Demetrious Johnson (17-2, 3 KO’s, 6 Subs) vs. John Moraga (13-1, 2 KO’s, 6 Subs)
Early indications are that the champ Demetrious Johnson will be installed as a 3-1 favorite in the UFC odds when books begin to deal the line. There is speculation that the line will climb even higher as the fight approaches. If that’s the case, the best value for your UFC picks could lie in backing the large underdog.
Moraga is in the midst of a seven-fight win streak and his entry into the UFC has been explosive. His debut was a first round KO of Ulysses Gomez back in August at UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera and he followed that up with a third round submission over Chris Cariaso at UFC 155 in December.
John Moraga has an outstanding wrestling background and should be able to handle Johnson’s takedowns and ground attack. The question is whether or not Moraga has the chops to counter Johnson’s blazing speed. I believe his three inch height advantage should allow him to effectively stand and trade until he spots an opening to take Johnson to the canvas. From there the fight will be a chess match but, when given significant odds on a fight that should be razor close, I’ll be happy grabbing the vig instead of laying it.
Rory MacDonald (14-1, 6 KO’s, 6 Subs) vs. Jake Ellenberger (29-6, 18 KO’s, 5 Subs)
Welterweight Rory MacDonald is coming into the fight against seasoned veteran Jake Ellenberger with a lot of buzz. Many are looking at the 23-year-old as the future king of the division but his opponent at UFC on Fox 8 doesn’t seem to be impressed.
“I'm not really sold on him. In my opinion the only top-10 guy in our division he's fought he's lost to, and that's Carlos Condit. I think he's definitely a young up-and-comer, but nothing special. ... It's still surprising to me, for some reason some people in this industry think he's a top-five guy, which I don't even think he's a top-10 guy.”
While Ellenberger may be on to something it’s hard to ignore MacDonald’s last four fights since his loss to Condit. He has thrown down with some serious competition in the form of Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, Che Mills and the fading legend BJ Penn, defeating each and every one.
This could be the fight of the night but it could also be an early night for MacDonald if he gets caught napping with his hands down. Ellenberger’s strikes are lethal and it would be wise for MacDonald to take this fight to the mat where he lives and breathes. MacDonald may find Ellenberger a tough guy to finish but don’t be surprised if he dominates all three rounds. For the second of my free picks, I feel comfortable predicting an eighth straight victory for young MacDonald.
Play MacDonald -170 at Bet365.com
Robbie Lawler (20-9, 17 KO’s, 1 Sub) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (21-5, 11 KO’s, 6 Subs)
In the last of our UFC picks we turn to a fight where newcomer Siyar Bahadurzada replaces Tarec Saffiedine to fight veteran Robbie Lawler. Lawler dropped down to middleweight after a string of losses in the middleweight division. His return was successful as he punished the once potent Josh Koscheck with a first round TKO.
However, if you can find odds on this one, Bahadurzada should be a fairly significant underdog simply due to his lack of exposure in the big leagues of MMA. I believe he can give Lawler a good run for his money as he has serious punching power and a more skilled ground game.
Play Bahadurzada at Bet365.com