It’s been literally WEEKS since the last UFC event, but somehow we’ve all survived the empty Saturday nights and lived to bet again. The UFC 137 card is an interesting one wager wise, as luck may just favor the bold here in several very close fights. So, check out my comparison betting odds for this fight, as well as any valid props for this fight.
Now, onto the fights!
BJ Penn -150
Nick Diaz +120
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
While Nick Diaz shot himself in the foot by dodging his media obligations, we as fans have come out on top, as this fight is much more entertaining than GSP vs. Diaz. Diaz brings a lot of questions about his mental stability at this point, and faces someone who will test his resolve at every turn in BJ Penn. The big question here will be Penn’s game plan, as his training with Hughes has broadened his wrestling game, but his bread and butter in MMA has always been his boxing. Penn is the better technical boxer, but Diaz will have an advantage with his tremendous reach and volume striking, which could cause Penn problems with getting inside and landing consistently. The one area Penn could dominate is on the mat, where his BJJ skills, flexibility and build would make it incredibly difficult for Diaz to finish. The lay and pray game plan has always been Diaz undoing, and Penn has all the skills to accomplish this if he wished. While this is a close fight, neither fighter is likely to finish the other and the Over bet should be safe money.
Cheick Kongo -160
Matt Mitrione +130
Props: Mitrione by KO
Matt Mitrione has been honing his kickboxing game since his UFC debut and draws an opponent that can really test his skills in Cheick Kongo. Kongo is coming off his amazing come-from-behind victory over Pat Barry, and will look to put the upstart Mitrione in his place here, although he might get a bit more than he bargained for. Breaking this down, I’d have to say Mitrione has the better hand strikes of the two, while Kongo is likely faster with the better all-around striking arsenal. While I do think Kongo takes this fight by points, I feel Mitrione by KO will be undervalued as a prop, and may make for the best wager on this fight.
Roy Nelson -200
Mirko Cro-Cop +160
Props: Nelson Inside Distance
Talk about a fight you never thought you’d see. Coming off of a brutal KO loss to Brendan Schaub, Cro-cop gets once last chance, taking on TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson. While it’s difficult to be more embarrassing than Hunt vs. Rothwell, Nelson did his level best to set this sport back a few years in his bout with Frank Mir, and will hopefully enter this fight a lot fitter than previous outings. Overall, Cro-cop has lost a lot of what makes his special, but still has a laser for a left hand, and surely packs a great deal of power in his hand strikes. Nelson isn’t the kind of guy to fall over from punches though, and with his own heavy leather and ground skills, this isn’t the best fight for Cro-cop to go out on. With that said, Nelson’s output falls to almost nothing later in the fight, and Cro-cop may be able to take advantage of a winded fighter if he lasts into the later rounds. Would I bet it? No! Nelson inside distance strikes me as the best result here, as his chances of KO and Sub are going to be almost even.
George Roop -150
Hatsu Hioki +120
Props: Hioki by Submission
A fun bit of Hammersmith trivia: I predicted this fight taking place over a year ago in my Nemisis Top Ten list for 2010. A long-time Japanese prospect will finally leave his homeland for world-class competition, taking on American product George Roop. For those unfamiliar, Hioki is somewhat of a Japanese throwback fighter in the vein of Aoki or Imanari, using very little stand-up, but being an absolute wizard on the mat. Hioki has made an attempt to evolve his game slightly over the last couple of years, and his judo takedowns are among the best at FW, while his stand-up game is still far below the bar for elite MMA. Roop has flown under the radar for some time due to all his best efforts being in dark matches, but his long striking and wrestling have made him a dangerous draw for many fighters in the FW division. This is a matter of either Hioki getting Roop down in a hurry, or Roop out pointing or KOing Hioki standing, and makes arbbing on this one an easy feat.
Scott Jorgensen -260
Jeff Curran +200
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
One of the real regional greats of the era, Jeff “Big Frog” Curran will once again hop into the UFC (sorry about the pun). A legit boxer with a slick BJJ game, Curran has faced some of the best fighters on the planet in his long career, and will once again be matched hard against Scott Jorgensen. While I’m a huge Curran fan, I’m also an analyst and have to say this is a horrible match for the Big Frog, as Jorgensen is exactly the guy who beats him every time out. Curran’s one flaw in his fight career has been his willingness to give up takedowns to work his bottom game, seemingly without realizing he’ll lose a decision if he can’t sub his opponent. While this worked well in the past, with the amount of educated grapplers infesting the elite-fighting organizations, he ends up hunting for subs that will never materialize. Jorgensen has beaten serious submission artists from inside their guard before, and Curran will be no different. The one thing you can count on is that Curran isn’t likely to be finished here, and betting the Over might pay out well if odds makers aren’t familiar with how resilient Curran can be.
