UFC Fight Night 37 is just a few days away and we’re here to bring you our model predictions as well as our bets for this relatively decent Fight Night card. We will be looking to continue our huge run of late where we are up 39.25 units over the last 9 events. Our betting history is all documented in our betting track record. The main event features Alexander Gustafsson’s return to action after coming so close to winning the light heavyweight title in his epic battle with Jon Jones at UFC 165. His opponent, Jimi Manuwa is likely outclassed in the match-up, but we’ll have more info on that below. The fight card is only available on UFC Fight Pass and kicks off at 12:30 pm ET. The main card begins at 3:30 pm ET, but like we’ve said before, the distinction is really just semantics. The odd start time is brought to you by the UFC’s global expansion efforts as this card comes to us from the O2 Arena in London, England. By the way, if you haven’t checked out Reed Kuhn’s Fightnomics it is a must read for any UFC fan, or anyone interested in betting on UFC fights.
The main event for this event will feature Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa in what will likely be a light heavyweight title eliminator, at least if Gustafsson takes the victory. If Manuwa wins, he could get the title shot, but in our opinion the likelihood of Manuwa being able to defeat Gustafsson is remote at best. Firstly, our model has Gustafsson as the huge favourite to win. On top of that, Jimi Manuwa has yet to really face any tough competition in the UFC. He fought and beat Kyle Kingsbury, Cyrille Diabate and Ryan Jimmo, but all three of those guys are middle class UFC light heavyweights at best and none are anywhere near the level of Gustafsson. One of Gustafsson’s most effective weapons tends to be his reach. Division champ, Jon Jones is lauded for being great at using his reach and Gustafsson using a similar style only lost a debatable split decision to Jones. Against Manuwa, Gustafsson may or may not have the reach advantage. Manuwa’s reach is somewhere between 75.5″ and 79.5″ (yes both have been official measurements), and Gustafsson’s reach is around 81″ depending on your source. The thing about Manuwa though is he doesn’t utilize his reach nearly as well as he could. We don’t see him being able to take Gustafsson down either as Gustafsson has some of the best takedown defense in the UFC and Manuwa’s takedowns are average at best. We expect the fight stays on the feet and Gustafsson likely gets it done inside the distance with his striking, especially considering this one is a 5 round fight. For now, we will hold off on placing a bet, but either a straight play on Gustafsson or a play on Gustafsson inside the distance could make its way into a parlay later in the week.
In the co-main event, hard hitting lightweights Melvin Guillard and Michael Johnson will collide. Guillard enters the bout 2-4-1 in his last 7, with an unfortunate draw against Ross Pearson in his most recent fight, also from England, where he looked to be well on his way to a TKO victory. Over the same number of previous fights, Johnson sits at a much better looking 5-2. In terms of level of competition faced, there is not an obvious caliber difference. The difference is that Johnson was able to pull off 5 wins while Guillard only earned 2 (arguably 3). In terms of the stats, Johnson stands 2 inches taller at 5’11” and has a 3 inch reach advantage over Guillard. Not particularly significant on their own, but when combined with the fact that Johnson is 3 years younger, it starts to look like the scale is tipped in Johnson’s favour. Johnson also stands southpaw which always throws a wrench into the striking game. In terms of the in fight stats, Johnson lands slightly more strikes, 3.53 per minute to 3.24 per minute for Guillard. Johnson also absorbs more strikes, 2.77 to Guillard’s 1.67. While unlikely to go to the ground in our opinion, Guillard lands more takedowns per fight, 1.60 to Johnson’s 0.56. Guillard is also more accurate with his takedowns, being successful on 70% of his attempts while Johnson is successful on 57%. In terms of takedown defense though, the tables turn with Johnson defending a very high 77% of takedowns against and Guillard defending 65%. Our model confidently picks Johnson to take the victory and at current odds, placing a bet makes a lot of sense. We bet 3 units on Johnson at 1.87 as we first Tweeted out earlier today.
In our final model pick of the night, we have Phil Harris to win his flyweight contest with Louis Gaudinot. The first thing that jumps out about Gaudinot is the insane number of strikes he absorbs in his fights. On average according to FightMetric, Gaudinot aborbs 7.97 significant strikes per minute. Even in his lone UFC win over John Lineker he was getting absolutely picked apart on the feet before Lineker tired and he was able to get the takedown. Harris is also 1-2 in his UFC fights, but has defended an incredible 73% of strikes attempted against for a total absorbtion rate of 2.76 per minute. Still high, but much better than Gaudinot’s number. Gaudinot has also shown brutal takedown defense at just 17%, getting taken down 4 times by Johnny Bedford and 6 times by Tim Elliot in his most recent outing. He also lands 50% of his takedowns which is pretty decent, but still bettered by his opponent. Phil Harris has defended 100% of takedowns attempted against and has landed 75% of his own takedowns. He has a 1 inch reach advantage in this match-up, but is also 1 year older; both of which are likely to insignificant to have an effect. The final thing we see as an important factor in this match-up is Gaudinot’s inactivity. His last fight was 6 months ago, but prior to that fight he only fought in May, 2012, almost 2 years ago. Harris’s last fight was 4 months ago and he has had 3 fights in the same span. Taking all this into consideration, we think the line on Harris is kind of crazy and it’s well worth a bet. We placed a 3 unit bet on Harris at 2.65 to 1 as Tweeted out earlier today. Unfortunately, since then the line has fallen slightly to 2.50, but we think as long as it stays above the 2.30 range, it hold significant value.
We’ll be back later in the week, likely with some parlays and maybe some prop picks should the odds line up. In the mean time, go ahead and pick up a copy of Reed Kuhn’s Fightnomics which covers tons of stats information as it relates to MMA, but don’t worry, you won’t need a masters degree to understand.
Johnson over Guillard. 3 units at 1.87 to 1
Harris over Gaudinot. 3 units at 2.65 to 1