UFC Fight Night 63 takes place this Saturday night. The event takes place in Fairfax, VA, which is practically in my backyard. I’m less than an hour’s drive away from the event so I was able to go to today’s open workouts in Fairfax and get a sneak peek at what some of these fighters will have to offer. Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Jorge Masvidal, and Al Iaquinta were all in attendance. There’s no huge star to sell this fight card, but this event is stacked with plenty of up and coming talent. The event is definitely worth a watch, but be advised that this event has an unusual 11:00 AM ET start time.
Maynard vs Yakovlev has been the most intriguing betting line to watch on this event. Maynard opened as a -170 favorite and the line has shifted to as much as +110 for Maynard. Bettors caused that shift by betting on Yakovlev, because a lot of fight fans think Maynard’s chin is shot. Maynard has lost his last 3 fights by TKO, but fans are a little too soon to forget that Maynard is an elite talent in this sport. Maynard’s chin may not be the same after those two wars with Frankie Edgar, but his chin has only been cracked by incredible strikers like Ross Pearson and Nate Diaz. Yakovlev isn’t nearly on the level of Pearson or Diaz in the striking game. Yakovlev is primarily a grappler and he won’t be able to successfully control Maynard on the ground. If Frankie Edgar couldn’t control Maynard on the ground then Yakovlev won’t be able to hold Maynard down either. I think this is the fight where Maynard finally gets back on track.
Pick Gray Maynard +105 @5Dimes (Be sure to watch the line on this one and you may get even better odds)
Liz Carmouche seems like a bit of a forgotten fighter in the women’s bantamweight division. This is partly due to an almost year long layoff since her last fight against Miesha Tate. She’s also lost back to back decisions to Alexis Davis and more recently to Tate (I had Carmouche winning that fight 29-28), but it wasn’t too long ago the Carmouche took Ronda Rousey’s back and almost secured a face crank submission to shock the world. Murphy recently suffered her first loss to Sarah McMann. McMann was able to hold down Murphy for the majority of the fight and despite not doing much damage, McMann was awarded the decision. I see the Carmouche fight being somewhat similar. Carmouche will control Murphy, pushing her against the cage and taking her down at will. Carmouche does a better job than McMann of working strikes into her wrestling and is more tenacious in her attack. I see this being a long night for Murphy.
Pick Liz Carmouche -115 @5Dimes
Chiesa vs Clarke is the biggest mismatch on this fight card. I’m not fully convinced that Mitch Clarke belongs in the UFC. He does have a win over Al Iaquinta (ranked 15), but that was kind of a fluke submission in a fight that he was losing handily. Chiesa is better than Clarke in all positions, striking and grappling. Chiesa will set a very high pace in this fight as usual and Clarke will fold. Chiesa is more savvy then Iaquinta in the grappling department and has actually been caught in the same submission, a D’arce choke, by Jorge Masvidal. I don’t see Chiesa falling into the same trap twice. I see Chiesa either passing to full mount and pounding out a TKO victory or getting Clarke’s back for a rear naked choke finish.
Pick Michael Chiesa wins inside the distance +135 @5Dimes
Masvidal vs Iaquinta is the most exciting matchup on this card. This fight is a perfect representation of a seasoned veteran, Masvidal, vs a dangerous up-and-comer, Iaquinta. With 28 wins and 8 losses, Masvidal is a true veteran of the sport. Masvidal has fought the who’s who of the lightweight division; he was even competitive in a fight with Paul Daley at welterweight (I had him winning the fight). It remains to be seen if Iaquinta will be too much for the veteran, but he certainly won’t have anything that Masvidal hasn’t seen before. Masvidal is always a threat on the feet and he’s a very underrated grappler, but Iaquinta has been on a tear of late. Iaquinta has won 3 straight fights by KO, all against excellent competition. He beat Ross Pearson at his own game, outboxing him for a 2nd round KO, which is very impressive. He followed that performance up with another 2nd round KO against the tough as nails Joe Lauzon. Masvidal is a very game fighter, but I wouldn’t bet against Iaquinta right now. I could see Iaquinta fighting for the belt very soon.
Pick Al Iaquinta +115 @5Dimes (This is my pick of the week. If you’re betting on one fight this week, then make it this one.)
Chad Mendes is the fighter I was most impressed with at the open workouts. Watching Mendes move around immediately displays that he is freakishly athletic. Lamas is good everywhere and can catch some crafty submissions, but I think Mendes will have an answer for anything Lamas throws at him. On paper Mendes is an even bigger favorite than Michael Chiesa (Mendes is at -440, Chiesa is at -400). I do see Mendes winning that fight, but I’m a little disappointed that he’s favored so heavily. Lamas is another top 5 featherweight that I’d expect to get a little more respect. Mendes takes this one, but I don’t see him finishing the fight. Not even Jose Aldo was able to put away Lamas.
Pick Mendes wins by decision +129 @5Dimes