The UFC returns to Japan for their UFC on FUEL TV 8 event this coming March 2nd with a card headlined by Wanderlei Silva versus Brian Stann. Two Japanese stars, Yushin Okami and Takanori Gomi return to their homeland as well, and both are in very difficult matches, as Okami gets Hector Lombard and Gomi faces off against Diego Sanchez. Lombard and Okami are jockeying for position in the Middleweight division, while both Gomi and Sanchez are basically fighting to remain relevant. Let’s look at where the odds sit at the sports books now that it is fight week.
Stann is favored at -240 despite coming off a loss to Michael Bisping in his last outing and going 1-2 in his last three fights. Silva returns +190 as the underdog, as there has been talk of his retirement for at least a year, and he is thought to be very burnt out as he nears the end of his career.
Silva wanted to keep fighting, and having him headline in Japan is getting a last bit of mileage from one of the top names of the last decade. But he is on the tail end of his career, and Stann should take the fight if he sticks to his gameplan.
Diego Sanchez is a big favorite at -365 over Takanori Gomi who comes back at +255. Gomi is difficult to get a read on, as many people have written him off in the past, but he has won two in a row in the UFC, and his losses are toz, Nate Diaz, Clay Guida and Kenny Florian, which is tough competition. The problem for Gomi is that Diaz is also on that next tier above him if he is on his game.
Several of the books I checked have not posted a line for Okami vs Lombard, so check back throughout the week to see what the numbers are. The favorite in the match should be Okami, as his grinding style has won him a lot of fights. He will be considerably bigger and longer than Lombard, who might belong in the 170 lb division ultimately. Lombard is used to physically pushing around opponents, something he won’t be able to do with Okami. he will still have his big punch, but Okami can take some shots. Look for Lombard to go 1-2 in the UFC.