Hey, welcome to another set of MMA predictions, this time for DREAM.10, The Welterweight GP Final Round.
It's a card that has great value betting on underdogs, but due to UFC 100, seems to have been forgotten around here. Well, here's a step to remedy this.
All tips given in decimal form, the return based on putting down €1.00/$1.00/£1.00. E.g., 1.45 means that for every 1.00 you place you get 0.45 in return, along with your original 1.00.
All lines taken from Bodog.
Dong Sik Yoon vs. Jesse 'JT Money' Taylor
Dong Sik Yoon
+Judoka who won gold in 1994 Asian Games (78kg), 1997 Asian Championships (78kg), 2000 Asian Championships (90kg), and 2001 East Asian Games (2001)
-Judo skills have not transitioned well, struggles with takedowns more than expected
-Never gained any good striking ability
+Good ground and pound
-Gives up positions
The best 4-6 fighter around, Yoon has been consistently tested against top competition (Sakuraba, Mousasi, Nakahara) and had mixed results. He is always dangerous in top position, and can pull off a 'dongbar' in a flash.
Taylor's biggest fight was against CB Dollaway, which he lost by Peruvian Necktie (not to be confused with a Colombian Necktie). Taylor has a weakness with grappling, so Yoon should have a decisive grappling advantage here when the fight hits the ground, regardless of whether he's on top or on bottom.
Yoon by arm-, I mean dongbar, Round 1. Yoon enters at 1.44, and Taylor enters at 2.75, so while being heavy favourite, Yoon should not be in too much danger here. Taylor will hardly KO him and won't submit him, obviously. Doubt he'll grind out a decision either.
Melvin 'Marvelous' Manhoef vs. Paulo 'Ely' Filho
+Nightmarish KO power
+Extremely experienced K-1 kickboxer
-Ground game is non existent
-Wrestling is terrible
+Extremely decorated Jiu Jitsu black belt
+Black belt in judo
+Persistent in trying to bring fight to the ground
-May have mental lingering issues
-Weak takedown shots
Kazuo Misaki (2006)
Stays standing, Manhoef. Ground, Filho. Simple, but is Filho's wrestling good enough to take this to the mat? That I'm not sure about, if Filho focuses this should really be his, if he starts seeing ghosts again Manhoef will make him one.
Manhoef was never really committed to MMA, and when he got subbed by Mousasi he complained about Mousasi not having balls enough to stand with him. Don't expect him to ever have a good sprawl.
Filho is committed, and if he's worked out his mental issues he could be a nightmare matchup for Manhoef...like anyone with a wrestling background and submission skill are.
Filho by sub, Round 1, minute 1. I don't believe Black House would let him fight again unless he was fit. Filho is at 1.74, Manhoef at 2.05, but I still prefer the Brazilian.
Katsunori Kikuno vs. Andre 'Dida' Amade
+Extremely prestigious career in Kyokushin Karate
+Transitions between striking/clinching fluid
+Aggressive ground and pound
+Very confident striker
-Striking defense not tight-Takedowns not hard to stuff
-Not a submission artist
+Wicked power punches
+Fast puncher that throws punches in bunches that have a good chance of overwhelming the opponent in classic Chute Boxe style
+Decent takedown defense
+Good defensive guard
-Wild style may cause him to run out of energy
-Open to counterstriking
-Left and right hooks are his primary combinations
Textbook striking vs. aggressive assault. This is difficult to call. Kikuno has an extensive Kyokushin pedigree; his titles include: 1st place in an All-Kyushu Tournament and 1st place in an All-Kansai Tournament, both of which were openweight tournaments.
Dida looks to have a considerable height and reach advantage, and is more tested against top competition, but hasn't fought in more than a year. Kikuno, however, is on an eight-fight winning streak, albeit against sub-par competition.
Leaning towards Dida by TKO, Round 1. Kikuno is not a counterstriker like Machida, who is impossible to hit; he comes forward, and I think this will play to Amade's game.
Amade enters at 2.45, and Kikuno enters at 1.57, so there is great value on Amade.
