After another two week break, the UFC is back this weekend with the UFC 224 PPV event from Brazil. Amanda Nunes headlines the card against Raquel Pennington for the women’s strawweight belt, while Kelvin Gastelum and Ronaldo Souza fight as the co-main event in a meaningful middleweight tilt.
Overall, this is a very weak PPV card in my opinion. The Nunes vs Pennington fight is one-sided and Nunes isn’t a draw whatsover. The Souza vs Gastelum fight is the best on the card, but it’s still nothing you have to tune in for in my opinion. Belfort vs Machida is a fight with two big names, but both guys are far past their primes. All of that said, it’s still a UFC card and I’m happy to have the UFC back in my life this Saturday even if the card is lackluster for a PPV.
All of the odds are taken from BetOnline.ag, our top rated betting site for MMA. Here’s our full BetOnline review for you to check out if you’re interested in opening an account and placing some bets.
Amanda Nunes vs Raquel Pennington
This is one of the most one-sided title fights I’ve seen in quite some time. This isn’t a knock on Pennington, but Nunes should have no trouble keeping this fight standing and tuning off on Pennington on the feet. Nunes is the most dangerous striker the women’s strawweight division has ever seen and she’s finished every one of her wins in the UFC outside of her two fights with Valentina Shevchenko, who she had to fight with a much more measured attack due to Shevchenko’s counter-striking ability.
Pennington hasn’t fought in a year and a half, and that was a win over Miesha Tate, who seemed to have mentally checked out at that point in her career. Before that she beat Elizabeth Phillips who went 1-3 in the UFC (only win was over Jessamyn Duke) by decision, and Bethe Correia (who is another low level fighter) by split decision. She did have a big submission win over Jessica Andrade in her fourth most recent fight, which was back in September of 2015, but Andrade has since moved down to 115 pounds and had much more success.
Overall, I don’t think Pennington is even close to the level of Nunes. That said, the odds reflect this, so this is a pass for me.
Lean: Nunes -950
Kelvin Gastelum vs Ronaldo Souza
I still don’t really know what to make of Kelvin Gastelum at middleweight. He’s looked good against the old men of the division with finishes of Tim Kennedy, Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping, but these are all fighters far past their primes and Kelvin was able to use his speed in the division to easily outstrike them all.
Against Weidman though, Gastelum was bullied by a much bigger man who was easily able to take Kelvin down 7 times before securing a submission in the 3rd round.
The question becomes whether Jacare, at 38, has become one of these old men that Kelvin has feasted upon at middleweight. I personally think Jacare still has enough in the tank to win this fight. He’s the bigger man by a large margin and even just one takedown could be enough for Jacare to secure a submission in this fight. He’s also no slouch on the feet as he showed by KO’ing Derek Brunson early in his last fight. The only true loss on Jacare’s record is the dominant striking performance put on him by current champ Robert Whittaker. Kelvin does have the speed to mimic Whittaker’s performance, but I don’t think he has the reach or size to really take advantage of Jacare on the feet.
I’m looking for Jacare to win this fight and for Kelvin to realize he doesn’t have the size to beat the true contenders at middleweight and for a return to welterweight to be in his near future.
Play: Souza -144
Amanda Cooper vs Mackenzie Dern
This is a very tough fight to call. Just looking at the fight I think Cooper is the better all around fighter and she should win this fight. That said, she often puts herself in poor positions and if she doesn’t fight smart against Dern she will get submitted by the best female jiu jitsu fighter in the world.
Cooper is 3-3 in her MMA career and all three losses have come by submission. That said, the three losses were also against fighters who are very strong wrestlers in Apsen Ladd, Tatiana Suarez and Cynthia Calvillo. These three women are arguably three of the best wrestler/grapplers in the women’s 115 pound division. Because of this I’m going to give Cooper the benefit of the doubt and expect her to be able to keep this fight standing against Mackenzie Dern.
Dern did not look very good in her UFC debut against Ashley Yoder. She went just 1 for 6 on her takedown attempts and really didn’t look like she had much wrestling ability whatsoever. The UFC is invested in Dern and likely matched her up against a fighter they think she can beat, but I’m not convinced.
I like Cooper to get the job done and at these odds I think she’s a great bet to derail the hype train.
Play: Cooper +190
Brian Kelleher vs John Lineker
Kelleher has been impressive in his 3-1 UFC career, but this is a big step up in competition for him and I think it’s a bad style matchup. Both of these guys are action fighters with over 5 strikes landed per minute. The difference is that Lineker hits like a truck and will stand in the pocket until Kelleher falls down. Lineker has also become very good at defending submissions, so even if Kelleher gets him to the mat, I don’t think he locks in a sub.
The Barao win for Lineker was impressive, but Barao is washed up. Lineker still has plenty left in the tank and has only lost to the champ TJ Dillashaw in his recent 7-1 run in the UFC. I like Lineker in this one.
Play: Lineker -238
Lyoto Machida vs Vitor Belfort
I’m not interested in this fight in the least. I don’t think either one of these guys has anything left in the tank and I think this could be a very boring fight.
I’m going to lean towards Belfort just because he’s a big dog and I think Machida is equally as washed up as Vitor.
Play: Belfort +220