The UFC machine just keeps on growing. After a well-timed week off following one of the best cards and shows I’ve ever seen, UFC 242 from Anaheim, we dig to southern China for Fight Night 157.
Real quick, we did have a preview article for you last week where
you can read up on a full recap of the previously mentioned show along with how we did on our picks.
We previewed and picked the one Bellator fight that had betting odds at the time of writing. Unfortunately, we came up short on our prediction.
Matt Mitrione was the better athlete with the much faster hands but the experience and particularly composure of Sergei Kharitonov shined through.
Mitrione began the contest on his toes, moving in and out, and landing clean punches.
It didn’t last for too long, though, as he kept inadvertently spitting out his mouthpiece. Despite what the honorable man said in his post-fight interview, this seemed to bother him quite a bit.
He apparently forgot his custom mouthpiece in his bag in the bag and had to use his backup which was a bite and boil.
I’m sure any combat sports athlete can attest to the fact that there is a massive difference between the two. A custom mouthguard is easily the best 120.00 dollars I have ever spent in my life.
With that being said, once Matt abandoned the signature bounce in his step, he was target practice for Sergei.
The odds were even and I apologize that we missed that one.
On to this week’s action!
Much has been said about the gigantic one-stop-shop that is the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. I was fortunate enough to visit a few times and experience just a fraction of what the facility has to offer.
Well, they are opening a similar and apparently even better version in Shanghai very soon.
What better way to highlight this than a UFC event in China.
Shenzhen was the city of choice when the show was announced months ago. I don’t think they would have chosen this particular city if they knew about the current protests occurring in nearby Hong Kong.
Flights have been canceled and diverted from HK thus spawning a domino effect of airport troubles all over Asia.
Let’s hope all of the fighters planned ahead of time, hopefully giving themselves some room for airline error because, despite not many big names, this card is full of talent and exciting fights.
The main event between Chinese superstar and title challenger Weili Zhang and Brazilian Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade is really going to be a banger.
At first glance, I thought Jessica was going to run through her but following some deeper thought, Weili is a different kind of fighter than we have seen Andrade face in the past.
In the co-main event, the male face of Chinese MMA, Li Jingliang faces off against unorthodox Brazilian striker Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.
Nationalism is the theme for this Fight Night as nearly every contest matches fighters from different countries.
I had to do some extra homework this week with this card featuring many new faces and/or some unfamiliar ones. The UFC just keeps growing but my peanut head just stays the same size.
BetOnline has the goodies.
Let’s make some picks!
Su Madaerji vs Andre Soukhamthath
I’m highlighting this fight because it should be a very exciting battle. Andre is from Thailand so, of course, he has some great strikes.
His wrestling is sufficient, though.
He even uses it when he shouldn’t. The man has taken A LOT of flack from analysts and fans for taking down “Sugar” Sean O’Malley after a calf kick hurt the flashy fighter and he seemed to be dead in the water on his feet.
Andre is a very good all-around fighter who is coming into this fight with quite a bit of desperation. If he doesn’t get his hand raised at the end of things, he may be temporarily out of a job.
I think he is young and talented enough to make it back eventually but we have to remember that mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. More and more fighters from Russia and recently the rest of Asia are invading the UFC en masses.
We will get another heavy dose of difficult to pronounce names next week on the Khabib vs Poirier card from Abu Dhabi.
Now, I really like Su. Many people are writing him off for his loss to Luis Smolka who was able to take him down and out-grapple him eventually submitting him with an armbar.
It was in a transition, though, where Su was going for an omaplata and I thought he had the subsequent sweep but Luis had set the trap.
That’s BJJ, folks, and Smolka’s specialty. Sumaergi landed some very nice elbows to the ear of the Hawaiian as he was defending the takedown up against the cage. I’m honestly surprised Luis wasn’t hurt by them.
I see Su coming in here as the more improved fighter but Andre has the experience and here’s the kicker; He’s training at American Top Team.
