UFC 208 was such a stink fest that I think its safe to say UFC Fight Night’s return to Halifax, Canada will undoubtedly be better than the Pay-Per-View card, by virtue of just not being UFC 208. There are not any belts, title shots, or top 5 ranks on the line but you have fighters who may actually engage with one another standing up. Throw in a Canadian commission of judges & referees that has the knowledge to not screw fights up like the New York commission did throughout UFC 208 and MMA fans should get a nice Sunday night treat. There are two former title contenders who are in danger of dropping off main cards or even worse getting cut with another bad loss, so despite it being a free card fans should much more fan friendly fights without having to shell out $69.99 in HD. I will breakdown the two fights on this card that I find the most interesting, along with some fight predictions to hopefully help your bank accounts. Let’s get to the fights:
Notable Main Card Fights:
Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks vs Hector “Showeather” Lombard (Middleweight 185lbs)
Preview: This fight should get dubbed a loser leaves town match as both Johny Hendricks and Hector Lombard have seen their once promising UFC careers suddenly on life support after a string of losses by both fighters. Post-PED suspension Lombard has seen himself get destroyed by both Dan Henderson and Neil Magny in consecutive fights. He appears to have lost his explosiveness that made him such a scary opponent before the suspension. Johny Hendricks sees himself moving up in weight due to his inability to make 170lbs with any consistency, while also getting soundly beaten in 4 of his last 5 fights in that division. The scary thing for Hendricks is he’s seen his dominant wrestling struggle against top welterweight fighters, and appears like Lombard to have lost that explosive one punch knockout power that helped him win a UFC title 3 years ago. Fortunately for Hendricks, Lombard is an equally small middleweight so he won’t lose any size disadvantages despite moving up in weight. Lombard will poesies a slight 2 inch reach advantage, but every other physical measurable is pretty close to even for both men. If this fight was 3 years ago, it would have been a main event or co-main event on a PPV, likely fighting for a belt. Now both men are desperate to get their arm raised once again. Desperate fighters can make for really interesting fights, as both men are likely to not allow caution to get in the way of a chance to give their careers a needed shot in the arm. I think Lombard will try to take Hendricks out of there in the first round, knowing that if it gets into the 2nd or 3rd round Hendricks will get the advantage with his wrestling. Hendricks is no stranger to toe to toe wars, but I think we will see a more aggressive ground and pound Hendricks vs choosing to stand toe to toe with Lombard. Look for this fight to get determined in the first round, possibly the first minute. If Hendricks can secure an early take down via double or single leg, it could be ominous for the rest of the fight as he controls Lombard on the mat. However, if Hendricks can’t secure the takedown or chooses instead to fight fire with fire against Lombard he might wake up staring at the lights because despite the PED suspension, Lombard can absolutely knock him out.
Odds: Hendricks (-110) vs Lombard (-110)
Prediction: Hendricks should win this fight on paper. He’s younger, his skill set translates better for a fight where two guys might not trust themselves in the octagon anymore. He’s a phenomenal wrestler who can grind out a victory if he chooses to do so. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen that Johny Hendricks in a really long time. Lombard has not impressed me either, but I at least know he can still hurt you with his power. I’m not sure Hendricks wants to fight much longer which is always a red flag for me when picking a fighter. I’ll take Lombard extremely reluctantly.
(Hector Lombard via KO -110)
Main Event (Heavyweight 260lbs 5 rounds)
Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (8th) vs Travis “Haps” Browne (Heavyweight)
Preview: These two giants find themselves in very different positions in their careers despite being relatively the same age and with similar UFC heavyweight rankings. Derrick Lewis is marketing himself as the next big thing in the heavyweight division. Travis Browne is trying to reclaim what made him that “next big thing” only 2 years ago before losing 4 of his last 6 fights. Browne was on a path for stardom and a championship belt after he destroyed Gabriel Gonzaga, Allstair Overeem, and Josh Barnett. He than lost to Fabricio Werdum, joined forces with one of the worst MMA trainers in the sport Edmond Tarverdyan and its been all down hill since. Browne used to have crazy athleticism for his giant frame, and mix in devastating combinations that would thump his opponents in quick fashion. I find it hard to believe those skills have some how disappeared overnight, and it just seems like he needs a new trainer and camp to bring out the best in him. There were rumors swirling prior to this fight that he had left Tarverdyan and began training with another gym. However, Browne dismissed those rumors, claiming Tarverdyan would still corner him for this fight. Whether or not Tarverdyan is there likely does not matter to Derrick Lewis. Lewis enters this fight on a five fight winning streak, having knocked out 4 of his last 5 opponents during that streak. He’s trying to make a case that he belongs in the top 5 heavyweights in the division. However, to date his résumé is fairly thin with top-level fighters. His best win came against a considerably older Roy Nelson whose in the twilight of his career; and he needed a split decision to do it. He will give up about 4 inches in height to Browne but his reach is the same which could bode well for him getting past Browne’s jab. Coming from a lower angle could give him a perfect punching advantage if he can connect on Browne’s chin with a hook or uppercut. The key for Lewis will likely come down to how he handles Browne’s elite size and speed, something he has not had to deal with so far in the UFC. Many heavyweights have seen their careers suddenly stop abruptly once they get a taste of that next tier in the division; and while Browne has struggled lately he absolutely is part of a higher tier of heavyweights Lewis has yet to face. I think Lewis will try to put on a show and make a name for himself by trying to knock Browne out quick if he can. He’s heard all month leading up to this fight that people still aren’t taking him seriously as a championship contender yet. This aggression brings risks with it however as Browne is absolutely game to go to war right from the opening bell. In fact I think Brown facing an opponent forcing him into a toe to toe slugfest might help him find his old rhythm that has appeared to have left him under Taryverdyan. Browne fighting instinctively instead of trying to box his way in and out of clinches I think gives him his best chance to get his career back on track.
Odds: Lewis (-120) vs Browne (+110)
Prediction: Lewis is definitely an interesting up and coming top 10 fighter. However, closer examination of his record shows a guy who has impressively beaten a lot of guys past their expiration date. Now I do not fault Lewis for beaten the guys he beat. The UFC made the fights, and Lewis knocked them out. Travis Browne is a major step up in class for Lewis. I just cannot believe Browne’s days as a top UFC fighter are over. If he loses to Lewis that will end those days, which I think makes Browne desperate and dangerous. Browne has more physical fight gifts than Lewis, he’s beaten better opponents than Lewis, and he’s had to train for more 5 round fights than Lewis. This fight comes down to less with what Lewis brings to this fight, and more to do with which Travis Browne shows up. I think the élite skilled Travis Browne still has another run in him so I take him getting plus odds vs a guy whose taking a major step up in class.
(Travis Browne via KO 1st round)
Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (33-25-0) ($137.50)
-Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
-Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
*Stats via www.UFC.com
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