Having learned from the folly of the previous UFC on Fox, we’re treated to three fights this time out on the main broadcast, as well as a packed Fuel TV undercard. The main event is a long time in the making it seems, as Rashad Evans once again tries to grab a title shot, taking on undefeated Phil Davis. On top of light heavyweight title implications, we’re also treated to a number one contender bout between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping as well as another solid matchup with Demien Maia facing Chris Weidman to open the Fox curtain.
Where is the value here though? It’s a tricky card to cash in on, but there are some valuable wagers to be had here, so let’s put on our thinking caps and find how to turn a buck here. Below are my comparison betting odds, the best prop bets to make, as well as my confidence level on each fight panning out how I see it. Now, onto the fights!
Rashad Evans -160
Phil Davis +130
Props: Fight Starts 3rd Round
The saga of Evans and his title shot is a long and sad affair, but will hopefully end for him here as he takes on Phil Davis. Evans is one of the original serious boxer/wrestlers of the division and has put together a string of impressive wins on his way back towards the title. Davis is a unique test, as someone who can match his wrestling but tends to fight from farther outside than Evans. No matter how you slice it, this is a close fight depending on who can dictate pace and positioning, but Evans takes a small edge in his ability to finish this fight. I feel the safest wager is a 3rd round start, as the range adjustment will take some time, and I can see a lot of fence stalling here. If you can’t get it at -200, don’t bother though, and just enjoy the show.
Chael Sonnen -450
Michael Bisping +300
Props: Sonnen by Submission
Confidence: Very High
If you hate Bisping as much as I do, this is a dream match of sorts, as he has no conceivable way to win. With Sonnen on the war path to get back to Anderson Silva, Bisping steps in as a late replacement in an ill-advised moved towards the title. Sonnen is one of those fighters who shows up with the same game plan every time, yet still wins due to his unstoppable wrestling assault. Unless you have stunning and accurate KO strikes or bottom game submissions, Sonnen will grind his way to victory, and Bisping has never shown either quality in a fight. If you’ve got the bankroll, hitting a Sonnen straight line makes plenty of sense here, but I imagine the Sonnen by Submission wager could be even nicer if he manages to break down the short notice fighter before the bell.
Chris Weidman -140
Demian Maia +110
Props: Maia by Submission, Over 2.5
It is said that fortune favors the bold; A mantra Chris Weidman must firmly believe in. Taking a fight on eleven days notice against an elite-level grappler is a daunting task, but with Weidman being an elite-level wrestler, he already has the tool bag to avoid Maia’s dangerous mat work. The question will be if Weidman is fit during his off-time and if he can take a tremendous step up in competition and succeed. I thought maybe I was crazy for picking Weidman initially, but with odds coming out with him as a startling favorite, we’ll have a difficult time finding value here. While I do think Weidman can take a decision, it must be remembered that Maia’s stand-up has constantly improved, and may well have surpassed Weidman’s own rudimentary striking. The other issue is if Weidman can fight well off his back, as Maia does have solid takedown ability to put Weidman in dangerous situations. Ignore the straight line and hit the above two props; Hammer and Anvil style.
Evan Dunham -300
Nik Lentz +220
Props: Dunham inside distance
Confidence: Very High
One of my favorite LW fighters will take to the cage again, as Evan Dunham faces Minnesota Martial Arts Academy’s Nik Lentz. Dunham has always been a unique fighter and a difficult draw with his long limbs and seamless submission grappling style, and Lentz will find himself in well over his head in this bout. While Lentz displayed a competent bottom game against Bocek, his lack of real striking ability and finishing skills will put him in serious danger throughout this fight. Whether by KO or submission, Dunham should be able to finish Lentz inside the distance, making that your best wager for the fight.
