The UFC’s GO BIG campaign was launched last week with Fight Night Japan, but this is the real kick off. There were no real surprises in Japan (apart this particular finish), but tonight throws up some interesting fights and a fantastic reason to keep drinking after the pubs close.
Daniel Cormier put his Light Heavyweight title on the line against Alexander Gustafsson. Rashad Evans makes his return to the octagon after a two year absence to face Ryan Bader and Joseph Benavidez takes on Ali Bagautinov. To a lot of casual UFC fans this may look like a straightforward card, but there is a serious chance of some big upsets.
Daniel Cormier v Alexander Gustafsson
This fight is going to be a war. Cormier is a short wrestler, Gustafsson is a tall striker. If Cormier takes Gustafsson down and keeps him there the Swede could be in a huge amount of trouble, but if the fight stays standing it’s hard to see how Cormier will survive. A height advantage of six inches and a reach advantage of six and a half inches could prove vital.
The wrestling will be interesting. Of the two Gustafsson had more success wrestling with Jon Jones than Cormier did. Gustafsson’s wrestling is vastly underrated and he’ll be able to mix it with Cormier on the ground. Gustafsson will be gunning for the KO, but Cormier has a chin made of that stuff from Captain America’s shield. The man could take a train to the face and keep going.
This is going to be a Lawler/MacDonald style fight (I hope). A decision victory for either man at 4/5 seems the most obvious, but if you want some value and I know you do I have a big feeling that ‘The Mauler’ Gustafsson will win by KO at .
Rashad Evans v Ryan Bader
This should be a cracking fight. It’s been bumped up to the Co-Main event after Johny Hendricks had to pull out of his fight with Tyron Woodley due to weight cut issues. Evans has been out of the sport for the last two years due to various injuries and he’ll want to mark his return with a bang, but Ryan Bader is no pushover.
Rashad Evans has won six of his last 11 fights by KO and a seventh is the best bet for this fight. Bader has vowed to knock Evans out, but while Evans has been out of the game for so long he’s the better fighter. A KO looks promising for all you Suga fans out there.
Joseph Benavidez v Ali Bagautinov
This a match-up that looks like it doesn’t make sense. Joseph Benavidez is the number one contender in the flyweight division and engaged to Megan Olivi who is smoking hot whereas Ali Bagautinov is the 14th ranked and failed a drug test after his loss to Demetrious Johnson in his last fight. He was ranked sixth before that incident so now it looks a bit more even.
Benavidez should have enough in the locker to win this fight without too much of a struggle. His ground game is among the best and he’ll be looking for the takedowns. A submission win for Benavidez is the best bet.
Saturday night Treble: Alexander Gustafsson by KO, Rashad Evans by KO, Joseph Benavidez by Submission @ 188/1.