It’s been a long time coming, but Rashad Evans finally gets his title fight, and we as fans actually get to SEE a title fight at UFC 145. Will Evans have what it takes to hand Jones his first legitimate loss, or will Jones further cement his place as a P4P great in the sport?
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover and several opportunities to make money on this card, so check your lines and get ready to swell that bankroll. Below is my comparison betting odds for the fights, any valid props that catch my interest and my general confidence in the predictability of each fight, to let you know how safe your money is. Bet smart, bet hard and bet often on UFC 145 and I’ll see you in the winner’s circle.
Now, onto the fights!
Jon Jones -185
Rashad Evans +145
Props: Evans by KO
The title fight we should have had ages ago, Rashad Evans finally gets a chance to regain the LHW title, facing former team-mate Jon Jones. There was a time when I thought Evans would have a solid chance of defeating Jones, but as time goes on and that in-camp intel becomes less and less reliable, so does Evan’s chance of victory. Evans presents yet another test for Jones just the same though, in how he’ll handle a fast and powerful striker who can also wrestle. Evans brings a great deal of reaction speed when he’s on his game, and one of his lunging punches could find the mark in this fight, testing Jones chin. Overall, I think Jones can pull this fight off in the later rounds, but I feel Evans by KO will be your best value bet here.
Rory MacDonald -300
Che Mills +220
Props: MacDonald by Sub, Fight Ends Inside 1st round
Confidence: Very High
In what looks more like a step sideways in competition than a step up, Rory MacDonald faces British striker Che Mills. I’ve been following Mills career since his early Cage Rage days and enjoy his sharp striking arsenal, yet he’s never added the facets to his game he’ll need to succeed at this level. MacDonald has more than enough grappling ability to bring Mills down and easily catch him in a submission. Hit the above two props for a heavy pay-day and mild hedge in case Mills lands something devastating in the opening moments.
Brendan Schaub -130
Ben Rothwell EV
Props: Fight of The Night
Two men who are in dire need of a win may make for a one-of-a-kind bout, as TUF 10 runner-up Brendan Schaub faces IFL stand-out Ben Rothwell. Despite what people are saying, this is a sticky situation for Schaub to be in, as Rothwell is a stylistic nightmare with his iron-clad jaw and massive HW frame. Schaub has the boxing skills to keep Rothwell at a safe distance, but too often forgets his own defense to work on pressing an advantage on the feet. While Rothwell doesn’t have the same offensive technique, he does have strong takedowns if within reach and a haymaker punch that could level most men. While I overall see Schaub getting a win by decision or 3rd round stoppage, this could easily pan out to be a quick night if either man gets reckless. Betting wise, avoid this one except for the possibility of a juicy FOTN play.
Miguel Torres -140
Michael McDonald +110
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
A very interesting bout will test a former champ against what some people feel is a future champ, as Miguel Torres takes on Michael McDonald. MacDonald came under the Zuffa umbrella with a reputation as a pin-point accurate striker, yet it’s actually his mat work that impresses me the most whenever he steps into the cage. For Torres, I feel he comes into this fight as a detriment to himself considering his new “safe” fighting style and may end up giving this fight away on the scorecards to the fiery McDonald. No matter how you slice this, it’s going to play out as a close match, but considering Torres superior power and grappling, I have to give him an edge as finishing this one out. Even so, the best line you’re likely to see is the Over or Decision prop, as it covers you no matter how those scorecards turn up.
Mark Hominick -260
Eddie Yagin +200
Props: Fight ends Inside first round
Coming off what could only be called an embarrassment; Mark Hominick will look to erase his last performance as he takes on Eddie Yagin. Yagin is no stranger to a bad performance though, having come into the UFC looking like a hot FW prospect, but leaving with a painful decision loss to Junior Assuncao in a spiritless affair. Yagin is the real X-factor here, as his showings outside of the UFC remind me of an early BJ Penn, but the big show lights leave me scratching my head. Unless Yagin comes in on fire, I can’t see him handing the scalpel-sharp precision of Hominick’s stand-up and bottom game submissions. Considering both men bring thunder in their hands and need to make an impression, looking for an Inside 1st round Prop, or even the Under at 1.5 rounds could be serious money.
Chad Griggs -120
Travis Browne -120
Props: Over (if O/U is set at 1.5 rounds)
While this fight has basically nothing to do with the saga shrouding the top of the division, it should at least be fun as hell. Griggs comes into the UFC after a blood-soaked stay in Strikeforce, where he made a name for himself as a tough-as-nails brawler with a gas tank to keep those fists flying. While Browne has been scoring wins right along, I’m concerned by the limited arsenal he’s shown in his career thus far, and the amount of energy he blows through in a short period of time. While I’m confident Browne could land on and hurt just about anyone, I’m also confident Griggs can take one to give one, and won’t be backing down from Browne’s leaping punch assault. This is a coin-flip fight, but one I have to give to Griggs in the late going of the fight. I couldn’t guess where the line will be for this one, but feel safe in an Over 1.5 pick at a positive number, as neither man will want to go out without putting a little blood on the mat.
