UFC on FX/Strikeforce: By the Odds

Miesha Tate - Ronda Rousey

Have I ever got a treat for you, sports gamblers. With a full weekend of MMA action lined up, we’re taking the tastiest betting lines from the most interesting fights across both UFC and Strikeforce events, and throwing them all together for one fantastic betstravaganza.

And if that weren’t enough to get your attention, this edition of our betting odds analysis includes a special guest appearance by a current UFC champ, here to give you the benefit of his wisdom. You can’t beat that, now can you? Let’s get right to it.

Miesha Tate (+250) vs. Ronda Rousey (-300)

No, my fellow degenerates, that is not a typo. Rousey, the Olympic medalist with less than a full round of cage time in her pro MMA career, is indeed a 3-1 favorite over the reigning Strikeforce 135-pound champ. Surprised? I am. Not necessarily because I don’t think Rousey can win the fight, but because none of us has seen enough of her to know for sure. I mean, yes, for all we know she might submit Tate just as easily as she’s submitted the 1-2 Charmaine Tweet or the 2-2 Julia Budd. Then again, she might also demonstrate precisely why fighters with less than three minutes of pro experience do not typically become champions.

Neither would surprise me, which is why this line is downright shocking. Who can be so confident in a fighter they’ve seen so little of? Who can discount Tate’s tremendous advantage in experience and cage savvy, giving the champion roughly the same chance that they give Kazuo Misaki in his bout with Paul Daley on this same fight card? I tell you, I just don’t see it. While I think Rousey is athletic and powerful and skilled enough to have a shot at victory, I don’t think she deserves to be a 3-1 favorite. The fact that she is tells me that some people must be using completely different criteria to judge this match-up. Or maybe they’re just blinded by some trash talk and a pretty face.
My pick: Tate. If the odds were more reasonable, I might have struggled with this one. They aren’t, so I didn’t.

Martin Kampmann (+110) vs. Thiago Alves (-135)

So let me get this straight: Alves loses a clear-cut decision to Rick Story, then throttles UFC newcomer Papy Abedi, and he’s the favorite. Kampmann beats Story after losing back-to-back decisions against Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields -- both of which could have easily gone his way -- and he’s the underdog? I realize styles make fights and every match-up is different, but I’m not sure I see the logic here. With Alves’ sheer power and knockout ability, he’s a threat to any opponent’s hopes of remaining conscious. At the same time, he appears to have more holes in his game than Kampmann does, leaving a clear blueprint for success that he has yet to convincingly shut down. If Kampmann fights smart, there’s no reason he can’t take this. He used to compete at middleweight, so it’s not as if bulk and strength will be enough. Alves needs to stun him early and remove his takedowns from the equation, which isn’t out of the question. It’s not going to be easy though, and I’m not sure I like his chances to do it.
My pick: Kampmann. I expected this to be a stone cold pick-em, but if oddsmakers want to edge me toward the Danish Terror (new nickname I came up with for Kampmann, just now) I’m happy to let them.

Demetrious Johnson (-325) vs. Ian McCall (+275)

Rather than attempting an awkward analysis of each man’s skills to determine whether oddsmakers were correct in labeling "Mighty Mouse" the heavy favorite, I decided to seek out the wisdom of a man who knows both fighters very well: UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. He fought (and beat) both these guys, so perhaps he knows them better than any of us. Take it away, Mr. Cruz:

"I see this as a very close fight. Part of the thing that makes it tough to judge is that it’s a three-round [fight]. Both these guys keep such a dynamic pace...to go only three rounds is almost a crime. I’d like to see five rounds. But it all depends on the game plans. If Demetrious fights Ian the same way he fought me, coming straight in and hiding from the high kick -- which I don’t think he’ll do because he doesn’t have the same height problem he had against me -- then I don’t think he’ll be as successful. I give the fight to Ian. I think he’ll get the fight to the ground, and I give Ian the edge in power and wrestling. I give the edge in speed and agility and striking to Demetrious, but as a whole I’m taking Ian in this fight due to power and control."
My pick: Yep. What he said. And you know I can’t resist a solid underdog.

Joseph Benavidez (-1000) vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani (+600)

The line on this fight confirms what we’ve all suspected since the tournament pairings were announced, which is that the UFC had three very solid participants in mind for this flyweight tournament, then went about choosing the fourth guy the way you might choose the last topping on a deluxe pizza. It’s not that Urushitani is a bad fighter, but neither is he well known (Cruz, for instance, had never heard of him when I asked). He hasn’t fought since last summer, and has only fought outside of Japan once in his career, and that was in South Korea. Benavidez, on the other hand, has been in the cage with some of the division’s best, and only Cruz has managed to beat him. The odds here might be something out of a Fedor Emelianenko New Year’s Eve fight, but they didn’t get that way on accident.
My pick: Benavidez. In fact, I’d lay money on him to win the whole tournament. I just wouldn’t bother with anything other than a parlay here, on account of the absolutely absurd odds.

Josh Thomson (-165) vs. KJ Noons (+135)

The injury-prone Thomson said he had to adjust and scale back some of his training just to make sure he was healthy enough to make it into the cage for this one, which is a great big red flag for me. Bright spots have been few and far between for him in the last couple years, and there’s hardly been such thing as an easy win for the AKA product. Meanwhile, Noons is better than his recent record suggests. He might have overlooked Jorge Masvidal, and he fought well out of his weight class against Nick Diaz. When he shows up focused and with a good game plan to follow, he’s still very tough to beat.
My pick: Noons. I haven’t seen Thomson look truly impressive for a couple years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he spends the first two rounds just trying to knock the rust off.

Quick picks:

- Paul Daley (-315) over Kazuo Misaki (+245). Misaki can take a thumping, but sometimes that’s more of a curse than a blessing.

- Constantinos Philippou (-110) over Court McGee (-130). The former TUF winner hasn’t faced anyone with this sort of punching power in his UFC career. Could be a rough transition.

The ‘Insanely Risky and Ridiculously Profitable’ Parlay: Tate + Kampmann + McCall + Noons.

Basically, it’s every underdog but the Urushitani, who would likely only screw the whole thing up anyway. Throw ten dollars on it and hope for the best.

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