You’ve heard me say it quite a bit in recent past but it counts. Their level and depth of sparring partners, as well as quality coaching/game planning, is unmatched.
If Andre wrestles early and often, I think he has an 85% chance at winning. The other 15% is coming from those elbows, though. If you’re in on a guy’s legs trying to suck him out from the cage, there really is no defense to them other than getting your opponent to the mat or disengaging.
Skinny guys have sharp elbows. As a Thai, I think Andre is aware of such.
This is not a slam dunk, folks but I’m going with “The Asian Sensation” to grind out a victory.
I even found some odds for Andre to win a decision at (+175). I like that one a lot. There are also odds on Su by KO or Sub for (+375).
That wouldn’t be the worst hedge.
Damir Ismagulov vs Thiago Moises
When in doubt, bet on the Russian?
I didn’t say that.
Hey, it’s not a bad strategy.
There are three fighters of Russian descent, I should say, that are fighting this weekend and they are all big favorites. Damir is the closest to even money as you’re going to get.
I do like his opponent’s game. He has a good guillotine but has jumped guard for it several times in his UFC career and that just isn’t a good idea. The success rate is probably less than 10% and if your opponent has good top control like Damir does, you likely just lost the round.
Ismagulov has been training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket to catch his striking up with his grappling, and I truly can’t think of a better country or place to do so for mixed martial arts competition.
Here in Thailand, it’s a whole nother level.
I thought I had skills after 15 years in the States including half a decade in the fight capital of the world in Las Vegas but as I stepped off the plane, my Muay Thai was immediately is infantile at best.
If you think Damir’s wrestling is slipping, think again. Phuket is experiencing a Russian invasion. Many of the food menus are now offered in Russian lettering.
It’s also a short trip for Ismagulov up to Shenzhen.
If Thiago was particularly powerful or has world-class submissions, I might throw some cash his way but he doesn’t.
He’s a good all-around fighter with a propensity for backing up and pulling guard. Also, I just don’t see many Russian fighters tapping out or even putting themselves in a submission to do so.
A lot of money has come in on Thiago but I’m not with it. I think Damir opened close to a 4 to 1 favorite which I agree is high, but I still like the value at (-188).
Thiago is tough and his BJJ should be enough to stave off a sub defeat or ground and pound finish so an Ismagulov bet to win a decision is a much more affordable (-105).
Anthony Hernandez vs Jun Yong Park
He does get back up fairly quickly, though
The Korean has nice hands but Hernandez more power
Will Hernandez wrestle?
I hope so because if he does, I give him about a 75% chance at victory
“Fluffy” Hernandez has the size and reach advantage even with a little budge.
More tools and more UFC experience for the favorite
Movsar Evloev vs Lu Zhenhong
Lu’s last two opponents have a combined record of 12-17
How did those wins get him into the UFC?
Goes back to what I was eluding to earlier. They are pushing the business in China.
Evloev already has a UFC fight under his belt defeating Seung Woo Choi.
(-800), though? Possible parlay later with some Russian colleagues
I like him to get the finish the fight for (+162). I think Lu is tough but not that tough.
Mizuki Inoue vs Wu Yanan
As we enter the 36 Chambers…
I had to, sorry. Shout out to the RZA!
Her base is Karate and maintaining distance is not ideal versus a girl 5 inches taller
I also was impressed with Wu’s grappling snaching an armbar in her UFC debut as a 3-1 dog and her front kick was nice as well
I think the Wu is going to represent!
Wu missed weight by 4 pounds and there is documented history of fighters who miss weight ending up with their hand raised.
It was 4 pounds, so that tells me she didn’t really try that hard.
This only amplifies the fact that Yanan is the MUCH bigger woman.
She’s pretty much a lean 35’er who came down 6 pounds to fight a natural 115’er who looked VERY soft at the weigh-ins
Elizeu Aleski dos Santos vs Li Jingliang
This is a wild fight. Elizeu is a Capoeira stylist. If you’re unfamiliar with that martial art, check out the feature film Meet The Fockers.
