The UFC will once again invade the homes of unsuspecting viewers as UFC on FOX 3 kicks off with a monster card. Our main event features long-time LW contender Jim Miller, as he takes on the not-fit-for-network-television Nate Diaz. We also have a Welterweight bout of epic proportions, as Josh Koscheck takes on the gritty Johny Hendricks in a clash of national wrestling champs on the MMA stage.
All this and more awaits us, and we’re already ahead of the game by not shelling out cash for a PPV. There’s several close fights on this card, so don’t be afraid to sit a few out, but there are a few gems on deck if you’re looking some big risk/big reward action. Below is my comparison betting odds, any props that catch my eye, as well as my general confidence in the fight and its variables. Now, onto the fights!
Jim Miller -200
Nate Diaz -160
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
Two men who are always floating around the top of their divisions will move one step closer to that elusive title shot, as Jim Miller faces Nate Diaz. Miller has been a rock-steady contender in the LW division, yet has twice been thwarted while at the cusp of a title shot. While the LW hierarchy is perpetually gummed up by useless rematches (yeah, I said it) this fight is likely a number one contender match depending on the situation with Anthony Pettis and his stake in the title. Diaz has made an impression at LW with his demolition of Gomi and Cerrone, but this is a stylistic nightmare for the lanky striker and will prove to be a setback here. Diaz has never learned to adapt his grappling to suit an opponent, and multiple times has found himself hustled on the mat by superior wrestlers with an understanding of his submission game. Miller is no different and should be able to put Diaz down time and again, working ground and pound and positioning for a decision win.
Josh Koscheck -150
Johny Hendricks +120
Props: Hendricks by KO
The only fight in UFC history to pit two Division 1 National Champions together, Josh Koscheck will look to silence naysayers of his last bout by defeating the gritty Johny Hendricks. Hendricks comes into this fight having crushed Jon Fitch with one punch, but will have a lot to prove to us here as he faces an ace wrestler. Despite the fact both men have the D-1 Champ distinction, Hendricks has never gotten the hang of MMA wrestling and has as such been stifled by men like Rick Story and Charlie Brenneman to name a few. If Koscheck can get Hendricks against the fence, I see him easily establishing a takedown and top control game on Hendricks that sees him to the win. Problem is, while that’s what Koscheck SHOULD do, that doesn’t mean he’ll actually do it. Koscheck is someone who’s fallen in love with his striking and despite the fact it’s the worst approach possible for this fight, may well go about it anyways. This creates a situation for bettors, but I feel the straight line on Koscheck and the Hendricks KO prop makes for an acceptable arb here, though I’d recommend small amounts on both plays.
Rousimar Palhares -185
Alan Belcher +145
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Under
Leglock specialist Rousimar Palhares will once again take to the cage, facing fan-favorite Alan Belcher. Palhares has been a terror in the MW division for years due to his ridiculous submission game, but at times has shown more than a few chinks in his armor. Having a hole in the armor is all well and good, but the question becomes if Belcher can actually capitalize on it before being entangled in Palhares world-class submission game. This could pan out to be a close bout if Belcher can keep mobile in the first round and wear down the Brazilian, making him ripe for the picking in later round. On a wager stand-point, I see this one ending before the 3rd round and would recommend a play that encompasses that.
Pat Barry -140
Lavar Johnson +110
Props: Under 1.5 rounds
Confidence: Very High
My pick for ass kicking of the night comes in the form of small HW Pat Barry taking on the massive HW in Lavar Johnson. Barry is in dire need of a weight cut, yet will look to prove me wrong by flat lining the monstrous SF fighter by getting inside and landing his slick overhand punches. Anytime you face someone with Johnson’s sheer power and timing, you’re talking about a close fight, and I don’t see Barry having an easy time here. Even so, Johnson’s chin and gas tank are sub-par for the division and I imagine Barry lands a flush punch first. Betting wise you can’t go wrong with Under 1.5 rounds, as someone has to dump the other in that timeframe. Inside the first round isn’t a bad idea either if you’re feeling froggy, but count on a feeling out process from Barry if Johnson doesn’t initiate the attack, adding precious minutes to this bout.
Tony Ferguson -150
Michael Johnson +120
Props: Over 1.5 rounds, FOTN
One of the only legit prospects to come off of TUF 13, Tony Ferguson will work his way up the ladder, taking on TUF 12 Runner-up Michael Johnson. This bout has serious potential to be a show-stealer, as Ferguson’s active boxing style and Johnson’s flashy striking will make for a fast-paced offensive show. This fight is closer than the odds will likely reflect, as Johnson is constantly improving and may have bridged the gap in striking between the two, but I still have to side with Ferguson due to the wall of punches he tends to put out there, which should keep Johnson on his toes. Due to Johnson’s fleet footwork, I think this fight has potential to go late and favor an over 1.5 round scenario if possible, and a play on FOTN for good measure.
John Dodson -400
Tim Elliot +300
Props: Dodson ITD, Dodson Inside 1st Round
Confidence: Very High
The TUF 14 Bantamweight winner will have his first match outside of the tournament, as he takes on powerful wrestler Tim Elliot. Elliot has flown under the radar for a while now, but managed to turn a few heads by stopping Jens Pulver in one of Pulver’s many small show appearances. This is perhaps the worst stylistic fight for Elliot though, as he’s a power wrestler brought in against one of the fastest fighters you’ll ever see, and will find himself out-gunned quickly. Don’t expect to see much of Dodson here as a few fast combos will level Elliott before he can get his game going. Betting wise, I doubt the straight line will hold much value, so hit one of the above two props that you’re most comfortable with.
