Another weekend approaches with the MMA Gods smiling down on us. The UFC’s octagon finds it’s self in Brazil for UFC Fight Night 95. The headline bout of the evening sees the return of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino to face “The Elbow Queen” Lina Lansberg.
There’s some high quality match ups on show in Brasilia to look forward to. As ever with this column we’re trying to find some value selections to hopefully help fill our pockets as we enjoy some high quality violence.
Lets have a look at this card in greater detail.
Cris Cyborg vs. Lina Lansberg
If you have never heard of Cris Cyborg at this point, you may have been living under a Ronda Rousey shaped rock for the last couple of years. Quite simply she is the most dominant female we've ever seen in MMA. She is the current Invicta women's featherweight champion. She also held the Strikeforce equivalent of the belt having beaten women's MMA pioneer Gina Carano.
Cyborg is as physically imposing as she is skilled. Coming from the famed Chute Box academy she is equally adept at striking and grappling. Nine of her fourteen stoppage victories are in the first round by knockout or TKO. This also from a woman that holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. One of the most startling things with Cyborg is her size and presence. She's constantly pressuring opponents and is at times very conservative and patient despite that style. I think her time with Jason Parillo has really helped her hone her striking skills
Lansberg joins the UFC roster having enjoyed a 6-1 record on the European scene. Limited video of her MMA career is available but she appears to have kept many of the attributes that made her a two time muay thai world champion. She is excellent in the clinch and as her nickname suggests has vicious elbows.
Lansberg has a serviceable ground game but it's hard to measure how much is her and how much is down to the quality of opponent. She is embracing MMA training but as we've seen with many cross over stars; it's a lot more difficult to transition to the cage than some of them think.
I'm very intrigued how Lansberg is going to try deal with Cyborg and I think this is going to be a fight where Cyborg tries get this to the ground. Remember the only recent loss that Cyborg has felt was in a kick boxing match near two and a half years ago.
Given that this is a fight the UFC will expect Cyborg to win; I think she may show a different facet to her game. Lansberg is 34 and I think she will be at a speed disadvantage in this fight. I also think she will be very green in the grappling department. Given Cyborg has a propensity to mount or get opponents into a turtle position I like the opportunities she may get to slip the hooks in and put Lansberg in a horrible position.
Selection: There's no value in betting Cyborg at 1/10 to win or 1/5 for a knock out. My personal preference is to take a risk on Cyborg to win in round 2 at 13/2 or Cyborg to win by submission. A Cyborg by submission win is currently at 10/1 with Paddy Power.
And with that we'll move on to the co-main event of the evening.
Barao vs. Nover
Personally speaking I think this bout has been made to give Barao a confidence boost. The former 135lbs kingpin has lost three of his last four fights. Having lost the bantamweight title to TJ Dillashaw, Barao had looked a shadow of the man that Dana White called the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. A disastrous weight cut ahead of a rematch with Dillashaw left many wondering how much longer Barao had at 135lbs. The answer was two fights. Having been dispatched in a title rematch, Barao moved back up to featherweight.
The move to back to featherweight, proved that Barao still has what it takes to trade and take punishment in the bigger weight class. His performance against Jeremy Stephens did highlight a few of the problems he will now face. At five foot six inches Barao is undersized for the division. The offensive wrestling which had been borderline excellent at 135lbs, was not sufficient for him to control Stephens. He was able to display crisp striking and pin-point accuracy but he lacked the power that had caused so many trouble at bantamweight.
The positives that came out of the loss to Stephens is that Barao is still physically capable of the things that made him one of the best fighters on the planet. He just needs to work out how to exploit his skills against larger opponents. I believe Nover is a good man to start with. Phillipe Nover is a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. The self proclaimed toughest registered nurse on the planet was a top prospect at lightweight following his performances on the show, but has never got to the heights that some expected.
Nover returned to the UFC in 2015 following a five year hiatus that included stints on the regional scene. His return to the Octagon saw him drop down to the 145lbs division (having fought previously at lightweight and welterweight). Thus far the change has been semi productive as his record is 1-1. Nover retains a good grappling base but appears to have cardio issues judging by how active he is in recent fights.
The former TUF champ also has very underrated striking although against a guy like Barao I don't think this will matter. Nover is quite durable and has only officially been finished once in his career (under very controversial circumstances).
Suggestion: I like Barao to win inside the distance at 11/10. I think he's got the ability to give Nover a first genuine stoppage loss. I'd side with a submission if you prefer looking at method of victory. That's currently as big as 7/2 with Sky Bet and given Barao's ability in a scramble it's definitely worth consideration against a guy that fades badly as fights progress.
Trinaldo vs. Felder: I love this fight and I think it could be fight of the night given the two guys styles. I think this is very much a case of Trinaldo pushing the pace early and Felder playing catch up. Given Trinaldo's constant conditioning issues I would side with the underdog Felder to win in Brazil. He's currently 6/5 for a straight win and I think his striking gives him the edge over Trinaldo. My only worry with this fight is that Trinaldo will have a grappling advantage but I think that Felder is fleet enough of foot to keep range and frustrate Trinaldo on the way to a win.
Burns vs. Prazeres: I think Burns is the better all round mixed martial artist. Burns certainly has a technique advantage on the feet and his credentials if the fight hits the floor speak for themselves. The bookmakers have underestimated the durability of Prazeres. Burns to get the win by decision at 2/1.
As ever these are just suggestions. Please do not bet what you can not afford to lose. If you have any tips or opinions, why not share them in the comments section. Win or lose; enjoy the fights.
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