From a fan’s standpoint, UFC 231 is a fantastic occasion. In terms of betting opportunities, I am feeling lukewarm. Nevertheless, here are my hints of the fights I’m trying to play. Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Decorated jiu-jitsu winner and second degree black belt, Gilbert Burns, was working on his striking in recent decades. Training beneath famed Dutch kickboxer, Henri Hooft, Burns is currently comfortable wherever the battle takes place.
Together with his newfound striking abilities, Burns scored strong knockout victories over Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. Unfortunately, opting to bang with Dan Hooker was disastrous and Burns was finished in his last fight. I lost money thinking Burns would grapple — oh well!
Even though a good striker, Burns takes risks defensively and heaps on his shots. Dan Hooker is the kind of fighter that can capitalize on defensive lapses — however I am unsure Olivier Aubin-Mercier is.
Coming out of a judo background, Aubin-Mercier is exceptionally strong in the clinch and heavy from leading position. While he’s much more proficient on the toes than he was, Aubin-Mercier still lacks the fluidity of somebody that’s a pure striker. He is light on his feet, out and in with his motion and slightly tentative — but is true when he flames.
While Aubin-Mercier is a jiu-jitsu brown belt, so I doubt he would like to go to the mat with Burns. Even 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 appeared a step behind in the scrambles against Alexander Hernandez and I would anticipate a master of body manipulation like Gilbert Burns to dominate the mat too (though I wish there was more footage of Burns fighting off his back to make a much better assessment).
I believe that the striking exchanges will be aggressive, but I provide Burns a slight edge. Stylistically, this seems catchy for Aubin-Mercier and I can’t predict his approach. Perhaps the Canadian will try and control his opponent against the weapon, but minus shooting takedowns?
I do believe Aubin-Mercier is the better athlete and has the cardio. However, I’ll take my chances with Gilbert Burns as a +120 underdog like I think he must be a small favorite.
Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders
At a middleweight showdown between two fighters with contrasting designs (and characters ), Eryk Anders takes on Elias Theodorou.
A great athletic, Anders is explosive yet has good cardio. Fighting from the southpaw stance, Anders packs enormous power in his left hand — but in my opinion, goes head hunting a little too much. In his last bout, Thiago Santos was prepared for the key weapon of Anders — which restricted his offensive victory.
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