Betting UFC on FOX 27: Who has the Edge in Middleweight Rematch?
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports / Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports
The UFC gets network TV time this week on big FOX, with a four-fight main card from Charlotte, North Carolina.
The main event sees a battle of middleweight contenders, as former Strikeforce world champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza takes on hard-hitting Derek Brunson in a rematch of their 2012 clash in Strikeforce.
Crowd-pleasing featherweights Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez and Andre “Touchy” Fili star in the co-main event, while local boy done good Jordan Rinaldi gets the tough task of handing rising New York prospect Gregor Gillespie his first career loss.
Throw in a welterweight clash between Drew Dober and Frank Camacho and it adds up to a fun-looking card, but who should we be backing on fight night?
Here’s my take on the main card matchups…
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza vs. Derek Brunson
I won’t lie: I’ve flip-flopped on this main event.
In terms of sheer pedigree, Jacare should be the pick. He’s a former BJJ world champion with heavy hands and sound boxing, and he’s an absolute beast on the mat. He also has a 41-second knockout win over Brunson on his record.
So why can’t I pull the trigger on the Brazilian here?
For starters, the Brunson that will face Jacare on Saturday night in Charlotte is a vastly different fighter than the one that was separated from his senses at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman back in 2012. The American has evolved his game significantly since then and seems to have hit his prime. Jacare, in contrast, is beginning to show signs of aging.
The Brazilian’s lack of footwork in the stand-up was cruelly exposed by Robert Whittaker, who pieced up the former Strikeforce champion, badly rocking him with a head kick before finishing him via second-round TKO. Prior to that bout Jacare looked every inch a serious championship contender, but against Whittaker he looked old and slow. It may have been a watershed moment in his career.
Brunson is right up there with the most powerful punchers in the UFC middleweight division. His last six wins have all come by KO or TKO, and all in the first round, too. The only blemishes in his last eight bouts came back-to-back — and they may have provided a needed Octagon education.
Against Robert Whittaker he engaged in a firefight, where his kamikaze approach saw him knocked out in the first round by the more precise strikes of the calmer Australian. Then, stung by the criticism of his gung-ho approach against Whittaker, he proceeded to fight well within himself against former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, dropping to a decision defeat in a fight many believe he should have won.
If Brunson over compensated against Silva, he found his sweet spot in his two most recent outings, as he knocked out wily judo Olympian Dan Kelly then former light-heavyweight world champion Lyoto Machida, both in the first round.
The gung-ho tendencies are still in there, but Brunson is doing a much better job of suppressing them and using a more patient approach. And it’s working well. He’s in form, he’s in his prime, and he’s facing a fading Jacare. He’ll need to stay wary, but the pendulum has swung in his favor, despite his underdog odds.
FIGHT PICK: BRUNSON +130 (SPORTS INTERACTION)
KEY PROP: BRUNSON BY TKO/KO +180 (WILLIAM HILL)
Dennis Bermudez vs. Andre Fili
It’s no secret. Dennis Bermudez sucks. Thankfully, though, the fact he holds the world record for being the fastest person to drink a liter of lemon juice through a straw is of little significance here.
Bermudez’s form is, though. He’s lost his last two fights, but don’t think for a moment that the “sucks” label applies to his fighting talent, because he’s still a deserved favorite for his fight with Andre Fili in the co-main event.
Fili looked great against Artem Lobov in his last outing, but Bermudez has operated in higher company, and he holds the wrestling and power striking advantages. He’s the shorter man, so he’ll have to control the range smartly and time his takedown attempts appropriately, but he’s more than capable of doing enough over three rounds to defeat Fili.
It’s hard not to back a guy with a nickname as brilliant as “Touchy” Fili, but after weighing everything, we had no option but to go with the world record holder.
FIGHT PICK: BERMUDEZ @ -145 (BETONLINE)
SELECTED PROP: BERMUDEZ BY DECISION @ +156 (5DIMES)
Jordan Rinaldi vs. Gregor Gillespie
Charlotte’s own Jordan “All Day” Rinaldi gets the main card shine as he takes on undefeated Gregor Gillespie. But Rinaldi will need more than home-field advantage to beat “The Gift” on Saturday night.
Gillespie is a favorite with the bookies — a huge favorite, in fact. The 10-0 New York lightweight is bordering on a 1-6 shot with a host of the main bookies, but there’s one outlier that demands attention.
While Gillespie’s odds typically range from -550 to -600, BetDSI has taken a position that offers a big opportunity for favorite backers. They have the bout priced up as a much more competitive fight, with Gillespie a -275 shot. That’s too good to pass up, particularly given Gillespie’s hugely impressive performances in the Octagon since his arrival in the UFC last year.
Gillespie won a unanimous decision over Brazilian Glaico Franca in his Octagon debut, then followed up with a stunning 21-second KO of Andrew Holbrook before submitting Jason Gonzalez in the second round in Pittsburgh last September.
He’s going into enemy territory this weekend, but against Rinaldi (13-5 career, 1-1 UFC), the favorite is well worth backing at those anomalous odds.
FIGHT PICK: GILLESPIE @ -275 (BetDSI)
SELECTED PROP: GILLESPIE BY TKO/KO +280 (5Dimes)
Drew Dober vs. Frank Camacho
The main card opener has genuine Fight of the Night potential, as eager striker Drew Dober takes on Frank “The Crank” Camacho.
Dober has the clear edge in experience, but Camacho’s iron-chinned performance in his last outing against Damien Brown showed he has the toughness and gas tank to take the fight all the way to the scorecards.
Camacho by decision looks to be the value pick here, but a glance at Dober’s record shows his last two losses came by way of submission, while Camacho’s last stoppage win was also via tapout. And a peek at the odds shows a Camacho win by way of submission can be backed for a huge +2200 with William Hill. Compare that to +1250 with 5Dimes and SportBet, and the value leaps off the page.
FIGHT PICK: CAMACHO +150 (BetDSI)
SELECTED PROP: CAMACHO BY DECISION +385 (5DIMES)
BONUS VALUE PROP: CAMACHO BY SUBMISSION +2200 (WILLIAM HILL)
[Main image credits: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports / Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports]