(“Look Tito, I’ll stand up here with you, but I ain’t holdin’ your damn hand.” Photo courtesy of MMAMania)
With UFC 133 set to pop off tomorrow night in Philly, CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and weekend writer Seth Falvo are locking horns for a furious ‘Evans vs. Ortiz’-flavored debate. So how far can Tito take this “comeback” thing? How can you make some quick cash by betting on the fights? And will Ben or Seth have to change their screen-name to something humiliating on Sunday? It’s time for battle, and the stakes have never been higher…
BG: Well yeah, obviously. If Tito can pull off another gigantic upset on Saturday, he’ll have completed the first two acts of a comeback story that you usually only see in movies. The only logical next step is the thrilling, Rocky-esque finale, where the belt is on the line, and the odds are stacked against him, and his twin sons are cageside, sucking their thumbs in unison, held in the arms of a very concerned-looking Donald Trump. The bottom line is, the UFC would be fools to sit on such an incredible storyline, especially when it involves one of their all-time biggest stars.
Besides, who would Tito really be line-jumping in this scenario? The winner of Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin? Meh, they’ve had their shots. And we all know that Lyoto Machida will be on ice for a while due to his insolence. So until Dan Henderson gets re-signed by the UFC for one last title run at 205, “yes” is the only answer here.
SF: That all sounds right to me, Ben. Rashad Evans has been a perennial contender at light-heavyweight. A victory over him should give you a title shot, no matter who you are. Yet Rashad Evans doesn’t necessarily deserve a title shot if he beats Tito Ortiz. Ortiz’s victory over Ryan Bader didn’t elevate him to contender status; it prevented him from getting fired. He’s still 1-4-1 in his last six going into Saturday night. Frankly, he’s a step down in competition from Phil Davis, as far as the current light-heavyweight rankings are concerned. If Evans finishes this fight quickly, then I fully expect him to get the next shot at the title. But if he allows this fight to go to the judges, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get overlooked.
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you have $100. Looking at the fight odds for UFC 133, what’s the surest way to increase your stack?
SF: Because I’ve never written a Gambling Addiction Enabler column, I feel that this hypothetical answer should come with an especially long-winded disclaimer. One with a lot of legalspeak and phrases like “For entertainment purposes only”. One that reminds the readers that it is their responsibility to know the laws regarding gambling and online sportsbooks, that a gambling addiction is a serious problem and essentially, that if they take anything I’m about to say as sound advice and ruin their lives because of it, don’t be mad at me: I’m telling you not to actually do this.
That being said, Rashad Evans is probably your safest bet on this card. Yes, everyone knows that a rebounding fighter taking a fight on short notice against a dominant fighter like Evans always wins in the movies. But movies are meant to be an escape from reality, not a constant reminder that the younger, better fighter wins 99 times out of 100. Now, if you want to live a little with this hypothetical $100, Betus has Matt Hamill as a slight underdog against Alexander Gustafsson. Hamill is Gustafsson’s first real step up in competition (excluding his loss to then-unknown Phil Davis at UFC 112, of course), and wants to prove he’s better than his performance at UFC 130 indicated. He’s worth a modest bet.
If you’re hypothetically trusting me to come up with a parlay, let me first tell you that you really need to be less credulous. Then let me tell you that mine would be Evans+MacDonald+Hamill+Mendes.
BG: I’m glad you led off with that lengthy disclaimer, Seth, because at -400, a straight bet on Rashad Evans is not even worth mentioning. You’re going to bet $100 to make a $25 profit? That’s a blatant violation of the “Go Big or Go Home” tattoo I have on my lower back. Surely there are more reckless ways you can lose your money.
I like where you’re going with the Hamill pick, and the parlay sounds logical enough, but you’re neglecting two fighters here: Vitor Belfort (-300), who’s a lock to beat Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Jorge Rivera (-140), who should be an even bigger favorite over the unproven late-replacement Costantinos Philippou.
So here’s what I’d do. Take that $100 and turn it into two different parlays. One is your “safe” parlay: $80 on Belfort+Macdonald+Rivera+Mendes, which will return a respectable $209.52. Then, you take the remaining $20 and run an “idiotic” parlay on Ortiz+Belfort+Ebersole+MacDonald+Hamill+Mendes+Rivera+Menjivar+Brown. Potential profit: $2,691.13. In this economy, you can’t afford not to do it.
Screen-name bet time: Make one specific prediction for a fight at UFC 133. The person who makes the more accurate prediction gets to change the other person’s commenter name to something embarrassing for two weeks.
BG: Chad Mendes will beat Rani Yahya by unanimous decision, 30-27 across the board. During the fight, Joe Rogan will say some variation of the following: “Yahya’s been threatening with submissions the entire round, but the judges tend to believe that the guy on top is winning, no matter what.” There won’t be time for a post-fight interview. Seth’s new commenter name will be “#1CaseyAnthonyFan.”
SF: Jorge Rivera will act like he’s totally over the loss to Michael Bisping in the prefight interview, not that this will prevent him from taking a shot at Bisping. Rivera will channel that anger into a second round TKO over Constantinos Philippou. He will call for a rematch with Michael Bisping immediately after the fight, and Philly will applaud that. Ben’s new commenter name will be “SethFalvosBitch.”
Who has more to lose on Saturday: Mike Brown or Yoshihiro Akiyama?
SF: Hands down, it’s got to be Mike Brown. Yoshihiro Akiyama may only be 1-2 in the UFC, but all of his fights have won Fight of the Night Honors. He headlined UFC 120, despite coming off of a loss to Chris Leben. And despite losing that fight to Michael Bisping, he’s still fighting in the co-main event of UFC 133, against Anderson Silva’s most recent challenger, Vitor Belfort, no less. Even if he loses Saturday night, there’s still a chance that he gets to stick around the UFC, especially in the very real possibility that Belfort vs. Akiyama wins Fight of the Night honors.
The same simply cannot be said about Mike Brown. It’s one thing to be 2-4 in your last six outings. It’s another thing when you’re riding back to back losses to Diego Nunes and Rani Yahya. It’s yet another thing when neither of those fights were exactly memorable. He’s been demoted to the dark portion of an event with Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole on the PPV card. His opponent, Nam Phan, is a TUF alumnus with zero wins in the UFC. If he loses to Phan, he doesn’t only lose his relevance in the featherweight division, he loses his contract with the UFC.
BG: Hard to argue with that, though I think Akiyama also deserves to be pink-slipped if he loses his third-straight. Let’s be honest: That split-decision he won against Alan Belcher in his UFC debut? He didn’t win that fight. Dude should already be 0-3 in the Octagon.
The truth is, this card is loaded with fighters who have tons to lose. If Jorge Rivera takes another loss, he might hang it up for good. If Matt Hamill loses, he could be cemented as a prelim-fighting gatekeeper. And as with every UFC event, there are a bunch of smaller names fighting for their jobs (Rafael Natal, Nam Phan, and Costantinos Philippou come to mind).
But make no mistake, the guy with the most to lose on Saturday isn’t Mike Brown — it’s Rashad Evans. Unpopular with fans and his bosses, Rashad has been sidelined for over a year, waiting for title shots that never came, nursing injuries, and getting generally screwed over by the hands of fate. If he loses a massive upset to Tito Ortiz, it’ll push him down the light-heavyweight ladder so far that you may never hear the phrases “title shot” and “Rashad Evans” mentioned in the same sentence again.