After the confusing main event at UFC on FX 4 and the nameless UFC 147 card, it’s nice to see a quality PPV worth laying your money down on with UFC 148. But there’s also money to be made in the betting world if you know who to back, who to fade, and how to hedge. Allow me to give you a bit of insight with my comparison betting odds, any props I think will hit, as well as my general confidence in the predictability of the fights.
Now, onto the fights!
Anderson Silva -240
Chael Sonnen +190
Props: Silva ITD, Fight Goes Distance/Over 2.5
In one of the most highly anticipated bouts in UFC history, Anderson Silva will once again look to hold onto his title as he faces arch-nemesis Chael Sonnen. This is a very complicated fight as the circumstances leading into the first bout created a unique situation for both men. With many of the X-factors against Silva being dealt with, Silva is free to put together a game plan and work towards erasing that near blemish from his record. Betting wise, the odds for this fight could move dramatically depending on how the pre-fight antics are perceived, so look to snipe the best value on Silva or take shares of the above two props to make for a solid hedge.
Tito Ortiz EV
In what is a fitting end to both men’s careers if they so choose, Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz will look to end the trilogy with a bang as the co-main event of UFC 148. While the first fight was a case of a young buck stepping up to a former champion and showing he could hang, the second fight was a somewhat sad reminder of how quickly this sport can pass you by. With more than a bit of rust, Ortiz was badly beaten in the latter half of the second fight, and many people think the final bout in his career could be a much more lopsided affair than even the last.
I’m perhaps the largest Tito Ortiz critic ever, and I have to say that he’s actually impressed me in his last several fights. While his body hasn’t cooperated with him in the last handful of years, the time he’s put into his boxing and grappling actually shows that he could still be a force if physical circumstances were different. While Ortiz issue with taking body shots hints at a nagging sternum injury that could be exploited, I think he has a chance of shocking Griffin with a much improved all around game. That said, he could also wilt badly in a drawn out fight, and I don’t entirely trust his drive to win here. From a betting stand-point I feel the value in this one is firmly in Ortiz court as he’s going to be overlooked by bookies and absolutely written off by bettors. Don’t be that guy!
Cung Le -140
Patrick Cote +110
Props: Over 2.5 rounds
One of the funniest strikers in MMA to watch, Cung Le will return from a savage beating at the hands of Wanderlei Silva to welcome Patrick Cote back to the UFC. Any time you have Cung Le in a fight, you know it’s going to be high energy with a lot of low percentage strikes trying to find their mark. The question then becomes if his opponent can work his own offense into the equation and try to arrest Le’s rhythm. Cote has never been a great fighter no matter what the UFC tries to tell folks, and while he can throw a mean punch, his ability to connect with it is often suspect. While I don’t trust Le’s cardio whatsoever, he should be able to out point Cote or stay safe in spots where Cote tries to break him down with strikes against the cage. Bet small here, but look for the value in the straight line and consider hitting the Over, which could cash with those classic late Cung Le finishes or if his stamina gives out late.
Dong Hyun Kim -150
Demian Maia +120
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
In one of the more interesting fights of UFC 148, Dong Hyun-Kim will welcome BJJ legend Demian Maia into the 170lb division. Kim has been a terror in the division for years with his brutal ground and pound, highly functional judo and long-range striking technique, yet faces a very real test in Maia. By my estimation, this fight will be pivotal for Maia, as he’s fallen in love with his striking game and left his merciless BJJ to rust. If Maia can get back to what made him great, he has a real chance of putting Kim through the ringer, but if he plays with his sub-par striking game, he may find himself spending precious energy in a fight he can’t pull off. While I do like Kim to win, I feel the Over is the safest wager of the night, as either incarnation of Maia that shows up will be unlikely to finish the fight or be finished inside the distance, making it an easy bet to pair with your straight wager.
Chad Mendes -150
Cody McKenzie +120
Props: McKenzie by Sub
Aside from the main event, the most anticipated fight for me has to be Chad Mendes taking on newly minted Featherweight Cody McKenzie. Mendes is coming off of his first career defeat in his title bout against Jose Aldo, and with the log-jam at the top of this division, will need some convincing wins to get back in the title picture. McKenzie isn’t on anyone’s mind, but has made tremendous strides in his game since coming to the UFC, specializing in a sticky grappling style and unorthodox choke submissions. My comparison odd is going to be vastly different from the real line, but with good reason, as this is a fight that unwittingly plays right into McKenzie’s strengths. Mendes is fast, but lacks real dynamite punching or ability to string strikes together, instead using them to set up his takedowns. Taking McKenzie down is exactly what the Alaskan fighter wants though as his guard it built to create openings without allowing passes or escapes, and Mendes might find himself fending off attacks rather than scoring points. Overall, while Mendes can survive and win on points, McKenzie’s ability to finish can’t be denied and a play on McKenzie by Sub could have a massive payout.
