UFC 191 is headlined by a dynamic Flyweight title bout between arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world in Demetrious Johnson and the only man to have given him recent trouble in the Octogon in John Dodson. Read on for our UFC 191 preview and betting tips.
Flyweight Title Fight: Demetrious Johnson (c) 21-2-1 vs John Dodson (#1) 18-6
Demetrious Johnson is often considered the pound-for-pound best fighter in MMA. He was the inaugural flyweight champion and has lorded over the division ever since. In that time he has only ever looked vulnerable once, when John Dodson dropped him to the canvas in the early stages of their first encounter. Johnson recovered and ended up taking over the fight, but what that fight showed is that if anyone has the skill set to vanquish the champ, its Dodson.
Johnson is as close to the complete martial artist as we have in the sport today. His greatest asset is speed; he darts around the octagon in a whirlwind of technical proficiency. On the feet he has great boxing fundamentals, is happy to fight out of either stance and has the best striking defence the octagon has witnessed. He is a very strong wrestler and combines that with an aggressive submission game. The hallmark of Johnson’s title reign has been his ability to seamlessly chain together kicks, punches, takedowns and submission attempts all without taking any damage.
John Dodson is a very different fighter; he does one thing and does it very well. Dodson has magic in his left hand. Even at 57kg he has legitimate one punch knockout power. He even holds a TKO victory over current bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw. However apart from that one punch, his offense is very limited and is often restricted to counter attacks. He is a very explosive athlete and is near impossible to takedown. In fact no one has been able to take Dodson down and keep him there, other than Demetrious Johnson.
Prediction: The most telling thing for me in this fight is that in the 2.5 years since their last fight Dodson has suffered a serious knee and had an underwhelming victory over Zach Makovsky. Whereas, in that time Johnson has rattled off five dominating title fights in which he has seemingly improved each time. Dodson's path to victory is clear and if you can see him getting it done you can get juicy odds for him to win by KO ($7.50 at Ladbrokes). However I just can't go past the champ, I think he struggles early but takes over late to win a clear decision. Demetrious Johnson by 49-46 decision.
Bet: Demetrious Johnson by Unanimous decision - $2.38 at Ladbrokes
Andrea Arlovski (#4) 24-10 vs Frank Mir (#10) 18-9
This heavyweight bout pits together two former UFC champions who are both in the midst of astonishing career revivals. Following four successive loses in 2011, Arlovski was cut from Strikeforce but has since gone an impressive 9-1 run including three straight UFC victories. His most recent performance was an exhilarating one round slugfest with #3 ranked heavyweight Travis Browne and another victory here will surely see him compete for the heavyweight title. The Belarusian comes from a combat sambo background, but has been known primarily as striker in his MMA career. He has fantastic boxing fundamentals and was previously under the tutelage of Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach. The biggest improvement to his game in recent times has been striking defence, but he remains susceptible to a flash knockdown. Arlovski is a limited ground fighter but uses great footwork and takedown defence to stop the fight getting there.
The combination of world-class technique and brute strength, make Frank Mir the most dangerous submission grappler in MMA history. He is responsible for some of the octagon’s most gruesome injuries including breaking Tim Sylvia’s forearm in four places to claim the heavyweight title. The secret to his recent success has been the improvement in his stand up game. He has two straight KO victories and has seemingly improved in all aspects of striking.
Prediction: If this one stays standing I give the advantage to Arlovski, but this is heavyweight MMA and one punch can change the complexion entirely. If this fight hits the mat, I don't think it will be long before Mir gets Arlovski in a tap or snap situation. It’s a tough one to pick, but I think Mir has more ways to win and if he fights smart will be able to get this one to the ground and finish the job. Frank Mir by 1st round Submission.
Bet: Frank Mir to win - $2.39 at Sportsbet
Anthony Johnson (#1) 19-5 vs Jimi Manuwa (#7) 15-1
This fight brings together two of the most explosive strikers in the light heavyweight division. Together they have 19 career 1st round knockouts and Anthony Johnson holds the UFC record for most KO victories in under a minute. Johnson's last fight was against Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title. He knocked Cormier down and was so close to becoming champion before Cormier rallied and submitted him in the 3rd round.
