The UFC returns to Vegas for the 4th of July weekend and as always it has stacked the deck. While the loss of the co-main event and a featherweight title fight is a big blow, the super fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier remains the fight everyone is talking about. The rest of the card is really solid, with UFC matchmakers doing a great job at making these even contests the whole way down. Read on for our preview of the big main event and best betting spots.
This is a genuine super fight between the UFC’s heavyweight and light heavyweight champions. Miocic has lorded over the heavyweight division since 2016 and has broken the record for consecutive heavyweight title defences. Cormier has enjoyed a glittering MMA career, with his only career losses coming against the incomparable (and possibly drug enhanced) Jon Jones. These are two of the best wrestle boxers to ever grace the UFC and it will undoubtedly make for a fascinating contest. While going up from the 205 pound weight limit for light heavyweight to 260 pound cut off is a massive jump, Cormier is no stranger to the heavyweight division. He started his career as a heavyweight and in 13 career fights at that weight, he never lost a round, earning the Strikefore heavyweight title in the process. He only moved down a weight division after joining the UFC and his number one training partner, Cain Velasquez was the heavyweight champ.
This is an incredibly close fight for mine. Cormier is small even by light heavyweight standards, so he’ll be at a significant size disadvantage against the 6’4 Miocic. But Cormier has always had to deal with having a shorter reach and performed admirably against Jones, who is easily the size of a heavyweight. Miocic will also have a big power advantage; before his decision over Ngannou, Miocic had amassed 4 straight first round KOs. Miocic’s stand up KOs generally follow the same pattern; he pivots and explodes off his leading leg to land big punches at odd angles against oncoming oppoents. Both times Cormier has faced significantly bigger opponents, Jones and Gustaffson, he has bennt hit a lot and dropped. But he has an incredible ability to survive after getting hurt, but whether he can do that against heavyweight power is another story. If Cormier is going to win it will be through grinding and wrestling, and he is more than capable of doing that. Despite the level of his opponents, the former Olympic wrestler Cormier has never been outgrappled. He has otherworldly strength in the clinch and do not think for a minute Cormier can’t pick Miocic up ad drop him on his head. He is also an incredibly cerebral fighter who will no doubt be acutely aware of Miocic’s danger weapons.
I think if Miocic wins this it’s because he catches Cormier and uses his wrestling to keep the pressure on and earn a finish. Cormier usually reverts to wrestling when in trouble, but has never fought someone with this combination of size and wrestling pedigree. On the other hand if Cormier wins it will because he keeps it close on the feet, works against the cage and gets takedowns. I really rate this fight about a 50:50, with possibly a slight lean for Miocic. However I think the oddsmakers are greatly underrating Cormier here. I think a bet at on him at $3 or over represents excellent value. But considering if he does win it will almost certainly come by decision (unless he gets a late submission), $6 is too good to pass up. Daniel Cormier by 49-46 decision.
This is the first bout on the PPV and make sure you’re in your seats early because this promises to be fireworks. Rountree shot to prominence on the ultimate fighter with a pair of first round knockouts. He is a powerhouse striker with only one thing on his mind, putting his opponent to sleep. On the other hand Saki might be the best credentialed striker to ever try their hand in the octagon. He is a former multi time kickboxing and muay thai world champion who has amassed a 83-12 record with an incredible 59 knockouts. He is only 1-1 in MMA, but showed significant improvement in his last outing to earn his first victory. Rountree has never really shown a penchant for the ground game, but he is going to need to get takedowns here. If he can’t, he will get knocked out. Even if Rountree chooses to wrestle, Saki has shown off decent takedown defence and I think he earns a spectacular KO victory here. Gohkan Saki by 1st round KO.
This interesting batamnweight matchup goes down in the middle of the undercard. It sees Brazilian perennial top contender Assuncao take on hard hitting American Font. Assuncao has won 10 of his last 11 fights, with his only loss coming by decision to current champion TJ Dillashaw. His victories in 2017 against Moraes, Sterling and Lopez were unspectacular, but certainly impressive considering the level of opponents. Font backed up his disappointing submission loss (in a fight he was winning), with a brutal headkick KO of Brazilian prospect Thomas Almeida. I like Assuncao a lot in this spot, I think he his control of range will frustrate the boxer and I see him landing a lot of kicks to the lead calf. As Font tires, Assuncao may look to implement some grappling, where he also enjoys a significant advantage. Font is obviously a power puncher, and that coupled with Assuncao’s age does give me pause. But Assuncao has shown a consistent ability to win decisions over fighters of Font’s ilk and I think he does it again were. Raphael Assuncao by unamious decision.
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