UFC Fight Night 83 Picks: Inexperience Will Make Oliveira Pay A Price When Meeting Cerrone

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, February 11, 2016 1:18 AM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 1:18 AM UTC

UFC Fight Night touches down in the Steel City as Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone tries to rebound from his stunningly quick TKO loss to lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos when he tangles with Brazilian KO artist Alex Oliveira. Let’s determine which fighter to include in our UFC picks on February 21st.

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UFC Pick: Donald Cerrone -275
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


Donald Cerrone (28-7, 5 KO’s, 15 Subs)
Donald Cerrone had become a buzz-saw in the lightweight division, cutting a swath through the competition like a stick of soft butter in a blast furnace. Over the course of eight consecutive fights Cerrone recorded wins in each and every one including five finishes. He also earned bonuses for two Performances of the Night, a Submission of the Night and a Knockout of the Night. But perhaps the coup de grace came in a unanimous decision victory over longtime nemesis and former world champ Benson Henderson in January of 2015. Cerrone had finally conquered the man who had previously handed him a pair of gut-wrenching losses and that victory propelled him to the stratosphere of the UFC lightweight division.

But his comeuppance came swiftly and violently when he squared up against world champion Rafael dos Anjos, whom Cerrone had bowed to in 2013 before dos Anjos captured the crown, when he was rendered incapacitated by a thunderous roundhouse to the midsection that spelled the beginning of the end for the erstwhile No. 1 lightweight contender. In one minute and six seconds the fight was over and Cerrone was again defeated by the best the division had to offer.

The irony in all of this was that the line had moved decidedly, with either the sharp money, the public money, or a combination of both pushing the UFC odds on the champ from an opener of -285 all the way down to -170 in some offshore shops. Bettors were lining up on Cerrone but the chalk eaters never even had to sweat it as the champion was simply too much for a challenger that had vanquished all comers over the last two years until he ran into a buzz-saw of his own.


Alex Oliveira (14-2, 9 KO’s, 3 Subs)
Alex Oliveira had reeled off 11 wins against only one loss (and one no contest as well as one draw) before he was elevated to the big leagues of MMA. In his first UFC contest Oliveira was submitted in the third round via armbar by Gilbert Burns in March of last year.

However, the Cowboy (yes, we have two cowboys inside the Octagon for this match) fought his way past that disappointing debut with wins over welterweights K.J. Noons via first-round submission and a decision over Joe Merritt. He dropped down to 155 to KO the well-rounded Polish fighter Piotr Hallmann. His match against Cerrone will be an enormous step up in class and he will also have to contend with maintaining his weight at 155 pounds considering he is a natural welterweight.


Betting Analysis
Alex Oliveira is a replacement for UFC veteran Tim Means who was ousted from the card due to a possible anti-doping violation. Now we have a heavy handed Oliveira against one of the very best at 155. Unfortunately, the Brazilian has not faced this level of competition. Cerrone has the chops to do it all. He can send a man to sleep by setting him up with his own brand of stinging Muay Thai or can take the fight to the mat where he is even more adept. Cerrone has a mismatch on his handsin this one and the UFC odds reflect as much with Cerrone a prohibitive favorite at -300 like at Bet365.

If there is one caveat in making a case for including Cerrone in my UFC picks, it would be his performance against dos Anjos. The fact is he didn’t perform – at all. He appeared drained before the match and the case could be made that the Cowboy is simply more of a welterweight than a bona fide lightweight. There have been no shortage of upsets in the UFC recently and Oliveira has demonstrated enough punching power to make life miserable for his adversary. But he has not been battle tested enough to convince me he can stand and trade with a world class fighter like Donald Cerrone.

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