Shinya 'Tobikan Judokan' Aoki vs. Vitor 'Shaolin' Ribeiro
+Jiu Jitsu and Judo black belt
+Can always get a fight to the ground, through orthodox and unorthodox methods
+Very good rubber guard that is difficult to GnP against
-Sub par ground and pound
Eddie Alvarez (2008)
Caol Uno (2008)
Gesias Calvancante (2008)
Joachim Hansen (2006)
+Marvelous grappling quality; came 3rd in ADCC 2003 and made it to the quarter finals in ADCC 2000, both times in the 66-76kg division
-Weak ground and pound
Mitsuhiro Ishida (2004)
Joachim Hansen (2003)
Tatsuya Kawajiri (2002)
This is one of the most difficult matchups for Aoki in the lightweight division, perhaps the hardest with the exception of BJ Penn.
Shaolin probably has better grappling than Aoki, a one-dimensional grappler. In fact, Shaolin has the best grappling credentials in the lightweight division, due to his performances in ADCC 2003 and ADCC 2000.
It's not hopeless for Aoki. His BJJ is good enough to prevent him from being subbed, and to try for submissions himself, but he won't submit Ribeiro.
Their striking would be on a similar level, and their takedown defenses are not good enough to keep this a sloppy striking match. Aoki's best chance of winning this is by taking initiative, taking Shaolin down and using GnP and attempting submissions with hope of earning a decision.
Shaolin wins by decision, his grappling just being too much for Aoki to handle; one-dimensionalism not paying off yet again. The odds for this fight are insane; Aoki is 1.50 to Shaolin's 2.60. Betting on Shaolin offers crazy value.
Andre Galvao vs. Jason High
+Mundials winner at 79-85kg in 2008 and 73-79kg in 2005
+Transitioned from gi grappling to no-gi grappling smoothly
+Trains at Black House with the best the world has to offer
+Very persistent with takedowns
-Not used any ground and pound
-Never been hit in competition
-Striking combinations very basic
-Chin may be questionable
Jason High is athletic, and packs power. He might be one of the tougher challenges Galvao faces in the GP. However, if Galvao swarms him every chance he gets, and does everything he can to get High to the ground, it should only be a matter of time before a submission.
High is no slouch on the ground himself, his submission of Yuya Shirai fresh in mind, but Galvao is something else entirely. High is going to need to dance away from Galvao, and try to blast him with a power shot.
Galvao by sub is the most likely outcome, High can't afford to let this one hit the mat for a minute. I don't think this will last beyond Round 1.
High is at 4.00, and Galvao is at 1.20, so if your betting on this fight alone, might be better to go for High, but Galvao is 4.00 to win the GP, and that isn't bad. High is 6.00 to win the GP.
Hayato 'Mach' Sakurai vs. Marius 'Raging Demon' Zaromskis
+Powerful ground and pound
+ADCC winner in 1999
-Past his prime
-Motivation on and off
-Not light on his feet
-Keeps his gloves to low to defend strikes
Shinya Aoki (2009)
Joachim Hansen (2005)
Shinya Aoki (2005)
Frank Trigg (2000)
+Makes great use of flying knees, backkicks and highkicks
+Fast on his feet
+Good ground and pound
-No grappling used so far
-Not that hard to take down when clinched with
This could be closer than people think. Zaromskis is a more powerful hitter than Sakurai and is faster and more versatile. I could see Sakurai getting KO'd if this stays standing, but with Zaromskis having been taken down by Ikemoto, Sakurai can do the same, but much better.
But don't forget how Gomi mauled Sakurai. If this stays standing, look for Zaromskis to spring an upset.
Sakurai by submission, Round 2. Marius has an advantage striking but Sakurai is a better all rounder. That said, Sakurai is 1.15, and Zaromskis is 5.75.
Don't bet on Sakurai, even his odds to win the tournament outright are disgusting, at 1.67. Zaromskis comes in at an astonishing 12.00 to win outright, worth a small play.
Bonus pick: Andre Galvao vs. Hayato Sakurai
If High or Zaromskis win, ignore this. Sakurai is the worst matchup for Galvao, having an excellent submission defense good kickboxing and a decent sprawl. Galvao is one dimensional, but like Maia and Jacaré, that one dimension is so good.
Galvao trains at Black House, you know, Machida, Anderson, Nogueira, Jacaré...those guys. I think if he comes in with a good gameplan and refuses to do anything other than take Sakurai down, the same Sakurai who was submitted by Baron not long ago, this match should be his.
But Sakurai will be hard to control, probably being able to escape many submission attempts and repel many takedown shots, and threaten Galvao every minute with striking.
Andre Galvao by submission, Round 2, becoming the first ever DREAM welterweight champion, pulling off a huge upset in the process.
Recap on GP odds to win outright
Other (Seichi Ikemoto/Tarec Saffiedine)