Last Updated: 2017-12-14
We head north of the border for some UFC action this weekend, as UFC on Fox 26 takes over the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The main event will feature Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos in a battle of former champions. Even though dos Anjos was a titleholder in the lightweight division, this will be a welterweight scrap for the main event of the 12-fight card.
We’ll be taking an in-depth look at the fights on the main card, but will list the odds, the matchups, and some quick notes about the undercard fights per the lines at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The four fights on the main card will all be on the national Fox network, with six preliminary card bouts on Fox Sports 1 and the first two fights on UFC’s digital Fight Pass network.
Action gets underway on the all-male card with Danny Roberts against Nordine Taleb at 170 pounds. Taleb is the -150 favorite in his home country of Canada, but he has alternated wins and losses over his last five fights. Roberts is 3-1 in his UFC career and two of those three wins are by stoppage. We could have a live dog here. Originally, these two were in separate fights, but their opponents were removed from the card, so they’ll fight each other.
UFC typically slots a good bout into the “main event” of the Fight Pass card to entice buys. Erick Silva vs. Jordan Mein certainly qualifies. Mein is a -135 favorite for a fight with a total of 1.5 and the over slightly shaded at -130. Mein desperately needs a win after three straight losses to Belal Muhammad, Emil Meek, and Thiago Alves as UFC tried to step him up in class. Silva has lost three of his last four fights, including a knockout loss to Taleb in May 2016. He hasn’t fought since losing on June 3 to Yancy Medeiros. Silva has taken some punishment in his fights lately.
Alessio Di Chirico and Oluwale Bamgbose is a pretty good fight to open up the FS1 portion of the show. Bamgbose is even money, so the early action has been on Di Chirico to psuh him to -120. Bamgbose has been a disappointment after hitting UFC with a bit of hype. Di Chirico doesn’t have too many impressive wins throughout his career, but the line movement here is pretty telling.
Abel Trujillo is a big favorite over John Makdessi in lightweight action. Makdessi, one of several Canadians on the card, hasn’t fought in over a year since he was knocked out by Lando Vannata at UFC 206. The best days of his career appear to be in the past, when he was matched up with guys like Donald Cerrone and Yancy Medieros. Trujillo is still a solid fighter and is a -190 favorite for a reason.
Unbeaten debutant Pietro Menga is a big underdog to Tim Elliott in flyweight action. Elliott, a belt holder in Titan FC until he made the leap to UFC, has fought a much higher level of competition in his career. We don’t see many 13-0 fighters at +220, but it certainly looks like oddsmakers and bettors alike expect Menga to fall for the first time. Justin Scoggins was Elliott’s original opponent, but he is dealing with a serious injury.
Galore Bofando won his UFC debut back in July and he is looking for another win in this fight against Chad Laprise. Laprise, another Canadian combatant, has gotten back on track of late with wins over Thibault Gouti and Brian Camozzi. Bofando is only +140 for his second UFC fight, so that could be an indication that we have a live dog here as well.
Promotional newcomer Julian Marquez was originally set to face Vitor Miranda, but a switch earlier this month has Darren Stewart slotted into this middleweight fight. Marquez is 6-1 on smaller circuits, though he did have a cameo appearance in Bellator back in February 2016. That fight against Chris Harris is his only career loss. He’s won four straight, but this is certainly a step up for the 37-year-old. And, yet, he’s a -350 favorite over Stewart, who hasn’t won in any of his UFC fights and hasn’t won since July 8, 2016.
We’ve got a solid light heavyweight fight on tap in the FS1 “main event” between Jan Blachowicz and Jared Cannonier. Cannonier was originally set to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, but Nogueira popped a positive test for hydrochlorothiazide in October and that produced this fight. Cannonier is still a big -180 favorite, but it will be interesting to see how he handles Blachowicz’s ground game. Cannonier got a nice bounce back win over Nick Roehrick last time out, following a loss to Glover Teixeira.
Glover Teixeira (+145) vs. Misha Cirkunov (-165); Total: 1.5 (-160/140)
How much does Glover Teixeira have left in the tank? That’s the question on everybody’s mind going into this fight against the younger Misha Cirkunov. Teixeira is 38 and a veteran of 32 professional fights. His last fight against Alexander Gustafsson was a tough one, as Teixeira was knocked out for just the third time in his career and second in his last three fights. Anthony Johnson knocked him out in 13 seconds at UFC 202. Teixeira is more accomplished than most of his opponents, but everything is slowing down and we’ve got an up-and-coming group of athletic fighters in this division.
Misha Cirkunov is one of them. He got rocked and brought back to earth a bit by Volkan Oezdemir in one of the more surprising outcomes of the UFC Fight Night card on May 28, which included Teixeira. After starting his UFC career with four straight stoppage wins, Cirkunov going down in that fashion was stunning, but Oezdemir is a massive hitter, as seen by what he did to Jimi Manuwa just two months later. Teixeira is a savvier fighter, but doesn’t have the same power.
