With the Overeem fiasco finally brought to a head, UFC 146 doesn’t have the title fight fans wanted, but it’s a title fight none-the-less. Coming in on short notice, former Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir will step up and take on the seemingly unstoppable Junior Dos Santos as the main event of this all heavyweight PPV. Heavyweight’s equal big cash for us more often than not and this card will be no exception.
So, let’s dig into the card below with my comparison betting odds, any props that I’m contemplating, as well as my general confidence in my numbers and how much wiggle room we have. Now, onto the fights!
Junior Dos Santos -400
Frank Mir +300
Props: Dos Santos by KO
Having flattened former champion Cain Velasquez in record time, JDS will return to defend his HW title for the first time. While original opponent Alistair Overeem was an intriguing bout, we wind up with a much less competitive scenario where Frank Mir has his shot at the title. Mir is a great example of someone who is much better at game plans than execution, and while I think he’ll have a bright coaching career in the next few years, I can’t see him pulling off a win against JDS here. If I had to guess, I’d say Mir intends to execute GSP’s game plan against BJ Penn and force him to clinch fight against the fence to wear down his arms and cause him to eventually give up takedowns. In reality, I think Mir will get caught following JDS and wind up eating a quick combination that puts him down for the count. Value-wise, it’s JDS or nothing here, and a KO play seems to make the most sense.
Cain Velasquez -240
Antonio Silva +190
Props: Velasquez Inside 1st Round
In a very important fight for the former Champion, Cain Velasquez will return to the cage after his first loss and see if he can’t recapture his former dominance. His opponent is a UFC newcomer but a familiar face in Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, who has put together some amazing wins in his career, yet never found his way to a major title. This fight has everything to do with Velasquez and how he bounces back from his loss, as a prime and ready Velasquez will run straight through Silva, but the man who fought JDS might find himself battered and beaten here. Considering Velasquez trains with two men who have faced Silva in Cormier and Kyle, he should have the blueprint to get this done. I can’t imagine a young fighter like Velasquez would fall apart so early in his career, and I count on him setting Silva on fire with rapid punch combinations. The Inside 1st Round prop sticks out here as Silva has proven to be chinny early in matches, and Velasquez is a fast starter, making it your best bet. If it has you nervous though, a simple Velasquez ITD would work as well.
Roy Nelson -160
Dave Herman +130
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
I never thought I’d have Roy Nelson as a favorite in the HW division, yet here he is as he faces Dave Herman on the main card. Nelson has taken some of the worst beatings we’ve seen inside the cage in years, yet continues to avoid a much-needed drop to the Light Heavyweight Division. His opponent is dangerous to some degree, but the sometimes bi-polar nature of Herman in the cage is worrisome. At times fighting like a confident superstar or like a TUF 10 reject, he will need to fight smart, fight safe, and stay active to put one over on Nelson. Overall I can’t see Herman avoiding Nelson long here, as a trip takedown is all it’ll take to lose a round. Overall I can’t see either man getting a finish with any regularity, and the Over prop should cover you against any version of Herman that shows up.
Stipe Miocic -185
Shane Del Rosario +145
Props: Miocic by KO
The new Croatian Sensation, Stipe Miocic returns to the cage to continue his win streak, taking on SF acquisition Shane Del Rosario. This is a fight that will prove a lot about both men, and I expect to see a lot of heavy blows exchanged between the two kickboxers. The hidden aspects of this fight that took it from being an even fight, to a juicy betting opportunity is that Miocic brings a simple takedown game that can steal him rounds. The other aspect of Del Rosario that isn’t well-known is his history of being knocked out and hurt in fights, both MMA and Muay Thai. A history of being chinny is not something you want when facing a natural slugger like Miocic, and a KO prop could pay out big time for you. Keep an eye on the straight line and hope Del Rosario’s win over Lavar Johnson forces some money on his line, because Miocic could be a steal.
Lavar Johnson -130
Stefan Struve EV
Props: Ends Inside First Round
Confidence: Very High
With the Rally For Mark Hunt coming to a screeching halt due to injury, Lavar Johnson steps up to the plate and takes on Stefan Struve. Like any fight against a heavy puncher, Struve has to work a smart game plan to protect his weak chin; fighting from the outside or working trip takedowns for a submission win. Johnson brings one of the worst ground games you’ll see at this level of competition, but tends to make up for that with horrific punching power and surprising accuracy. This is going to be a short fight no matter how you break it down, as Johnson isn’t one to let someone pick him apart from the outside and will come in and look to blast Struve. It’s up to Struve to protect himself and exploit that ground disadvantage, which gives Johnson the edge as the natural aggressor. Bets like Under and Inside 1st round will be solid, although I doubt you’ll be seeing amazing numbers for them.
Diego Brandao -185
Darren Elkins +145
Props: Brandao Inside
Coming in on the first fight of his TUF 14 contract, Brazilian wrecking ball Diego Brandao faces Duneland Vale Tudo’s Darren Elkins. Brandao looked like a million bucks on the set of TUF and was able to dispatch the hearty Dennis Bermudez enroute to the tournament win, showing that the sky is the limit for Brandao. Elkins comes into this fight with a handful of UFC victories, but doesn’t have anything I feel Brandao hasn’t seen before or can’t handle, whether standing or on the mat. While Brandao does leave openings in his grappling exchanges and is susceptible to takedowns, I think his striking and submission game more than make up for this defensive lapse, with the best defense being a strong offense. I’m thinking the straight line might be a touch out of reach here, but the Brandao Inside prop should hit as long as Brandao can avoid being smothered on the mat.
