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UFC 224 NUNES VS PENNINGTON

It’s been three weeks since UFC fans got an event from the promotion but the organization has rewarded that patience with a LOADED Fight Night card…wait I mean a solid UFC on Fox card…wait this is a PPV?! The UFC heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Saturday night for what can only be described as one of the ‘weakest’ Pay-per-view lineups in a long time. 

I love MMA and the UFC but I refuse to lie to fans when it comes to spending their hard earned money these PPV’s that don’t meet a PPV standard. There is a Women’s Bantamweight championship on the line and two long time legends will square off against one another in their home country; but under no reasonable standard could anyone say this is a PPV worthy card. I’ll do my best to bite my tongue and preview the best fights that are on the card because there are still a few intriguing matchups. We bring back the Burger-meter to get fans ready for the tastiest fights on the card. The Burger meter will look at the fight matchup (how good is it, how important, how entertaining) and associate it with its hamburger equivalent. I’ll breakdown the main card by relating it to its “burger form” and offer some fight predictions to hopefully help your bank accounts. Let’s get to the card:

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(100% Imported Kobe Beef Burger): Ridiculously luxurious & best of the best

 

None, which is an absolute shame for any PPV.

   

 (In & Out): Lives up to the Hype & always worth it

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (2nd) vs Kelvin Gastelum(5th) (Middleweight 185 lbs)

Preview: On paper this is the best and most competitive fight on the main card. You have two top 5 guys looking to stake a claim for a shot at Robert Whittaker when the champion finally returns from his injury. Both men are coming off big wins after losing their previous fight allowing them to stay relevent in the 185lbs division. Jacare is a tough out no matter where you are fighting him but attempting to beat him in Rio is going to take a near perfect fight from Gastelum. Despite being a small middleweight Kelvin has managed to thrive against some of the best in the division but has not been able to beat a prime 185lbs fighter. He gets his chance against Jacare. Kelvin will give up the size advantage but should maintain a speed & striking advantage against the Brazilian ju-jitsu master. This fight is going to come down to can Gastelum stay away from Souza’s takedowns or will the Brazilians strength & tremendous takedowns grind the smaller fighter out over three rounds.

Odds:  Souza (-150) vs Gastelum (+130)

Prediction: If this fight was a year ago I think I would have rushed to the window to bet Souza vs a small middleweight. However, Souza has begun to finally show his age a little as he approaches his 40th birthday. He’s still very dangerous against any man he faces but as Robert Whittaker demonstrated he can be hit if you can strike. An while no one will confuse Gastelum’s striking for the types of bombs Whittaker throws, he does have very quick hands and underrated power. The line just feels a little off for me for some reason. Many people would figure if this is a close fight, Souza gets the hometown nod so I expected Souza to be a much bigger favorite which makes me suspicious. Does Vegas know this is the end for Souza? I’m willing to find out and take the much younger underdog who I think can pull off the upset.  (Gastelum +130 by Decision)

 

 

  

(Home Cooked Burger): Solid, reliable, and hits the spot

Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes (Champion) vs Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (2nd) (Welterweight 170 lbs)

Preview: It bums me out putting headlining PPV fight for a championship belt as just a “solid burger” but unfortunately its what it is. I like both of these women immensely as fighters, they show up to fight, they make weight, they put in the work to be great. However, neither has been able to really connect with a larger fanbase that warrants big PPV numbers. This isn’t entirely their fault, not every fighter can be McGregor or Jon Jones. Yet, when you have two fighters who do not really have a history, no real story line, and a belt the promotion has done very little in making important since Rousey lost it it’s tough to sell this is a “headlining fight”. Pennington is on a five fight winning streak but injuries have kept her sidelined since 2016 so outside of MMA diehards no one really knows who she is. Her last really impressive win was against Jessica Andrade in 2015 so its tough to get excited for her chances against a monster like Nunes whose now defended her belt three consecutive times and is fighting in front of her countrymen. Everything outside of submissions Nunes does better than Pennington. Nunes is bigger, stronger, faster. She’s fought and beat far better opponents. I can’t blame Nunes for the weakness of the women’s bantamweight division but I also can’t lie and say this is a fight fans are clamoring to see. Pennington is easy to root for, she’s coming off a massive layoff due to injury, fighting far from home as a massive underdog but her paths to victory appear to be extremely limited. Nunes’s one achilles heal in the past appears to be her cardio but Pennington will have to make it out of the first couple rounds intact to even hope to push Nunes late and look for a submission. I anticipate Pennington trying to not take big damage early, keep Nunes busy hoping she can get her to burn some of that cardio in the early rounds.

