A really terrific card for the first ESPN pay per view – not a huge number of great fights but the main and co-main are absolute top drawer.
Let’s get on with it!
Wilson Reis v Alexandre Pantoja
A really interesting flyweight match up between two high class Brazilian jiu jitsu players.
I’m surprised to see Pantoja installed as the favourite in this one. When two really good ground specialists meet, they often cancel each other out and the fight ends up staying on the feet. if that happens here, I think Reis has a clear advantage.
Reis has far more experience and a higher level of previous opponent. He steadied the ship with a decent win over Ben Nguyen last time after a run of 3 defeats (against 3 of the very best in the division) and I have to make him a slight favourite here.
That being the case, the 11/8 available with Lads looks very attractive.
Advice: 1 pt win Wilson Reis at 2.37 Ladbrokes
Kelvin Gastelum v Israel Adesanya
A very exciting fight in prospect here and one I’ve really been looking forward to.
Increasingly the UFC is re-labelling number 1 contender fights as ‘interim title fights’ the instant any champion has the slightest injury and this is another example of that promotional shenanigans.
I couldn’t care less – I’d watch this fight if it were a title fight or a tussle outside the local chip shop on a Saturday night. It’s going to be a good one and you’d be mad to miss it.
Adesanya is the next big thing and he’s looked good since his arrival in the UFC just over a year and 4 fights ago. He’s a flashy and exciting striker with a skill for self promotion that the UFC has seized upon to push him quickly to the top.
In fact, a little too quickly in my book.
Sure, he’s won all his fights so far, he looks amazing while throwing all kinds of spinning attacks and he can talk the hind leg off a donkey. He even beat the greatest of all time in his last fight. However, a lack-lustre win over the corpse of Anderson Silva shouldn’t really have earned him a fight like this in all honesty and I think he’s got here a bit too quickly for his own good.
Gastelum, on the other hand, has been around for a while now and has largely destroyed a murderers row of champs and ex champs since his move up to the middle weight division. He is a REAL contender for best middleweight in the world and, on his night, can beat anybody and make it look easy.
There is a huge height discrepancy between the two and with Adesanya at 6’4″ and Gastelum a mere 5’9″, it is going to be a long night for Kelvin if he doesn’t get inside and make this a rough and dirty scramble.
Luckily for him, he has all the tools to do just that.
His MMA boxing is very high level, he has the hand speed and timing to counter even the smartest striker and he covers ground far quicker than a man of his build should be able to. He also has excellent wrestling (which he mainly uses to stay on his feet!) and if he is getting lit up on the feet, he is more than capable of taking Adesanya down and pounding him out or submitting him.
To me, the 13/8 available on Gastelum with Skybet (6/4 generally) looks irresistible.
Advice: 1 point win on Gastelum at 2.63 Skybet
I’ll also be putting Reis and Gastleum in a 0.5 point win double.
1 pt win on Wilson Reis at 2.37 Ladbrokes
1 pt win on Gastelum at 2.63 Skybet
0.5 pt win double the above 2
It saddens me that I can’t really get involved in the main event. Holloway v Poirier has the potential to be fight of the year and I would have loved to have had a small bet on Poirier as the under dog but, at 7/4, I think he’s just a little bit tight now to warrant a bet. Whatever happens, I’m going to be a little sad as I like both guys and they are both amazing fighters – probably best to just enjoy the spectacle!
That’s all from me for now.
Have a great weekend and be lucky