It’ll be a sad day for MMA when we have to collectively realize that Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is nothing more than a fringe contender. That day might come sooner than you think. A longtime top fighter at both lightweight and then welterweight, Cowboy is now dealing with the first three-fight losing streak of his career.
That slide has led to him Yancy Medeiros – Cowboy’s least heralded opponent in years. A fourth straight loss to a midcard fighter like Medeiros would put Cerrone at a serious crossroads. The pair headlines this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 123 in Austin, Texas.
But in a vacuum…man what an awesome fight. Medeiros is fresh off putting on a Fight of the Year contender for his no-holds-barred slugfest with Alex Oliveira, and Cowboy is one of the most consistently exciting scrappers in the UFC. All the ingredients for an epic fight are here.
Aso on the card, heavyweight knockout artist Derrick Lewis will make a short trip from his Houston hometown to meet Marcin Tybura, a new-ish heavyweight who is quickly settling into his top-10 spot. Lewis has a habit of getting into slobberknockers, so this should be a ton of fun.
Fellow Texas native Sage Northcutt, the former UFC golden boy, will also lace up and meet Thibault Gouti on the main card. Though “Super” Sage hasn’t quite lived up to massive expectations, let’s not forget the kid is only 21 years old and an extraordinary athlete. Joining his brethren is “The Texecutioner” James Vick, a 12-1 prospect meeting Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo.
All in all, we’ve got a decent card with some exciting fighters. Plus, you’ve got some great betting options here. Let’s take a look at the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu and break down some good betting values.
Donald Cerrone -147 vs. Yancy Medeiros +117
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -115, under -105
Cerrone’s losing streak came against a murderer’s row of fighters in Jorge Masvidal, Robbie Lawler and Darren Till. Lawler’s a former champ, Masvidal was in a recent title eliminator and Till is one of the division’s hottest fighters.
But the manner in which he’s been losing suggests that Cowboy is on the decline. Till needed less than a round to demolish him and Masvidal completely took him apart and finished him behind a crisp jab. Cowboy might only be 34, but he’s got the mileage of 42 pro fights and over 20 pro kickboxing matches. The man has been in tons of wars and taken fights on short notice numerous times.
Still, Medeiros is the type of fighter that Cerrone usually feasts on. Nobody’s mistaking the Hawaiian for an elite fighter, but then again nobody can deny his heart. He’s a solid boxer that tends to get drawn into brawls, but with major defensive holes in his striking. Statistically, Medeiros absorbs 5.19 strikes per minute, which isn’t a good sign against a dynamic kickboxer like Cowboy.
It’s been a wild three-fight win streak for Medeiros, but in two of those he was nearly stopped before he willed his way to knockout wins. Taking damage and gutting out come-from-behind victories isn’t a sustainable method of success.
Our Pick: Cerrone to win at -147
Cerrone might be fading, but Medeiros isn’t the type of fighter that can exploit his weaknesses. Without the size to physically overwhelm him, nor the elite striking to pick Cowboy apart, Medeiros is going to be in for a long night. Cerrone’s price is playable as a straight bet.
Derrick Lewis +115 vs. Marcin Tybura -145
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -115, under -105
Lewis has beaten more accomplished fighters than Tybura, and despite a 6-1 run he’s still a high-risk betting option. It’s just tough to bet on one-dimensional knockout artists with dodgy cardio. Of course, next level killshot power is always the great equalizer in MMA. He was the division’s Francis Ngannou before the Frenchman’s recent rise – only much more portly and outspoken.
Of course Tybura’s not going to want to get into a kickboxing match here. His standup is decent, but why let a killer use his chosen weapon? The Polish fighter will have a major advantage on the ground, but he hasn’t been much of a takedown threat in the UFC, averaging just 1 per 15 minutes. Still, Lewis becomes an easy target when he’s tired, which usually happens in Round 2.
Our Pick: Tybura to win at -145
Tybura has yet to be knocked out in his career – his only stoppage came via doctor stoppage – and has the mobility to stay out of range. If he can make this fight ugly and drain Lewis’ stamina meter, this fight tilts greatly in his favor.
Francisco Trinaldo +194 vs. James Vick -229
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -165, under +145
James Vick is a 6’3” lightweight, which is something you don’t see often. He ain’t no beanpole either, as he actually fills out frame pretty well. With three straight wins – including a surprising TKO of James Duffy in his last outing – Vick appears to be turning the corner.
The Texecutioner is good at utilizing his height, more so in the clinch than as a long-range sniper. His knees don’t have to travel very far to meet the gut, and his long limbs give him plenty of leverage to snatch chokes. He might have a tough time muscling the 5’8” Trinaldo, whose built like a brick.
But Trinaldo is 39 years old, and though he’s just reached his career peak the Brazilian is at an age where guys just start to break down. Luckily, his success has never been too dependent on athleticism.
Our Pick: Over 2.5 rounds at -165
Vick to win is a solid play, but we favor the round over. Trinaldo is a power hitter with a nasty left hand and thudding leg kicks, and it’s plausible that he does enough damage to take the win. Vick has only been stopped once, and Trinaldo has never been finished. This one’s going to the cards.
Sage Northcutt -280 vs. Thibault Gouti +221
Say what you want about Sage’s recent losses. You’d be an idiot to not be able to see an extraordinary athlete with the special potential. The word “explosive” gets tossed around in MMA a lot, but it perfectly describes the ripped Northcutt. The kid quick as lightning, hits hard and is ridiculously flexible. To be 21 again.
Gouti’s 1-3 octagon record doesn’t inspire much confidence, and it’s clear that the UFC is lessening Northcutt’s competition to build his confidence. If he got this to the ground, he’d have a decent shot at exploiting Northcutt’s questionable ground game, but Gouiti has yet to land a takedown inside the octagon.
Our Pick: Sage inside the distance
The odds reflect a stepping stone fight for Northcutt, so the price isn’t playable as a straight bet. Use it as a parlay or go with Sage to win via finish. In his last three losses, Gouiti was submitted twice and knocked out. Sage should find a way to end this early.
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