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UFC 203 Picks

UFC 203 Picks to Win
When: Saturday, September 10, 2015
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: PPV
by Scott, MMA Handicapper, Predictem.com

Fight Analysis:

UFC 203 features heavyweight action at the top of the bill, with heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic making the first defense of the title against feared contender Alistair Overeem. In the co-feature, the man Miocic beat for the title, Fabricio Werdum, takes on dangerous and desperate striker Travis Browne. Whatever happens, fans can count on heavy-hitting action from the best big men in the UFC.

Stipe Miocic, (-150 odds), 15-2 (11 KOs, 1 Submission) vs. Alistair Overeem, (+130), 41-14 (18 KOs, 19 Submissions)
Newly-crowned UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic will make the first defense of his title against Alistair Overeem in the main event of UFC 203. Cleveland is Miocic's hometown and he will look forward to a raucous home crowd. In May, Miocic scored a first-round knockout over Fabricio Werdum to win the title, but will have his hands full with one of mixed martial arts' most-noted strikers in Overeem. The Dutch striker-extraordinaire is on a nice run lately and at 36, still represents a major threat to any heavyweight on the planet.

Overeem is one of more illustrated fighters in MMA history, with UFC gold the only think missing from his trophy case. He was a K-1 Grand Prix champion, as he beat the best kickboxers in the world to win that honor. Add 56 MMA fights to the mix and you're looking at a very decorated fighter, one who holds wins over the likes Badr Hari, Peter Aerts, Tyrone Spong, Vitor Belfort, Sergei Kharitonov, Mark Hunt, Fabricio Werdum, Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, and Junior dos Santos. His list of victims reads like a who's-who list of the top big men to ever participate in K-1 and MMA.

What stands out now about Overeem is his resilience and ability to adapt. First of all, he has a ton of mileage on his body after suffering a dozen knockout losses in his MMA and K-1 career. Most fighters who endure that kind of wear and tear are not typically able to have a late-career renaissance as Overeem is now with his 4-fight winning streak. He has tempered his aggression and become more of a thoughtful assassin. We had seen that reckless abandon cost him before, but now he is more patient and puts himself in far less danger. And of course, he remains a striking marvel and a ground-fighter with 19 submission wins. He can lash out with concussive strikes with fists, kicks, elbows, or knees. At 36, he remains a supremely-gifted athlete. It wasn't easy to get to this spot, with a lot of ups and downs along the way. One should expect an urgent and on-point performance from Overeem.

While Miocic's win over Werdum for the belt was an upset, many people fancied Miocic in that bout. He has been developing into a well-rounded fighter and was improving up to the point of facing the then-champion Werdum. He has scored three straight knockouts over Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, and then Werdum. His KO over Werdum may have been fortunate to some extent, with Werdum uncharacteristically rushing in and leaving himself wide open. But for Miocic to be able to lash out with a fight-ending strike while backing up only underlines the menace he has with his hands. He's one of the best boxers in the UFC heavyweight division.

A noted wrestler and striker, Miocic, 33, has certain traits that don't always register on the MMA-meter. The man gets the most out of what he has. For him to get into MMA late and to become champion is a long road to walk and takes a certain amount of self-belief, grit, and character. You can't underestimate those qualities. He's more-durable than Overeem and gets more out of what he has. He doesn't compare to Overeem in terms of overall MMA skill, yet he's the one wearing the belt, not Overeem.

In other words, Miocic offers certain traits that bettors should like. He is a dependable fighter who doesn't have a lot of off-nights. When he gets tagged, he won't fall to pieces necessarily. He is unflappable and steadfast—a consistent force that is more bankable than his opponent. Overeem is on a roll, but we've seen him lose a ton of fights and get KO'd a lot, as well. That chin is hardly dependable, though he makes up for that vulnerability by being one of the best offensive fighters of all-time. At the end of the day, I prefer the higher dependability of Miocic.

My Pick to Win: I'm betting on Stipe Miocic at -150. He may have a talent deficit, but offers a better-rounded package of traits in terms of offense, defense, and durability. Bet your prediction to win at MyBookie and get a 100% bonus on your first deposit!

Fabricio Werdum, (-270 betting odds), 20-6 (6 KOs, 10 Submissions) vs. Travis Browne, (+190), 18-4-1 (14 KOs, 2 Submissions)
In the UFC 203 co-feature, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum makes his first appearance since losing his title, as he takes on dangerous contender Travis Browne in a rematch. There is a lot at stake for both of these big men. Werdum wants to atone for his title-fight loss in May to Stipe Miocic, when the Brazilian rushed in and got clipped en route to a first-round knockout defeat. Browne, meanwhile, is looking for a win that would put him right back in the mix.

These two first fought in 2014 at UFC on Fox, with Werdum winning a unanimous decision. Werdum is the probably the best heavyweight Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner of all-time, so it was noteworthy that Werdum was able to out-strike the noted striker Browne over a 5-round distance. He was crisp and kept Browne off-key. Now in a three-rounder, is there something Browne can do different?

It was surprising to see Werdum lose his title to Miocic with a thoughtless maneuver, but it happens. He's still one of the more-accomplished big men in the sport's history, with a list of wins over some of the greatest heavyweights who ever lived, such as Alistair Overeem, Fedor, and Cain Velasquez. Now at heightened alert after losing to Miocic, can Werdum make another run or is slowing down, being that he will be 39 by fight-night in a career that goes back almost 15 years?

Werdum losing his belt recently was a bad development for the Brazilian, but the recent form of Browne might be a cause for greater alarm. A few years back, he was looking like a terror with brutal wins over Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett. Then came the loss to Werdum, a demoralizing KO defeat to Andrei Arlovski, and a first-round TKO loss to Cain Velasquez where he was rag-dolled in his last fight. In between is a win over Matt Mitrione where he also didn't look very good

So we haven't really seen the old Browne for a while. But at his best, he's a nimble striker for a big man, with shots coming in a myriad of forms and angles. He has nice bouncy toes and moves well for a man of his towering stature. The results haven't been there perhaps in recent outings, but that might have something to do with the fact that he's facing some of the greatest heavyweights who ever lived. Losing to Werdum and Velasquez is no disgrace, though that Arlovski loss was troubling. He should look to embrace this opportunity. Another loss makes it that much harder to rebuild. This is must-win territory for Browne.

Things can change on a dime in this sport, but it's hard to shake the image of Werdum beating Browne at his own game in 2014. As we saw when Miocic beat Werdum, all it takes is one shot and Browne is a damaging single-shot striker. At the end of the day, the added urgency and variety of skills makes Werdum the compelling choice.

My Pick to Win: I'm betting on Fabricio Werdum at -270. He didn't even need to bring it to the ground in their last fight, as he out-struck Browne. Over the three-round distance, I see Werdum finding a way to get a win and get in line to meet the winner of the main event. Bet your pick at an online sports betting site where your credit card WILL work for deposits and where you'll receive a generous 100% bonus up to $250 on your first deposit! ---> Bovada Sportsbook.

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