It’s a slow month for the UFC after their streak of 8 straight weekends with events culminated at UFC 222. Last week we didn’t have an event, and after this Fight Night card there will be two weekends off before the UFC returns in a big way with UFC 223 in April. You would think this card that is sandwiched between off-weekends would be star-studded, but that’s not really the case with this weekends card being a fairly basic Fight Night event in London, England.
Fabricio Werdum vs Alexander Volkov is the main event, and Englishman Jimi Manuwa is also featured as a co-main against Jan Blachowicz, while top prospects Tom Duquesnoy and Leon Edwards each have fights which completes the four fight main card. I have 3 plays for this main card outlined below with the best odds being offered from one of our top rated sportsbooks used for my play.
This is an early card here in Canada because they will be showing the fights in prime time over in the UK. The prelims get underway at 1:45pm EST on Fight Pass and then the main card of four fights will be shown on the Fight Network starting at 5pm EST.
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Alexander Volkov vs Fabricio Werdum
I’ve been unimpressed with Werdum for quite some time now. Yes, he’s still getting the job done in most of his fights, but he is still just 3-2 in his last 5 fights and he only has the one finish, which was a submission against Walt Harris who literally didn’t know he was fighting Werdum until the day of the fight and as such did 0 training to defend the jiu-jitsu game of Werdum. Outside of that win he went to decision against Travis Browne, who everyone else is finishing, and grinded out a standup win over Marcin Tybura, who was just KO’d by Derrick Lewis. Overall, I just don’t think Werdum has the stand-up to really hurt Volkov and if he can’t get the fight to the mat I do not think he outworks Volkov on the feet either.
Volkov is an absolute monster of a man and his work-rate is some of the best you will find in the heavyweight division. He landed 122 strikes on Roy Nelson in a unanimous decision win and then landed 135 significant strikes on Struve before knocking him out in his last trip to the Octagon. Volkov looks better every time he steps foot in the cage and I expect him to be able to keep this fight standing and land the greater volume and more damaging strikes to get this win and solidify himself as a top contender in the heavyweight division.
Play: Volkov 2.80 @ SportsInteraction.com
Jan Blachowicz vs Jimi Manuwa
Manuwa is another guy who I think is far overrated. He’s only 3-3 in his last 6 fights, yet he was close to being considered a top contender. Yes, his KO victories over OSP and Corey Anderson were impressive, but OSP is such a sloppy fighter he’s susceptible to finishes and Corey Anderson has absolutely no chin for all of his wrestling talent. Let’s not forget that Manuwa gets caught on the feet just as often as he catches other guys. All 3 of those losses in his past 6 fights were KO/TKO by strikes, so his chin is not the best either.
This fight is a rematch of Manuwa vs Blachowicz in early 2015, where Manuwa won via decision, but it was a very close fight with both guys not landing a ton of strikes, but Manuwa doing a bit more damage.
Since that fight I think Blachowicz has improved far more than Manuwa. He’s coming off of two big impressive wins over Devin Clark and Jared Cannonier, after heading into each fight as the betting underdog. I was particularly impressed with Blachowicz in the Cannonier fight because he showed a great ability to grind, while also mixing in striking. It’s this exact style that can give Manuwa trouble. If Blachowicz can grind Manuwa throughout the fight and tire him out, he should be able to land the greater volume, while mixing in a couple takedowns to win rounds and either find a late finish or win via decision.
Play: Blachowicz 2.75 @ SportsInteraction.com
Leon Edwards vs Peter Sobotta
I’ve said Werdum and Manuwa are overrated favourites. Leon Edwards is the real deal. A fighter doesn’t simply go into the cage with Vicente Luque and grind out a victory winning the last two rounds convincingly. That win really put Leon Edwards on my radar because I’m very high on Vicente Luque.
This is a huge step up in competition for Peter Sobotta and I am not convinced he will be able to hang with Edwards in any part of the game. Sobotta is a legitimate prospect in his own right and this is by no means a home run pick, but I do expect Edwards to get the job done and continue to solidify himself in the welterweight division.
Play: Edwards 1.50