From a fan’s perspective, UFC 231 is a wonderful event. In terms of betting opportunities, I am feeling lukewarm. But here are my breakdowns of the fights I’m trying to playwith. 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 under famed Dutch kickboxer, Henri Hooft, Burns is currently comfortable wherever the battle takes place.
Together with his newfound striking skills, Burns scored strong knockout victories over Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. Regrettably, opting to bang with Dan Hooker was disastrous and Burns was finished in his final fight. I lost money believing Burns would grapple — oh well!
Even though a good striker, Burns takes dangers defensively and loads up on his own 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 from the clinch and hefty from leading position. While he’s a whole lot more proficient on the feet than he was, Aubin-Mercier still lacks the fluidity of someone that is a natural striker. He’s light on his feet, in and out with his movement and slightly undependable — 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 to the guard of Gilbert Burns — which speaks volumes.
In his last battle, 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 (though I wish there was more footage of Burns fighting his back to create a better assessment).
I think the striking trades will be aggressive, but I provide Burns a small edge. Stylistically, this looks catchy for Aubin-Mercier and that I can not predict his strategy. Perhaps the Canadian will attempt to restrain his competitor against the weapon, but without shooting takedowns?
I do believe Aubin-Mercier is the better athlete and certainly has the cardio. Still, I will take my chances of Gilbert Burns as a +120 underdog as I believe he should be a slight favorite.
Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders
At a middleweight showdown between two fighters with contrasting designs (and personalities), Eryk Anders takes on Elias Theodorou.
A fantastic athletic, Anders is explosive yet has good cardio. Fighting out of the southpaw stance, Anders packs huge power in his left hand but in my opinion, goes head hunting a bit too much. In his last bout, Thiago Santos was well prepared for the primary weapon of Anders — which restricted his offensive victory.
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