Jim Miller vs. Melvin Guillard puts former number one contenders right back into title contention. Also, find out lands cleaner in the exchanges between Josh Neer and Duane Ludwig.
UFC ON FX: Miller vs.
2011 was officially the rise and fall of Jim Miller and Melvin
Guillard. They were able to climb to the top of the division only to come up
short right before a potential title shot. A win here puts the victor right back into
contention. The loser, however, will be forced to travel nearly an impossible
route back to contention.
Before running into Ben Henderson at the “Hardy vs. Lytle”
event, Jim Miller was declared the number one lightweight contender. Although
the UFC Odds makers made Miller a -170 favorite for that fight, he was dominated
and completely outmaneuvered for three rounds. He had no answer for Henderson’s
relentless takedowns and punishing top control.
A demoralizing beating of that nature has the potential to
entirely reroute a fighter’s career. Prior to the loss, Jim had not tasted
defeat in two years and was riding a 7 fight win streak in the process. Now,
against some of the heaviest hands in the division, he’s being forced to
respond to a loss for only the third time in his career.
His opponent, Melvin Guillard, experienced his own share of
downfalls in 2011. After racking up 5 straight wins in a little over a year, a
basic defensive mistake against Joe Lauzon erased his impressive win streak.
Greg Jackson constantly has to remind Guillard to tame his
own bravado inside the octagon. Dropping his hands against Lauzon was just the
latest mishap of his career. A win would have all but cemented his status as
the number one lightweight contender. It seems at times he simply can’t get out
of his own way. Heading into that fight Melvin was close to a -400 favorite and
was expected to run through the lowly ranked Lauzon.
I have a lot of reservations about making any UFC picks here. I’d
prefer to see the UFC betting line first but at the moment I’m expecting the line to open
with value on Jim Miller. For straddle purposes, I would take the prop bet on
Miller winning in round one hedged with a straight/decision bet on Guillard.
Join in the discussions in the UFC forum and tell us who you are backing and why.
Josh Neer vs. Duane
Stringing together a 7-1 record after being released in 2009
was enough to earn Josh Neer his second chance with the UFC.
His only loss in that timeframe was to former Bellator
champion Eddie Alvarez. Lately he seems to have refined his aggression,
inducing a much more refined boxing attack. He has good understanding of range
(by MMA standards) and expertly imposes his reach and height advantages. As an
official sparring partner of Nate Diaz, we can expect to see some of the
crispest boxing of Need’s career.
Against Duane Ludwig, Neer will need to utilize every
bit of his improved striking. He’s up against a former Muay Thai world champion
with 10 knockouts on his record.
Ludwig has twice now, in back to back fights, come through
as a huge underdog. He was hovering around +300 against both Nick Osipczak and Amir Sadollah.
He managed to completely outclass Sadollah in the stand-up and had a gutsy comeback
against Osipczak. You have to think those two upsets will give the linemakers
some pause when creating the sports betting line for this match-up.
This match-up comes down to Neer’s relentless pace and
overwhelming submission edge. He’s simply closer to his peak as a fighter and I
expect him to secure a possible side-choke by the third round.
Free UFC Pick: Josh Neer SU
Pat Barry vs.
Not too many UFC fighters are allowed to keep their job
after going 1-3 in their last 4 fights. Pat Barry happens to be on a short list
of fighters with enough fan influence to carry him through an extended losing
However, a loss to Christian Morecraft may just be the final
straw, ultimately leading to his release. This very well could be a make or
break fight for Barry’s UFC career.
Throughout the kick-boxer’s career he simply hasn’t adjusted
to the grappling aspects of MMA. Sure he’s made strides but not nearly enough
to compensate for his glaring inadequacies in that department. In his UFC career
he’s been submitted three times, the latest coming against Stefan Struve in
Christian Morecraft defines mediocrity. He doesn’t excel
anywhere but is well rounded enough to hang with the UFC’s lower tier of
heavyweights. Since entering the UFC he’s 1-2 with losses to Matt Mitrione and
Stefan Struve. He has good top control from guard but not much else outside of
that. His takedowns are way too telegraphed and his striking is that of a slow
plodder without much explosion.
I regretfully have to back Morecraft as the lesser of two
evils in this match-up. I’d play Barry in round 1 or not play him at all. Both
have displayed poor conditioning but at least Morecraft can stall his way to
victory against the cage in the last two rounds.
UFC pick: Christian Morecraft SU