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UFC 138: Leben Vs. Munoz Predictions & Analysis

ufc138 posterWell CamelClutchBlog fans the UFC is back this weekend for a card that even they aren’t pretending to care about. That’s right folks just because the President of the company doesn’t care about this card, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to. But hey, if you choose not to care, no one can really blame you, just make sure you watch the UFC on Fox next weekend.

All kidding aside, the UFC has really ignored this card and with the lack of star power a lot of people seem to be ignoring it as well, at least while they’re not mocking it. However, it’s a free card chock full of potentially exciting fights, with a fair number of decent betting opportunities. So hey, if you’re awake, load up the old Facebook page and check the Prelims, or wait until later to watch the Main card on tape delay on SPIKE. But before you do either, let’s check out some of the bets that you should be making. As always, all lines are the current best available market lines from BestFightOdds (www.bestfightodds.com)

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Chris Cariaso (-200) vs. Vaughan Lee (+196)

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 30-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. He is a Muay Thai kick boxer who prefers to strike with his opponents. He is a member of the Fight and Fitness gym from Southern California. He stands only 5’3″ tall with a 64.5″ reach, but he fights well standing for a man of his size. He is coming into this fight off of a closely contested Split Decision loss to the highly touted Michael McDonald. Cariaso holds a career MMA record of 11-3.

Vaughan Lee is a fairly unknown fighter, that I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about. On his UFC.com profile page, Lee is credited with holding the record of the most submissions in one fight at the TUF 14 tryouts…. still not exactly sure what that means though. Lee hails from Birmingham, England fighting out of the Ultimate Training Centre. Lee holds a career record of 11-6-1 and has proven to be a finisher in his career so far, winning ten of eleven fights via TKO or Submission.

Analysis and Prediction: I don’t know enough about Lee and haven’t been able to find enough tape of him on the internet to make a well-educated assumption about him. However, there are a few things we can say. English fighters aren’t overly well-known for their grappling or wrestling abilities, (no matter how hard Paul Sass tries.) The other thing we know, is that in a standing kickboxing match Cariaso is very scrappy and very tough, so we can assume that standing Cariaso will have the advantage. And without knowing that Lee can do anything about that, I’m willing to back the favorite in this fight. But I’m not betting it. Chris Cariaso via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Chris Cope (+227) vs. Che Mills (-250)

Chris “C-Murder” Cope is a fighter from the Arena MMA Gym in San Diego, California. He is probably best known to fans as a cast member of the last season of The Ultimate Fighter. Cope earned a solid reputation on the California regional fight circuit, before making his UFC debut on the heels of his stint on TUF. Cope is a solid striker with a competent and well-paced striking style, that resembles him stalking forward continuously, usually behind a pawing jab. Cope has shown strong takedown defense in his fights, both on the show and in the UFC octagon. Cope holds a career MMA record of 5-1.

Che “The Urban Monkey” Mills is an English fighter from Gloucester and is one of the UK’s most promising prospects. He is the former Cage Rage British Welterweight champion and holds a number of victories over notable fighters like Marius Zaromskis. He was auditioned for the UK vs. USA edition of The Ultimate Fighter, however he was eliminated by the show’s eventual winner James Wilks in an elimination match before the start of the show. Mills is an experienced fighter with a strong background in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mills holds a career MMA record of 13-4-1.

Analysis and Prediction: I actually like the underdog in this fight for a small play. Mills should be the favorite in this one as he’s likely the more well-rounded of the two. However, Cope has shown significant improvement since his time on the show and has great takedown defense and competent striking skills. Mills is a highly hyped prospect and some of his status in the betting line is being bloated because of that. At 6’1″ Cope will have a slight height and reach advantage and I think he can use that to his advantage to grind out an ugly decision victory. Chris Cope via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Rob Broughton (+138) vs. Philip De Fries (-140)

Rob “The Bear” Broughton is an English Heavyweight fighter from St. Helens, England. At 6’2″ and 260 pounds he is a large Heavyweight fighter from the Wolfslair MMA Academy. Broughton is a former Cage Rage British Heavyweight Champion. Broughton has notable backgrounds in boxing, freestyle wrestling and Submission grappling. He took this fight on short notice, returning after a horrible showing against Travis Browne at UFC 135, he must be concerned about job security if he loses another fight in less-than-impressive fashion. Broughton holds a career MMA record of 15-6-1.

