From a fan’s standpoint, UFC 231 is a fantastic event. Concerning betting opportunities, I’m feeling lukewarm. Nevertheless, here are my hints of those fights that I’m trying to playwith. Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Decorated jiu-jitsu champion and second degree black belt, Gilbert Burns, has been working on his striking in the past several decades. Training under famed Dutch kickboxer, Henri Hooft, Burns is now comfortable wherever the fight takes place.
Together with his newfound striking abilities, Burns scored strong knockout victories over Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. Regrettably, preferring to bang Dan Hooker proved to be 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 loads up on his shots. Dan Hooker is the kind of fighter that can capitalize on defensive lapses — however I’m not sure Olivier Aubin-Mercier is.
Coming out of a judo background, Aubin-Mercier is immensely strong from the clinch and heavy from leading position. While he’s much more skilled on the toes than he used to be, Aubin-Mercier still lacks the fluidity of somebody that’s a natural 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, I doubt he wants to go to the mat with Burns. The muscle-bound human blanket, Michel Prazeres, refused to dive into the protector of Gilbert Burns — which speaks volumes.
In his last fight, Aubin-Mercier looked a step behind in the scrambles from Alexander Hernandez and I’d 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 create a much better assessment).
I believe that the striking trades will be aggressive, but I provide Burns a small edge. Stylistically, this looks tricky for Aubin-Mercier and I can’t predict his approach. Perhaps the Canadian will try and restrain his competitor against the weapon, 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 like I think he should be a slight favorite.
Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders
In a middleweight showdown between two fighters with contrasting styles (and personalities), Eryk Anders takes on Elias Theodorou.
A great athletic, Anders is volatile yet has good cardio. Struggling out of the southpaw stance, Anders packs enormous electricity in his left hand — but in my opinion, goes head searching a little too much. In his last bout, Thiago Santos was well prepared for the primary weapon of Anders — which limited his offensive success.
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