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TUF 12 Finale: By the Odds

And then we came to the end of another season of "The Ultimate Fighter," bringing us to yet another TUF Finale event. It's that special night when the fighters who might have a future square off against the ones who probably don't, and when the cream that has risen to the top during the reality TV tournament undergoes one last sifting with a fine cut-glass trophy on the line.

Okay, so maybe that's a little cynical. I'm a tad under the weather and still stressing over how I'm going to absorb two MMA events on Saturday night without my head exploding, so forgive me.

Rather than draw this out any more than we need to, why don't we just look at the main card odds for the TUF 12 Finale and figure out where the best deals are so we can all bet big and retire early?

Stephan Bonnar (-210) vs. Igor Pokrajac (+170)

The last time Bonnar was this heavy a favorite was when he took on a seemingly decrepit Mark Coleman at UFC 100. Even though that was a time when Coleman was said to be training himself in his living room due to a lack of money to pay for coaches, he still managed to edge out Bonnar for the upset. Is there another big score to be made with another instance of Bonnar overvaluing here? Not likely. He looked great in his last fight with Soszynski and Pokrajac has yet to really demonstrate that he's a UFC caliber fighter. Bonnar's healed up, in shape, and on a roll. Pokrajac? He's still a big question mark.
My pick: Bonnar. Careful though, he's not worth the risk at these odds, except for maybe in a parlay bet.

Jonathan Brookins (-250) vs. Michael Johnson (+190)

I've been sitting here trying to talk myself into making a strong case for Johnson, mainly because he's been our guy on MMA Fighting all season long, so I feel like we owe him a little loyalty. But when it comes to betting, one must be a merciless, cold-blooded pragmatist. With that in mind, the lump of coal where my heart should be insists that I not pick against Brookins, who has better all around skills and has faced tougher opponents in his career. It hurts, but who said being right was supposed to feel good all the time?
My pick: Brookins. Put him next to Bonnar in your parlay. You can thank me later.

Demian Maia (-500) vs. Kendall Grove (+300)

Looking at Grove's track record we see a fighter who often wins the fights he's not supposed to and loses the rest. By that logic, he's a walking goldmine as a 3-1 dog against Maia, right? Wrong. In the past, Grove's submission skills may have saved him, as they did in his win over Jake Rosholt at UFC 106. But be serious, there's no way he's catching Maia in a triangle choke without some WWE-style outside intervention featuring a steel chair and some Mr. Fuji dust. He's going to have to knock him out (and Grove's only done that twice in his career) or win a decision. If he even makes it three rounds against a jiu-jitsu genius like Maia, I'll be extremely surprised.
My pick: Maia. Yes, the line is ridiculous, but with good reason. I'm keeping my money in my sweaty little fist for this one.

Johny Hendricks (-215) vs. Rick Story (+175)

Okay, so you want to talk underdogs? Then take a look at Rick Story in his bout with the undefeated Johny Hendricks. Hendricks has great wrestling and an overall skill-set that is really starting to come around, but don't count Story out. He's tough, he's durable, and he hits like a runaway train that Denzel Washington and that guy from the new Star Trek movie are trying to chase down. At nearly 2-1, he's probably the best underdog pick on the TUF 12 main card. Okay, not probably. Definitely. Maybe.
My pick: Story. Small action could go a ways here.

Nam Phan (+145) vs. Leonard Garcia (-175)

If only these fights were decided on sheer affability alone, Phan might be the favorite against Garcia. Sadly, that's not how it works. It seems like a bit of a raw deal for a TUF competitor to have to take on a WEC veteran rather than one of his own in the finale. Fortunately, Phan has been in with some experienced pros before. Unfortunately, he's been defeated by every big name he's ever faced. Could it be that Josh Koscheck's training was all he needed to turn it around?
My pick: Garcia. It's not out of the question for Phan to follow Mark Hominick's stick-and-move game plan en route to a decision victory, but it's also not terribly likely.