Philip De Fries is one of the more hyped Heavyweight fighters from the UK, fighting out of Sunderland, England. As a member of The Dungeon MMA gym in Sunderland and is well known for his exceptional ground and Submission skills. De Fries is a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under his coach Rodrigo Cabral. At 6’4″ De Fries will enjoy a slight size advantage, however, he will likely be looking to get this fight to the ground as soon as possible. De Fries has a career MMA record of 7-0-1.

Analysis and Prediction: I like the favorite in this fight. De Fries is a solid fighter with strong grappling credentials and an undefeated record. He is making his UFC debut, which may be cause for concern for some, but doing it in his home country, should alleviate some of the usual Octagon jitters. Broughton showed me nothing impressive in his last fight, blame it on the altitude or blame it on whatever, but he looked awful at UFC 135. Unless his cardio has vastly improved in a month or two, he’s going to get taken down and submitted rather quickly. Philip De Fries via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Michihiro Omigawa (-213) vs. Jason Young (+210)

Let me preface this by saying that this could easily be a contender for Fight of the Night, but this could also end up being a snoozer. Michihiro Omigawa is a 35-year-old Japanese fighter from the dojo of Hidehiko Yoshida. Omigawa is a strong boxer with a 3rd degree black belt in Judo. Omigawa entered the UFC on a hot streak, but has hit a bit of a rough patch in the UFC, first losing a decision #2 Featherweight Chad Mendes. In his last fight he lost a Unanimous Decision to Darren Elkins, despite outboxing Elkins throughout the fight, one which many pundits thought that he won. However, Omigawa has also won a number of decisions that people thought he had lost, so karma is a bitch… as they say. Omigawa holds a career record of 12-10-1.

Jason “Shotgun” Young is a Muay Thai fighter from Lewisham, England. He is a strong striker with a 73-inch reach which is fairly significant for a Featherweight fighter. Young is a member of the Team Titan Gym where he trains with notable fighters like Brad Pickett and Paul Daley. Young has shown a bit of a weakness when it comes to grappling, as three of his four career losses have come via Submission. However, Young remains a strong striker with good technique and decent power in both his hands and his feet.

Analysis and Prediction: Young is being touted as the underdog pick of the night and it’s hard to argue. In his last fight, he stood and banged with up and coming prospect Dustin Poirier and fared well, before eventually losing a close Unanimous Decision. Omigawa has decent boxing but standing, he might be slightly overmatched. However, Young has a clear weakness on the ground and Omigawa is a talented grappler and Judo black belt. The line is fairly well set and I’ll probably be avoiding it from a betting stand point, but if you put a gun to my head and made me pick, I’d take Omigawa. Michihiro Omigawa via Submission in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: John Maguire (+118) vs. Justin Edwards (-127)

John “The One” Maguire is a former Cage Rage British Welterweight Champion. He is also a former BAMMA fighter. Maguire is a self-proclaimed “pink belt in Gypsy Jiu Jitsu (don’t worry, nobody else knows what the hell that means anyways.) However, he has finished twelve of his sixteen victories, with nine coming by way of Submission, so he might be a decent grappler at the very least. Maguire is also entering this bout on the strength of five straight victories. He holds a career record of 16-3.

Justin “Fast Eddy” Edwards is a fighter from Mansfield, Ohio who is best known for his stint on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, who also has some experience in Sanshou Kickboxing. Edwards is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under his coach at JG MMA in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Edwards has relatively raw and unpolished stand up skills, usually moving forward behind winging haymakers, throwing caution to the wind. Despite losing his UFC debut, he followed up with a strong showing against super prospect Jorge Lopez and won the fight via Unanimous Decision. Edwards has a career record of 7-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Edwards has been here before, that’s my number one reason for picking him in this one. The ground game is likely a wash, with both guys being decent at BJJ. So this one is going to come down to striking and wrestling. This is where being American lends an advantage to Edwards, as he will likely have the better wrestling. With their two BJJ skills likely cancelling one another out, the advantage will likely go to the one on top. And if Edwards has the more polished wrestling that will likely be him. Don’t expect fireworks, but I expect a win from the American. Justin Edwards via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Cyrille Diabate (-351) vs. Anthony Perosh (+309)

Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate is a French fighter and former professional kick boxer. He is a veteran of a number of big time fighting promotions, including PRIDE, ShoXC, DEEP and Cage Rage. At 6’6″ tall he is one of the taller fighters in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division and is also one of the best strikers in the division. Diabate also has a decent grappling game, using his long and slender frame and lanky limbs to snatch submissions during scrambles. Diabate holds a career record of 17-7-1.