Mike Russow -120
Jon-Olav Einemo -120
Props: Fight Goes Distance
A dangerous fight to bet on and one we’d likely rather not watch, as Mike Russow takes on Jon-Olav Einemo. Einemo actually had a decent showing against Dave Herman, but his BJJ skills are something that will rarely be brought to bear at this level of competition. Conversely, Russow comes into this bout as a wrestler with a heavy right hand and a good deal of size for the division, but really little else to offer. This fight is likely to boil down into a clinch war against the fence, and one that I think Russow can win due to his extra girth and low center of gravity. Wager-wise the Over should cash here, but I’d avoid it if it gets above -185.
George Roop -150
Cub Swanson +120
Coming off a robbery against Hatsu Hioki, George Roop will look to bounce back, taking on the often-injured Cub Swanson. This has potential to be an entertaining bout due to Swanson’s speed and overall technical skills, while Roop’s workmanlike kickboxing skills and unrelenting pace can put this fight into his favor in later rounds. I’d put this fight at around even under most circumstances, but Swanson’s heavy ring rust and flat performance last time out has me worried for his future. If there’s a fight to avoid betting on for this card, I’d say this is the one, as value will be hard to come by.
Charles Oliveira -200
Eric Wisely +160
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
Brazilian Lightweight Charles Oliveira will attempt to right the ship here, taking on UFC newcomer Eric Wisely. For those unfamiliar, Wisely is a unique striker with a background in TKD and kickboxing, and has done well for himself with big name fights on the regional circuit. Most famously defeating Hermes Franca on two different occasions Wisely’s sprawl and brawl attack is a breath of fresh air to a division that’s top heavy with wrestlers. The kicker here is that Oliveira is actually the better striker of the two and will likely eat Wisely alive on the feet. A straight bet on Oliveira might be possible due to his two fight losing streak, but if you can’t find value there, I’d recommend a play on the Over, as Wisely is evasive enough to drag this fight out.
Michael Johnson -120
Shane Roller -120
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance
Shane Roller has faced nearly every wrestler in the division and proven himself to be near the top of the heap, but will face a different test in Michael Johnson. While Johnson is a wrestler by trade, he’s a constantly evolving fighter with some seriously snappy punches and the footwork of a boxer. This alone gives him an edge over the flat-footed Roller, yet this fight isn’t a blowout in the least. What Roller has is a highly underrated right hand and incredible strength for a lightweight, allowing him to manhandle other fighters once he gets his hands on them. This is a razor-close fight, but I think the best value may be on the ITD wager, as odds will likely favor a decision. Look for submissions or KOs from either man to cash a decent ticket.
Joey Beltran -160
Lavar Johnson +130
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance, FOTN
The flood of Strikeforce Heavyweights in the coming months is fairly ridiculous, and perhaps the most ridiculous is Lavar Johnson. While he has an interesting story for sure, his fight skills just aren’t up to UFC caliber, and his worth will be determined by gatekeeper Joey Beltran. This fight has serious bloodbath potential, as both guys hit hard, can take a shot and will never back down from an opponent. The kicker here is that Johnson has proven to have a terrible gas tank in all of his fights and if he can’t flatten Beltran, he might find himself succumbing to strikes late in the fight. While I don’t know where the straight line will be, the ITD prop covers you on both an early KO by Johnson and a late stoppage by Beltran, both of which are very possible here.
Chris Camozzi -185
Dustin Jacoby +145
A classic “loser leaves town” style match-up, pits TUF 11′s Chris Camozzi against 0-1 Dustin Jacoby in the curtain jerker for the event. Camozzi found success early in the UFC due to his fast footwork and constant striking pressure, but coming off of two losses in the promotion, he desperately needs a win here. Jacoby came into the UFC with a lot of undeserved hype, but proved to be a profitable flop against generic wrestler Clifford Starks. Fighting like a Middleweight version of Travis Browne, Jacoby relies on a size advantage and a fast entry with power strikes to overwhelm opponents. Camozzi isn’t the best matchup for someone with this style of fighting, and Jacoby will find himself countered and crippled with leg kicks all throughout this bout. That being said, I’m not sure where Camozzi’s head is at anymore and this fight does make me a bit nervous, so bet at your own risk.