One of the best free cards we’re likely to see this year, the UFC hits Australia again to kick off their Flyweight tournament and highlight some Aussie talent. Between this card and Strikeforce, we have some major betting fodder to work with here, so let me help you find the money with my comparison betting odds, valid props, and my general confidence level in my picks for each bout.
Now, onto the fights!
Thiago Alves -185
Martin Kampmann +145
Props: Alves by KO, Fight Goes Distance/Over
A fun welterweight tilt for two men trying to fill voids left at the top of the division. Both men have a great deal of high-profile fight experience and have settled into the welterweight division’s upper crust; Hunting for that next step to the top. While both men are proficient strikers, Alves brings a slight edge in technique and a major edge in power to this fight, as well as the rugged takedown defense to thwart all but the best wrestlers. The key to hitting takedowns on Alves is using a misdirection tactic and constantly changing what takedown you’re actually going for. This is a tactic that someone like Jon Fitch can do effortlessly, but Kampmann will have an issue replicating. With Alves being the better in-fighter, expect this to pan out as a kickboxing match. The two props of Alves by KO and Over should safely cover you for any wacky decisions or a late fade by Alves.
Joseph Benavidez -400
Yasuhiro Urushitani +300
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
Confidence: Very High
One of the highest rated Flyweights on the planet will make his debut in the UFC, as Yasuhiro Urushitani faces former bantamweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez. For those unfamiliar, Urushitani is a shooto fighter out of Japan, specializing in impressive counter boxing skills and relentless pacing. While the Flyweight world is fairly new in the US, Urushitani has been on top of it for most of his career in Japan, having soundly defeated the best the field has to offer. Urushitani isn’t a bad fighter at all, but I feel he’s going to be a footnote very shortly with all of these new fighters joining the fray. My main issues here are Urushitani’s lack of punching power, and lack of any physical strength, which will spell defeat against a muscle-bound wrestler like Benavidez. This is a fight Benavidez takes fairly easily, using superior punching power and takedowns to grab a decision win. The straight line is ridiculous at this point and it may be impossible to find value here, but betting Over seems to be the safest play out there.
Demetrious Johnson -200
Ian McCall +160
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
Coming off of a failed bantamweight bid, fan-favorite Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will drop to his true fighting weight and will make a run for a title against Ian McCall. For those unfamiliar with McCall, he spent a short amount of time in the WEC, but didn’t come into his own until he went to TFC. Having a diverse striking skill set, excellent power in his punches, and fast takedowns, McCall has scrapped with the best Flyweights in the US and come out at the top of the heap. While the world is high on Mighty Mouse, this isn’t a fight to count McCall out in, as he brings a better striking arsenal of the two and is proven at this weight class. While I think Johnson takes this more often than not, I don’t think either guy finishes this fight and feel the Over will be the play to make.
SPECIAL NOTE: The above two fights are contested under a special rule stating that draws will be determined by a “Sudden Death” 4th round. If you can find props on whether or not this rule goes into effect, I’d highly recommend you take “NO”. The only way this could happen is through a point deduction, and none of these guys are known for throwing low blows or fouls in general. I doubt the odds will be too sweet, but based on the men involved; we’re not seeing that 4th round.
Court McGee -185
Constantinos Philippou +145
A very interesting fight with a lot of variables, Court McGee will once again take to the cage, facing Constantinos Philippou. I’ll admit that Philippou has confused the hell out of me in his career thus far; looking horrendous in his early going, yet looking like a completely different fighter in his last bout. I’m attributing this to being more comfortable with the weight cut, which would allow his strikes to be a bit more fluid; letting his boxing prowess shine. McGee hasn’t been nearly active enough to keep afloat in the UFC and could have his hands full here if he comes in rusty and Philippou comes in prepared. My line represents the best of both fighters, as McGee is the far superior grappler with proven cardio, and should be able to get this fight to the mat and win. If there’s a fight to avoid wagering on though, this is it.
