The Octagon flies down to Auckland, New Zealand this Saturday for UFC Fight Night 168 Felder vs Hooker.
The City Kickboxing Gym in Auckland is without a doubt the gym of the year for 2019 as they secured two world championship belts this past year.
Israel Adesanya convincingly TKO’ed Australian champion Robert Whitaker and most recently, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski leg kicked his way to a decision win over Max “Blessed” Holloway.
There won’t be any belts on the line this weekend but their stablemate Dan “The Hangman” Hooker will fight Paul Felder in what could be a #1 contenders match.
There have been talks of Conor McGregor getting the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson but McGregor recently called out Felder on Twitter letting the “Irish Dragon” know that his family name is German English and told him to “Shut up you Ginger German twat.”
Conor is hilarious. I think Paul does a good job in the broadcast booth but maybe it’s just his Philadelphia-ness that irks me but I’m just not a fan.
I find it interesting C-Mac didn’t call out Dan who would be a tougher matchup stylistically for the “Notorious” one.
This show isn’t about Conor McGregor, guys, sorry.
The rest of the card is stacked with down under fighters and I’ll tell you right now, I think there are boatloads of betting value throughout.
BetOnline.AG has the odds for us this week.
Before we make our way to this week’s picks, let’s quickly recap how the betting went this past Saturday in New Mexico.
- We took Raulian Paiva at (-240) to defeat Mark De La Rosa and he did with a TKO late in the second round
- Next, we picked Ray Borg at (-145) to get the victory which he did by unanimous decision
- Then, Mark’s wife, Montana De La Rosa overcame a shaky start to dominate her fight with Italy’s Mara Romera Borella with a grappling heavy attack
- 3-0, rolling right along
- Then, for some stupid stupid reason, I picked a Diego Sanchez fight.
- Yes, we picked him to lose but after an out of control Michael Perreira landed a knee when Sanzhez was grounded, the long-time UFC vet decided to take the DQ win
- I’m not going to get on here and say he has no heart because we have all seen his on display for years.
- He’s not the same guy anymore and the untrained quack in his corner doesn’t help
- In the main event, we took Corey Anderson who looked like absolute doggy doo-doo
- The naked kick he threw on Jan was technically one of the worst I have seen in the UFC in probably a decade
No angle step, no extension, no hand up on the phone…
- It’s like he wanted to get knocked out
- We also picked the under in the Sanchez fight so we ended up 3-3
Let’s get to our betting odds and predictions for UFC Fight Night 168.
Angela Hill (-190) vs Loma Lookboonme (+165)
Wow, it is very very cool to see a Thai woman fighting in the UFC. I’m not for sure but I’m almost certain that Loma is the first female from the Kingdom to compete inside the Octagon.
She is matched up against another striker too. Angela Hill will have the height and reach advantage, though, as she almost always does.
“Overkill” Hill is also taking this fight on very short notice as she just fought and won for us less than one month ago opposite Hannah Cifers.
Cifers is a sweetheart with good hands but Angela showed us something in that fight we aren’t used to seeing in her game. She took the North Carolina-native down and proceeded to smash her opponent with punches and elbows until the referee had seen enough towards the end of round 2.
I love that Angela is evolving her game. When fighters are competing at the highest level, it can be difficult to implement new game plans. Even in practice, it’s natural to train to your strengths.
Hill, who recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, appears to be at the top of her game mentally, physically, and spiritually.
I know Loma trains at Tiger Muay Thai with an unlimited amount of killers down in Phuket but I just see Angela being able to wrestle her to the ground and control her there.
If Loma were the bigger woman or better athlete, I would hesitate here but she’s not.
Kai Kara France (-255) vs Tyson Name (+215)
We have another City Kickboxing fighter competing at home in Auckland this weekend in Kai Kara France and it seems like he just fought recently as well.
Well, December 14th wasn’t that long ago.
That’s only just over 2 months.
Kai lost to Brandon Moreno that night. I think we stayed away from that one. I knew France was on a roll but Moreno is highly underrated.
The only time we’ve seen Tyson Nam fight inside the Octagon was against Sergio Pettis when he just got jabbed to death for three rounds.
Kai has a similar style to Pettis and I see this one going about the same way.
I think the hometown boy gets a unanimous decision or a late stoppage.
Jake Matthews (-209) vs Emil Meek (+179)
Emil Meek has some power in his hands but he struggles to land the big shot before someone dumps him on his backside.
2.24 strikes landed per minute for Meek is not going to cut it at this level unless he is Damien Maia which he is not.
Emil’s takedown defense is crap too and Jake Matthews can wrestle.
Jake has a 66% takedown percentage and averages nearly 3 per 15 minutes while Meek is below the .500 mark only defending 46% of attempts to drag the fight to the floor.
I see Jake, even though he will be at a size disadvantage, controlling this one with his wrestling and getting the decision win.
