Q & Anik is an article featured exclusively at MMAOddsBreaker.com that goes 5 rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik offering his unique insight on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: The light heavyweight title will be unified at UFC 200, but neither of the champs are necessarily in top form, with Jon Jones looking a little rusty in his win over OSP and Daniel Cormier coming off the foot injury. Do you think Jones will be ready for this challenge, and vice versa with Cormier getting a golden opportunity to upset his top rival? Anik: I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that Jon Jones isn’t in top form. I think the criticism of him for the Ovince Saint Preux fight was way overblown. He landed a lot of the high-level, damaging strikes consistently and was barely touched over 25 minutes. OSP is a hard guy to look great against, but I certainly thought Jones was dominant. I think Jones is a picture of focus leading into this grudge rematch against Daniel Cormier. He has dealt with some personal adversity (his mother had part of her leg amputated just before UFC 197), but I think that will only serve as motivation. I’m not sure Jones made the statement he wanted to in the first fight against Cormier. DC had a lot of success early in the fight with his dirty boxing. I had Cormier up 2-1 after three rounds, actually, before he faded significantly in the championship rounds. You never want to force the finish, but I think you will see Jones and his camp really prioritize getting DC outta there. That said, Cormier has never been finished, despite being in there with the best heavyweights and 205ers in the world. Cormier is an exceptional, elite athlete. Don’t let his frame fool you. The only thing that gives me pause about Cormier is his health. He didn’t have all that much time to recover from his knee procedure before this fight was re-booked. I know a big part of his focus will be cardio and pace, so that, this time around, he has something left in the latter rounds. Both guys are at the height of motivation and I expect this to be an outstanding championship fight. And I think the odds properly reflect the matchup. 2nd Round Q: The women’s bantamweight title picture is a bit murky right now pending Ronda Rousey’s return to the Octagon next year, so is there any chance that new champion Miesha Tate may look past Amanda Nunes and become the third straight upset victim in the division? Could the winner of Cat Zingano and Julianna Pena be next in line for a title shot? Anik: To know Miesha Tate is to know that she would never look past an opponent, whether it’s Rin Nakai, Amanda Nunes, or anyone else. The big question for me is, how has she managed her time and handled the additional obligations and spotlight that accompany being the champion? Tate is not all that far removed from her upset of Holly Holm, and has seemingly been on a world tour ever since. She was in Australia shortly after that win, and had to start this camp shortly thereafter. That said, if Tate is healthy, she has a lot of advantages in the fight, not the least of which is her championship experience. The big focus for Amanda Nunes is to make sure she has bullets in the chamber, if the fight reaches Rounds 3, 4, and 5. If this was a five-minute fight instead of a five-round fight, Nunes might be favored. Everything she throws is with power and she is an exceptional starter. She certainly has a chance to win the fight, but I think her best opportunity will come early because Tate only figures to get stronger as the fight goes on. As for Cat Zingano or Julianna Pena getting the winner, it’s a possibility, for sure. I still think Ronda Rousey and, to a lesser extent Holly Holm, could have the inside track there. But Holm has a fight later this month and Rousey’s return has yet to be cemented. Were Zingano to beat Pena and do so convincingly, I think a rematch with Tate (whom she beat in the UFC) would have a lot of legs. 3rd Round Q: Frankie Edgar was a solid underdog the last time he fought Jose Aldo for the featherweight title back in 2013. Now he finds himself as a small favorite with Aldo’s air of invincibility seemingly gone following his knockout loss to Conor McGregor. What has Edgar done in your eyes to earn favorite status, and is there value on Aldo as an underdog now? Anik: Well, there is no doubt that Edgar’s current form is better than Aldo’s. Since their first meeting in February of 2013, Edgar has gone unbeaten, with five straight wins. Aldo is 3-1 but has only fought a total of 13 seconds since October of 2014. Aldo seems to be the great unknown here and that’s why you are seeing Edgar in most spots as the slight favorite. The first meeting was close, but I definitely saw it for Aldo. Despite being the consensus greatest featherweight of all time, no one is sure how he will respond after the devastating loss to Conor McGregor last year. You just never know how fighters will come back after being knocked out in that fashion. Some never regain their form, but I’d be surprised if Aldo doesn’t regain his. This is a Hall-of-Fame talent who is long on motivation and I expect him to fight well on July 9. That said, fading Edgar in this spot is not recommended. This fight screams stay away for me. 4th Round Q: Is Brock Lesnar’s return to the UFC the most intriguing storyline at UFC 200 from a betting perspective, or is there another fight(s) that you think should be getting more attention on this super stacked card? Do you like Lesnar’s chances as a dog? Anik: Seventy-two fighters will make the walk this week/weekend in Las Vegas but I am certainly most excited to see Brock Lesnar make that walk for the first time since 2011. And from a betting perspective, it’s very interesting. Mark Hunt has won his last two fights and continues to show off his improved takedown defense and conditioning. So I expected Hunt to be a much bigger favorite in this spot, well north of -200. Lesnar is just such an elite athlete and you’ve gotta think he is in tremendous shape physically and feels great. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have rushed this UFC return, so to speak. It’s a fascinating stylistic matchup, but I believe Mark Hunt has more ways to win. He’s also had nine fights, including a UFC interim heavyweight title fight, since Lesnar’s last UFC appearance. As for some other underdog spots, you may want to take a look at Kelvin Gastelum in that +140 range. I see that fight as being very evenly matched, and I think you’ll see Gastelum close a lot lower than that. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Thiago “Maretta” Santos perform well against Gegard Mousasi. He opened as high as +445 i some spots, which is just insane. Mousasi is truly elite, though, and always seems to handle the guys he’s supposed to handle. And he’s supposed to beat “Maretta.” Still, Santos has some of the most dangerous kicks in the division, and it only takes one. 5th Round Q: What are the odds that both Johny Hendricks and Kelvin Gastelum make weight for their welterweight bout? What do you think is on the line here, especially for Hendricks who is 2-3 in his last five? Also, what are you hearing about GSP’s potential return, and do you think he’d get an immediate title shot? Anik: I think both of these guys will make weight. I think past struggles for each have served as valuable learning lessons. You’ve also got the early weigh-in now in place in Nevada, so the fighters won’t have to be on the 171 number very long. I also think, given the magnitude of UFC 200, that you don’t want to be known as the guy who missed weight for the biggest show in UFC history. For Hendricks, a finish here could put him right back in the mix. I think he’ll need to string together two-three more wins to realize another title shot, but a win over the durable and confident Gastelum would prove a lot to me. On GSP, it seems an eventuality at this point that he returns to the UFC. When reports first started to surface about a comeback, I was hearing that the belt wasn’t necessarily the motivation; he was just looking for mega-fights and big-money fights. Now, there are rumblings that he would like to return in a championship capacity, either at 170 or 155. You’ve also heard he is interested in challenging newly-minted middleweight champion Michael Bisping. I think St-Pierre’s comeback will happen in 2016, and the return fight will most likely be for a belt. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His opinions posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links and MMA Odds Breaker will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on the links.