Johnson is one of the most physically intimidating and largest light heavyweights in the division, which makes the fact that he debuted in the UFC as welterweight remarkable. He is the prototypical sprawl and brawler, using a strong wrestling base to keep the fight standing while throwing strikes with life altering power. The drawback to all his explosive power is that his cardio is downright awful and generally if a fight sees the second round it spells bad news for Johnson. I doubt this one will hit the mat, but Johnson should have a wrestling advantage here also.
Similarly to Johnson, Jimi Manuwa relies almost solely on his striking ability. He is an aggressive fighter, with the majority of his power shots coming from his left hand and left leg. He tends to be the one coming forward and leads with the left hook, which might mean he falls victim to Johnson's fantastic counters. Manuwa will go into this one with both a technique and power disadvantage, but still has that one punch knockout power. If he is going to win I think he needs to catch Johnson clean and early.
Prediction: This fight is guaranteed fireworks. Both of these fighters only have one thing on their mind, knocking their opponents out! Unfortunately for Manuwa, Johnson has the far more dangerous weapons. Their one common opponent is Alexander Gustafsson. Gustafsson dominated Manuwa before finishing him in the 2nd round, whereas Johnson knocked Gustafsson silly in two minutes. That tells you everything you need to know. Anthony Johnson by 1st round KO.
Bet: Fight to end in 1st round - $1.83 at Ladbrokes
Jan Blachowicz (#12) 18-4 vs Corey Anderson 5-1
Jan Blachowicz must be counting his lucky stars here. He was pulled late from a bout with the aforementioned Anthony Johnson and given the much more manageable task of Corey Anderson. Blachowicz lacks the power and explosiveness of the previous two light heavyweights but he is probably a superior technical striker. He has a high-level kickboxing game and utilizes an effective jab and left hook. Fighting primarily on the European scene means Blachowicz hasn't been able to show off much in the way of grappling which remains a significant question mark. The thing that makes me hesitant to lay juice on Blachowicz is his complete lack of activity. He has been known to give away rounds against far inferior opponents due to an unwillingness to engage.
Other than his nickname, beastin 25/8, Anderson is a fairly non-descript fighter. He is still young in the game and coming off impressive performances on the Ultimate Fighter, looked to have a ton of upside. However a very disappointing performance against Gian Villante has completely derailed the hype train. Anderson is a pretty solid combination boxer, but has almost no kicking game. He is the polar opposite of Blachowicz in terms of activity and is always coming forward looking to push the action. Anderson was on his way to winning his last fight, before being knocked out by Villante, not a fighter known for punching power.
Prediction: Blachowicz should win this one. He is the better striker and Anderson has been very susceptible to kicks in his career. However his inactivity worries me and I can foresee a scenario were the judges give Anderson a razor close decision due to him being the more aggressive fighter. Jan Blachowicz by 29-28 decision.
Bet: Fight to go to decision - $1.75 at CrownBet
Paige VanZant (#7) 5-1 vs Alex Chambers 5-2
To open the main card, Australia's own Alex Chambers is matched up against one of the UFC's poster girls, Paige VanZant. '12 gauge' Paige VanZant fights out of the extremely high level camp, Team Alpha Male and at only 21 years old has shown significant improvement with each fight. Due to her bubbly personality and cover girl looks, VanZant is often underestimated but is an extremely talented and tough fighter. Her striking game is a little sloppy and she has huge holes, including coming forward with her chin in the air. But she makes up for this with volume, pressure and constant movement. Her bread and butter is clinch work, wrestling and aggressive ground and pound. She also has a fantastic gas tank, which has allowed her to take over fights in the later stages.
Despite being 36 years old, Chambers is relatively green in the sport with only seven career fights. She excels when the fight is kept at distance, however VanZant is notorious for coming forward and stalking her opponents. In the clinch Chambers has good knees and a number of unorthodox trips and takedowns. She is a national BBJ champion and if given the opportunity is able to pull off impressive submissions. However her defence is not good and all her career loses have come via submission.
Prediction: VanZant is still very green in her MMA career, but I think the UFC is throwing her a soft ball here. She holds a clear advantage wherever the fight goes and I don't really see any way Chambers can win other than capitalizing on a VanZant mistake. I always tend to lean towards decisions in female fights, however there is such a gulf in class here, I think VanZant will take Chambers down and beat on her without mercy until the ref is forced to step in. Paige VanZant by TKO Rd 2.
Bet: Paige VanZant wins inside of the distance - $1.80 at Ladbrokes
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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