Saturday March 16th 2019 at the O2 Arena, London, England
Main Card: from 4pm ET on ESPN+
Prelims: from 1pm ET on ESPN+
Although last weekend’s card wasn’t all that we were hoping for, we still managed to leave it with a marginal profit and a couple of fun fights to wrap up the main card. We now look ahead to Saturday’s UFC fight card from London, England.
This is UFC’s 2nd European event of the year, and the card is packed with the continent’s finest! Intriguing match-ups from top-to-bottom, with many of the UK’s rising home-grown stars, ready to advance their status in the world’s largest promotion! Let’s get into the leans and plays for the earlier fights for this Saturday’s event.
Prelims/Main Card Parlay:
Scotland’s Danny Henry enters his bout against Dan Ige coming off of a one-year layoff, follow his emphatic 39-second finish off of hot Canadian prospect, Hakeem Dawodu. Since then Dawodu has looked okay in his last two, but not quite the world-beater he was thought to be. There’s not much evidence to doubt the Scotsman’s ability to contend with some of the organisations more established talents, but in his fight with Ige, we’ll see if he’s actually got the propensity to make it at the top level.
Ige is coming off a close hard-fought battle with a tough and time-tested Jordan Griffin. It was a great back and forth fight, with Ige coming out with the win. This stood as a testament to Ige’s status as a legitimate prospect. There are a few questions over his gas tank, but I think lessons will be learned following what he had to overcome in his last time out. He’s shown a great ground game and well-rounded base on the feet. I’m not ruling Henry out, but I think this could be too tough of a test for him. I’m taking Ige to win the fight as I don’t think this is could be considered a step down from his last opponent.
1st Leg of Parlay: Dan Ige @-150
In our light heavyweight main card banger, we see Dominick Reyes make his highly anticipated return to the cage. The undefeated Reyes, now 10-0-0 in the sport, has 3 finishes in his 4 UFC victories. Reyes will now square-off with former LHW title contender Volkan Oezdemir. The Swiss Oezdemir wasted no time as he soared up the rankings with a similar trajectory, winning his first 3 UFC bouts over top contenders. Since then he’s faced two stoppage losses in main events, the first to former UFC LHW champ Daniel Cormier and the second to Anthony Smith.
This bout appears to be the meeting of two fighters on contrasting paths. There’s no overlooking that Oezdemir always has the chance to land a knockout blow, but I just see Reyes holding all the advantages in this one. He’s got more diversity with his striking and his ground-game, although untested should also be better than that of Volkan’s. Not to mention that he’s also more athletic and will have minor height and reach advantages. I’m taking Reyes as the 2nd leg of the parlay, momentum is often overlooked in the fight game, and this young man has all of it.
2nd Leg of Parlay: Dominick Reyes @-250
2nd Leg Parlay: 1u - Dan Ige + Dominick Reyes @+134
Co-Main Event - Welterweight (170lbs): #9 Leon “Rocky” Edwards (16-3-0) vs. Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson (17-3-1)
In the co-main event we see Birmingham, England’s, Leon “Rocky” Edwards matched-up with Iceland’s Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson. The Jamaican-born Edwards has a very complete style, it’s quite rare to see a Brit with Edwards’ grappling ability. He comes across as a natural wrestler and can freely land on the feet, all of which is backed-up by decent cardio which allows him to go hard for the full duration.
Nelson has a phenomenal ground game himself, with 13 career wins via submission. There has been questions about his chin, most of which arose following his KO loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio. I can’t say I have many concerns in this area as Edwards isn’t a knockout artist, he’s more of an accumulation fighter. Going off of Nelson’s last fight, I expect him to close the distance and aim for the takedown. There’s a chance he could elect to stand and use his bouncing karate-style striking with Edwards, although I think this will hit the ground at some point. The worry with betting Gunnar here is that if Edwards defends the takedown and gets on top, despite the Icelandic’s outstanding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he could be nullified on the bottom. I think Edwards does represent a very interesting challenge for Nelson as a decent all-rounder, but I think Gunnar should be the slight favorite for this one. His fighting is just slightly more technical in each area and without Edwards having much of a finishing ability, I think Nelson should win each area of this fight, providing his stamina holds up. The line has dropped this week, but the plus-number still holds value in my opinion.
1u- Gunnar Nelson@+108
Main Event - Welterweight (170lbs): #3 Darren “The Gorilla” Till (17-1-1) vs. #10 Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (32-13-0)
In the welterweight main event, Liverpool’s Darren Till returns to the fray to face Jorge Masvidal. Till is back fighting on home soil after his unsuccessful title challenge for the 170lb belt in September of last year. The momentum that Till had prior to the loss was unparalleled by almost any in the pasted and this showed in the betting line, which saw him enter the fight as the minor-favorite.
Jorge Masvidal, nicknamed “Gamebred” for his unrelenting grit and determination is back as well following a lengthy sixteen-month lay-off. The height of these two is not too far apart, with Till benefiting from a 1-inch height and 2-inch reach advantage. Although expect the Englishman to come across as the far larger athlete once these two go face-to-face in the centre of the Octagon.
Masvidal is resilient and isn’t a fighter to get finished by any means. Till says that he’s going to finish Masvidal in the first round but I think even he knows that the Cuban-American is too tough for that. We could well see both fighters come out of the gates looking to be the aggressor, but I think once they both get settled, Till will take the outside and look to piece Gamebred up over the 25-minutes. We can expect Masvidal to potentially look for a grappling exchange or two, to test the Liverpudlian’s ground game. However, the advantage of Till’s strength should see him keep this fight standing and allow him to clinically out-land Masvidal. I’m picking Darren Till to win this fight on the scorecards.
1u – Darren Till via Decision @+150
This fight card could shape up to be very intriguing, with many young stars looking to propel themselves into the rankings and others preparing to declare themselves as the next big thing for European MMA. Best of luck with the fights and catch you next week for UFConESPN+ 4: Thompson vs. Pettis!