UFC 188 Preview – Velasquez vs. Werdum

Mexico City’s $300-million, 23,000-seat Arena Ciudad de Mexico will host UFC 188 on June 13. The main event is a Heavyweight Championship unification battle between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. A good lightweight bout between Gilbert Melendez and Eddie Alvarez is also on the card that has a dozen fights scheduled.

Velasquez vs. Werdum

Velasquez beat Junior dos Santos by unanimous decision in late 2012, earning the Heavyweight crown in the process. He defended the belt twice in 2013 (against Antonio Silva in May and in a rematch with dos Santos in October). Both wins came by TKO, but Velasquez has not fought since then because of a right knee injury. He is 13-1 all-time, with his only setback coming against dos Santos in 2011. Eleven of his victories have come by knockout.

Werdum won the Interim Heavyweight title with a second-round TKO of Mark Hunt (flying knee and punches) in November. It was the fifth straight win for Werdum who also defeated Roy Nelson (decision), Travis Brown (decision), Mike Russow (TKO), and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (submission) over the last three years. He last lost in June 2011 when he was outpointed by Alistair Overeem. Werdum’s win streak has upped his record to 19-5-1 all time, with nine of those wins coming via scorecards.

Velasquez is a 2/9 favorite and, unless he isn’t fully healthy, is the better fighter. Look for his power to stop Werdum before the fight reaches the championship rounds.

Melendez vs. Alvarez

After winning seven straight fights in Strikeforce, Melendez has lost two of three in the UFC. He dropped a split decision for the Lightweight crown to Benson Henderson in April 2013, beat Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision in October 2013, and lost by submission (guillotine) to Anthony Pettis in December. The recent setbacks are new for Melendez, who is 22-4 all-time and entered the UFC with a ton of hype. The California native, who has 11 career KOs, will be looking to string some wins together to get back in title contention.

Like Melendez, Alvarez is fairly new to the UFC. After winning the Bellator Lightweight Championship via split decision over Michael Chandler in November 2013, he made his UFC debut against Donald Cerrone last September. Cerrone won a unanimous decision, dropping Melendez to 25-4 (14 KOs) lifetime.

Melendez and Alvarez are fairly evenly matched. Melendez has faced tougher competition and will be a mild favorite come June; but if you can get 3/2 on either fighter, take the odds.

Other Main Card Fights

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nate Marquardt (Middleweight)
Yair Rodriguez vs. Charles Rosa (Featherweight)
Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill (Women’s Strawweight)

(Photo credit: Mike Dunn from Sunnyvale, USA (http://www.flickr.com/photos/acidhelm/4213897955/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)