From a fan’s perspective, UFC 231 is a wonderful occasion. Concerning betting opportunities, I’m feeling lukewarm. But here are my hints of the fights that I’m looking to play. Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Decorated jiu-jitsu champion and second degree black belt, Gilbert Burns, was working on his striking in the past several years. Training under famed Dutch kickboxer, Henri Hooft, Burns is currently comfortable wherever the fight occurs.
With his newfound striking skills, Burns scored strong knockout victories over Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. Regrettably, opting to bang Dan Hooker was disastrous and Burns was violently finished in his final struggle. I lost money thinking Burns would grapple — oh well!
While a solid striker, Burns takes dangers defensively and heaps up on his shots. Dan Hooker is the type of fighter that could capitalize on defensive lapses — however I’m not sure Olivier Aubin-Mercier is.
Coming from a judo background, Aubin-Mercier is immensely strong from the clinch and hefty from leading position. While he’s much more skilled on the feet than he was, Aubin-Mercier still lacks the fluidity of someone that’s a natural striker. He’s light on his feet, in and out with his motion and slightly undependable — but is accurate when he fires.
While Aubin-Mercier is a jiu-jitsu brown belt, I doubt he wants to go to the mat with Burns. The muscle-bound human blanket, Michel Prazeres, refused to dive into the guard of Gilbert Burns — that speaks volumes.
In his last fight, Aubin-Mercier looked a step behind in the scrambles against Alexander Hernandez and I would anticipate a master of body manipulation such as Gilbert Burns to dominate the mat as well (although I wish there was more footage of Burns fighting off his back to create a much better assessment).
I believe that the striking trades will be aggressive, but I provide Burns a small edge. Stylistically, this looks catchy for Aubin-Mercier and that I can’t predict his approach. Maybe the Canadian will attempt to restrain his opponent against the fence, but minus shooting takedowns?
I really do believe Aubin-Mercier is the better athlete and has the superior cardio. Still, I’ll take my chances with Gilbert Burns as a +120 underdog as I believe he should be a slight favorite.
Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders
At a middleweight showdown between two fighters with contrasting styles (and characters ), Eryk Anders takes on Elias Theodorou.
A great athletic, Anders is explosive yet has great cardio. Struggling from the southpaw stance, Anders packs huge electricity in his left hand — but in my opinion, goes head searching a little too much. In his last bout, Thiago Santos was prepared for the primary weapon of Anders — which limited his offensive success.
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