 

Odds:  Nunes (-1000) vs Pennington (+600)

Prediction: Championship fights should not be this lopsided, at least not headlining PPV championship fights. People will point to Holm vs Rousey but Rousey was the draw & Holm had a legitimate championship boxing background. Pennington feels very much like a lamb to slaughter to keep the bantamweight championship busy until a more lucrative opponent appears. This fight has no value in it unless you think Pennington can pull off the upset, but even than I don’t like that I’m only getting +600 for a woman who has essentially not fought in almost 2 years. This fight is a rare “pass” for me here as Pennington could gut this one out and force Nunes to win a long decision or she could get stopped early but I don’t think there’s any value betting a side so I’ll pass. I think Nunes wins easily. (Pass)

John “Hands of Stone ” Lineker (-255) vs Brian “Boom” Kelleher (+210): This a fun fight with two men who know how to finish them. Lineker finds himself in no mans land at Bantamweight. He’s not quite good enough to beat a guy like Dillashaw or Garbrandt but he’s also not a gatekeeper at only 27 years old. He cracks like a mule but just can’t seem to beat the best of his division. Kelleher is a underrated vet whose been in several really tough fights which is why the UFC didn’t hesitate putting an unranked guy like Kelleher in there with a top 10 guy like Lineker. The reason this fight isn’t higher is I’m not sure what it does for Lineker. If he knocks out or finishes Kelleher everyone will shrug because its what he was supposed to do. However, if he struggles or even loses to the tough Kelleher it could essentially end any hopes of him getting a title shot. This is a decent fight, I’m just not sure why it got made.  (Lineker by KO/TKO -255 & Under 2.5 Rounds +185)

 

 

(Waffle House Burger): It won’t kill you but high quality it is not

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (+220) vs Kyoto “The Dragon” Machida (-250) (Middleweight 185lbs) : Both of these men are half of fame legends. Both of these men should no longer be fighting. Each man has lost 3 of his last 4 fights and can longer compete with the top echelon fighters of the 205lbs division. 5 years ago this fight would have been a headlining fight, now it just makes me sad. I hope both men take this opportunity to retire in front of their countrymen and let fans remember their illustrious careers instead of watching them fight well past their prime taking unesseary punishment. Who knows, maybe they can summon one last great bout and put on a show. Either way I think Machida still brings too much skill into this fight to get beat by Belfort. The only way he loses is if he gets sloppy and catches a Belfort bomb to his chin. (Machida by KO -250)

 

(Gas Station Burger): Hello darkness my old friend

Mackenzie Dern (-240) vs Amanda “ABC” Cooper (+200) (Women’s Straw weight 115lbs) : I hate this fight. It’s a fight I might skip if I’m watching prelims and had something to do. WHY IS IT ON A PPV main card? Mackenzie Dern is a ‘prospect’ at best who looked down right mediocre in her split decision victory for her UFC debut few months ago. I along with several media members had her losing on the score cards. Adding insult to injury she comes in a massive 6lbs over weight, the 2nd time in a row she’s missed weight. Her blatant disregard for her opponent Amanda Cooper and weight divisions despite being only 25 years old and supposedly trying to become a contender in the division is just ridiculous. She’s done nothing to deserve this card placement and her actions this week have only further led me to believe she’s not serious about trying to fight for a belt one day. I think her refusal to make weight is a bad sign for her future in the sport and I think a determined Amanda Cooper might deliver that lesson sooner than later. I like that I get a scrappy professional fighter at 2-1 odds against a woman I’m not sure wants to or should be in there with her. This fight is a bad look on the promotion for being on a PPV card. (Cooper +200)

 

Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (72-56-1) (+$950.50)

  • UFC Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
  • UFC Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
  • Stats provided from http://UFC.COM & http://www.fightmetric.com/

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