Mike Easton -200
Ivan Menjivar +160
One of the most exciting Bantamweights to hit the scene in quite a while, Mike Easton will take to the cage for the 3rd time, taking on veteran fighter Ivan Menjivar. Menjivar is one of the few old-school fighters who have had a true resurgence in the twilight of their career, showing the same sharp skills and cage savvy that made him successful a decade ago. My issue with Menjivar is that he is starting to show his cage age as of late and taking more shots that he should be. Even a slight drop in reaction speed is deadly in the 135lb division, and Easton is someone who can land early and often on Menjivar, never letting him off the hook. The aspect that makes this fight dangerous to bet on is Menjivar’s mat work. While Easton is a BJJ ace in his own right, his style is known for loose defense with weak takedown defense, and almost pure offense. For someone with as much experience as Menjivar, he has the potential to tear Easton up if this hits the canvas. Keep an eye on the straight line and bet small here, if at all.
Gleison Tibau -160
Khabib Nurmagomedov +130
Props: Tibau Inside
One of the biggest surprises in the division in some time, Khabib Nurmagomedov will take on veteran fighter Gleison Tibau in a defining fight. Khabib brings one of the oddest skill sets I’ve seen at this level of competition, with naturally powerful punches, outrageous takedowns, and a BJJ and sambo hybrid grappling game. Khabib needs a lot of work before he can crack the top crust though, and I think the savvy Tibau might have all the tools to put this guy down. The game killer for me is Khabib’s ultra wild striking going against Tibau’s solid fundamental boxing and respectable power, as Tibau’s straight punch should beat Khabib’s looping shots almost every time. The area I’m not so sure about is the mat, as Tibau may not have the training partner’s necessary to replicate Khabib’s unorthodox attack. Overall, I feel Tibau should have this inside the distance, but don’t recommend any large plays on this fight.
Fabricio Camoes -160
Melvin Guillard +130
Props: Fight Ends Inside 1st Round
Confidence: Very High
In a fight sure to come to a violent end, the ultra-talented Fabricio Camoes will take on explosive fighter Melvin Guillard. Camoes is one of those guys who never really got a fair shake in his first tenure with the promotion, but putting together three excellent wins since his release and resigning, he’ll be putting himself on the radar with this fight. Any fight with Guillard comes down to if he can steamroll someone in the first few minutes without finding himself on the wrong end of a submission. This kill-or-be-killed style makes him great to watch, but hasn’t helped his career much of late. Camoes has a lot of tools to bring to bear on Guillard, making him a favorite to take this fight in my book, but you can never truly count out Guillard when every round starts on the feet. While value might be hard to come by, look for a nice Camoes line and grab any props indicating a quick finish, as Camoes finishing game and Guillard’s dynamite hands spell a short night.
Constantinos Philippou -185
Riki Fukuda +145
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
One of the more surprising fighters of the last year, Constantinos Philippou takes on Japanese Middleweight Riki Fukuda. While not impressive initially, Philippou has shown not only a vast overall improvement in his overall game, but a new level of comfort with his weight cutting and cardio. Meanwhile, Fukuda has put in the work in the gym as well, although following a serious car accident that kept him on a shelf for well over a year, this is ready to regain lost ground. Stylistically, this is a bad match-up for Fukuda, who relies on his boxing and takedowns to win fights. Considering Philippou is the superior boxer and his counter-wrestling has come along so far, I feel Fukuda gets stuck on the feet and beaten badly throughout the match. While Philippou could win inside the distance, I feel the Over bet is the best value considering Fukuda’s ability to stall and stay safe hunting for takedowns.
John Alessio -120
Shane Roller -120
This bout between life-long grapplers should make for a great bout, as John Alessio faces Shane Roller. Both men have an incredible wrestling base, but different styles, with Alessio favoring rapid-fire transitions and striking, while Roller tends to dog positions and swing his fists like a wrecking ball. This is a tight match-up and it’s doubtful that you’ll find value here, but if you have to bet a winner, I’d go with Alessio due to his more fluid style stealing rounds away from a plodding Roller.
Yoislandy Izquierdo -160
Rafaello Oliveira +130
Props: Fight ends Inside Distance/Under
An interesting young prospect will get his last chance in the UFC as Cuban born Yoislandy Izquierdo faces Brazilian staple Rafaello Oliveira. Izquierdo had a rough debut taking on grappling mastermind Reza Madadi, but showed the striking offense and perilous bottom game that has made him such a hot ticket on the regional circuits. For Oliveira, we see a fighter who hasn’t managed to keep up with the rest of the division, and could just as easily be on the chopping block along with Izquierdo. Packing a lethal bottom game of his own with decent boxing skills, he presents a test for the young fighter, but plenty of opportunity for success. I like Izquierdo here due to his snappy standing offense, which has been an issue for Oliveira in his time in the UFC, and I feel he can put enough together to get that finish. Look for an Under or ITD prop, as both men have finishing ability, but definitely grab Izquierdo at a sweet line like the one above, as the Cuban should walk through Oliveira if he’s smart.
Look for more on the UFC 148 main event as well as fight predictions as the week progresses.