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Jones still has supreme physical gifts that give him an advantage over Gustafsson. But to focus on those traits to is disrespect Jones and utterly ignore one thing: his fighting mind. Simply, Jones is the smartest fighter in the game today.
He analyzes film, studies traits and commits what he sees to memory until he's utterly prepared for every single thing his opponent tries in the cage. In my mind, Jones is easily the greatest fighter in the world today, and it's only a matter of a few more supreme wins over top divisional contenders before he's considered the best of all time.
Because there hasn't been a single fighter, ever, who has faced the kind of top-ranked competition on a continual basis as Jones. Not even Anderson Silva. And so this one is much easier to pick than many of you might think. Jones is a big favorite for a reason, and my personal percentages align closely with the public odds.
Therefore, I cannot recommend a play on this one, but as you'll see in the graphic above, I do recommend a small play on two props: Jones by submission and Jones to win in Round 3. And if you're feeling particularly risky, you'll parlay those two props for a nice to-1 payout. As for my prediction? Jones starts slow, figures out Gustafsson over the first two rounds and then submits him in the third.
At this point, we're all just biding our time, waiting for Dominick Cruz to return so we can finally have a title unification fight in the bantamweight division. Of course, we're also waiting because we believe Cruz might be the only guy who can beat Barao.
The Brazilian has already decimated each of the top competitors he's faced, and Eddie Wineland is a fighter getting a title shot by default. That's not the nicest thing to say about a fighter, but it's true. Wineland is a severe underdog heading into this fight for good reason; a title win here would be one of the bigger upsets in UFC history.
You'll see that my percentages are nearly the same as the public odds. Barao is better in every aspect of mixed martial arts, and that will be reflected in the fight. As of right now, I cannot recommend a monetary play on the fight, but I do predict that Barao wins by submission at some point before the end of the third round. Each of Brendan Schaub's three career losses have come by knockout, which is a nice way of saying that his chin is a little bit suspect.
That's not a very good thing against a fighter like Mitrione, who may never become UFC heavyweight champion or even contend for the title due to his lack of experience, but he is without a doubt a very hard puncher. Mitrione has lost two of his previous three fights, though the two losses came to men far more experienced Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo.
Schaub is more experienced than Mitrione from a fight perspective and has faced what you might consider to be a tougher level of competition. It's that chin that leads me to believe that Mitrione should be a bigger favorite than he actually is, as you'll see in the graphic above. And while I typically look for an Inefficiency of greater than 20 percent when recommending a play on a fighter, I also feel safe in urging a small play on Mitrione here, as I believe he's more likely to win than the odds are giving him credit for.
If it feels forever since you've seen Costa Phillipou in the Octagon, don't worry; you are not alone. Much has happened since Phillipou fought last December. For starters, he left his longtime home at the Serra-Longo team, perhaps in advance of a potential clash with now former teammate and new middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
And it is for that reason, among others, that I consider Phillipou a smaller favorite over Francis Carmont than book odds would have you believe. In fact, I give him 55 percent chance of winning the fight, which is over 10 percent lower than you'll get at the book.
Carmont is a skilled striker who must be taken seriously, but he's also a good submission artist. I still believe Phillipou wins this fight, of course. It will be closer than the odds suggest, but Phillipou still wins. But there's not enough of a difference in my own percentages and that of the public for me to recommend a play here. And finally, I have my first and only strongly recommended play on the UFC main card.
The odds tell you that Nurmagomedov is a strong favorite nearly 70 percent to beat Pat Healy.
He argued that Ferguson would have difficulty focusing after having only a month to prepare for Gaethje and lose via TKO, and he was proven correct as the underdog upset "El Cucuy" in the fifth round. Anyone who has consistently followed Wise is way up. He's only sharing those selections here. Wise has considered that Overeem was four seconds away from a third consecutive victory before being knocked out by Jairzinho Rozenstruik on Dec.
The setback was the fourth in eight fights for the year-old Dutchman, a stretch that began with a knockout loss against heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at UFC in September Harris , 1 NC has recorded all 13 of his victories via knockout, including a second destruction of Oleinik in his last bout on July The year-old former Golden Gloves champion is anxious for his chance at Overeem, who is ranked one spot ahead of him at No. You can see Wise's full Overeem vs.
Harris picks here. Ige looks to extend his winning streak to six fights after taking a split decision against Mirsad Bektic at UFC in February. Ranked 15th in the division, the year-old Hawaiian is expecting to knock out Barboza on Saturday, even though only three of his career victories have ended in that fashion. Barboza , the 11th-ranked lightweight in the UFC, has lost four of his last five fights but is extremely dangerous with his feet.