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Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh has one of the most unfitting nicknames in MMA today. He is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of Australia’s best fighters. However at 39-years old he is probably a bit past his best days in the fighting game. He is one of the trainers and head instructors at the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts gym in Sydney, Australia. Perosh owns a career record of 11-6, with 8 wins via Submission.

Analysis and Prediction: I have no interest in betting this fight and the line is fairly well set. Perosh is a fairly unspectacular striker and Diabate is a very dynamic kick boxer, so the standing advantage goes to the Frenchman. Perosh is the better grappler, but Diabate is no slouch on the ground. Also, Diabate has a strong clinch game due to his Muay Thai background, so getting him to the ground won’t be a picnic for the Australian. I expect Diabate to dominate this fight standing working his way to a second round TKO. Cyrille Diabate via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Lightweight Bout: Terry Etim (-600) vs. Eddie Faaloloto (+530)

I don’t even want to waste time going to far in depth into this one. But you’re not wasting time at work, avoiding real work to check out this blog for nothing, so I will, albeit quickly. Eddie “Falo” Faaloloto is an American fighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a brown belt in Kajukembo (a hybrid martial art including Western boxing, Judo and grappling.) He holds a 2-2 professional record but has lost both of his UFC fights so far. Terry Etim is a British fighter from Liverpool, England. He is a member of Team Kaobon and RFT Fighting in the UK. Etim is a Muay Thai and Luta Livre fighter with a lot of UFC experience. Etim holds a career record of 14-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Ring rust is the only reason to doubt Etim in this one. He has been off for nearly a year nursing injuries. Etim has struggled against strong wrestlers in the past, but he doesn’t really have to worry about that here. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I love big underdogs, but I just don’t see any upside to a bet here. It’s likely Etim uses his range to exploit the American standing, before dragging the fight to the mat and locking in a Rear Naked Choke after an extended period of ground and pound. Terry Etim via Submission in Round One

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Welterweight Bout: Thiago Alves (-336) vs. Papy Abedi (+301)

Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves is one of the most muscular fighters on the UFC roster. One warning before we even get into his history, do not put any stock in Alves missing weight for this fight. He missed only by one pound, and made it without incident half an hour later after stepping into the sauna for fifteen minutes and taking a pee. With that said let’s get into the analysis. Alves is a Brazilian fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He is a Muay Thai fighter who now fights out of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek Florida. Alves is a strong striker with knockout power in both hands. Alves also has an underrated ground game, as he possesses a brown belt in BJJ, although he rarely uses it, preferring instead to stand and trade with opponents. He is a strong, durable fighter, although he has struggled against the wrestling based fighters that populate the UFC’s Welterweight division. Alves has a career MMA record of 18-8.

Papy “Makambo” Abedi is a Swedish fighter who was born in Zaire. The native African is making his UFC debut, who happens to give his opponent Alves a run for his money in the most muscular MMA fighter category. He is a black belt in Judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Abedi also has decent wrestling skills and big power in both of his hands. Abedi is a highly touted European prospect who has proven to be a wrecking machine in his MMA career so far. He holds an undefeated professional record of 8-0, with 7 wins via stoppage (5 TKOs, 2 Submissions.)

Analysis and Prediction: Well surprise, I like the underdog in this fight. Alves should be the favorite, but I don’t think he should be quite as big a favorite as he currently is on the betting lines. Alves is a former title challenger, facing a guy making his UFC debut, but Abedi does have the skills to pull off the upset. One major flaw in Abedi’s striking game is his tendency to stand straight up and keep his chin out while retreating, he will need to have corrected that, or it won’t be long before Alves exploits that fact and makes us all sorry that we bet on him. However, Alves isn’t the world’s greatest fighter off of his back and with Abedi’s Judo skills and nasty ground and pound, he could easily earn a stoppage victory if he can get this fight to the ground. Getting 3 to 1, let’s roll the dice and go for it. Papy Abedi via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Bantamweight Bout: Brad Pickett (+131) vs. Renan Barao (-130)

Brad “One Punch” Pickett is an English fighter who is the former Cage Rage British Featherweight Champion. Pickett is a strong boxer with big power in his hands. Pickett also holds decent credentials in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which has earned him a number of Submission victories. Although an English born fighter, Pickett now trains stateside for MMA and is a member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett has a career record of 21-4, including wins over notables like Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar. He is making his UFC debut in this fight after a fairly long layoff due to injuries.

