One of the many shows we’ll be treated to on FX kicks off with a fantastic card, both for fight quality and wager opportunity. Our main event features the return fight of both Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller, as they attempt to put their losses behind them and get back into the title mix. So, check out my comparison betting odds for this fight, my list of valid props, and my new confidence meter that tells you how much wiggle room my lines have.
As always, any wager or fight questions can be directed to me via twitter @Mikehammersmith, or in the comments section of this article. Now, onto the fights!
Melvin Guillard -130
Jim Miller EV
Props: Miller by Sub
Two guys who were unceremoniously thrown down the Lightweight rankings after their respective losses will get a chance at main event redemption. Miller is, and always has been, a fantastic fighter whose only flaw is being a great wrestler among phenomenal wrestlers. Guillard’s flaw is much easier to fix, if he cares to fix it, as he seems to go through a behavioral cycle like a manic-depressive. He improves his game, gets some outstanding finishes, becomes entirely too cocky for his own good, loses, and reverts to being a conservative boxer/wrestler. Rinse and repeat. This puts him in a good spot against Miller, as he’ll face Miller in the same way he faced Jeremy Stephens, which is exactly what he needs to do. He can’t handle the grappling acumen of Miller, but he can certainly use footwork and two or three punch combinations to grab a decision away from Miller. Betting wise, my theory can go to hell in a hand basket real quick, and I’m not liking any props except a small play on Miller by Submission.
Duane Ludwig -160
Josh Neer +130
Props: Fight Of The Night
An oddly fun fight in the WW division, Duane “Bang” Ludwig will bring his muay thai skills to bear as he faces jack-of-all-trades fighter Josh Neer. Ludwig is coming off of an impressive win over Amir Sadollah, where he showed the depth of his striking skills and new-found takedown defense against the highly rated Sadollah. Neer is a very different kind of fighter, and had a pure clinch fighting clinic against Keith Wisniewski, ending when Wisniewski had amassed too many cuts on his head. This is going to be a gritty match, as Ludwig and Neer are both game fighters that don’t mind bleeding a little bit in the cage. I expect Ludwig will have the edge in the striking, but the question is if he can avoid Neer’s rather unorthodox attack style. Sometimes the key to beating a fine technical striker is to brawl with them, and Neer can certainly brawl. Expect Ludwig to be on his bicycle at times during this bout, but for his striking combinations to do the job as he takes a hard-fought decision win.
Mike Easton -300
Jared Papazian +220
Props: Easton Inside
Mike Easton had a stellar UFC debut against Bryan Bloodworth, and will look to continue that momentum here. His opponent is a replacement in journeyman fighter Jared Papazian, who comes into the UFC after a career in the California MMA circuit. With a conservative fight style of boxing, wrestling and judo, Papazian has struggled to break into the upper tier, but prides himself on his strict fighter’s lifestyle and ability to take a fight on a moment’s notice. Despite this, Easton happens to be one of the worst possible matches for Papazian with his speed and striking accuracy. Expect another sharp performance by Easton as to circles and destroys Papazian with leg kicks and combinations.
Christian Morecraft -200
Pat Barry +160
Props: Morecraft Inside, Fight Doesn’t Start 3rd round
Confidence: Very High
In a serious goldmine of a fight, Pat Barry will once again take to the cage, taking on giant wrestler Christian Morecraft. This is the kind of bout that comes around once in a blue moon in the betting world, as Morecraft has exactly zero respect going into this fight considering his glass jaw. A glass jaw is only a detriment if you end up striking with someone, and Morecraft has the power, size, and wrestling skills to put Barry on the mat easily. Barry’s mat game has barely evolved in his time in the cage, and I can’t see him surviving against a legitimate HW on top of him. Morecraft should come in at a weak positive number, but expect Barry fans and foolish bettors to lay down on Barry to get the KO. If Morecraft makes you nervous, the two props above should cover your tracks easily, or turn into a ridiculous payday if Morecraft gets the finish early.
Jorge Rivera -120
Eric Schafer -120
Two fighters at the tail-end of their careers will face off, as rugged striker Jorge Rivera faces BJJ black belt Eric Schafer. Both men are coming off of losses, and win or lose, either might hang up their gloves after this fight. This is a difficult call, as Rivera is fairly shop-worn at this point, yet still packs tremendous power in close. On Schafer’s end of things, his mat work is fairly high-level, yet he’s never picked up the wrestling he needs to make use of it more often than not, and brings a questionable chin into this bout. If I had a knife to my throat, I’d pick Rivera to win a decision or possible late stoppage due to cuts, but I’d never put my bankroll on the line here. Enjoy the match, but keep your wallet closed for a more lucrative fight.
Charlie Brenneman -185
Daniel Roberts +145
Props: Brenneman by Decision, Roberts by Submission
Both men have made the rounds against almost every wrestler in their division, but have yet to face each other, until now. Brenneman has come off of his best win against Rick Story, but harshest defeat against Anthony Johnson, and will look to assert himself quickly against the spastic grappler in Daniel Roberts. Roberts is one of the toughest guys to bet against, as his ability to suck fighters into a transition fest is amazing. The bane of a wild transitioning grappler is a fundamental grappler though, and Brenneman has one of the most conservative games you’ll see at this level of MMA. It probably won’t be entertaining, but Brenneman should grind Roberts down constantly for the win. Betting wise, I like the two props above if you can find them at a decent positive number and a small play on the value line plus both props could do well for you.
Kamal Shalorus -185
Khabib Nurmagomedov -145
Love him or hate him, Kamal Shalorus is back, and looking to crack skulls. The Iranian ox will be taking his skill set into the cage against an interesting newcomer in Khabib Nurmagomedov; A rare world-class Sambo fighter in the UFC. Nurmagomedov has done well for himself in Eastern European MMA due to his unorthodox striking and seamless grappling strategy, but will face a stiff test in Shalorus. While Nurmagomedov has a few tricks I’m sure Shalorus hasn’t seen yet, he’s going to have a hell of a time getting this to the mat against such a solid wrestler, and may be forced into a shootout on the feet; A place you generally don’t want to be with Shalorus. Short of some clinch wizardry or a quick submission by the newcomer, I see Shalorus lighting him up standing and pushing the pace throughout the fight.
Nick Denis -120
Joseph Sandoval -110
Props: Fight Ends Inside The Distance, Fight Of The Night
A fun Canadian fighter who spent time in Sengoku, Nick Denis will make his UFC debut against rookie fighter Joseph Sandoval. Denis has never been a great fighter, but he processes that one touch KO power that is so rare in this sport. Combine that with a frantic-paced grappling game, and we have an explosive addition to the division. Sandoval isn’t a bad fighter at all, with his own sharp striking game and offense-heavy style, and we may see some incredible exchanges for as long as this fight lasts. This is a tough call and would be even in my book if it wasn’t for that crushing power Denis has. The best wager for the night could be the ITD play though, as both men have been KO’d in the past and will come out looking to make an impression.