mizugaki trouble, and his length is always an issue at 135. With Mizugaki lacking the one-punch knockout power that usually gives Roop trouble, this will be a competitive fight, and I’m not confident enough in Mizugaki to lay anything north of -150. Matt Hobar could have given ‘Kid’ some trouble, but it was a favorable matchup for Yamamoto. With Hobar withdrawing and the unheralded Yamaniha being pegged as a late replacement, things look even brighter for Yamamoto. The legend will be more dangerous on the feet, and should be a superior wrestler as well. Perhaps Yamamoto’s relatively poor form of late (although he looked fine against Roman Salazar last time out) will result in a reduced line that could convince to play the old man one more time. Mizuto Hirota and Teruto Ishihara are in the finals of the ‘Road to UFC Japan’ tournament, as apparently that was a thing that happened. After a disappointing UFC run, Hirota rebounded with three solid wins in DEEP to earn his way back, while Ishihara has showcased solid knockout power in his young career. The biggest difference in this fight should be that Hirota has a massive size advantage, and while Ishihara will be the faster fighter I don’t expect that to be enough for him to consistently keep Hirota at a distance where he can do any damage. I am looking forward to seeing more of Ishihara at 135 however. For all of the talk of Diego Brandao gassing badly in fights, he’s only lost one fight in the UFC due to his cardio. Every other loss that he’s suffered (and there have only been two others), has simply been due to a skill differential. He’s a good fighter who got saddled with a bad rap early in his career and hasn’t been able to shake it. I don’t expect cardio to be a factor in this fight either, as Brandao will likely get to Kikuno’s fading chin before this fight gets too deep. Brandao hasn’t reacted well to travelling in the past, so that is a slight concern, but not enough to overcome his advantages. Keita Nakamura has always been that fighter who was good enough to advance past the Japanese regional scene, but not quite good enough to hang around in the UFC. It was true nearly a decade ago when he went 0-3 in the Octagon, and should prove true again versus the best Chinese fighter in the world, Jingliang Li. Li will be massive compared to K-Taro, who was a moderately-sized lightweight back in 2008, and his grappling skills have already proven effective against slick fighters. While he’s a solid late-notice replacement, and has been competing primarily at 170 since leaving the UFC, I think Nakamura’s best chance to stick around is if he drops back down to 155 to be on a more level playing field with the size he’ll consistently see in the UFC today. Yusuke Kasuya has a very slick submission game, but against a stout, high-level Judoka like Nick Hein I don’t think he’ll ever get a chance to show off those skills. If it does hit the mat, he has a legitimate shot to end things quickly, but it seems more likely that Hein uses his improving boxing in concert with his solid takedown defense to stonewall the local fighter. Perhaps Hein not fighting in front of the partisan German crowd he’s used to will have some effect, but I think he still pulls off the victory here. If Naoyuki Kotani had any semblance of punching power, I’d give him a decent shot in this fight. Unfortunately for him, across 15 years and 52 fights he’s only managed three legitimate TKO victories. Kajan Johnson is a far more skilled striker than Kotani, and should gain top position if the fight hits the ground. From there, he should be able to shut down Kotani’s submission game en route to an increasingly one-sided fight. Roger Zapata and Shinsho Anzai are both fast starters, and I fully expect this fight to end quickly because of that. I lean slightly towards Anzai to get that early finish, but my level of confidence in that pick is quite low. A slight confidence booster is that Zapata hasn’t competed at all since he was on TUF 19, and his last official bout was all the way back in June 2013. Usually when a fighter spends that amount of time on the shelf, they take a while to get back into the groove of things, and Anzai may not afford that opportunity.
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