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UFC 127: By the Odds

Right now in Sydney, Australia it is already tomorrow, which means the people there are, at least from my perspective, living in the future. This terrifies me.

When you combine that with creepy images of koala bears staring at you with those huge, dead eyes and kangaroos bouncing around like some bizarre cartoon, it makes wagering on UFC 127 in such a foreign land a pretty daunting concept. Fortunately, the oddsmakers who set the betting lines for MMA fights are still located in their cozy offshore locations, so at least that much hasn't changed.

Below, let's look at how those crafty internet bookmakers see things shaking out, and where they might be mistaken.

B.J. Penn (+160) vs. Jon Fitch (-200)

Penn admits that he'll be undersized against Fitch, even if he does manage to down four pounds of water before the weigh-in. Since Fitch's whole game is built around takedowns and top control, and since Penn struggled in those areas against Frankie Edgar, who is much smaller and not as dominant a wrestler, one wonders how he plans on winning this fight. By stuffing all Fitch's takedowns? By submitting or sweeping him from the bottom? By knocking him out in the opening moments, like Penn did to Matt Hughes in their last fight? I can't say, but I don't like his chances to do any of those things. From what we've seen lately, Penn seems to have a Jon Fitch-shaped hole in his defenses.
My pick: Fitch. At 2-1 he's better suited for the parlay, but I don't see how he doesn't spend fifteen minutes grinding away at Penn from the top.

Michael Bisping (-325) vs. Jorge Rivera (+250)

It's hard to stay objective and stay focused on the facts after Rivera's aggressive YouTube campaign against Bisping. And yet, Bisping's reaction at this week's press conference pretty much confirmed that the videos succeeded in getting under his skin. If he gets so mad he tries to come right at Rivera and knock him out, he'll be playing into Rivera's hands. Bisping would do well to fight Rivera the way he fought Leben, but the angrier he gets the less likely that seems. Rivera needs to make this a brawl and he knows it. In that sense, getting Bisping riled up might have been the smartest thing he could have done. Unless he loses, in which case he'll end up looking pretty foolish.
My pick: Rivera. At these odds, and with the possibility that Bisping might play fight away from his own strengths to try and prove a point, he's worth the risk.

George Sotiropoulos (-500) vs. Dennis Siver (+300)

As much as I like watching Siver fight (especially when he lands that signature spinning back kick of his), I have to admit that his chances seem pretty slim in this fight. He's a tough son of a buck who can take it as well as he can dish it out, but he's undersized and overmatched here. The biggest question will be whether Sotiropoulos can finish him or not. My guess is yes, but only late in the fight after wearing him down on the feet and then forcing Siver into desperation mode. That's when Sotiropoulos will lock on a submission, and there will be much merry-making by the Aussie crowd.
My pick: Sotiropoulos. At 5-1 he kind of makes my parlay seem sad and pathetic, but since this seems to be the easiest lock on the whole card, I'll take it.

Chris Lytle (-270) vs. Brian Ebersole (+210)

Normally you might look at a guy like Ebersole and say, 'Well, at least he's got a ton of experience.' But against Lytle, who has over fifty pro MMA bouts himself, I'm not sure how much that's going to help. Ebersole has more than sixty fights to his credit, and you don't get to that point without learning a few tricks. Still, I don't see anything he can really threaten Lytle with. Lytle's a better boxer, he's better with submissions, and there's no way the bright lights of the UFC will take him out of his game one bit.
My pick: Lytle. I'm actually surprised not to see him listed as a heavier favorite, but it's still parlay all the way on this one.

Kyle Noke (-225) vs. Chris Camozzi (+185)

Just judging from how each man has progressed after his time on 'The Ultimate Fighter,' Noke certainly seems to have the brighter future. He has more quality experience than Camozzi, and has certainly fought more impressive names (even if he didn't beat them all). That's not to say that this isn't still a competitive fight, however. Camozzi has gotten a little bit better with each successive Octagon appearance, even if he still seems like he's not quite on Noke's level. Camozzi's best chance is to put Noke on the defensive early and keep him there. That's easier said than done, however.
My pick: Noke. Coming out of Jackson's camp and fighting back at home Down Under, I don't see him losing this. Another one for the parlay.

Quick Picks:

- Riki Fukada (-130) over Nick Ring (even). Ring may have the potential to be a star some day, but he hasn't fought since his stint on TUF. Surgery, followed by a long rehab, is not the best way to spend the months leading up to your UFC debut.

- Spencer Fisher (+160) over Ross Pearson (-200). It's a bit of a risk, but Fisher is one of the better underdog choices on this card. He'll have his hands full, but he could certainly pull this one out, and at these odds he's worth small action.

- The (For Entertainment Purposes Only) Parlay: Fitch + Sotiropoulos + Lytle + Noke. And what the heck, let's throw Alexander Gustafsson in there too. Phil Davis has yet to steer me wrong.

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