At last Cain Velasquez is fit enough to climb into the octagon in front of a Mexican audience for UFC 188 at the Arena Ciudada de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico. The first Mexican heavyweight champion in any combat sport carries the hopes of a country on his back. Despite the fact he was born in California.
This is a massive potential market for the UFC and Dana White will be hoping the company’s first foray into this fight-loving country will produce an entertaining card topped off by a Velasquez win.
Cain Velasquez(c) v Fabricio Werdum(ic)
Returning to the octagon after a 20 month injury lay-off Cain Velasquez is a hot favourite to unify the heavyweight belt by beating interim champion Fabricio Werdum.
This isn’t as one-side a fight as the 1/5 price on Velasquez suggests.
— La Afición (@laaficion) June 1, 2015
Werdum has improved massively, particularly his striking, since leaving the UFC in 2008 and after returning in 2012 the Brazilian has racked up five straight wins over a list of dangerous opponents. Velasquez is still the better striker, has the best wrestling in the division and his unrelenting pace and stamina will be a massive challenge for Werdum. If this were a three round fight I’d take it to go to points but over the course of five rounds Velasquez has too much time to wear down Werdum.
- Bet Now: Velasquez to win by KO at 5/6
Gilbert Melendez v Eddie Alvarez
Former Strikeforce champion Melendez takes on the former Bellator champion Alvarez in what promises to be one of the fights of the night. This is a pick em fight between two top class lightweight operators but the odds-makers are right to give Melendez the edge. He’s had two title challenges in his last three fights and will know that a defeat here will kill his chances of getting a third in the near future. That knowledge should be enough to see him edge a points win over Alvarez.
- Bet Now: Melendez to win on points at 13/8
Kelvin Gastelum v Nate Marquardt
Nate Marquardt has reached the gate-keeper stage of his career. The former Strikeforce champion and UFC title challenger has dropped four of his last five, including two KO losses.
Kelvin Gastelum was ordered to move up to middleweight after missing weight in two of his last three fights. Without the stress of cutting weight the younger, hungrier fighter has few excuses and could put on a real show here.
Marquardt hasn’t been submitted in 12 years so Gastelum to win by KO is the more likely method of victory.
- Bet Now: Gastelum to win by KO at 23/10
Yair Rodriguez v Charles Rosa
Charles Rosa is a dangerous, dangerous submission artist. His only loss is to Denis Siver, a fight he took on short notice and still managed to impress in a Fight of the Night affair.
Rodriguez is a talented prospect but if he can’t keep the fight standing he’ll be in danger.
- Bet Now: Rosa to win via submission at 15/8
Tecia Torres v Angela Hill
The women’s strawweight division is still in it’s infancy and as such one good win can set a fighter up for a title-challenge.
Torres is the more experienced and well rounded fighter here whereas Hill is all about raw power and aggression. Expect Hill to come out throwing hard shots from the first bell with Torres using her speed and movement to keep the stronger woman at bay. It’s a tough one to call but Torres to win on points at evens and set up a title shot looks the safest bet.
- Bet Now: Torres to win on points at evens
Special mention: Cathal Pendred v Augusto Montaño
Although he’s not on the main card I would be remiss in my duties as a Dubliner not to mention Cathal Pendred. Although he’s unbeaten in three UFC fights he has rarely looked impressive and was very fortunate to get the nod in his points win over Sean Spencer last time out. His position on the Fight Pass prelim section of the card, despite being on a three fight win-streak, isn’t a positive sign.
His opponent Augusto Montaño has one career loss, dropping a points decision to the experienced Sam Alvey in 2011. His fifteen wins have all come inside the distance, thirteen of which have come in the first round. Pendred will need to make this a scrappy, ugly affair if he wants to win.
I’ll be cheering for my fellow Dub but if I was betting my money would be on Montaño, possibly taking a punt on him winning via KO in the first round at 7/2.