Wise also has strong picks for Overeem vs. He's also backing a "reinvented" fighter who "will want to brawl. Who wins Overeem vs. Of course, the real action takes place in the cage, not at the box office. But when a fighter is an overwhelming favorite the way Jones is, there's little to discuss. At this point, you watch Jones to see excellence on display. It's not just Gustafsson—it would be hard to take any fighter seriously against "Bones.
In the co-main event, bantamweight sensation Renan Barao defends his interim title against Eddie Wineland. There's additional action up and down the main card with implications on the official UFC rankings. It's, overall, an interesting and well-booked card. Let's take an early look and explore each main card fight. Disagree with any of my contentions? Let me know in the comments. The UFC's light heavyweight title: Long established as the most prestigious title in MMA , it's an immediate star-maker for anyone able to win it.
Jones, who has defended the title five times in a row since winning the belt from Mauricio Rua in , is fighting for legacy. He's already historically the best fighter in the weight class despite being just Every win makes the debate over the best of all time, one that features Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre, just a little murkier. For Gustafsson, this is the chance of a lifetime. Jones has run through the cream of the crop in the division.
No one expects the young Swede, also 26 years old, to be able to compete with Jones' superlative wrestling. But Gustafsson has won six in a row for a reason. He's at the absolute apex of his ability. If he's ever going to reign, it's got to be right now. In the UFC, there are not always second chances. He's looked vulnerable only momentarily, like when Vitor Belfort surprised him with an armbar from the guard.
Otherwise, he's been unchallenged as champion. Gustafsson has looked amazing since he lost to his now-teammate Phil Davis back in At that point, wrestling was a real weakness, as Davis proved. With diligent work and training with Davis and coach Eric Del Fierro at Alliance, Gustafsson has improved remarkably in this area.
Yet, at no moment in his six-fight win streak did I see anything that would make me suspect he can challenge Jones. But that said, he's earned the opportunity. I guess Gustafsson has the same chance as anyone else—slim. Fireworks Potential Jones is a walking highlight film. Gustafsson, if he wins, will likely do so by knockout. Don't blink. I'm hungry, I want the fight. That's what I've been dreaming of since I started this.
Gustafsson is a great young fighter. But nothing I've seen from him convinces me he isn't going to be taken down and smashed by Jones. At this point I can't imagine myself picking against Jones. He's simply too good, too young and too smart. This is the best fighter in MMA history in his prime.
Enjoy him. Barao's interim bantamweight title is at stake. At some point, of course, the interim label will be dropped from this championship. After all, titular champion Dominick Cruz hasn't competed since For all intents and purposes, this is the title at pounds. Wineland is clearly a step behind the very top fighters in the division. But, like Jones at light heavyweight, Barao and Cruz have cleared out the top challengers to the crown. Fireworks Potential Little guys often have a reputation for lacking power and finishing ability.
Eddie Wineland's career refutes that assumption. He's won fights with strikes, submissions and even a knockout slam. He's a giver and receiver of violence. This won't be a timid affair. I think it will be back in order, and I'm always happy to be up there at the top and right in the mix. Eddie Wineland is an exceptionally nice guy. For much of his career he was an full-time firefighter, only competing in the cage on the side. That makes his achievements even more remarkable—but it doesn't give him much of a chance against an absolute beast like Barao.
This is the kind of fight where all the heart, will and gumption in the world won't be enough. Barao is just too physically gifted and skilled for Wineland. The difference in class should be apparent early. Both fighters, once considered promising prospects, have lost two of their last three.
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Fighting for the first time since a 3rd-round TKO over Tim Boetsch in December, Philippou possesses technical boxing and the best takedown defense rating He also holds the second highest takedown defense rating After that, his ability to push forward and pursue the takedown earns Carmont the biggest win of his career and a potential top matchup next time.
Matt Mitrione also found some momentum after losing two in a row by taking out Phil de Fries in 19 seconds in April. He may be more well-rounded than Mitrione, but there are questions surrounding his chin. Mitrione has repeatedly shown that he has the power to finish people with his left hand and that happens again here. A former WEC bantamweight champion, Wineland has the heaviest hands in the division.
Even his jab has caused many elite bantamweights to recoil. Wineland looks incredible against opponents who stand directly in front of him. Renan Barao is not one of those fighters. This will open up another opportunistic submission like against McDonald and Barao retains the belt with a 4th round RNC.
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson Time for the main event! At only 26 years old, Jon Jones already has people talking about his legacy and potential to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time with dominant wins in all of his performances.
Leading up the the fight, much has been made about how the two fighters have similar measurements.
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