UFC 70: Nations Collide Saturday, April 21, 9 PM ET (tape delay) M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, England
Weigh-in: Friday, April 20, 8:30 AM ET
UFC 69 was once again a surprisingly good event. Although lacking superstar talent, Dana White and company really delivered, giving us memorable fights in Huerta vs. Garcia and Koscheck vs. Sanchez, and a huge upset by Matt Serra to take the Welterweight title.
UFC 70 comes to us from across the pond as only the second UFC event to take place in the U.K. It will be broadcast free on Spike TV. However, the time difference means U.S. fans will be watching in tape delay, as the event will actually begin at about 1 PM ET. Some Canadian fans will have the option of purchasing the live pay-per-view, although U.S. citizens will have to follow online or wait for the tape-delayed broadcast.
Here's a preview of Saturday night's fights, with lines from 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Edilberto "Crocota" de Oliveira (8-0-1) vs. Paul "Relentless" Taylor (6-1-1) Current Odds: Crocota -240, Taylor +180
The opening bout features two MMA unknowns. Crocota comes to us from Brazil, where he has fought alongside Minotauro Nogueira and Anderson Silva. Taylor will be fighting in front of a home crowd, but it may not be enough to get him the win. Prediction: Crocota, 1st round KO.
Dennis Siver (10-3-0) vs. Jess "The Joker" Liaudin (10-8-0) Current Odds: Siver -130, Laudin +100
Siver has put together a decent record fighting in minor events. He is a well rounded fighter, but his three defeats have all come by submission. Liaudin is experienced, but inconsistent, and shouldn't pose much of a threat here. Prediction: Siver, 1st round KO.
Victor "The Matrix" Valimaki (9-3-0) vs. Alessio "Legionarius" Sakara (10-5-0) Current Odds: Sakara -165, Valimaki +135
Canadian Valikami trains with Jason MacDonald and was last seen on UFC Fight Night 7 in December, where he lost in a split decision to David Heath. Sakara has fought three times in UFC events, but has lost his last two. This should be a slugfest, as both fighters prefer staying on their feet. Neither fighter has been particularly exciting and I see this as coin-toss fight, so I will lean towards the underdog. Prediction: Valimaki, 2nd round KO.
Junior Assuncao (4-2-0) vs. David Lee (5-2-0) Current Odds: Assuncao -180, Lee +150
Both of these fighters are relatively inexperienced, and both are coming off losses in their UFC debuts. Lee has the edge in submissions and taking the fight to the ground will be his best chance of success. Prediction: Lee, 3rd round submission.
Matt "The Real One" Grice (8-0-0) vs. Terry Etim (7-0-0) Current Odds: Grice -105, Etim -125
Grice is a very talented wrestler who will look to ground-and-pound a win. Etim is a submission fighter who has finished all of his fights early. Both are undefeated, but haven't faced any real tough competition. This fight is too close to call, but I will give Grice the matchup edge due to his superior wrestling skills. Prediction: Grice, 2nd round TKO.
Assuerio Silva (12-5-0) vs. Cheick Kongo (9-3-1) Current Odds: Silva -260, Kongo +200
Silva is in the third and last fight of his UFC contract, having lost the first two to Tim Sylvia and Brandon Vera. Kongo entered the UFC in July and won his first two before losing by split decision to Carmelo Marrero in UFC 64. Silva is the better fighter and should have little trouble in this bout. Prediction: Silva, 2nd round submission.
Andrei "Pit Bull" Arlovski (10-5-0) vs. Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (9-2-1) Current Odds: Arlovski -105, Werdum -125
Arlovski has lost only twice in 5 years, both of those against ex-heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. Werdum fights out of the Cro Cop gym (where he is Filipovic's BJJ coach), and has compiled a decent record of mostly submission wins. His only two losses have come by decision. While Arlovski has the edge in experience and striking, Werdum should have the advantage on the ground. This seems to be a match where the public is backing Arlovski while the "sharps" are behind Werdum. Nonetheless, I would make Arlovski the favorite here and will make him my best bet for this event. Prediction: Arlovski, 2nd round KO.
Michael "The Count" Bisping (12-0-0) vs. Elvis "The King of Rock and Rumble" Sinosic (8-9-2) Current Odds: Bisping -550, Sinosic +400
Bisping is The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 champion and is a well-rounded fighter, though he could use more experience. He is undefeated in MMA, and of his 12 fights, he has ended nine of them in the first round. He is a talented newcomer who is quickly making his way through the ranks of UFC. Meanwhile, Sinosic is a veteran, having won his UFC debut back in 2001 (UFC 30). Unfortunately, he has lost every UFC match since, bringing his record to 1-5 within the Octagon. He is a decent submission fighter and has plenty of experience in the ring. Bisping will have a large edge when the fighters are on their feet, although Sinosic should be able to at least hold his own on the ground. We've seen a lot of line movement in this fight, with Bisping opening near -350, being bet up to -900, and now settling in at the current odds. Bisping will be in front of a home crowd and I expect him to take this fight quite easily, and this is worth a bet now that the odds have come down a bit. Prediction: Bisping, 1st round TKO.
David Heath (7-0-0) vs. Lyoto Machida (9-0-0) Current Odds: Machida -335, Heath +255
This is a battle of two undefeated newcomers to UFC. Heath is well-rounded and can win by either strike or submission. Machida has put together an impressive MMA resume with wins against Rich Franklin, B.J. Penn, and Stephan Bonnar. He is a karate fighter who has won the majority of his fights by decision. Machida has the edge in experience and likely in the style matchup as well. Prediction: Machida by decision.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (22-4-2) vs. Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga (7-1-0) Current Odds: Filipovic -475, Gonzaga +380
After facing a punching bag in his UFC debut, Cro Cop now has to step up in class to beat Gonzaga in order to lock-up a title shot against Randy Couture. Gonzaga is a well-rounded fighter, and, while inexperienced, he is 3-0 in UFC bouts. While Cro Cop is considered nearly unbeatable on his feet, he is vulnerable on the ground and Gonzaga will look to use that to his advantage. Gonazaga is no joke, but this fight is coming a little early for him and getting perhaps the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at less than 5-to-1 is worth a wager. Predicition: Filipovic, 1st round KO.
Picks (YTD: 4-2 +0.80 units; Best Bets: 1-1, dead even)
Dennis Siver -130
Andrei Arlovski -105 (Best)
Michael Bisping -550
Mirko Filipovic -475
Opinions (YTD: 8-4 +7.55 units)
Edilberto Crocota -240
Victor Valimaki +135
David Lee +150
Matt Grice -105
Assuerio Silva -260
Lyoto Machida -335