Matt Brown -200
Stephen Thompson +160
Props: Fight ends Inside, Brown ITD
I’m a huge Matt Brown fan, both as a fight fan and a bettor, and couldn’t be happier with this bout for The Immortal. Though having a rocky career in the UFC, Brown has pulled out some impressive wins in his time and looked great even in his losses, making him an obvious fan favorite. For Thompson, he had a perfect opponent for his debut, KOing the oddly stationary Dan Stitggan with a beautiful delayed roundhouse to the neck, but answered exactly no questions about his ground game or endurance. Brown isn’t the kind of guy to go down easily, and we should see exactly how good Thompson is or isn’t in this fight. I expect Brown to stick to what he knows, and work his dirty muay thai arsenal against the more traditional kickboxer, but wouldn’t count out an outright takedown and submission either. With the sheer number of KO’s by Thompson in striking matches, I can’t imagine this goes the distance regardless of who wins, so I favor a hammer and anvil approach, using ITD and Brown straight or Brown ITD, whichever you feel more comfortable with.
Anthony Njokuani -185
John Makdessi +145
A fighter who’s never had a dull moment in the cage, Anthony Njokuani will engage in another striking affair, taking on TKD guru John Makdessi. Njokuani comes into this fight with some of the most underrated defensive striking in the business, having a highly technical style geared towards professional muay thai. That’s not to say he hasn’t ramped up his takedown defense for MMA, but in pure striking battles, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone with such a high output whom takes as little damage as Njokuani. Makdessi is a spectacular striker in his own right but hasn’t faced any fellow stand-up fighters in his UFC career, and will take a dip into the deep end with this fight. Makdessi does have some confusing offense and footwork, but as a small LW facing a large one, he’ll find extreme difficulty in landing his kicking arsenal with any meaningful effect. Having to fall back on his hands, Makdessi doesn’t have that one punch power needed to put away Njokuani, and I feel we see a spirited yet fruitless display by the Canadian. The ending of this fight is up in the air, but I think Njokuani stands the best chance of scoring a KO or decision here based on his control and pacing during the fight.
Efrain Escudero -120
Mac Danzig -120
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
Two TUF champions will collide, as TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig faces TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero. Both men are entertaining fighters with a few glaring errors in their game, and the question here will be if either one can capitalize on this. For Escudero, he needs to take advantage of his size and hand-speed, but avoid pacing issues that have given him trouble in the past, as well as being too loose in top position. For Danzig, he needs to avoid a strength vs. strength confrontation and stick with superior technique and avoid ending up on bottom unless he can sweep or submit from there. This is a dead even fight in my book and one that will be hard to turn a buck on, but I like the Over if it comes in at a positive number.
Maximo Blanco -150
Marcus Brimage +120
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Under, Blanco Inside 1st round
Having shown the most improvement since leaving the set of TUF 14, Marcus Brimage will look to score another win inside the Octagon. His opponent is a live one though, as stand-out wrestler and JMMA killer Maximo Blanco steps into the UFC cage. I’ve always liked Blanco’s enthusiasm and raw offensive power, but he’s never progressed beyond that wild style. This makes him almost a 50-50 fighter every time he steps into the cage, yet I favor him slightly here against Brimage. Brimage has shown that his reckless pacing leaves him open to takedowns, and Blanco may well capitalize on that to work some ground and pound, or catch Brimage coming up off the ground. In all, I can’t see a scenario where this fight goes the distance and feel ITD will be your best play, but would favor Blanco Inside 1st as a hedge for a little extra cash.
Keith Wisniewski -150
Chris Clements +120
Having taken part in one of the most brutally bizarre matches in UFC history, Wisniewski will take to the cage again, facing Canadian newcomer Chris Clements. For those unfamiliar, Clements got a late start in the sport, but quickly found a home in the IFL and Canadian fight leagues as a hard-nosed slugger willing to go toe-to-toe with anyone. His kill or be killed style will be on display here against the journeyman Wisniewski, whom has all the tools to win, but doesn’t always show the fight smarts to pull off that victory. In all, this fight makes me nervous, as while Wisniewski could certainly take this fight to the mat and do some damage, I have a fear that he’ll decided to play on the feet with Clements and find himself staring at the lights. In short, this one probably isn’t worth the risk and I’d save my bankroll for other bouts.