The UFC heads north to Canada with solid bouts for fight fans to enjoy

The UFC heads north to Canada with solid bouts for fight fans to enjoy

February 14, 2017 3:01 AM
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The UFC heads north to Canada this coming Sunday as Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia plays host to Fight Night 105.

Unfortunately the scheduled main event between Stefan Struve and Junior Dos Santos had to be canceled due to injury, but this card still has plenty of solid bouts for fight fans to enjoy. More importantly for those of us in search of a good bet, the Fight Night 105 card offers up enough value to warrant a walk to the betting window.

The co-main event features two marquee mixed martial artists whose need for a win is critical. Both Johny Hendricks (17-6) and his opponent Hector Lombard (34-6-1, 2 NC) will try to halt a three-fight losing streak inside the Octagon. Bookmakers currently list Lombard as a -150 favorite, with the take-back on Hendricks +120. Simply put, the betting line reflects a win probability of 60% for the former Olympian from Cuba.

For Hendricks, the former UFC Welterweight Champion is making his middleweight debut after having trouble staying within the 170-pound limit. Some expected him to retire after his last loss to Neil Magny, since Johny stated a defeat would result in him hanging up his gloves. But instead, Hendricks now believes the move up in weight is a new start and an opportunity for “Bigg Rigg” to shine once more.

For Lombard, the former first Bellator Middleweight Champion aims for his first victory since 2014. Not too long ago Hector was one of the most feared fighters on the UFC roster, with all the physical tools and the skill set to be earmarked as a future title holder. But now, Lombard finds himself in an almost “must win” situation if he's to have any chance at fulfilling that potential.

Now let's get to the pick.

Rather than break this fight down statistically or even stylistically, let's look at the most important factor of all. It's said fighting is 10% physical and 90% mental, therefore we'll focus on the 90% part for this bout.

Hendricks has already had one foot out the door for a while now, having more than just hinted at retirement. In fact, had Hendricks followed through on what he said would happen if he lost his last fight, he'd already be a few months into his retirement.

History has shown that combat sports professionals who enter the ring or cage with this mindset have not performed well in their final fight. It's difficult enough to compete and have success against the very best in the world when a fighter is 100% committed to his or her craft and all the hard work that comes with it. The fact Hendricks has to move up in weight is also a very telling sign as to his full devotion to the sport.

Finally, Hendricks will now be facing much bigger men in this division and I don't think his power is going to have the kind of effect it did at the lower weight class, especially against Lombard, one of the promotion's strongest middleweights. I look for Lombard's edge in power coupled with excellent take down defense to be too much for Hendricks to overcome.

Pick: Lombard