(The UFC 187 open workout highlights, where Chris Weidman once again proves to be the most likeable human being ever. via MMAJunkie.)
By Dan George
This Saturday night, the UFC will be looking to rebound from a lackluster UFC 186 outing that was decimated by a shocking drug testing failure, a judge changing his mind at the eleventh hour and an injury which forced the cancellation of the original main event. Thankfully, the UFC was able to roll it’s drugs, courts and cancellation issues into one fighter this time around, which allowed the stacked card to remain relatively intact.
Will Vitor Belfort roundhouse kick his way to becoming the new UFC middleweight champion? Will the winner of Johnson vs. Cormier be considered the true light heavyweight champion? How soon after the main event winner is announced will we see the predictable “I got next” tweet from Jon Jones that is immediately deleted?
The short answers to those questions: No, no, and 30 seconds. But join us anyway as we examine the UFC 187 betting lines (courtesy of 5dimes) and try to steer clear of the land mines known as the undercard while swinging for the fences on the main card.
Stay the Hell Away From
Colby Covington (-275) vs. Mike Pyle (+235)
Covington will be facing his toughest opponent in his 7-0 career thus far and the ATT product is being picked by most to win over Mike Pyle. It feels like a few years ago when Rick Story was the heavy favorite against Pyle, and in the end, “Quicksand” stayed true to his name and managed to pull out the split decision win. Covington is an outstanding grappler, Pyle hasn’t been out grappled in 5 years, and we have yet to see Covington KO an opponent. Pyle almost makes the good dogs, but best to leave money out of this one and enjoy an entertaining ground fight.
After being heralded for a new found dynamic offensive based style, the “Stun Gun” found out what can happen when you throw caution to the wind against the higher ranked welterweights like Tyron Woodley. Burkman may be in the ever dreadful position of fighting for his spot on the UFC roster here, but he may be able to catch a gunshy Kim early or use his superior boxing to eek out a decision. Kim is not easily outworked on the mat and is the right favorite, but with the high price it’s best to pass and see what happens.
The Good Dogs
Uriah Hall created quite the buzz during his stint on TUF and has fired off three straight wins coming into this bout with Rafael Natal, who is on a two fight win streak of his own. If Natal does not allow Hall to settle in and find his distance, he should be able to mix in some grappling and find a way to pull off the upset. If the bout stays on the feet for considerable amounts of time, however, Uriah almost certainly wins by some form of violent stoppage. This bout feels like more of a coin flip (Uriah is 3-2 in the UFC) then it’s being labeled as, and with that feeling in mind, why not take the side that will give you 3 to 1 on your money?
The “All American” is looking for his third successful title defense, once again against a Brazilian legend in Vitor Belfort who is attempting to put a cap on his long MMA career by winning the middleweight title. Many feel Weidman will be able to take Vitor down and dominate him round after round until Belfort fades, eventually catching him with a submission or provoking a stoppage from the referee due to strikes. The other popular notion seems to be that a non-TRTor will look like a shadow of his former self, which seems to explain why “The Phenom” is coming in as the +415 underdog on Saturday.
Belfort has only lost to Jon Jones and Anderson Silva since returning to the UFC, and has always been proven to be a fast, powerful, and ever-dynamic striker. Unfortunately, Belfort has also shown a tendency to fade and freeze up as his fights enter the later rounds. If “The Phenom” hopes to capture the belt, it will most likely have to come early in the fight rather than later. Weidman has proven to be hittable and it would not be an overstatement to claim that he has yet to be hit by a striker with the power Vitor possesses. The +115 prop that this fight goes over 2 ½ rounds may be a nice option for the Weidman bettors, but a straight bet on Belfort to win early wouldn’t be the worst decision you can make.
Other Main Card Bouts
John Moraga is going to put up much more of a resistance than that ridiculous +475 line suggests. Both fighters ceilings are at the very top of the division, and against one another, we may be looking at a long fight that requires the judges to determine a winner. Moraga works well off his back and is quite aggressive with submission attempts, but this is a facet of MMA that is too inconsistently rewarded by judges. The -130 prop that Benavidez wins by decision, the -175 prop that the fight goes the distance, and the -210 prop that the fight goes over 2 ½” rounds are all much more lucrative options than the steep price for the favorite. Joseph Benavidez to win.
Andrei Arlovski has enjoyed two straight wins since returning to the UFC and is coming off an impressive and surprising KO of Big Foot Silva, the same man who handed Browne his first loss in 2012. “Hapa” has improved at a higher rate than Arlovski over the past few years, though, and should vault back into the Heavyweight title mix with a stoppage of Arlovski reminiscent of the latter’s fight with Brett Rogers, as Browne generally wins inside the first round. Again, the -125 prop bet that this fight does not go past midway through the 2nd round and/or Browne wins in the 1st round at +150 pay the best. Travis Browne to win.
Makdessi is a beast, but he’s filling in on short notice here against a true elite lightweight in Cerrone. His height and reach disadvantage to “Cowboy” will be the determining factor in this fight, as Cerrone utilizes his length much better than Shane Campbell did. Makdessi has been bested by strikers with significant height and reach advantages (Njokuani) as well as capable grapplers (Hallman) in the past and Cerrone is of higher caliber than any opponent John has faced up until now. With 3 straight decision wins, +130 prop Cerrone wins inside the distance is another nice prop to look at as “Cowboy” will be hunting for another performance of the night bonus this time around. Cowboy to win.
Looking nothing less than stellar during his run to the light heavyweight title shot, Anthony Johnson will face former number one contender Daniel Cormier, who comes into Las Vegas with a second chance to claim the belt in as many fights. Cormier holds any and every grappling advantage on the mat, but it has been Johnson’s stellar takedown defense that has many wondering if Cormier will be forced to stand and trade with the heavy-handed “Rumble.” If DC can avoid the big kicks and punches of Johnson early on, he should be able to mix up his striking with pressure against the cage to break Johnson down over time and become the new light weight champ. Cormier to win.
-Benavidez vs Moraga goes to decision
-Browne vs Arlovski under 1.5 rounds
Enjoy the fights and may the winners be yours!