By Dan “Get Off Me” George
Thus far, 2013 has been kind to Zuffa, with PPV’s and TV broadcasts delivering, whether or not this will be the case after this Saturday night is yet to be determined. Will Dana pull Nick from the main event…again? Will GSP unleash the dark side of his personality on Diaz as promised if the Stocktonian does manage to make it to the ring? Or are these fights all fixed and full of cheaters just trying to help out the economy like Don Frye would have us believe?
Buckle up as we head to the great white north and highlight some of the undercard bouts as well as all the main card bouts for UFC 158 in the hopes of cashing in big and possibly helping contribute to the “Save Danga’s Legs” fund.
Undercard bouts (all betting lines courtesy of BestFightOdds):
Reuben Duran (-140) vs. George Roop (+120)
Roop is a slight underdog against Duran, who is looking to bring his UFC record to .500 in this fight. The 6’1″ Roop is making his bantamweight debut and I think his considerable size advantage in this fight may be worth the bet. Duran has proven he can be out grappled (vs. Mizugaki at UFC Live 3 ) and KO’d (vs. Viana at the TUF 16 Finale) by opponents of lower caliber than Roop, so the TUF 8 alum should be able to use his considerable reach advantage to keep Duran on his feet and possibly finish the BJJ specialist. A quick look at Roop’s record shows losses to current and former top contenders, whereas Duran has simply not fought the same level of competition. This fight may be too steep a step up for him right now.
Both men fought at the last Montreal show; Elkins blanketed Steve Siler and cashed as an underdog while Carvalho took home a controversial split decision win over Rodrigo Damm. Elkins at around -210 is the right favorite as “The Damage” is likely to take this fight to the ground and stay on top of the BJJ black belt Carvalho. The judges might have to save another hometown decision for Nick Ring, as I do not see Antonio being able to submit Elkins before the end of the 3rd round in this. Elkins is 4-0 all coming via decision in his last 4 outings in the UFC, so the prop that fight goes the distance is also a nice option.
All signs point towards stand up, FOTN-style action in this bout with two talented strikers who each hold walk off KO’s in the Octagon. The one glaring aspect of this fight is Cruickshank’s ground game and whether or not he will choose to take Makdessi down for an easy win. In all of his losing efforts, Makdessi has come up short in the grappling department, something Daron is surely looking to exploit. Cruickshank is the razor thin favorite here, but the idea that he can smother Makdessi after an impressive KO win for his 7th straight win makes him an alluring pick. Fight goes the distance prop should pay plus money as well.
Main Card PPV:
Both fighters are coming off TUF Finale losses as considerable favorites. Ricci is moving down to his natural weight class and should not have to worry about being over powered against Fletcher, who showed some holes in his striking game last time out. Mike is a healthy -280 favorite and while he should be able to use his striking to give “Freakshow” fits, he will have to be careful not to find himself on his back with the submissions specialist.
Ring was supposed to face Costa Phillipou his last time out, but due to illness/smart career move, was forced to withdraw and will instead find himself against the streaking Chris Camozzi. Just like last time, if this fight goes the distance, Ring will most likely get the nod on the cards, but Camozzi may have the right mix of stand up and submissions to hurt Ring and finish the fight on the ground. Due to where this fight is taking place, Camozzi may not be the best dog to bet on, while Ring is simply too much of a gamble (knee issues, controversial decision wins) to bet on either. Evenly matched opponents suggest fight may go the distance and that is the prop to go with if you are looking to lay it down on this one.
Ellenberger is the stronger grappler on paper and the favorite to beat the returning Nate Marquardt who will also be making his UFC welterweight debut. Nate has a favorable record against strong grapplers and is worth a look as the small underdog, as Jake has been KO’d before while trying to bring a fight to the ground. This has to be the most difficult fight to pick on this card and staying away simply enjoying the action may be what the doctor ordered. Trying to figure out if the Nate that fought Woodley or the Nate that fought Saffiedine will show up can drive one crazy.
The former #1 contender/interim champ meets the consensus current #1 contender in a matchup to decide who may be the official #1 contender to GSP’s title? Awwwww yeah. The Greg Jacksonized version of Carlos is the slight underdog and Hendrick’s left hand is favored at around -140, but this fight most likely will close at pick’em come fight time. Condit is the bigger, less-specialized-but-more-well-rounded fighter and coming off a 5rd decision loss to the welterweight kingpin in his last outing. Hendricks has left two bodies (Kampmann+Fitch) and a decision victory over Josh Koscheck in his last three outings, which have helped propel him to the top of the division.
Condit has never been knocked out and despite the odds, may have the better all around striking game to stay out of trouble en route to a decision victory over Hendricks. Condit should utilize his 8” reach advantage and foot work to stay out of Johny’s power range all the while figuring out Big Rigg’s timing while scoring from the outside. If Johny is unable to close the distance early, he may find himself chasing Condit en route to a decision loss. Condit as the underdog gets the slight nod and fight goes the distance at plus money may be worth a peek.
Nick Diaz is a front-runner fighter when his opponents elect to play his game, almost making the sport look too easy as he routinely out strikes his opponents at a high clip and suddenly ending the fight in spectacular fashion. GSP is also very much a front-runner type of fighter in his own right; his grappling intensive method is the more tried and tested recipe for success in the UFC and ultimately will be the deciding factor this weekend. Diaz welcoming the ground game is sealing his fate as the loser against Georges, who will not trade with Diaz, but rather use his jab to close the distance and take the former Strikeforce champ down to the ground.
-500 does not inspire anyone to run to the betting window and a GSP decision victory should roll anywhere between -150 to -200, which is where bettors have found some solace in GSP’s last five consecutive decision wins. The one caveat is the unpredictability of Diaz; no showing the open workouts, retiring post-Condit fight due to frustration…it may all come to a head against GSP. Diaz may very well Tyson his way out of this fight by the 4th round. Having said this, GSP by decision or nothing is where the money should go.
Enjoy the fights and may the winners be yours!