UFC 150: By the Odds

Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The Octagon returns to Denver with UFC 150 this weekend, and yet again we’ll see a rematch for the lightweight title. Will this one at least bring us some closure, or will the logjam at the top of the division find a way to continue? Most importantly, can you make any money off this deal? For answers, read on.

Ben Henderson (-200) vs. Frankie Edgar (+160)

The first time these two fought, Edgar came in as a slight favorite while Henderson was at even money. Five rounds later, they stood in the middle of the Saitama Super Arena waiting for the judges to tell them who the champ was. That was a close fight. Excruciatingly close, even. So close that it could have gone either way, which is why it’s hard to understand why Henderson is a 2-1 favorite this time around. He squeaked by Edgar in that one, and there’s every reason to think they’ll go five rounds again this time, so how do we know that this won’t be another close fight decided by one or two punches or takedowns here and there? We don’t, which makes the 2-1 line on Henderson tough to justify.
My pick: Edgar. If history is any indicator, he’ll be better in the rematch than he was in the first fight. He’ll also keep it close enough that it’s worth a small risk at these odds.

Donald Cerrone (-300) vs. Melvin Guillard (+240)

Just two former training partners with no beef, no bad blood, and nothing but respect for one another getting ready to throw down for the sake of fun and money. What’s not to like about that? This is one of those match-ups where both the UFC and fans seem to be expecting a certain type of fight. That is to say, they’re expecting these two to meet in the center of the cage, touch gloves in a friendly manner, and then swing away until somebody falls down. Sometimes we set ourselves up for disappointment when we do that, but this fight seems very capable of delivering exactly what we’re expecting. If that happens, Guillard should have the speed advantage. Then again, Guillard’s known to occasionally give one away via over-exuberance. Cerrone? He’s a solid, hard-nosed striking technician who will walk you down until you make him stop. Cerrone doesn’t make many mistakes, and doesn’t pay any more attention to his own pain than he does to yours. All this makes me think he’ll take the win over Guillard, but I’m not so confident that 3-1 odds look like a good idea to me.
My pick: Cerrone. I wouldn’t bet on it at these odds, and I might even consider small action on Guillard if I were just slightly more of a crazed gambler. Alas, I am not.

Jake Shields (-200) vs. Ed Herman (+160)

By now, I think we all know what Shields is looking to do. He wants to get his opponents to the mat, climb all over them and keep them from getting up, plus maybe look for a submission if he sees one just lying around. It’s not terribly exciting, but there are plenty of competent fighters who have proved unable to do much about it. Herman has very quietly managed to rack up a nice little three-fight win streak in the UFC, and he’s done it by showing up and finding a way to finish fights. There’s something to be said for that, but can he possibly do it against Shields? I doubt it. At the same time, something about betting on Shields’s ability to hold a guy down seems morally wrong. Like, even if you made money that way, it would feel like dirty money. Sorry, I just can’t do it.
My pick: Herman. This is strictly an ethical decision, and perhaps not an intelligent one, but I refer you to the Gospel of The Wire: "Conscience do cost."

Yushin Okami (-600) vs. Buddy Roberts (+400)

Roberts was originally scheduled to face Chris Camozzi on this card. Instead, thanks to injuries and reshuffling, he gets Okami. Talk about a rough change of plans. On paper, Okami is coming off two straight losses and may be looking like a fighter on the down slope of his career. Then you look closer and see that one of those losses was to Anderson Silva and the other came after ten minutes of total domination against Tim Boetsch. Okami is still the same old suffocating ground technician he ever was, which probably means Roberts is in for a tough night.
My pick: Okami. Is there any reason to think Roberts could pull off the upset? If there is, I can’t see it.

Justin Lawrence (-120) vs. Max Holloway (-110)

A fight between two relatively inexperienced fighters who we still don’t know enough about results in a pretty tight line. Oddsmakers seem unsure what to do here, so they’ll settle for making sure that you don’t profit too heavily either way it goes. Based on what we’ve seen, Lawrence seems to be the scarier fighter with the ability to finish. With little other information at our disposal, that’ll have to be enough.
My pick: Lawrence. But tread lightly if you tread at all.

Crazy Internet Prop Bet That Could Make You Rich: Henderson-Edgar ends as a draw (+5500)
Two best reasons to believe that this is a real possibility? 1) The first one was so very close, and 2) It would really screw up the UFC’s plans.

The ‘For Entertainment Purposes Only’ Parlay:
Cerrone + Okami + Jared Hamman (-115) + Nik Lentz (-375)

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