Oh, San Antonio…
Such mixed feelings come to mind when I think of you.
I went to basic training there when I joined the Air Force going on 20 years ago.
Okay, before you hit me with the “chair force” jokes, it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
Yes, the physical part was pretty easy.
2 miles in 18 minutes wasn’t too challenging but the Air Force prided itself on attention to detail. It took me a week to fold my t-shirts into perfect 6-inch squares only to have a man in a smokey the bear hat toss my entire locker for fun so I could do it again.
I ended going to school and learning my military job there and eventually got to experience a lot of what the city had to offer including the magnificent Riverwalk.
I really need to get back down there again soon.
Last week was a good one.
In the UFC, we went 5-0 with two underdog wins including Urijah Faber’s TKO in his un-retirement fight opposite maned young lion Ricky Simon.
That was truly something special to see. He was a 3-1 underdog in his hometown of Sacramento where he grew up, never really moved, and started one of the top mixed martial arts gyms in the world.
His callout of champ Henry Cejudo may have been a bit overzealous but who knows, it might work.
Then in the main event, Germaine De Randemie made quick work of the GREEN striking of Aspen Ladd. GDR was elite as a professional striker and Ladd is below-average on her feet in mixed martial arts.
De Randemie was much bigger too. I think Ladd will learn from this by focusing more of her time on rounding out her game and possibly leaning out her body as well.
Bellator picks were money as well with 3 wins on the favorites and a (+173) parlay of all of them.
We have been a serious roll winning 77% of our picks in the past 5 weeks including 13/14 on fight winner picks with odds ranging from (-135) to (+135).
I have to be completely honest and up-front with you guys, though. This week is very tough to call.
There are three heavyweight bouts on the card this Saturday where I think I know who’s going to win but in a heavyweight fight, one punch can change the entire fight at any given time.
I truly believe Leon Edwards has the sauce to beat Rafael Dos Anjos but picking against the Brazilian burned me recently in the Kevin Lee fight and RDA is especially strong and experienced in 5-round fights.
My long-time training partner Roxanne Modafferi is in there against Jennifer Maia; a woman that beat her a couple of years ago successfully defending Invicta World Title.
Roxy and I are the same age, 37, and she is truly a fine wine. Many pundits in the media are saying she’s on her way down but her last fight and win versus Antonina Shevchenko dropped the jaws of numerous experts.
She was a fairly big underdog in that fight and it was nice to see her win and make some money at the same time.
Ugh, my mind is telling me to stay away from that one but we will see.
BetOnline has the odds for us this week.
Let’s pick ‘em!
Alex Caceres vs Steven Pederson
Alex better hope he doesn’t catch any bullets with his teeth on Saturday night.
Although Steven Pederson hasn’t knockout power, he does have overwhelming pressure. That cannot be denied.
Alex has beaten guys like him in the past but when his opponent presses forward past kicking range, he relies on arm punches and footwork to keep opponents away from his centerline.
He was a piece of meat thrown to a hungry wolf in his last bout against the son of the great Rickson Gracie, Kron.
Without the knockout power to threaten the world-class grappler, Gracie closed the distance quickly and it was easy work from there.
It’s his fight before Gracie against the aggressive Martin Bravo, he won but barely. The Mexican fighter out-landed him and scored three takedowns to Leroy’s zero.
Steven Pederson has a better gas tank than Bravo with slightly more power and better takedowns.
In Pederson’s last fight, he fought the even lankier “Violent Bob Ross” Luis Pena. While Luis was able to secure the win, the AKA fighter was taken down 4/8 times and only landed 10 more total strikes.
Pena is bigger/better than Alex and has much better knees to deal with the shorter more aggressive fighter.
So, it’s a step up for Alex and a step down for “Ocho” Pederson.
I’ll take the slight dog fighting out of nearby Dallas in this one.
Ben Rothwell vs Andrei Arlovski
Here’s one of those heavyweight fights I was telling you about. The money is rolling in on Rothwell and I’m starting to wonder if 1 to 2 odds is worth the investment.
Andrei is 2-9 in his last 11 fights, though. How he is still fighting for far and above the best organization in the world is beyond me.
His name sells?
Eh. At this point, I don’t really like to see him fight. He is well aware of his chin’s one way trip to the moon for years now and doesn’t like to exchange.
In his younger years, he was as eager as anyone to showcase his boxing prowess but nowadays the ol’ wall-n-stall is the preferred method of winning over the judges.
He has been KO’ed or TKO’ed 10 times in his career!
That’s like sheesh but with a cringe face.
CTE is a scary scary thing and I would love to see one of my original favorite UFC fighters hang ‘em up very soon.
The wall-n-stall likely won’t work against the larger Rothwell.
He is coming off of two losses in a row but taking the faster, more powerful, technical, and athletic Junior Dos Santos 5 rounds is an accomplishment.
He also lost to an old gym mate of mine, Blagoy Ivanov who is another underrated fighter who just finds a way to win.
Before that, Rothwell won 4 in a row with 4 finishes including a submission win over a grappler in Josh Barnett and two TKO wins over high-level Muay Thai strikers Alistair Overeem and Brandon Vera.
I think Ben reverses any clinches against the cage that Andrei attempts and catches him with a left hook on the exit much like Jan Blachowicz was able to do to Luke Rockhold.
Dan Hooker vs James Vick
This is almost sure to be a striking battle between two capable stand up artists.
James Vick is very tall for a lightweight at 6’3” but Hooker isn’t a little person at 6’0 even. Dan has the broader shoulders and a more alpha build so he will only be giving up 1 inch in the reach department.
