(Silva and Weidman talk us through their first fight. The words “lucky” and “bullshit” are thrown around rather liberally.)
By Dan George
I trust you all had a Merry Christmas, Nation, but now it’s time to get back to business. This Saturday, quite possibly the biggest card in the history of the UFC is going down in Vegas when middleweight champion Chris Weidman (still crazy to type) attempts to become the first man to ever go 2-0 against Anderson Silva at UFC 168.
OK, so maybe it’s not the biggest (or best) card in UFC History, but the fact that those of us who plan on purchasing the card will start off an additional five dollars in the hole means that I’ve got my word cut out for me. Join me below for the pound-for-pound best gambling advice in all the Interwebz and maybe, just maybe, we will all kick off the New Year with a little extra cash in our pocket. All gambling lines courtesy of BestFightOdds.
Stay the Hell Away From:
While not as heavy a favorite as in the past, Uriah Hall has simply not shown the brilliance we saw from him while in the TUF house to warrant laying -300ish on this fight. On the other side of the spectrum you have Chris Leben, who will be looking to avoid a fourth straight loss inside the octagon and the inevitable pink slip that comes along with it. This fight feels like a loser-leaves-town match and Uriah should be able to use his angles and speed to pick Leben apart on the feet, but if he cannot finish Leben early, this fight may get ugly and this is where Leben generally shines. If you cannot resist, the -120 prop that this fight does not go past 2.5 rounds may be worth a look.
The Good Dogs:
At +130, John Howard is a solid underdog pick in a fight that will most likely be won by the stronger grappler. Siyar is most likely the better striker, but Howard is well versed enough in the stand up game to avoid anything catastrophic like Paulo Thiago experienced at UFC on FUEL 2 and should be able to find a way to get Bahadurzada against the cage early and often in this fight. Siyar has 6 finishes in his last 8 fights, 5 of which came in the first round, while Howard has not been stopped in the first round of a fight since 2007. If Howard is able to get this fight into the 2nd and 3rd rounds, he most likely will do so by nullifying Siyar’s offense by mixing up striking with takedowns which may give him the nod from the judges. Howard to win.
William Macario (+145) vs. Bobby Voelker (-160)
Currently 0-2 in the octagon, Voelker has shown an ability to take punishment more than deliver punishment as of late. If he does not get off to a good start against Macario, he may very well be looking at a third consecutive loss in the UFC. The major caveat is that Macario seemed to gas in his last fight with Leonardo Santos and Voelker’s ability to take a beating and keep ticking may offer some dramatic moments if this fight gets into the 3rd round. That said, I like Macario to win here via a violent flurry early in the first round.
Jim Miller (-365) vs. Fabricio Camoes (+305)
At -350 or higher, Jim Miller is the heavy favorite to beat Fabricio Camoes, but it is in the prop category that we find +110 for Miller to win inside the distance, which is truly the best “good dog” pick in this fight. Miller rarely plays the cautious fighter in his bouts and should look to close out this fight before the judges can get involved. Camoes is not a pushover, but has only beat Tommy Hayden inside the Octagon while Miller has consistently faced high level competition and should be able to outclass Camoes anywhere this fight takes place. +110 Miller to win inside the distance.
A veritable potpourri of plus money options are offered in this fight, but the two that are most appealing would be that a) This has FOTN written all over it and b) Poirier should win by decision. Without an official line available, the return for a FOTN should be in the neighborhood of between 5 to 7 times the wager, while +165 is the current line for Poirier to take this one on the judges’ cards. Poirier will have the height and reach advantage here while Brandao has yet to be finished in the UFC, which all points towards an exciting fight that may very well go the entire 15 minutes. Diego is also training with the last man to beat Poirier (Cub Swanson) at Jackson’s MMA and he will surely have “The Diamond” scouted heading into this tilt. Poirier +165 by decision and FOTN prop.
Other Main Card Bouts:
Barnett is currently hovering around -200 in a fight that will be determined by whether or not Barnett can get things to the mat. Browne has not been threatened with a takedown-centric approach by any of his opponents in the UFC, which should make this the toughest test of his career. Without having seen Browne face this challenge consistently throughout a fight, it is difficult to gauge whether or not he will be able to stop one of the best grapplers the HW division has to offer. Barnett should be able to put Browne on his back in this fight and find a way to either win by submission or on the scorecards. Barnett to win.
Miesha has gone on record stating that she will shoot herself in the face if she is sarmbarred by Rousey again.
Rousey is between -700 to -900 at the various sports books and although she has finished all of her MMA fights inside the first round, there may be an opportunity to play the prop that this fight starts round 2 at -130. Tate surely learned something from the first fight and hopefully will be able to avoid the ground game for the first five minutes. Rousey showed in her fight with Liz Carmouche that (despite giving up her back) once engaged in a grappling contest, the armbar is all but a formality. While Tate is a solid striker, her grappling, much like any woman in the UFC, is not on Rousey’s level and Ronda will surely find a way to exploit this fact to retain her title. I pray that she does not intend to actually follow through on this. Rousey to win. UH-DUH.
The line has not moved very much since this rematch was announced. Weidman showed that “The Spider’s” antics had no effect on him and that he can outduel Silva on the ground and on the feet at less than 100% coming off a one year layoff. Why then is Silva considered the favorite after losing the first contest? Who believes that Silva has an advantage on the ground in this fight? Both questions should tip the scales in Weidman’s favor, but clearly the odds are being generated on the very same thing that cost Silva his title. The odds here suggest that Silva will be able to regain his title by out striking Weidman, and despite being KO’d in the second round at UFC 162, it seemed rather obvious that Silva had begun to connect with Weidman’s lead leg, take away the takedown threat, and take over control of the contest on the feet. Until he got too cocky, that is.
However, Weidman not only won the first fight clearly, he also won the first round very convincingly by exposing Silva’s struggles with strong grapplers. Weidman also noted that he saw Silva’s eyes roll back in his head in the first round while he delivered ground and pound to the former champ. Weidman has the tools to create this type of environment again for Silva and may be able to connect enough times to stop Silva on the ground, which is perceived to be the most probable avenue to victory for Chris in this bout. Weidman clearly can win this fight in more areas than Silva, but again, the oddsmakers have Silva pinned as the favorite for the brief moments in the second round where Silva showed how dominant he can be with his striking. Weidman has had many knee surgeries and it seemed that he began laboring in the second round when Silva began connecting. To his credit, Weidman was able to push through this and become the new champion, but his win was at least partially due to an opponent who took his foot off the gas pedal.
This time around, Silva will most likely stay focused on keeping the fight standing and attacking Weidman’s lead leg with punishing kicks, which may limit the champ’s ability to score the takedown. If Silva is able to avoid the takedown consistently and cut out the shenanigans, he should create the type of fight that will result in him regaining his title. If Weidman can take Silva down early and punish him enough, he may finish the former champ inside the first round. The fight should be a pick’em as both fighters have shown, however briefly, the ability to control their opponent in the first bout. Silva to win inside the distance, possibly 3rd round TKO stoppage.
Happy Holidays and all the best in 2014, CP Nation.