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: I remember watching Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley fighting on the same Strikeforce card in January of 2012 at the Hard Rock when Luke Rockhold beat Keith Jardine in a middleweight matchup. Can you talk about how far both of these welterweights have come during their respective UFC runs? A: Just amazing to see Robbie Lawler go from very good, proven veteran to probable UFC Hall of Famer. Just remarkable what he’s been able to accomplish. There have certainly been some close fights. The (second) Johny Hendricks fight certainly was close, Rory MacDonald obviously got a lot of things done before Lawler finished him, but I think American Top Team deserves a lot of credit. And I think it’s just the overall picture, his life in South Florida with easy access to everything, and the best coaches and training partners. It’s just all come together at the right time. I think what makes it so special is where he is now relative to where he was not all that long ago. It seemed like everybody knew the book on Robbie Lawler, and then he just took it to a different level and became a little bit more technical. He hasn’t been knocked out in over a decade. I talked to Tyron Woodley on Monday, and that’s what I asked him. How do you get Robbie Lawler out of there? Woodley believes he’s got the recipe to do it. A lot of people are waiting for the other shoe to drop with Lawler. They feel like he’s been fortunate to win a couple split decisions that were close. The (Carlos) Condit fight, the Hendricks fight, but it’ll be interesting. Woodley’s a five-tool guy, he doesn’t have a lot of blemishes. He’s waited for this title shot and I expect him to make the most of it. He’s not your anywhere, anyone, anytime type of fighter. He’s a calculated guy, he’s a well-thought guy. He’s just super motivated for this opportunity, and he feels like the time off really has allowed him to get better, which he says is a scary proposition for Robbie Lawler. 2nd Round Q: Both Lawler and Woodley have been involved in more decisions lately than stoppages, but each of them possesses explosive knockout power. How do you see this championship fight playing out? A: I think Woodley is really confident, he believes he’s dangerous everywhere. But I’ll admit to being a little surprised when I saw the line for the first time. I don’t know what it opened at (note: -280 in favor of Lawler), but I thought Lawler would be closer to -300 just based upon the level of competition and being active as opposed to Woodley having a layoff that is more than 18 months. I think Woodley’s prepared for all scenarios even though he doesn’t have the championship experience in terms of going 25 minutes several times. I think he’s used the time off wisely, and I always look forward to seeing what guys do with the title shot when they wait for it. He did earn it, I think he’s going to go for it and be urgent. I think it’s a close fight. I think Tyron Woodley has more of a chance than “anything can happen.” Certainly in MMA, we’ve seen a lot of different upsets over the past year. But I think Woodley has much more of a chance than just a fluke knockout. I do think we’re going to see a finish on one side or the other. It’s hard to race to the window to bet against Robbie Lawler given what we’ve seen recently, but it seems like that is what’s happening. If the price on Woodley was a little sweeter, maybe I’d be inclined (to side with him). To me, I think it’s a great main event, but I’d probably look for different betting opportunities on the card. 3rd Round Q: Wilson Reis was expected to face Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight title in the co-main event, and that betting line would have again been off the charts in favor of the champion. Is Reis a legit flyweight title contender, and what do you expect to see from him against Hector Sandoval with Johnson injured? A: Certainly, (Reis’) Brazilian Jiu Jitsu credentials are well-documented, but he’s made a lot of strides with his striking under Eric Del Fierro. He’s pretty big for the flyweight division, he’s fought a lot at 135. I think he was worthy of the title shot, and I think he’s competitive against everybody in the Top 5, maybe Demetrious Johnson notwithstanding. But these are tricky situations, fighting a UFC newcomer, wanting to stay on the card, all the pressure is on you. I expect Wilson Reis to win the fight, but you’ve got to be careful with these types of situations sometimes. I would think somebody out there would see some betting value on Reis, and I’m sure some people would see value on the newcomer. I would stir clear in a situation like this. This sport is crazy enough when it comes to putting your money down that when you start to inject different variables like going from fighting for a title against the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport to fighting a prelim fight on FS2 against a newcomer, you’ve got to be careful. I hope for Wilson’s sake that the title shot doesn’t go away, but you’ve got to focus on the task at hand. 4th Round Q: For the second straight Pay-Per-View card, we are seeing a women’s fight elevated to one of the top two fights. Is Rose Namajunas versus Karolina Kowalkiewicz an exciting matchup to you, and will the winner possibly get the next title shot against strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk? A: Rose Namajunas, if she beats Kowalkiewicz, would certainly be hard to deny. And Kowalkiewicz is an undefeated fighter, who, with a win over Namjunas would have as strong a case as anyone for a shot at Jedrzejczyk. This is about as big a fight as there is for a non-title fight at 115 pounds. I think both of these women are going to find themselves in some five-rounders before their careers are over. Namajunas is just a fighter’s fighter who continues to get better. She has a championship aura about her without having the belt, which I think is very telling. But she’s fighting a confident fighter who has all the skills as well, and one who hasn’t been beaten. I think Namajunas has more ways to finish the fight. Over three rounds, I think it’s Namajunas’ fight to lose. I just think she’s more active, I think she’ll do more. And at least in my experiences with her, there’s a championship hunger there that few fighters carry with them. I look for big things out of her this year and beyond. 5th Round Q: Are there any other intriguing bouts on the UFC 201 card featuring underdogs with value in your opinion? And should Jake Ellenberger retire if he suffers his sixth loss in seven fights to Matt Brown? A: It’s a good question. His son Jameson is in the picture now, I know that’s a big deal for Ellenberger and can certainly be a big motivator. I think Ellenberger’s getting towards the end, but things can happen quickly in MMA. He has power and, if he can beat a guy like Matt Brown, that narrative would change. I think Matt Brown and Justin Scoggins are in strong current form with favorable matchups, so maybe you throw those two guys together in a parlay. Matt Brown, when he’s been favored in this range, has an outstanding record. And really more often than not in his UFC career, he’s beaten everybody that he’s been favored to beat. He’s just a very difficult guy to deal with. He’s mean. Even the guys at the top level that he’s fought haven’t been able to finish him, largely. So I like Matt Brown a lot. I still think his best days are ahead of him. Also Justin Scoggins…again I see a fight with two guys going in opposite directions. All praise to Ian McCall, who used to be the No. 1 in this weight class and on his best night can still be elite. But he’s been banged up, and Justin Scoggins has a lot of ability and championship aspirations right now. I’m also interested to see what Damien Brown can do. Both of these guys, Damian Brown and Cesar Arzamendia, they’re fighting for their jobs essentially, or one would think so based upon the division and what they need to do. Damien Brown, first full training camp in the UFC, I talked to him at length after his UFC debut in Australia. He took it on less than a week’s notice, the focus was solely on cutting weight. So now he has a full training camp, he’s fighting in the United States, and he has a chance to show the world that he belongs in the UFC. Some guys crack under that pressure, my time with him suggests he won’t be one of those guys. I think Damien Brown might be worth a flier, that’s a hungry kid. Edit: Scoggins has since dropped out of the fight against McCall citing weight cut issues and the bout was scrapped from the card. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His opinions posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.
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