Pascal Krauss -140
John Hathaway +110
Props: Fight Ends ITD
Two fighters with lengthy layoffs will try to knock off the ring rust, as German Pascal Krauss faces UK grappler John Hathaway. Krauss is an interesting fighter with a great upside due to his slick grappling and crisp kickboxing style, but a year and a half of injuries has done his UFC aspirations no favors. Hathaway himself was at one time a brightly shining prospect, but having suffered injury setbacks of his own, will need a convincing win to bounce back. With the ring rust issue, this fight could be all over the place, but I have to side with Krauss slightly as a lengthy fighter who trains out of an up-and-coming camp. Bet small here, but I feel Krauss has the best shot overall, and due to fatigue issues, the ITD may be a gem of a bet if it comes in at a positive number.
John Linker -150
Louis Gaudinot +120
Flyweight bruiser John Linker will make his UFC debut in a budding division, taking on TUF 14′s Louis Gaudinot. For those unfamiliar, Linker has made a name for himself in Brazil as a vicious striker with an iron jaw and incredible strength for a small man. While his mat work is yet to be tested against high-level competition, a toe-to-toe fight appears to be the worst way to engage Linker, yet it’s the only way Gaudinot may be able to tackle this fight. The one thing Gaudinot brings to that bout is some impressive accuracy and toughness, which might actually be enough to undo Linker if he can keep on his bicycle and pick his spots. Overall I can’t pick against a guy like Linker facing a fellow striker, but that isn’t the play I’d recommend exactly. Instead, look for a FOTN prop, as this one has potential to steal the entire show due to the rapid pace and toughness of both men.
John Cholish -130
Danny Castillo EV
Props: Castillo by KO
An exciting prospect who made the jump from SF to the UFC, John Cholish will take a leap in competition, taking on the ever dangerous Danny Castillo. Cholish brings some of the most under-rated (for now) wrestling in the division, as a lifelong grappler with incredible core strength. Having added a surprisingly functional striking game to his grappling arsenal, Cholish seems set to do some serious harm here, and should have the tools to beat Castillo. One X-Factor that needs to be addressed is Castillo’s questionable training camp for this fight, as he’s frequently seen on TUF while helping Team Faber, and may not be putting the ring time in for an opponent of Cholish’s caliber. Overall, while I feel Cholish wins this slightly more often than not due to his grappling pedigree, the prop I’m most interested is a Castillo KO, as Cholish has an unproven chin and his bone structure implies it may not be able to handle a heavy blow. Depending on odds, Cholish straight and Castillo KO could make for an easy arb, although too many variables mean you should bet small here.
Dennis Bermudez -140
Pablo Garza +110
Props: Fight Ends ITD/Under
Featherweight Dennis Bermudez will make his return to the cage after his failed bid for the TUF 14 contract, taking on Pablo Garza. Garza has been the go-to guy for short notice fights and tough match-ups, and finds himself in yet another rough fight against the ultra-aggressive Bermudez. Being aggressive doesn’t always help a fighter out though, and Garza brings a high-risk-high-reward arsenal to the cage, complete with flying strikes and submissions and tremendous reach. I think Bermudez’s potential could find us seeing a new version of that hard-nosed fighter, but I wouldn’t lay down much money here on a straight line. Instead, look for ITD or Under, as Bermudez may finish this out early or be pulled into a submission.
Roland Delorme -130
Nick Denis EV
Props: Denis by KO, Over 1.5 rounds
Sometimes a late replacement is a blessing in disguise for a fighter, and sometimes it’s an absolute kiss of death. This fight falls somewhere in the middle, as Nick Denis is pulled from a very winnable fight against Johnny Bedford, and is instead thrown into a potential nightmare against BJJ fighter Roland Delorme. Denis is an exciting and raw offensive fighter, but his mat work has proven to be less than air-tight in the past, and Delorme is the kind of functional BJJ fighter who can make use of the opportunities presented by a careless opponent. Denis is a beast, but Delorme is a gamer himself and smart enough to find a way to win this fight if he can survive Denis whirlwind striking offense. Betting wise, what we’re looking for as a Nick Denis KO prop, a juicy Delorme straight line, and potentially an Over 1.5 if that’s where the O/U break occurs. This will cover you from anything except a bizarre Denis sub and ease the pain of Denis decision, while you have multiple avenues to cash in big. If the value isn’t on Delorme though, settle for the Denis KO prop and let the chips fall.
Mike Massenzio -185
Karlos Vemola +145
Props: Massenzio by Sub, Fight ends ITD
Another raw offensive fighter, Karlos Vemola will make his debut at MW, taking on veteran fighter Mike Massenzio. Massenzio has confused me in the past, as he has a boatload of submission grappling talent, yet tends to mentally fall apart in fights. He showed exactly what he’s made of with an early rally and utter beating of Steve Cantwell, and while he’s lost since then, I’d like to think that he’s found his groove in the UFC. This isn’t the fight I’d pick for a guy whose shown mental weakness, as Vemola’s pure offensive wrestling style could crush Massenzio in a hurry and put him on the defensive for the entire fight. I feel Massenzio will have an idea of what Vemola brings here and be ready for it, using his counter wrestling submissions to put a quick tap on Vemola when he rushes in for the kill. I couldn’t guess where the straight line will land, but I like the idea of a Massenzio Sub and an ITD play, which covers almost every base considering the lack of wind displayed by both guys.