Renan Barao is a Brazilian fighter who is riding the longest active winning streak in the UFC with 26 straight victories. The 24-year-old fighter has not lost since his UFC debut back in 2005. Barao is a member of the famous Nova Uniao gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a black belt in BJJ and also has a wealth of experience in Muay Thai kickboxing. Barao has an impressive record and is riding a hot streak, but Pickett will be one of his toughest opponents to date. Barao has earned an impressive 18 stoppage victories in his career, including twelve submissions. He has a career record of 26-1-1.

Analysis and Prediction: I’m really torn in this fight and I’m not too sure which way to lean. Pickett provides a significant step up in competition for Barao and will likely have the better wrestling and a strong game plan for this fight. However, Barao is a fairly talented grappler who will have a world of confidence heading into this fight. Pickett has strong boxing and is very quick and agile, however after nearly a year off, one has to wonder if ring rust might play a factor, as well as how he’ll deal with fighting in front of a home crowd once again. I’m just going to watch this fight for interest, as it’s likely going to be a good one. If your book allows you to bet on what fight will win Fight of the Night honors, you might want to consider a small play on this fight, just for shits and giggles. As for a prediction, I’ll flip a coin. Brad Pickett via Split Decision.

Main Event (SPIKE TV): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben (+246) vs. Mark Munoz (-250)

Chris “The Crippler” Leben is one of the longest tenured UFC fighters still competing today. The 31-year-old from Portland, Oregon is a member of the ICON Fitness and MMA team in Oahu, Hawaii. He is a boxer and BJJ fighter, who prefers to turn his fights into slug-fests and brawls instead of proper MMA fights. If Leben has shown anything in his MMA career it’s his willingness to brawl and his ability to take a punch, as he has proven extremely durable and tough to finish. However, he has shown cardio issues in the past and since this is the UFC’s first 5-Round Main Event, one has to wonder if that fact might come into play during this fight. Leben has a career MMA record of 22-7.

Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz is an American fighter from Lake Forest, California. Munoz is a strong wrestler with a background as a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Oklahoma State University. Munoz has shown rapidly improving striking skills as he continues to evolve as a fighter. Also, since beginning his MMA training Munoz has obtained a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One notable tidbit of Munoz’s training is his recent switch to the Black House Gym with the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Although he was brought in as the wrestling coach for the gym, it’s hard to believe that he’s not receiving some pointers to improve his striking as well as his overall MMA game. Munoz has a career record of 11-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Leben has struggled with strong wrestlers and grapplers in the past. Leben has strong takedown defense, but has still struggled against elite level wrestlers, which Munoz definitely qualifies as. Munoz on the other hand has shown improving stand up skills, but was slightly rocked by Demian Maia in his last fight and Maia is by no means an elite-level striker. But, it’s hard not to lean towards Munoz in this fight.

As his striking game continues to improve Munoz’s wrestling will also improve. In the past he shot for takedowns from far away, looking for low percentage takedowns, instead of setting up his shots. Now he is able to use a decent jab, followed by a strong right hand and change levels to shoot for a takedown from closer, which will continue to increase his takedown percentage. Munoz has been rocked by power punchers in the past and that’s right up Leben’s alley, but Munoz has all the tools to win this fight.

The odds are stacked in Munoz’s favor. Leben can definitely end the fight with one punch if Munoz gets sloppy or gets overly aggressive in the stand up game. However, the likely path of this fight sees Munoz earning a takedown and unleashing some ground and pound, before searching for a Submission opening. You also have to consider that with Leben’s past issues with cardio, that the longer this fight goes, the more it swings in Munoz’s favor. All in all, Leben is a live underdog, but I think Munoz is the pick here. The line has been bet to a fair line, so I don’t really feel like betting it. But Munoz should be able to earn a stoppage in the third round. Mark Munoz via TKO in Round Three.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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