The UFC is heading back to London for a Fight Night card on March 17th. This card will be taking place in a very slow March for the promotion, with it being the only card taking place between UFC 222, which occurred on March 3rd, and UFC 223 which is scheduled for April 7th. With so few UFC events taking place around this card you would think it would be a fairly strong card, but that’s not really the case, even for a Fight Night.
The main event on the card is Fabricio Werdum taking on up and coming heavyweight Alexander Volkov, while the co-main is Jimi Manuwa getting back in the octagon against Jan Blachowicz. I will be focusing on these two in this breakdown, partly because they are the only two fights with early odds already available, and also because the other fights on the card are not very exciting.
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.
Fabricio Werdum vs Alexander Volkov
Werdum keeps getting the job done in his fights, but I’m continually unimpressed with his performances. He was able to win a unanimous decision over Marcin Tybura in his last outing, but that fight was actually a lot closer than a lot of people remember and Werdum was only able to get Tybura to the mat one time, instead relying on his striking to win the decision.
Before that, Werdum absolutely destroyed Walt Harris, but Harris stepped in against Werdum the night of the fight and his takedown and grappling defense was simply not where it should have been had he known he was facing Werdum.
Before that Werdum lost a boring majority decision to Overeem, won a decision over Travis Browne (who everyone else was knocking out of late) and lost his title by knockout to Stipe Miocic.
I really don’t know what to think of Werdum, but I think he’s overrated, I do not think his offensive wrestling is good enough to beat anyone with decent takedown defense and I still believe his striking to be very average and without fight finishing power.
Volkov is a monster of a fighter and he’s the type of guy who will be able to easily match and exceed Werdum’s output on the feet. I believe that this will mean that Werdum will need to get a finish or several takedowns to win this fight. I do not see Werdum getting Volkov to the ground easily, so I think his main path to victory is working for a submission in the off chance he does get his massive opponent to the mat.
I think Volkov will have the better output and the more dangerous striking so he’s my pick to win this fight if it stays on the feet both by decision and the more likely knockout. Werdum is 40 years old and I believe this fight against a legitimately athletic 29 year old heavyweight with signal the beginning of the end of Werdum’s career as a top MMA fighter.
Play: Volkov +175
Jan Blachowicz vs Jimi Manuwa
Another fighter who I feel is very overrated and I’m ready to fade when the opportunity presents itself is Jimi Manuwa. The man is only 3-3 over his last 6 fights in the UFC and yet he’s still ranked #4 in the light heavyweight division. Yes, his losses came to high end opponents, but those losses were all complete thrashings with each of Alexander Gustafsson, Anthony Johnson and most recently Volkan Oezdemir absolutely piecing up Manuwa on the feet before finishing him with a knockout within the first two rounds.
Yes, he does have a couple nice knockouts of late but his knockout of OSP is a KO over another overrated fighter, while Corey Anderson’s lights go out whenever he gets touched clean.
Jan Blachowicz is often overlooked, but he’s a very solid fighter with a strong chin. He is riding a 2 fight win streak including a big dominant win over highly touted prospect Jared Cannonier this past December. Blachowicz has the ability to mix in takedowns and to grind fighters against the fence, which could take Manuwa out of his striking game.
These two fighters did meet before with Manuwa getting a decision win over Blachowicz back in 2015, but that fight was very close with Blachowicz actually outlanding Manuwa 44-43 in the loss, while Manuwa landed the more damaging shots.
Manuwa is another fighter who is getting up there in age at 38 and I do not see him improving. Blachowicz seems to be adding more dimensions to his game and I think he will be able to learn from his earlier loss to Manuwa and find a way to outclass the striker, similar to how he performed in his last bout with Cannonier who is a similar stand-up power puncher to Manuwa.
Play: Blachowicz +175