Strikeforce: Houston -- By the Odds

Strikeforce: Houston goes down from the Toyota Center in a few hours, and despite the fact that we have two title fights on the Showtime portion of the card, one thing we don't have much of is close betting odds.

The way most oddsmakers see it, this will be a night of heavy favorites stampeding toward relatively easy victories. Are they right? Well, they are the ones who do this stuff for a living.

But don't you worry, there's at least one good underdog choice in the lineup. There's also a few guys in for a very bad night. Let's break it down and see who they are.

"King" Mo Lawal (-600) vs. Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante (+400)

The best thing "Feijao" has going for him in this fight is the fact that it's scheduled for five rounds, each of which starts on the feet. The 4-1 odds against him reflect the widespread belief that he won't be able to stay upright (unless Lawal is foolish enough to stand and trade with him), and if you like his chances to submit the champ off his back, you might want to take a quick peek at Cavalcante's record. Trust me, you won't see a lot of submission victories there.
My pick: Lawal. He can take this fight anywhere he wants it, any time he wants it. That will make all the difference.

Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (-225) vs. Tim Kennedy (+185)

Does it say something about Strikeforce's matchmaking that this is the closest line on the card? Probably, but this is one instance where the match-up is probably closer than oddsmakers think. Yes, Souza is a constant threat to submit you. And yes, the rest of his game is coming along quite nicely as well. But don't underestimate Kennedy. He may very well have the wrestling skills to keep this one standing and the striking skills to make that matter.
My pick: Kennedy. If you ask me (and by reading this far, you kind of did), he's the best underdog pick on the card.

Jorge Gurgel (+285) vs. K.J. Noons (-365)

As always, the question with Gurgel is whether he'll decide to fight smart or fight interesting. Lately, he's done the latter, usually at the expense of his win bonus. He has a valuable advantage over Noons on the mat, but can he get the fight there and keep it there? Will he commit himself to trying? There's just no way of knowing.
My pick: Noons. We know what he'll do, and that's try and pick Gurgel apart on the feet. Gurgel might be worth small action as an underdog if you're one of the last of the true believers, but don't go crazy.

Bobby Lashley (-800) vs. Chad Griggs (+500)

Another Lashley fight, and another ridiculous line. At this point, it will be a revelation when Lashley finally faces someone who's more in the neighborhood of a 2-1 underdog. That will be comparatively close. As it is, Strikeforce has selected a guy who is not a true heavyweight and who hasn't fought in over a year. That's called stacking the deck, people.
My pick: Lashley. He's bigger, stronger, and more dangerous in just about every aspect of the fight. Griggs? He's tough. But sometimes tough isn't enough.

Daniel Cormier (-1600) vs. Jason Riley (+800)

Normally we don't look too hard at odds from prelim fights, but this one is worth mentioning Cormier is a 16-1 favorite, which is sort of like oddsmakers saying that they expect this to be more of an assault and battery scenario than a competition. Riley has the edge in experience, at least on paper, but he's being offered up like meat to a wolf here. I guess you could argue that Cormier likes to mix it up on the feet a little too much for his own good, so there's always a chance that he could get caught. It's a slim chance, though, and obviously oddsmakers know it.
My pick: Cormier. Really, we should be betting on whether this makes it out of the first round. I'd lay 5-1 odds against it.

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