Last weekend’s UFC 217 was a fight card to remember. Each of the title shots had crazy finishes and there were several other fights on the card that delivered in a big way. That event as a whole was a huge win for the UFC. This week the promotion heads to Norfolk, Virginia for a smaller Fight Night card that still has some solid fights. Anthony Pettis looks to get another win back at lightweight over one of the staple contenders in the division, in Dustin Poirier. Other big names on the main card include Andrei Arlovski, Diego Sanchez vs Matt Brown, Clay Guida vs Joe Lauzon and the prelims also cap off with a very interesting bantamweight fight between John Dodson and Marlon Moraes.
I have picks for four of the main card fights below with odds 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.
Dustin Poirier vs Anthony Pettis
Poirier has gotten a bit of a poor shake in the UFC so far in my opinion. After a win over Jim Miller he was given a high profile fight with Eddie Alvarez and was lighting up Eddie early in the fight before Alvarez dug deep to make it competitive. The fight ended up finishing in a no contest due to Eddie Alvarez landing obviously illegal knees to Poirier’s head while he was down. In most peoples opinions Poirier was winning the fight at that time, but because of Alvarez’s poor choice of strikes he didn’t get the win on his record, plus the UFC gave Eddie a high profile spot on The Ultimate Fighter with a fight against popular newcomer Eddie Gaethje as his reward. Poirier was left in limbo, but lucky for him he was able to land this fight with Pettis, who is also a former lightweight champ and should help Poirier really put his name in the title discussions.
After a strange adventure down at 145 pounds where Pettis was given an interim title shot after 1 win, he got destroyed by Max Holloway and realized the cut to 145 was downright dangerous. Moving back to 155 pounds Pettis was able to pull out a win over ageing veteran Jim Miller.
Jim Miller isn’t that big of a win for Pettis. He’s now lost 3 fights in a row and even though the fight between Poirier and Miller was arguably closer, I still wasn’t impressed with Pettis in that bout. Before that win Pettis had lost 3 straight fights at lightweight including a split decision loss to Eddie Alvarez.
Poirier on the other hand is now 5-1 in his last 6 fights excluding the no decision against Alvarez. His only loss was a quick TKO loss when he was caught by Michael Johnson. Poirier looked especially impressive destroying Joe Duffy in their fight and then knocking out Bobby Green quickly.
Poirier has a much higher pace than Pettis and just as much knockout power. Pettis probably has a better shot at finishing this fight, but if it goes to a decision Poirier should be the one being more aggressive and landing the better shots. This is a very closer fight, but I like Dustin to get another big win and continue to move towards a potential title shot.
Play: Poirier +105
Andrei Arlovski vs Junior Albini
Arlovski has now lost 5 UFC fights in a row, but these losses have come to the who’s who of the heavyweight division. This Saturday he fights a much lesser known and less proven opponent in Junior Albini, but Arlovski still comes in as a big underdog. Albini is an exciting prospect, but his win over Timothy Johnson is really the only UFC calibre fighter he’s faced. He knocked out Johnson early, which cannot be ignored because Johnson had yet to bet knocked out in his career. That said, this is heavyweight and a big punch can finish the fight from either side.
Arlovski is still a big step up in competition for Albini. At these odds I have to go with Andrei. His power has not left him and he still has the ability to throw bombs and potentially finish fights. I’ll be taking a flyer on Arlovski in this fight.
Play: Arlovski +235
Diego Sanchez vs Matt Brown
Matt Brown was looking very good against Donald Cerrone in his last fight before squashing the beef and really settling Cerrone down heading into the third round. What followed was a high kick KO for Cerrone. That said, I was impressed with Matt Brown in the fight and Diego Sanchez does not have the same kind of finishing ability as Cowboy.
Sanchez is moving up from lightweight for this fight and Brown should have a significant size advantage. Even though Brown has been finished in his last 3 fights, Sanchez hasn’t won via finish since 2008 with his last 8 wins coming via decision. Brown should be able to control the fight with his size and willingness to engage. I expect Brown to get the finish himself, but if he doesn’t I think he will be active enough to bully Diego Sanchez and get the win via decision.
Play: Brown -300
Clay Guida vs Joe Lauzon
Guida came out and grinded out a huge win over Eric Koch as a big underdog in his last fight. It showed me that he still has something left in the tank. Even before that fight Guida was looking very good against Brian Ortega before getting caught late in the third round.
I don’t think Lauzon will be able to keep up with Guida’s pace and I don’t see Joe landing a finishing blow, which is likely his only way to win this fight.
Play: Guida -110
My other leans on the main card are Ferreira -260 and Assuncao -320.