Donald Cerrone -120
Dennis Siver -120
Two of the best kickboxers in the division will come together for an explosive fight, as Dennis Siver takes on Donald Cerrone. The Cowboy is riding a five fight win-streak into this bout, with his last fight being a surprisingly easy win over Charles Oliveira. Siver, on the other hand, is riding a four fight win-streak, but has beaten the much more impressive names in his run. This is a razor-close fight, as Siver has the takedown defense to force a stand-up bout here, negating Cerrone’s deadly grappling. On the feet, this becomes a classic bout of a rangy straight puncher facing a shorter limbed fighter with superior power. While Cerrone’s chin is the stuff of legends, he doesn’t want to test it against someone like Siver, and will look to keep Siver outside of his jab range the entire fight. Betting-wise, this is one that you’ll be hard-pressed to fight value on unless the bookies screw this up. Hunt for positive numbers, but don’t be afraid to sit this one out.
Tyson Griffin -240
Bart Palaszewski +180
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
One of my favorite journeymen fighters, Bart Palaszewski steps up into the octagon, taking on Tyson Griffin. Griffin had a great run at LW, but was one of many fighters to drop down to FW when the opportunity presented itself, and now enjoys a size advantage for the first time in his career. While I really like Bartimus, this is exactly the kind of fight that’s given him problems in the past, as his takedown defense and bottom game submissions are rarely adequate for this level of competition. My one hang-up here is that strikers, as a whole, have evolved to use different takedown defense methods than just the conventional wrestling-to-beat-wrestling concept. Palaszewski’s camp is one that’s adopted this anti-wrestling arsenal, giving Bartimus the chance to do harm to Griffin standing. Keep this in mind and avoid going heavy on Griffin straight up, but instead look at the Over, as neither will have an easy time getting the finish here.
Brandon Vera -160
Eliot Marshall +130
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over, Fight Of The Night
An entertaining bout and will determine the career path of one man here; Brandon Vera will make his return against TUF 8′s Eliot Marshall. I’ll be honest and say neither man has much to offer the top of the division at this point, but this has the makings of a sleeper fight, as both men are BJJ savvy with long-range striking skills. While Marshall would have an edge on the mat, his ability to put the fight into that realm is questionable, and I see this fight playing out as a muay thai battle where Vera should be victorious.
Ramsey Nijem -150
Danny Downes +120
Props: Nijem by Submission
TUF runner-ups have a lousy track record in the UFC, but Ramsey Nijem will look to get a strong start here, taking on Danny Downes. Downes is most famous for allowing Jeremy Stephens to kimura his arm off in their last fight, but that showing doesn’t illustrate exactly what this kid brings to the table. With smooth striking, pure grit and a serviceable grappling game, Downes is an excellent gate-keeper, and Nijem will have his hands full here. Overall, the thing that makes Nijem dangerous is his relentless grappling attack, where he drags people to the mat and finishes them with ease. While Downes made it out of the Stephens fight without tapping out, I feel Nijem will put him on the mat, take his back and sink the RNC, putting Downes to sleep.
Chris Camozzi -140
Francis Carmont +110
Having done well for himself outside the UFC, Chris Camozzi will make his return to the Octagon, taking on newcomer Francis Carmont. For those unfamiliar, Francis Carmont comes to us from Tristar Gym and has had a seven-year career outside the Octagon. Using a combination of muay thai and BJJ, Carmont is a natural athlete with a build suited for kickboxing more so than MMA, but has thus far made his game work in the minor leagues of MMA. This is an interesting fight, as both men are similar in style and should pair up well. The one area Camozzi has a clear advantage in though is in takedown defense and submission offense, which gives him the edge in dictating this fight and perhaps finishing it. Betting wise, I’d avoid this one entirely if possible, as these two stack up too well to find any real value here.