James Te-Huna -150
Aaron Rosa +120
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance
One of my favorite scrappy fighter’s returns to the cage in his homeland, as James Te-Huna faces Aaron Rosa. Rosa has flipped between LHW and HW his entire career, but fighting on the biggest stage in the sport, has decided to dedicate himself to 205lbs. Having soundly beaten Matt Lucas in his LHW UFC debut, Rosa will move onto a very different fighter in Te-Huna. Carrying some of the heaviest hands in the division, Te-Huna can put together the punches to finish Rosa in an exchange, although his cardio has left something to be desired. I feel Te-Huna can get this fight done before his gas tank empties out, yet Rosa could speed that process up with his clinch game against the cage or takedowns. If you notice above, the prop I selected is ITD, but not Under. The reason being that Rosa could finish this fight in the last half of the last round and the Under would kill you in that case. Respect the straight lines and hit ITD, as I don’t see this one making it to the bell.
Nick Penner -160
Anthony Perosh +130
Props: Penner by KO
One of the few nearly pure BJJ guys left in the sport, Anthony Perosh faces newcomer Nick Penner. Penner comes into this fight as a bit of a paradox, and I foresee him being a fun guy to watch and bet on. He’s slow, defensively weak and offensively limited on one side, yet inhumanly strong and with crushing power in his strikes. Penner brings an extremely padded MMA record into this bout and his potential is yet to be seen, but I feel his KO power alone make him too much for Perosh. I couldn’t even guess where the straight line will be for this one, but don’t give either fighter too much respect when betting.
Cole Miller -140
Steven Siler +110
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance
With Micah Miller missing his chance to join the UFC, Cole Miller moves down to Featherweight and will attempt to extract revenge for his brother. Miller has always been a tough guy to handicap due to his weak chin and weak resolve in tough situations. Even so, his striking skill and underrated mat work make him a force when he’s able to control a fight, and his size could make him an elite level FW. Siler brings a similar build but a completely different style to the fight game, operating similar to a FW version of Ben Saunders. Using heavy clinch attacks, relentless striking assaults and a slick submission arsenal, he’ll be an issue for many fighters at the bottom of the division, and a solid test for Miller. What this comes down to is Miller having a slightly more polished style, and neither guy having much of a chin. I’d give Miller a minor nod here, but feel ITD is perhaps the best bet for this fight, as Miller could gas and wilt against Siler, or finish the less experienced fighter.
Kyle Noke -200
Andrew Craig +160
No Aussie UFC card would be complete without Kyle Noke, who meets newcomer Andrew Craig. For those unfamiliar, Craig comes to us from Legacy Fighting Champions, where he’s had a decent run as a fairly new fighter. Using his cardio and pressure wrestling, he’s been able to out-hustle all of his six opponents thus far, but will face a very potent threat in Kyle Noke. Simply put, this is a bit too much for Craig at the moment, as Noke is the superior fighter in all aspects of the game. This leads to a tough call for betting, as Noke can finish this in a variety of ways, leaving your best bet as a straight line.
TJ Waldburger -130
Jake Hecht EV
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Over
An interesting fight presents itself, as submission specialist TJ Waldburger takes on powerhouse fighter Jake Hecht. Waldburger is one of the most dynamic grapplers to lurk in the lower levels of the division, but his extremely faulty chin makes him a dangerous bet under the best of circumstances. While Hecht didn’t look great against Attonito, his strength was evident in the bout, and his crafty yet brutal striking style could be just enough to undo Waldburger here. In a close fight, I think the best value will be with this fight ending early, one way or another.
Shawn Jordan -185
Oli Thompson +145
Props: Jordan ITD
Strikeforce acquisition Shawn Jordan makes his way into the UFC, taking on English strongman turned MMA fighter Oli Thompson. Jordan brings power wrestling, surprising athleticism for a big man and accurate hands to this fight with his best win coming against another monster fighter in Lavar Johnson. Thompson, while an interesting prospect with his strongman background, doesn’t appear to have the skills necessary to fight at this level of competition. While his heart and chin make him a tough nut to crack, Jordan is an inventive offensive fighter and should be able to put Thompson away with something in the course of this fight. The ITD line for Jordan, combined with a straight bet to hedge makes for a sweet wager to kick off your night.