Edson Barboza -450
Jamie Varner +325
Props: Barboza Inside Distance
Not that I ever thought we’d see him back in the UFC after WEC folded, but Jamie Varner makes his Octagon return to take on undefeated striker Edson Barboza. Varner is one of those guys who has incredible talent, but is too mentally screwy to fight to his potential unless everything is aligned for him. Considering his recent string of potential retirements, camp changes, weight class changes and assorted drama, I can’t imagine he’s coming into this fight as anything other than a head case, leaving doubts about his performance. Barboza hasn’t faced an elite wrestler yet, but Varner tends not to set up his shots when under duress, instead opting to back up and gain respite. Barboza is simply too dangerous for Varner to hang with long, and I expect a TKO on the mat or potential submission. Betting wise I doubt the lines will be anywhere near value, and considering the potential for Varner to come out and actually put up a fight, I’d avoid this entirely.
Jason Miller -130
CB Dollaway EV
TV personality faces TUF runner-up, as Jason “Mayhem” Miller takes on CB Dollaway. The downturn of Miller’s career has been startling, and newer fans won’t remember a time when Miller was a pure killer on the mat; having only seen his abysmal showing against Bisping. Dollaway has had his fair share of awful performances as well though, and coming off a complete meltdown against Jared Hammond, we’re faced with a tremendously difficult fight to cap. Looking at this as a best case scenario for both guys, Miller comes in with the better BJJ technique and has used this as a counter wrestler his entire career. Coupled with the better boxing of the two and a near invincibility to submissions, Miller should be able to edge Dollaway in this bout, either by decision or with a submission during a scramble. Would I bet on it? No. These two are simply too inconsistent to lay down on unless the odds are terribly skewed, and I’d look for value elsewhere.
Dan Hardy -140
Duane Ludwig +110
While this is likely a loser-leaves-town style match-up, it’s also going to be a high note for both men’s careers. Duane Ludwig has been fighting professionally for the last twelve years, and while his record isn’t the best, any fight panning out on the feet is guaranteed to please. The same can also be said of British foe Dan Hardy, who has caught flak for keeping his job after a colossal backslide in the division, yet has always tried to put on entertaining fight. This is a match that you’d expect to play out on the feet and be fairly competitive due to Hardy’s power and chin going against Ludwig’s sharp technique. The real X-factor here is that Hardy can snatch takedowns against the smaller fighter and have nothing to fear on the mat, while Ludwig’s takedowns could land him into Hardy’s bottom game and a quick tap. Overall this could pan out in several directions and I don’t like anything except straight lines here, although a FOTN prop could pay out considering the heavyweight bouts aren’t likely to go long.
Paul Sass -140
Jacob Volkmann +110
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Sass by Submission, Volkmann by Decision
One-trick grappling pony Paul Sass will cross the pond and face American submission grappler Jacob Volkmann in what could be a snoozefest or a grapplers delight. Sass has built his career off of explosive standing attacks and a ridiculously violent bottom submission game, and while everyone knows what’s coming, no one can seem to stop it. Enter Jacob Volkmann, whom is perhaps one of the best submission grapplers in this division, and we’ll see exactly what Sass brings to the table. While being a one trick pony can backfire in the fight world, Sass has enough dynamic attack options that he tends to fluster opponents in a hurry and then fall into his attack routines on the mat. My issue with Volkmann here isn’t in his talent level, but in his utter lack of anything resembling an ability to finish a fight. Tangling on the mat with someone like Sass for 15 minutes is a recipe for disaster, and unless Volkmann fights a perfect fight, he’ll be in trouble fast in this bout. I don’t know where that straight line will land, but keep an eye on the above two props as an arb and go with whatever you feel most comfortable with.
Kyle Kingsbury -150
Glover Teixeira +120
After years of talk, Glover Teixeira finally finds his way into the UFC with the hardcore fan’s eyes locked firmly on him. His opponent is someone who will show a lot about what Teixeira really brings to the table though, as Kyle Kingsbury is quite a step-up from Teixeira’s typical foe. I’m one of the Teixeira naysayers, as while his credentials are pretty, having never faced stiff competition doesn’t give you an automatic stop at the top of a division. Kingsbury is a readily improving fighter with a crushing pace and a chin that can make Teixeira work for that KO, and while the ground game makes me nervous, Kingsbury brings enough clinch skill and size to keep it upright. This is risky business to bet on this fight, but with the Teixeira hype train going around the track for years, I’m sure we’ll see huge money on the Brazilian, making a shot on Kingsbury lucrative.
Daniel Pineda -160
Mike Brown +130
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance
With two short notice fights and two wins under his belt, dangerous grappler Daniel Pineda will get a full training camp and a former champion for his next UFC bout. Brown has had some major ups and downs in his career and found himself struggling to keep relevant in a division flooded with former Lightweights. While Pineda isn’t impressive on paper, he’s plied his submission trade for many years and brings a great deal of functional BJJ to the cage. Brown is no joke on the mat, but has traditionally done better against other wrestlers, and seems to have issues with legit BJJ threats. Coupled with some personal issues on Brown’s side of things, I can’t ignore Pineda’s raw talent and kill-or-be-killed grappling style. This could be a great wager, as I think Pineda will be a dog in this fight, and you can certainly hedge with a straight play and an ITD bet here.