Marcos Rogerio De Lima (-149) vs Ben Sosoli (+129)
These are two fairly low-level heavyweights.
Sosoli, “The Combat Wombat”, is a short and stocky guy who does not have a heavyweight frame.
He fought Greg Hardy in 2019 and couldn’t do too much with him.
Ben did “force” the former Dallas Cowboy to use an inhaler in between the 2nd and 3rd round which eventually got the American Top Team product disqualified.
Sosoli can punch so there is the chance he catches Marcos but I love the value here on the bigger man with more tools.
Xiaonan Yan (-250) vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+210)
Man, I’m a big fan of Karolina. She really took a turn in her career a few years ago after the Joanna Champion fight and has never looked the same mentally again.
That was in late 2016 and she has only won 2 of her 6 fights since.
She has faced some very tough competition in her UFC career including former champions Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade so she will have the nod in experience.
Yan, though, has looked great in her young career as she was able to outstrike and out wrestle a great athlete in the previously mentioned Angela Hill.
The Pole is a good all-around fighter but sometimes that can work against you opposite a specialist but in the case of Yan, I just believe the Chinese woman is better everywhere.
Magomed Mustafaev (-129) vs Brad Riddell (+109)
This one could be fight of the night if it weren’t for the stellar main event.
Heck, it still might be.
It’s difficult to put your money on Mustafaev here not because of ability or skill level but just the fact that he has less than 2 minutes of fight time over the past 3 years.
Riddell is game, will fight for your money, and has good cardio.
Magomed is the more polished and more powerful fighter here. He should have an advantage on the feet as well as the wrestling.
The only thing I’m worried about here is Magomed gassing after he tries too hard to finish and doesn’t get it.
Mustafaev has enough power in his strikes to keep you honestly defending and if he strings together a single or double leg takedown a couple of times, the control and win should be his.
Kenan Song (-185) vs Callan Potter (+160)
This is a bit of a mismatch, really. I’m not sure why the lines are as close as they are.
Callan Potter is a local guy who will fight to the end but his skills are not really on par with being a UFC fighter.
Potter is decent in the clinch and has good submissions. His problem is that he isn’t the best athlete and takedown artist.
What’s the point of having a ground game if you can’t get the fight to the mat?
Callan is tough, though. He will walk through punches to obtain the clinch if he has to.
I thought Song looked pretty good against Derrick Krantz in his UFC debut and Derrick was a much bigger stronger and faster man than Potter.
I think Song keeps this one on the feet and outclasses the local.
Takashi Sato (-125) vs Maki Pitolo (+105)
I would cap this one at nearly 2 to 1 for the Japanese superstar Sato. The former Pancrase champion has legitimate power in his hands and Maki simply does not.
I just mentioned Callan Potter walking through punches to obtain the clinch. Well, those punches were from Pitolo.
The wrestling should cancel out here and I think Sato likely grew as a fighter after being worked by Belal Muhammed.
That leaves a major power discrepancy between the two and Maki likely getting caught with something within the distance.
Dan Hooker (-145) vs Paul Felder (+125)
Both of these two guys are highly skilled mixed martial artists.
Dan Hooker is massive for lightweight with very good striking technique, he’s opportunistic, and has the power to finish the fight.
Hooker, the Auckland-native and City Kickboxing fighter, has a very good submission game as well.
That’s actually how he got his nickname “The Hangman” from his guillotine which I like to refer to as a horizontal hanging.
His cardio is good and has solid takedown defense, although I see this one playing out on the feet exclusively.
Paul Felder has solid Muay Thai, okay power, and possibly the best fight IQ in the game.
If this one goes to a decision, I believe Felder has a slightly better chance of winning and conversely, if it ends within the distance, Dan will likely be the one with his hand raised.
Both men are good with leg kicks. Dan likes to kick the calf a bit more than the quad and Paul prefers the quad to the calf.
Hooker has the hometown advantage, the length, and the power on his side.
Paul has a great chin, yes, but the knee is a really big knuckle.
Dan catches the “Irish, ehem or should I say German English Dragon” with that big knuckle in the 3rd round.
New Zealanders or Kiwis for short love to fight.
I’ve heard through the grapevine that they love to drink as well but don’t we all, sometimes?
After grabbing two world title belts in 2019, the city of Auckland looks to add to that total in 2020.
It won’t be this weekend but defeating Paul Felder especially in a convincing manner would put Dan Hooker’s name near the top of the list.
Maybe he would fight Justin Gaethje in a very interesting matchup or he could even fight Conor McGregor.
Time will tell.
As far as this card goes, you’re probably surprised at how many fights we picked but I just saw a pattern of slight to moderate favorites whom I had a significant amount of confidence.
Also, the UFC likes to set up most of the home fighters with winnable fights.
They match them up well most of the time and this weekend looks like one of those events.
The fights will be live in our primetime Saturday night but get those bets in now!
Tune in, turn up, and bet hard!