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UFC 131: By the Odds

UFC 131 features a lot of close betting lines and at least one that is bizarrely longer than I expected, but that only makes it more fun to break down the odds as we prepare for Saturday night's fights.

Join me below as we sort through the main card action, and one or two interesting opportunities on the prelims.

Shane Carwin (+130) vs. Junior dos Santos (-170)

There's too many variables for anyone to feel totally certain that they know how this will go down. Both have had long layoffs, but Carwin's the only one who missed significant gym time because of it. We know JDS can box, but we've yet to see him against a quality wrestler with Carwin's power. It's a tough fight to call for the very same reasons that it ought to be a great fight to watch. Honestly, your best bet is to see if you can find any oddsmaker offering prop bets on whether it will go longer than one round. Personally, I don't see it happening.
My pick: Carwin. Especially with the odds such that you can make a decent profit off him, he's the pick that makes the most sense here.

Kenny Florian (-325) vs. Diego Nunes (+250)

Oddsmakers have a lot of faith in Florian, even though none of us have ever seen him make 145 pounds, let alone compete at it. We'll know more about how the cut is treating him after today's weigh-ins, but just on Nunes skill and Florian's weight-dropping x-factor, it's hard to resist a 2 ½ - 1 line on Nunes. In straight-up picks, I'd still go with Florian. But if you're going to offer me these kinds of odds I have to think twice. Expect it to drop big time if Florian does indeed look like Christian Bale in 'The Machinist' when he gets on the scales.
My pick: Nunes. We know Florian was in for a rough weight cut, and Nunes is no joke. Oddsmakers may have gotten a little carried away here.

Jon Olav Einemo (+155) vs. Dave Herman (-185)

Einemo hasn't fought in nearly five years and Herman hasn't exactly faced the cream of the crop before getting called in to essentially fill in for Shane Carwin here, so it's tough to know what to make of either man. I can, however, tell you that I got a glimpse of Einemo getting a workout in last night in the UFC's host hotel, and he looks like an absolute monster. A guy his size with his Abu Dhabi grappling credentials would be terrifying with even decent stand-up, which you have to assume he has after spending time at Golden Glory. Herman? He's showed flashes of real talent in the past, but who knows if he can do it against a quality opponent on short notice?
My pick: Einemo. When it's a toss-up like this, you don't need much motivation to go with the more profitable of the two choices.

Demian Maia (-105) vs. Mark Munoz (-125)

This is the toughest fight to pick on the card, and the odds reflect that. Maia's jiu-jitsu game makes him a constant threat, whereas Munoz has the dangerous combo of great wrestling and heavy hands. Chances are that these two ground specialists will end up spending a disproportionate amount of time on the feet, which favors Munoz's one-punch power.
My pick: Munoz. I think this will go a few rounds, but Munoz's strength and resiliency will win out in the end. I'll save it for the parlay with these odds, though.

Donald Cerrone (-525) vs. Vagner Rocha (+305)

Here's one where the oddsmakers and I are in total agreement. Unless he's felled by a sudden brain aneurysm, Cerrone wins this fight just about any way he wants. The last time I saw Rocha fight was on the prelims of the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum card. He lost an unimpressive decision to "The Angry Hick," Brett Bergmark, and he's going to be facing a much better and even angrier "Cowboy" on Saturday night. Betting on late replacement underdogs is always a questionable choice to begin with, but you lay your money on this longshot at your peril.
My pick: Cerrone. He's come so far in the last couple years, and he still has more improving to do. This ought to be a showcase fight for him.

Quick picks:

- Yves Edwards (-120) over Sam Stout (+150). It's a great match-up that could go either way, but Edwards seems dialed in lately. The longer this goes, the more I favor the Thug-Jitsu master.

- Nick Ring (-130) over James Head (even).
There's not much profit in it, but I expect Ring to wipe out the memory of his mediocre first performance in the UFC.

The 'For Entertainment Purposes Only' Parlay:
Carwin + Munoz + Cerrone + Edwards

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