From a fan’s standpoint, UFC 231 is a wonderful event. Concerning betting opportunities, I am feeling lukewarm. But here are my breakdowns of the fights I’m looking 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 years. Training beneath famed Dutch kickboxer, Henri Hooft, Burns is currently comfortable wherever the battle occurs.
With his newfound striking abilities, Burns scored emphatic knockout victories over Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. Unfortunately, opting to bang Dan Hooker was disastrous and Burns was violently finished in his final struggle. I lost money believing Burns would grapple — oh well!
Even though a good striker, Burns takes dangers defensively and loads on his own shots. Dan Hooker is the kind of fighter that can capitalize on defensive lapses — however I’m unsure Olivier Aubin-Mercier is.
Coming out of a judo background, Aubin-Mercier is immensely strong from the clinch and hefty from leading position. While he is much more proficient on the toes than he was, Aubin-Mercier still lacks the fluidity of somebody that is a pure striker. He is light on his toes, out and in with his motion and somewhat 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 looked a step behind in the scrambles from Alexander Hernandez and I would anticipate a master of body manipulation like Gilbert Burns to dominate the mat too (although I wish there was more footage of Burns fighting off his back to make a better assessment).
I think that the striking exchanges will be competitive, but I give Burns a slight edge. Stylistically, this seems tricky for Aubin-Mercier and that I can not predict his strategy. Perhaps the Canadian will try and restrain his opponent against the fence, but minus shooting takedowns?
I do believe Aubin-Mercier is the better athlete and certainly has the superior cardio. Still, I’ll take my chances with Gilbert Burns as a +120 underdog as I believe he should be a small favorite.
Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders
In a middleweight showdown between two boxers with contrasting styles (and characters ), Eryk Anders takes on Elias Theodorou.
A great athletic, Anders is explosive yet has good cardio. Struggling out of the southpaw stance, Anders packs enormous electricity in his left hand — but in my view, goes head searching a little too much. In his last bout, Thiago Santos was prepared for the primary weapon of Anders — which restricted his offensive success.
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