Before the UFC dominated MMA, Pride FC was the world’s premier organization for mixed martial arts. From the late 1990s to the mid 2000s, the Japanese promotion boasted the best fighters in the world, with legends like Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Cro Cop, Antonio Nogueira, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Dan Henderson, Shogun Rua and Wanderlei Silva – all in their fighting primes – achieving superstar status in the Land of the Rising Sun.
At Pride’s peak, the Saitama Super Arena was the venue fighters wanted to be. Regularly hosting crowds of nearly 50,000, it was home to some of the greatest cards in the sport’s history. For many fighters who competed in Pride, it’s still a hallowed site. This Saturday, MMA will come back to the venue, this time hosting a UFC card.
Unfortunately, Shogun Rua had to pull out just days before the fight, spoiling what would have been an awesome homecoming for the fighter who became a star in the country. Stepping in to replace him is Japanese native Yushin Okami, a former middleweight title challenger who was cut from the UFC in 2013.
Also on the card is an absolute barnburner strawweight matchup between Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Andrade – the two most physically savage fighters in the division. Former Pride champion Takanori Gomi will look to win in his home country for the first time since 2012, and GLORY kickboxing champion Gokhan Saki makes his UFC debut against knockout artist Henrique da Silva.
It’s gonna be a fun night. The only thing that’ll make it better is scoring some cash at the sportsbook. Let’s take a look at the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu and go over your betting options.
Ovince St. Preux -485 vs. Yushin Okami +360
Over/under 1.5 rounds, over -180, under +140
Not only is Okami taking the fight on short notice, he’s been fighting at welterweight and is moving up two weight classes in his return to the octagon. That’s tough sledding right there, especially for a fighter whose success relies so much on muscling his opponents with wrestling and control.
While OSP has had some dismal outings recently – gassing early in two consecutive losses – he’s got so many things going in his favor that a loss would be pretty much unbelievable. He’s significantly bigger, stronger and more explosive than his opponent. On the feet, OSP is a much more dangerous striker. And while he might not be as technical a wrestler, he is still a very solid submission grappler who will have about a 30-pound weight advantage.
Of course OSP is a huge favorite in this matchup. There’s always a chance that the version that’s shot after one round shows up, but Okami is not aggressive enough to take advantage even if that happens.
The price on OSP is merely parlay fodder. The round total at 1.5 is a much more interesting play, and the under is tempting at +140. Though Okami has a ton of experience and is generally very durable, St. Preux is adept at scoring quick finishes.
Our pick: Parlay St. Preux to win at -485
Claudia Gadelha -280 vs. Jessica Andrade +225
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -201, under +161
Let me repeat that these girls are freaking savages, in terms of both physical strength and fighting style. Basically, matchmaker Sean Shelby is throwing honey badger into a cage with a Tasmanian devil and locking the door.
Gadelha is a multiple-time world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and her grappling is particularly vicious. Her natural strength lets her drag opponents to the mat and shred them until they give up a neck or a limb. While her standup isn’t on the same level, she did drop champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a mere jab.
As for Andrade, she’s a powerful, compact fighter who marches forward and launches non-stop bombs. If that’s not working, “Bate Estaca” will throw in a few suplexes for good measure – she’s that strong. Dropping down from 135 pounds and fighting in a weight class 20 pounds lighter did wonders for her career: Andrade retained both her cardio and power.
While “Claudinha” is undeniably the second best strawweight in the world, we have to fade her considering the opponent. Andrade is just a bad matchup stylistically: Gadelha will be basically trying to take down a fire hydrant. If this turns into a boxing match, it’s advantage Andrade, and we LOVE her price right now.
Our Pick: Andrade to win at +225
Takanori Gomi +280 vs. Dong Hyun Kim -355
Over/under 1.5 rounds, over +140, under -180
You know that giddy feeling when you’re drunk and about to bite into giant slice of pizza? That’s how you should feel about that this fight. These guys are straight up brawlers that are gonna bang until somebody goes down. Gomi swings so hard and often that he might as well be helicoptering into his opponent, and Kim would probably return the favor if The Fireball Kid actually tried that.
Gomi was arguably the best lightweight in the world roughly a decade ago. Today, he’s a one-round fighter with a cracked chin. Kim doesn’t possess elite skills in any MMA phase, but he doesn’t have the cardio issues that Gomi does and is a better counterpuncher than you’d think. That’s enough to fade the Japanese star, who could probably retire after this matchup.
General rule of thumb: don’t bet on guys that consistently gas early. Lay the price on Kim to spoil Gomi’s homecoming.
Our Pick: Kim to win at -355
Gokhan Saki -175 vs. Henrique da Sliva +145
Over/under 1.5 rounds, over +145, under -185
Saki is one of the best kickboxers on the planet: a former world, Dutch and European Muay Thai champion with Glory titles to match. While not known to casual fans, Saki’s name does hold some weight in MMA circles – fans are curious to see how an elite kickboxer would fare in MMA.
Da Silva is definitely a beatable debut opponent for Saki. The Brazilian is a knockout artist who will likely oblige Saki in a standup battle. Though he started his career a perfect 12-0, he’s lost his last three and was knocked out in just 22 seconds by Ion Cutelaba. We can’t really hold that against him though, ‘cause Cutelaba is a beast.
Ask Conor McGregor how hard it is to cross over into another sport and be successful. Da Silva is no Mayweather, but he’s a real MMA fighter – not just a kickboxer like Saki.
Our Pick: Da Silva to win at +145
Check out the latest UFC Fight Night 117 betting odds on our UFC Ods Comparison page.