Freelance: UFC Fight Night 109—5 Fighters You Need to Watch
For yet another time, the most famous and successful promotion in the business of mixed martial arts will touch down in the Sweden at Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arena, airing between the UFC Fight Pass digital streaming service with more preliminary and main card action to follow on Sunday afternoon (stateside,) May 28.
Some talent on the card have been out for quite some time thanks to injuries and other issues while others have simply gone undiscovered. With the event drawing closer, Bovada has your fully updated betting odds for each fight (current as of May 22.) To give you a taste, below are five names that you can’t miss.
5. Marcin Held
Right of the bat this card already has a great “storyline” built into it as a former Bellator MMA champion is hanging onto his UFC contract for dear life. After debuting against Diego “Lionheart” Sanchez and falling short by way of a unanimous decision, Poland’s Marcin Held’s next opponent in Joe Lauzon essentially made sure the world leader in MMA would keep him around, giving him one more chance to break out and show the UFC brass and fans what he could really do inside the world-famous octagon.
The proof is in the numbers with Lauzon barely edging out his opponent in successful significant strikes over the standard 15 minutes allotted, landing 20 of 62 (32 percent) to Held’s 23 of 78 (29 percent. The American landed 44 of 86 overall strikes attempted (just over 51 percent) with his opponent going 32 of 90 on the feet (around a 35 percent success rate, definitely a factor.) However, Lauzon was stifled as he gave up five takedowns, which could most likely be why he was so frustrated at the sound of the final horn.
In rare form for any professional athlete, Lauzon was so disappointed in his performance that he basically said that he felt Held was robbed of a victory due to yet another call made by inadequate judges.
The Odds: Held now faces the 10-3 “Bosnian Bomber” in Damir Hadžović. The oddsmakers at Bovada still favor Held in spite of his losses as he is the -365 favorite against his +275 opponent. This could be do to the 12 submission victories already on Held’s record or the fact that his recent triumphs prior to signing with the UFC still look impressive. The former titleholder had previously won six consecutive bout with five by way of finishes, specifically four by submission.
4. Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz
The Odds: To some, there might be a black cloud hanging over Munhoz (who, before this contest, had serve a year-long suspension for having elevated levels of testosterone) but he is set to rain on the parade of Damian Stasiak as the -700 heavy favorite against the +450 underdog.
In his last two contests, Munhoz earned consecutive bonuses after delivering what was deemed to be the “Performance of the Night” on those occasions with the fights ending courtesy of the exact same finish, a guillotine choke. He debuted for the UFC after getting his hand raised ten straight times with seven stoppages (six by submission.)
3. Abdul Razak Alhassan
The Odds: Simply put, this hidden gem is putting up prime “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey-type numbers and that is why his bout is the closest to a sure thing as you will find on this card. As previously reported, the 7-0 Alhassan has ended all of his bouts prior to his current opposite Omari Akhmedov “in 86 seconds or less.” Alhassan is the obvious favorite on Bovada between the two at -275 to Akhmedov’s +215.
Perhaps with combat sports more than any others, one most always be wary, expecting the unexpected, but as a bettor, you should feel pretty secure in picking the devastating Alhassan this weekend.
2. Misha Cirkunov
Like the famous line from the first Godfather sequel, just when you Misha Cirkunov is out, the UFC pulls him back in! After going back and forth with the organization and with the UFC President Dana White go as far as saying that Cirkunov was done with the UFC, the two sides managed to come to terms on a new agreement and he has since re-signed.
The Odds: Inside the cage he has ended fights four consecutive times while his dance partner in Volkan Oezdemir of Switzerland has not had a fight end by stoppage since late 2014 which may be partly why Bovada currently has Cirkunov list as the -380 favorite against a +290 opponent. Expect yet another submission!
Cirkunov is so self-assured of victory that he recently told the United Kingdom’s Daily Star, “If I defeat Oezdemir, especially if I’m able to stop the fight, then I’m going to be riding a five-fight winning streak. And if that happens, I believe that I’m the guy to watch out for. I’m not just some random guy who got lucky once or twice. The message to my rivals is that they should all watch out for me – I pack a lot of heat with a lot of skill.”
Oezdemir has an average career fight time of a complete 15 minutes while Cirkunov’s time is about half of that at just 6:48. What fans will see is very easy to guess at: the two men will enter, Cirkunov will give his opponent a lengthy medical suspension, and then leave.
1. Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson
The native people of the host country are hoping (as are many of his fans across the globe) that Alexander Gustaffson will return to championship-level form in front of his home crowd. His last victory was a unanimous decision triumph over Jan Blachowicz that seemed to pull him out of a mental slump after falling to both for UFC light heavyweight (205-pound king Jon “Bones” Jones and current champion Daniel “DC” Cormier.
The main reason to watch is because even when Gustaffson can’t put his opponents away, he delivers a bloody, fun, product to watch as a fan. As mentioned elsewhere, his opponent in Brazilian Glover Teixiera “is the leader in almost every measurable way. Gustaffson lands 4.12 Significant Strikes per Minute to his 4.03 but trails in striking accuracy (44 percent to 40 percent,) Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute (3.63 to Teixeira’s 3.33,) and in striking defense (57 percent to 50 percent.)”
The Odds: Despite these numbers, given possibly the home advantage and taking into account the last performances of both men (the UD win for Gustaffson and a 13-second title eliminator loss to the now-retired Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, the Swede is still considered as Bovada’s favorite in this card’s headliner at -310 to +240.