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UFC 114: By the Odds

Want to know how tough the Quinton "Rampage" Jackson-Rashad Evans main event at UFC 114 is to call? Just ask the oddsmakers, who all have both guys hovering around the -115 range. For you non-gamblers, that means you'd have to bet $115 on the winner just to get a $100 payoff.

In other words, the bookies don't know which way it's going to go, but they think enough people will be willing to take the hit just because they want to bet on their favorite in this heated rivalry. Judging by the enthusiasm among the fans in Vegas this weekend, the oddsmakers are probably right about that much.

After the jump, a breakdown of UFC 114's most interesting betting lines.

Quinton Jackson (-110) vs. Rashad Evans (-120)

I like Evans' chances if this fight becomes a slow grind, but Jackson has the kind of one-punch power that makes him a constant threat to end it. The big question is, is he mentally and physically prepared for this fight? He says he's in good shape, and he supposedly lost the equivalent of a cocker spaniel once he finally got into training camp. But listening to his terse answers when asked about the fight (or the movie he'll go straight into promoting once this fight is over) makes you wonder if his mind might be another matter.

My Pick: Evans. He has the ability to decide where the fight takes place. In a match-up this close, sometimes that's all it takes.

Michael Bisping (-170) vs. Dan Miller (+140)

With all that's happening in Miller's life right now, preparation and focus has to be a question. Dealing with that kind of uncertainty and grief makes a training camp more difficult, and the pressure of this fight will certainly have some effect on Miller's approach – we just don't know whether it will make him more ferocious or simply desperate.

My Pick: Miller. Bisping will dominate the stand-up, but I doubt he can stay on his feet or work well enough off his back to win this.

Todd Duffee (-325) vs. Mike Russow (+250)

There's an awful lot of hype around Duffee for how little footage we've actually seen of him in action. He beat five guys you've probably never heard of before pulling off his seven-second KO of Tim Hague. Russow, meanwhile, has been around the block a little more, but he didn't look spectacular in his UFC debut against Justin McCully, who is himself less than spectacular to begin with.

My Pick: Duffee. Russow's one of the better underdogs on the card and he might be worth small action, but don't go crazy.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (-675) vs. Jason Brilz (+475)

The way he took this fight on short notice, and without knowing who he was agreeing to fight, no one can say Brilz doesn't have guts. At the same time, I just don't see how he wins this. Nogueira has better striking, more power in his hands, and better submissions. Brilz can only hope to grind out a decision, and I don't see it happening.

My Pick: Nogueira. But with those odds, he won't make anyone rich.

Diego Sanchez (-200) vs. John Hathaway (+160)

Give credit to matchmaker Joe Silva for putting this smart fight together. Sanchez's decision to go back up to welterweight still doesn't seem like the smart one, but Hathaway provides him with an interesting test. If Sanchez uses his grappling and keeps the pace frantic, he should take this. If he tries to prove he can be a kickboxer when he wants to be, he's playing with fire.

My Pick: Sanchez. Bet against the power of positive thinking at your own peril.

Amir Sadollah (-145) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (+115)

This one is closer than the line suggests. Kim is a gritty, experienced fighter with the judo skills to dump opponents on their heads. What he doesn't have is a ton of finishing ability. Sadollah, while still inexperienced, continues to surprise people by fighting like an old vet. He'll definitely have the edge in the exchanges, but he needs to keep his distance from Kim.

My Pick: Sadollah. Kim's style is somewhat decision-prone, and pretty throws only go so far in the judges' eyes.

Efrain Escudero (-500) vs. Dan Lauzon (+325)

Escudero had the edge in this fight before Lauzon lost the support of his brother and teammates. If he hasn't been training hard for this fight, which sounds like it's the case, he's not just lazy – he's dumb. Escudero may not be the number one lightweight in the UFC, but you're not going to beat him on pure talent. I can't imagine that Lauzon doesn't know that, but then again I also can't imagine that he'd shirk his training enough to lose the support of his own team.

My Pick: Escudero. If Lauzon pulls this off, he's going to be saying 'I told you so' for the next 20 or 30 Thanksgivings, but I wouldn't bet on it.

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