Wanderlei Silva UFC 84′>
(“Gimme $2,000 on Jardine.”)
BJ Penn (favorite) vs. Sean Sherk (underdog)
Our buds at BetUS have Penn as a -230 favorite (you’d have to bet $230 to win $100 back) with Sherk riding the +180 underdog line (a $100 bet would score you $180). Setting aside BJ’s current hype as one of the most talented fighters in the world, he really does hold an advantage over Sherk in every aspect other than conditioning; his standup is better, his submissions are much better, and he’s not going to let Sherk lie on top of him the entire fight. But Sherk’s undeniable talent and accomplishments are preventing oddsmakers from calling this any wider than it already is. If you want to make a high-percentage wager on the Prodigy, do so at BetUS. If you’re going for the longshot, throw down a bill on Sherk at PinnacleSports, where they’re giving the Muscle Shark a juicy +232 line.
Lyoto Machida (favorite) vs. Tito Ortiz (underdog)
BetUS says -220 for Machida and +175 for Ortiz, a slightly closer line than Penn/Sherk, owing partly to the fact that Machida still doesn’t have a win against a top-10 light heavyweight under his belt — not that Ortiz is top 10 anymore, but he could easily be Machida’s toughest challenge to date. Will the Dragon still stomp Ortiz? Yeah, pretty much. Ortiz may be a better wrestler, but that’s about it. Lyoto seems to come from the Anderson Silva school of well-rounded badasses with very few holes in their game, and he’s probably a lot more focused than the stretched-in-all-directions Ortiz, who can hopefully schedule some workouts between reality show appearances, t-shirt company management, sex with Jenna Jameson, and bitching about Dana White whenever there’s a microphone in the room. Pinnacle has Machida at a far more attractive -185, while Ortiz nut-huggers can squeeze a tiny bit more value out of their misguided bet at BetCris, where he’s +180.
Wanderlei Silva (favorite) vs. Keith Jardine (underdog)
Here, folks, is the only smart underdog bet of the lot. BetUs has Wandy as a -185 favorite with Jardine the ‘dog at +145. Look, we know the Axe Murderer was a killer in PRIDE — but he needs to win a couple in the Octagon to convince me that he’s just as fearsome over here. Take away the use of soccer kicks and knees to the head on the ground, biased refs and judges, matchmaking that had him go up against opponents that were tailor-made for his style, (*cough*steroids*cough*), and the confidence that comes from never losing, and we’re not even talking about the same guy anymore. Silva won’t be doing any axe-murdering at UFC 84 — he’s going to be fighting not to lose, and will come out a much more cautious, tentative version of himself. Meanwhile, Jardine is surely working on another great game-plan with Greg Jackson, knowing that if he pulls off another big win his title shot will be waiting. Great risk, great reward, etc. Pinnacle and Sportsbook have Jardine at a solid +150. I don’t think there’s enough value in a bet on Wanderlei, but if you disagree, Pinnacle and Bodog have him at a more reasonable -160.