Dustin Hoffman is a 12th-degree black belt in the discipline and was going to give it to Robert De Niro before Gaylord stepped in and broke it up.
Seriously, though, there is plenty of fighting application to Capoeira-the Brazilian dance fighting martial art.
It’s the shot that you don’t see coming that hurts you and every time dos Santos throws an unorthodox kick, that is one more thing Li has to worry about.
Man, this fight is really hard to pick. I wish the line would come down a bit on the Brazilian. I think he’s going to get the victory but considering Jingliang’s power, experience, and the potential for hometown cooking from the judges…I don’t know.
It is the co-main, so I wanted to give you guys my take on it.
Elizeu is the more technical and unorthodox striker. You don’t hear that often. He also has the better defense.
Li’s UFC record is nothing to laugh at, though.
He lost to Jake Matthews who is a wrestling specialist. He lost to Nakamura by sub in a fight he was winning and lost to a savage in Nordine Tabel by split decision.
While I feel like Li is a live dog here, I just can’t put money against dos Santos. The Chinese fighter has been dropped in the past and Elizeu has a very good overhand right.
I think he catches him over the top halfway through the second round.
Jessica Andrade vs Weili Zhang
You aren’t going to get a full-on sales pitch for either fighter here from me.
I mentioned earlier that Weili is a different fighter than Jessica has faced in the past but there’s a vice versa in there as well.
Weili is very strong and more often than not, that’s how Jessica defeats her opponents.
RIP Thug Rose.
Jessica is not that technical, though. We have to be honest with ourselves. This is especially true of her striking.
She has been compared by Joe Rogan among others to the great Wanderlei Silva.
Hook, hook! Hook, hook!
Chang is very technical with her defense keeping her chin tucked most all of the time. If Andrade throws and wrenchlike uppercut in there after one of her hooks, I know it will land.
I mean, who would expect it?
She always throws hooks!
I guess we can’t bank our money on it, then. Betting on people to change hasn’t worked out so well for the human race over the years.
If hook, hook continues to be her strategy and she can’t take Weili down, I think the woman from China will piece her up.
While Weili is quite the prospect, we have to ask ourselves why she is getting a title shot so soon.
You would think they would groom her and more importantly build up her name to properly sell a championship fight with the dominant Brazilian.
Going back to the hard UFC push in China thing, they needed a main event Chinese fighter. Jingliang is pretty well known even among fans outside of China but he’s not a title challenger.
I think the push is too quick for Weili.
I also think she matches up with Andrade better than any other woman in the Strawweight division.
The most important question is will Jessica be able to take down Weili?
If she does and Zhang goes for a sub, she’s getting slammed and slammed hard.
Her best bet is to get back up and be the more technical striker.
Andrade doesn’t really go for submissions and Weili seems to be very well-schooled in BJJ.
That brings us to some odds for Jessica winning by TKO or decision at (-105).
Weili by decision is the most likely bet on the other side and that has very good value at (+300). Either of those wagers are solid, in my opinion.
I’ll take Andrade, though.
- Evloev: -800
- Ismagulov: -188 Rizzo
- Ibragimov: -225
Bet 101.00 to win 150.00
Before we go, this should be noted: This fight will take place in China’s primetime which means I get to watch it with a couple of beers instead of early Sunday morning over coffee.
Not unlike said coffee, though, I’ll take my UFC any way I can get it.
So, 3:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, the prelims kick-off. That’s what google says, at least.
This is going to be a great card. Don’t listen to the negative nancy’s out there on the internet whining just because they don’t know who any of these fighters are.
I did a lot of research; maybe too much to be honest.
Sometimes your first instinct is correct but yea, sometimes.
I enjoy doing the homework so you guys don’t have to.
Despite last week’s loss, we are still above 75% now for going on 3 months.
With that being said, I’m not in love or even infatuated with these picks.
I like the Russian guys the most.
I’ll see you guys next week for the Abu Dhabi card!