Touted newcomer Jim
Hettes puts his undefeated record on the line against the always dangerous Nam
Phan. Also, find out if Alexander Gustafsson can continue working his way to a
title show with a possible win over Matyushenko.
UFC 141: Main card predictions
Jim Hettes vs. Nam Phan
Undefeated prospect Jimmy Hettes takes a huge leap in
completion when face off with the battle hardened, Nam Phan.
Hettes’ latest finish over Alex Caceres
brought his record to an impressive 9-0. At only 24 years old the kid has shown
a great deal of natural adaptability to both the striking and grappling aspects
of MMA. His grappling ability has even received praise on some of the lower
grappling circuits around the country, as not
a single one of his 9 opponents has managed to avoid being submitted.
The way he’s able to chain his submissions together is
without question his strongest attributes as a fighter. Against Bruce Leroy we
saw him relentlessly attack with submissions from just about every position
imaginable. He can be a bit shaky from
top position ( Caceres was able to reverse multiple positions throughout the
first round,)but his back and guard control are excellent.
At one point yesterday, the UFC betting lines for this fight reached -365
in favor of Nam Phan before the eventual buyback corrected the line back down
to -280. For the most part, the UFC odds makers seem to be banking on Phan’s enormous
edge in experience.
What determines this line for me, though, is Phan should be
the aggressor in the striking exchanges and also possibly holds an edge in
cardio. Hettes has never seen a 3rd round in his career and we have no
idea how he holds up if this fight turns into a war of attrition, which Phan is
known for creating.
However, Hettes has the much higher ceiling at this point in
his career. He’s at a stage where he’s constantly making drastic improvement
from fight camp to fight camp. The sportsbook offering of +220 should be worth
a marginal play here.
Free UFC pick: Jim Hettes +220 (@bookmaker.com)
vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
40 year old veteran Vladimir Matyushenko has
his hands full at UFC 141 with one of the more promising light heavyweights to
come out of Sweden.
Since entering the UFC in 2009, Alexander Gustafson has put
together a 4-1 record consisting of notable victories over Matt Hamill and Cyrille
Diabate. The Swede possesses a malicious arsenal of strikes to go along with an
increasingly dangerous submission game. Over his brief career he’s flawlessly
adapted his striking to fit his 6’5 frame and 76.5” reach.
The line for this fight opened around -280 before the early
action pushed it 25 cents in Alexander’s favor. The early UFC picks were all in favor of Alex
but we’ve seen a very marginal buyback on “The Janitor” this week. At the
moment Pinnacle.com is offering the best price at +265 on Vladimir. My guess is
the line stagnates until a possible 10to 15 cent move on Alex after the
As a -150 favorite in his last fight over Mat Hammil,
Gustafson showed some early chinks in his defense. Up until the knockout in the
second round, the fight was relatively close. At the end of the fight the entire right side
of Alex’s face was marked up from eating way too many of Hammil’s jabs and left
That kind of defense makes me question the current price
tag. Vladimir isn’t known as a big puncher, but lately his kickboxing coach,
Anthony Hardonk, has made some effective refinement to his combinations and
movement. In fact, he’s knocked out his last two opponents in the very first
round, the latest against Brilz coming just 20 seconds into the fight.
At the end of the day Gustafson should prove to be too long
and fast for the aging veteran. Gustaffson’s lead right uppercut, his most
effective strike, should find a home early and often. His defense is still a
concern for me but I think Gustafson is the right play at the current odds.
Free UFC Pick: Gustafsson -320 (@ 5dimes.com)
Jon Fitch vs. Johny
Jon Fitch has a shot at his 10th straight decision-victory
when he goes up against Johny Hendricks at UFC 141.
In fact, the last time Fitch finished a fight was in 2007
against Roan Carneiro. His inability to finish elite fighters has proven to be
one of the more profitable betting angles in MMA over the last few years. This time, however, he faces an opponent whose
durability is widely acknowledged by the public. How that affects the price on
the decision props remain to be seen, but my guess is anything involving a
decision will be greatly overpriced here.
His opponent, Johny Hendricks, recently had a close fight
with fellow wrestler Mike Pierce. Although the late steam was all on Hendricks,
the line closing at -160 proved to be mistake. While the fight was close all throughout, Hendricks was just a tad more
accurate and threw the more eye catching strikes. In the end, the split
decision truly could have gone either way.
Coming into the UFC, Hendricks was considered to have had
one of the more decorated collegiate careers. Unfortunately, the NCAA Division
I wrestling title he won at Oklahoma State hasn’t necessarily translated too well
into MMA. He’s been taken down in most of his fights and was out wrestled for
portions of his fights with Rick Story and Charlie Brennaman --both considered
to be inferior wrestlers.
Now, against Fitch, Hendricks is up against the most
conducive wrestling style to MMA. The Logic from your average fan is: well if
Rick Story was able to grind him out against the fence, why can’t Fitch? While
I agree with that sentiment for the most part, Hendricks at +214 seems a bit
Giving him less than a 32% chance to win this fight seems
just a tad off to me. I think his boxing on the inside has a good chance of
softening Fitch up early. And while his
takedown defense hasn’t been great, I expect Fitch to struggle more with his takedowns
than many seem to think.
UFC Pick: Johny Hendricks +214 (@pinnacle.com)