UFC Fight Night 160 on Saturday in Copenhagen opened up Denmark to the Ultimate Fighting Championship with a surprising card. It featured a whopping six upsets, providing plenty to discuss in this installment of Beating the Books.
Jared Cannonier (+235)
Jack Hermansson started the fight about as aggressively as he could, whipping hard kicks at the American and pushing the pace in their main event. After swinging mightily, he shot for a takedown, and it looked like it was all going to go the Swede’s way. At one point early in the opening round, Hermansson even took the former heavyweight to Suplex City, but his overwhelming aggression would not last for long. “The Killa Gorilla” started throwing heavy leg kicks, the kind that damaged and finished Anderson Silva earlier this year. After Hermansson ate a few of those kicks, he did not look the same, as he tried for several takedowns and failed on all but the first, when he hit the suplex.
Cannonier, who came in as one of the larger underdogs on the card, did not look the part after his leg kicks started to land. As the second round began, Hermansson tried to emulate the success at the beginning, but Cannonier’s power changed the game, as an uppercut led to the dramatic finish. Our Prime Picks analysis expected that the headliner might hinge on Cannonier’s cardio, as he would most certainly have the power advantage early: “Cannonier has serious power in his strikes and could catch Hermansson early on. That was how it played out, as Cannonier painted himself as an instant middleweight title contender. Those who bet on Cannonier to score the upset came out ahead, but those who put money on Cannonier by TKO/KO (+335) or Cannonier Wins Inside Distance (+315) enjoyed an even better night.
Ovince St. Preux (+245)
Much like Hermansson did in the main event, Michel Oleksiejczuk went after St. Preux right out of the gate, even earning a 10-8 round on one of the Sherdog.com official scorecards. The Pole put it on “OSP” in that opening stanza, outlanding his opponent by a 33-5 margin in significant strikes. Oleksiejczuk winning by knockout was actually a favorable betting result -- his winning by TKO/KO closed at -110 -- and he appeared to be well on his way to forcing the stoppage when he battered “OSP” in Round 1.
What happened in the second round would be miraculous if it were not so commonplace for the American. A single takedown for St. Preux led “Lord” to make the same mistake three other men in the UFC had already made. From his back, Oleksiejczuk tried to sniff out a guillotine choke. A master of the submission known as the Von Flue choke, St. Preux used his adversary’s attempt against him and pulled off the fourth of six such chokes in promotional history. “OSP,” who had lost his last two and three of four, shocked much of the MMA community by pulling yet another rabbit out of the hat. St. Preux Wins Inside Distance closed at +310 compared to St. Preux Wins by Decision at +900, so bettors expected that if “OSP” won, he would do so by stoppage. Even so, a +495 line for St. Preux Wins by Submission is a big score for the savvy bettors that thought he could tap Oleksiejczuk.
Nicolas Dalby (+135)
A horrific third-round referee restart notwithstanding, our Prime Picks breakdown had Dalby riding out the storm from Alex Oliveira to take a tough victory. The fight played out similar to our expectations, with Oliveira starting strong and relying almost wholly on his power strikes. However, the opening round was less eventful than it could have been. Both men missed often with their big strikes, leading to low significant strike totals and striking accuracy percentages.
At the end of the first round, “Lokomotivo” wound up on top after reversing position. Emboldened by this success, he hit a takedown in Round 2 and controlled Oliveira for a large portion of the period with some damaging ground-and-pound. The final round saw Oliveira try to do the same, and he was on his way to potentially scoring a victory before referee Rebin Saber took away his position and stood the fighters. From there, Dalby grinded out his opponent and captured a unanimous verdict, which was an upset and a moderate surprise to bettors, as well: Dalby Wins by Decision closed at +255. Although more than one unusual referee decision possibly changed the course of this fight, Dalby picked up the upset victory in his return to the UFC.
John Phillips (+110)
This analysis will easily take longer than the entire course of the fight, which lasted a thrilling 17 seconds. Put simply, both men threw as hard as they could until one fell down. Phillips caught Alen Amedovski with a left, and after a swarm of punches, another big left sent the Macedonian straight to the canvas. Considering the power with which both men were swinging in the opening seconds, it was clear from the opening bell that this fight would not last nearly as long as Phillips’ three previous Octagon outings, which all resulted in losses for the Welshman.
What Phillips did should come as no surprise, as he has a 100 percent finish rate in his wins, including 20 coming by strikes for a roughly 91 percent knockout rate. Not to be outdone by his opponent, Amedovski sports a 100 percent knockout rate in his wins, with his only prior defeat coming on the scorecards. It was heavily expected by the bookmakers that this fight would not go the distance, with Fight Doesn’t Go to Decision closing at -240. Of the finish outcomes, in fact, Phillips Wins by TKO/KO was considered the most likely, posting decent odds of +170 and the lowest of any individual outcome from either man.
Giga Chikadze (+135)
A highly touted kickboxer, Chikadze has not met a great deal of resistance in his MMA career. Prior to his win over Davis, the only two opponents he had faced with winning records beat him, with Gil Guardado (4-1) taking a decision over him under the World Series of Fighting banner in 2015 and Austin Springer (10-3) submitting him on Season 2, Week 2 of Dana White’s Contender Series. His other seven opponents in his MMA career combined for a paltry record of around 3-57, all coming in the notorious Gladiator Challenge promotion.
Perhaps even worse than his previous competition was that the bout was initially scored a split draw, with one judge awarding the fight to Davis and a third putting up a 29-29 scorecard. This was a fight where all three Sherdog scorers evaluated the fight 30-27 for Chikadze, and upon further review, it was found that Chikadze had indeed won. As mentioned earlier, the Georgian was a longtime kickboxer with several impressive performances in the Glory promotion, so conventional wisdom might dictate that he would struggle with takedown defense. Although he was grounded three times, he stuffed more than half of the attempts that came his way, and none kept him with his back on the floor for long. Using his sharp striking game, Chikadze picked apart his American counterpart and scored a decision win -- the first of his career by judges’ verdict -- and a mild upset.
Lina Lansberg (+345)
The most significant betting upset of the event came when Lansberg elbowed and pounded Macy Chiasson out of the ranks of the unbeaten. Many, including the sportsbooks, anticipated that the Fortis MMA product would pummel Lansberg and put herself on a path to title contention; and she seemed well on her way to doing so after easily taking the opening round. The round largely stayed in the clinch, with Chiasson on the offensive and slamming home knee after knee. However, she was unable to get the fight down where she really wanted it.
After the opening barrage of knees, “The Elbow Queen” turned the tide by taking down Chiasson. The American was surprised, as she took several knees to the head from the muay Thai aficionado. While her cardio wore down, Lansberg stayed strong. A huge knee in the third and final round appeared to be the nail in the coffin, as Chiasson did not look the same after taking it right on the chin. Although the betting lines anticipated that if Lansberg won, it would be on the scorecards, Lansberg Wins by Decision still closed at a high +525. If you took the over for how long the fight lasted, Over 2½ rounds was a decent +125, but for that kind of line, you would generally have to expect that the fight would go the distance. It did, and Lansberg picked up a huge win, halting the momentum of the “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 28 winner.