Vick loves to use his overwhelming size to win fights but he won’t be able to bully his way through this one.
James was starched and slept nearly a year ago against the surging powerhouse Justin Gaethje. Since then, he dropped a unanimous decision to the Muay Thai tactician and part-time UFC color-commentator, Paul Felder.
Dan is coming off of a thrashing defeat where he took a significant amount of damage against Edson Barboza, albeit mostly to the body and legs.
It’s been 7 months since and I’m taking it he is well recovered.
Hooker is the more skilled striker and before his loss to Barboza, he was able to finish his previous 5 opponents with 3 TKO’s and 2 submissions.
Vick likes to back up with his chin in the air and while most of his shorter opponents haven’t been long enough to take advantage, I believe the “Hangman” from New Zealand will.
Jennifer Maia vs Roxanne Modafferi
Okay, I went back and watched the entire first fight between these two highly skilled ladies and boy was it close for the first three rounds.
Maia is the better and more efficient athlete, and I think that helped her in rounds 4 and 5 tremendously when Roxy began to flail.
Modafferi won rounds 2 and 3 I believe. Round 3 she finished in mount but didn’t have very much time to get to work.
Roxy was able to land a good amount of kicks so she won that part of the fight and was the better fighter on the ground as well.
What concerns me is how much stronger Maia was. Even when Roxy was in advantageous positions and/or attempting submissions, it was Jennifer who was able to defend and shrug her off.
Roxanne trained Judo in Japan and has always made her money with trips when she has her opponents against the cage. Maia’s underhooks as the shorter stronger fighter were dominant, though.
Jennifer almost found a home for the lead leg left head kick as Roxy would circle out after they traded and she abandoned it after a couple of rounds.
If she can go back to that, I think she can hurt and finish Modafferi with it.
Roxy main adjustment will need to be mixing in her takedowns with her strikes. As good as her takedowns are, they usually come on their own. Maia is very aggressive and could get herself put down on the mat if she’s not careful.
I want to note that defensive skills like avoiding the takedown and submissions on the ground can be acquired in a shorter amount of time than the ability to score a takedown, land a strike or secure that submission.
Maia is a pure boxer and while Roxy has improved her game since they last fought, it is still the same game.
Modafferi may land a few more strikes but I don’t think she will be able to take down Maia and even if she does, she likely won’t be able to secure a submission, even with ample time.
Jennifer’s hand are just to fast, clean, and crisp. Those mitts along with her constant movement and strength advantage in the clinch should be enough for her to get this win.
Juan Adams vs Greg Hardy
Okay, I know everybody and their sweet momma will be pulling against Hardy in this one.
I truly don’t think they will be disappointed either. The UFC has clearly tried to push him by constantly placing him on the main card even when his skill set and experience are severely lacking.
Juan Adams matches Hardy at 6’5 265 each with an 80-inch reach.
Whew, those are some biiig boys.
Greg is a world-class athlete, yes, but don’t sleep on Adams. He has tightened up his body significantly since his first fight under the UFC banner and is a former Division 1 wrestler.
I tell myself to possibly bet on Hardy because the promotion is obviously pushing him and why would they give him someone who could smash him?
Then, I scratch my chin and hypothesize that maybe they are pushing him to get murked.
Juan Adams is that dude, too.
If “The Kraken” from Houston, Texas stands and strikes with Hardy, I think he wins 3 out of 4 times.
If he uses his wrestling, he wins 9/10 times.
Hardy did recently start training at the famed American Top Team which will help his MMA game tremendously. Juan is too far ahead, though, at this point.
Leon Edwards vs Rafael Dos Anjos
I would like to start by saying that if this fight was not the main event, I would not be picking or betting on it.
Let’s give it a whirl, though.
First instinct goes to Edwards. It just does. He’s much taller and longer with a 4-inch reach and 4-inch height advantage.
His grappling is legit. Leon took down ground wizard Gunnar Nelson several times and Nelson did the same to him.
Edwards survived, out-struck him on the feet and won.
He also out-struck Cowboy Cerrone. That, my friend, is not easy.
Donald did have a hard time at Welterweight, though. Cowboy lost to Dos Anjos as well but it was at 155 pounds.
Rafael has undoubtedly been in there with better competition than Edwards.
Before his streak got started, Edwards dropped a decision to the champ, Kamaru Usman. I like his style and I think he can definitely defeat Rafael.
Dos Anjos has beaten so many great fighters and is still only 34-years-old.
I’m rambling, guys, sorry.
I’ll take Edwards. I like his size and a recent win over a similar opponent in Luque.
I need to get back down to Texas!
Maybe the next time the UFC pays a visit to San Antonio, I’ll try to make it.
I’m for sure not going to Dallas because, well, it’s Dallas and who likes the Cowboys?
There’s another reason to pull against Greg Hardy. I just don’t think he has the experience or wrestling ability to fight off Adams.
Even if it means losing my pick, I would love to see Modafferi get the W but speed kills and strength sure helps.
The underhooks will be key for Roxy. Alexis Davis was able to get them against Maia but doesn’t have the takedown game of Modafferi.
I’m a fan of Bruce Leroy. I’m a long lanky guy too but I know my kryptonite, and it’s an aggressive fighter who doesn’t mind eating a weak punch from a guy with small hands to get his takedown.
I would say Rothwell and Hooker are my most confident picks this week. I’m not really confident about the main event.
I’m just going with my first instinct.
Tune in, turn up, and don’t break anything, guys.