Pick: Misha Cirkunov (-165)
This is a good fight for Cirkunov. He gets a smart, veteran fighter tumbling down the other side of the hill in terms of his career. Teixeira isn’t as big of a hitter and isn’t as strong or athletic as Cirkunov at this stage of the game. That allows Cirkunov to beat a name opponent and appear to repair his stock and image after a tough setback. We see UFC do this and we can get some betting angles from the context of these fights.
Mike Perry (+165) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (-190); Total: 1.5 (-105/-115)
Blink and you might miss the end of this fight. Some big shots could be flying in this 170-pound battle between Mike Perry and Santiago Ponzinibbio. Perry is 11-1 in his career and all 11 of his wins have come via KO/TKO. His lone loss came last December 17 against Alan Jouban by decision. Jouban was able to avoid the big strikes and dictate the fight on the ground. That will be what Perry has to avoid here against a fighter with a solid ground game. Perry has since bounced back from the loss with wins over Jake Ellenberger and Alex Reyes.
Ponzinibbio doesn’t have any overly notable scalps, but he’s been solid over his last several fights. The 31-year-old has ripped off five straight wins since his loss to Lorenz Larkin in 2015. He’s knocked off Andreas Stahl, Court McGee, Zak Cummings, Nordine Taleb, and Gunnar Nelson. Three of those wins are by first-round knockout and two are by decision. Ponzinibbio has shown the ability to be the better striker and has also shown a good gas tank to go the distance.
Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio (-190)
That’s why he is the better option in this fight. He won’t tire out and can look for those opportunities against Perry later in the fight, when he starts to tire. So long as Ponzinibbio can avoid a big shot. Rather than play this fight straight, take both fighters by knockout and look for an arbitrage opportunity to basically freeroll on this one. Ponzinibbio has six career submission wins, but has never locked one in during his UFC tenure. If one guy wins by decision, so be it, but that seems unlikely.
Josh Emmett (+235) vs. Ricardo Lamas (-275); Total: 2.5 (-185/160)
Ricardo Lamas was originally scheduled to face Jose Aldo here, but Aldo opted to have a rematch against Max Holloway at UFC 218, and who can blame him for that? Lamas enters this fight with Josh Emmett with a chip on his shoulder. Emmett certainly appears overmatched here. He is 12-1 in his career, but the 32-year-old hasn’t faced any upper echelon competition in his UFC career.
The only concern here for Lamas is if he overlooks his opponent. Going from a rematch with Jose Aldo to a fight with an inferior competitor can be dangerous if the fighter isn’t in the right mindset. Lamas has fought the top guys throughout his career, like Aldo, Holloway, and Chad Mendes. He took down inferior opponent Jason Knight by first-round KO at UFC 214. We could see something similar here.
Pick: Ricardo Lamas (-275)
Don’t be afraid to lay the chalky number here. If you are, there are some parlay pieces on the undercard, like Elliott or Marquez to where you can limit your risk a little bit and increase your payout. It is very hard to see Lamas losing here, considering his only losses since 2014 are Holloway, Mendes, and Aldo.
Rafael dos Anjos (-115) vs. Robbie Lawler (-105); Total: 2.5 (-155/135)
The judges appear likely to have a say in who gets a title shot against welterweight champion Tyron Woodley because that is the ultimate prize on this UFC on Fox card. Lawler once held that belt. Dos Anjos held the lightweight belt. This should be a good capper to what looks like a solid card of fighting.
For dos Anjos, things are back on track a bit. After losing the belt to Eddie Alvarez on July 7, 2016, he had a hangover fight outcome against Tony Ferguson in November and also lost that. It was Fight of the Night winner, but it was clear that dos Anjos still wasn’t right mentally. Wins over Tarec Saffiedine and Neil Magny have instilled a little more confidence in the 33-year-old, especially the first-round submission win over Magny. Those two wins came in his first two welterweight scraps. This is the best opponent for dos Anjos at this level by a large margin, after fighting guys like Donald Cerrone, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, and Nate Diaz at his previous weight, though Diaz missed weight for their fight.
Robbie Lawler wants that rematch. Tyron Woodley is wearing his belt. Lawler, who beat Johny Hendricks at UFC 181 to get it, had two title defenses over Rory McDonald and Carlos Condit before losing to Woodley with a first-round KO. Lawler’s title defenses weren’t overly impressive and he won the belt with a split decision triumph. His win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 was solid, but that title shot is something he is obsessing over and he can get it here.
Pick: Rafael dos Anjos (-115)
Unfortunately, he may not get it. Rafael dos Anjos has looked really good at this weight and may simply feel a lot more comfortable at welterweight. These are two great fighters in the twilight of their primes, so it would be a surprise to see either beat Woodley, who is in the midst of his, but this fight does seem like a coin flip, as the line would indicate. There are better betting options on this UFC on Fox card, but if you have to have action on the main event, dos Anjos is now the favorite for a reason.
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