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UFC Live: By the Odds

Ordinarily we'd already be gearing up for fight night on the Saturday of a UFC weekend, but this time UFC Live gives us one extra day to sort through the betting odds and make some adventurous and possibly ruinous financial decisions.

I can't think of a better way to spend Sunday evening than sitting in front of the TV, watching some fights with a betting slip clutched in my sweaty little hand. Besides, now that season one of Game of Thrones is over, the Sunday night TV landscape is wide open once again, so why not?

Also, if you tune in to Versus an hour before fight time, you can catch our very own Ariel Helwani in the pre-fight show starting at 8 p.m. ET. Odds that he'll be the best-dressed man on the broadcast? I'd say at least 2-1 in favor.

Editor's Note: This article was written before the news of the removal of Nate Marquardt from the card. The new main event is Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry, and Rick Story's new opponent is Charlie Brenneman.

Nate Marquardt (even) vs. Rick Story (-130)

Oddsmakers already got fooled once by Story when they pegged him a heavy underdog against Thiago Alves. Apparently they're determined not to make the same mistake twice, though it's still a little surprising to see him as a slight favorite over the vastly more experienced Marquardt. If Story is able to work the same suffocating clinch game against Marquardt that he did against Alves, he stands a pretty good chance here. Marquardt hasn't fared all that well against aggressive wrestler-types lately, plus there's always a chance that the weight cut might sap some of his cardio and/or power. Still, it's one thing to get pushed around by middleweights like Okami and Sonnen -- both of whom are big even for 185 pounds -- and quite another thing to get handled by a welterweight like Story. It took guts for Story to jump in and agree to this fight less than a month after his last one, but I fear his reach might exceed his grasp.
My pick: Marquardt. I might save it for the parlay, but as long as he doesn't lay back looking to counter too much, Nate the Great should win this.

Cheick Kongo (-200) vs. Pat Barry (+160)

I covered this already in my Cut List article, but pause for a moment and take a look at Kongo's wins in the UFC, then tell me how many of the guys he beat are still in the UFC. Nevermind, I'll do it for you: one. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, and he's barely holding on to a UFC career by the skin of his military haircut. Kongo has plenty of athletic ability, but he has a hard time putting it to much use against quality opponents. Instead he tries to pin them against the fence in the stalled posture of a man who has taken only the first half of a 'Wrestling for MMA' class. Barry is a small-ish heavyweight who can be out-grappled, but I don't see Kongo doing that. I think he'll eventually end up in the center of the cage with Barry, where he'll get leg-kicked until he wants to cry.
My pick: Barry. I don't see a better underdog choice in here, honestly. I just wish they'd offer us odds on whether Kongo will land at least one low blow. I'll give you 3-1 he does.

Matt Brown (+190) vs. John Howard (-250)

How Brown has managed to hold on to a UFC career for as long as he has during his current losing streak, I don't know. As soon as the UFC started matching him up against the next level of fighters, Brown started showing just how far from that level he is. He's still as tough as they come and he never goes down easily, but I don't think he has the athletic ability or the overall game to compete with Howard. I think Brown gets overpowered and pounded out here, and probably cut from the UFC soon after.
My pick: Howard. Here's one for the parlay.

Matt Mitrione (-280) vs. Christian Morecraft (+220)

This line seems a little more lopsided than I would have expected, but at least it still favors the right guy. Mitrione is an excellent athlete and a good striker who only gets better with every fight, but at the same time you can't count out a guy with Morecraft's size and sheer caveman power. He was giving Stefan Struve all he wanted until he got caught with a punch combo early in the second, and in his last fight he manhandled Sean McCorkle until "Big Sexy" basically up and quit. Mitrione's ground game is still somewhat suspect, so it's not unreasonable to think that Morecraft could get him down and keep him there. Not unreasonable, but still not terribly likely.
My pick: Mitrione. I think -280 is waaaaay overblown (-180 sounds a bit more realistic to me), but I still don't see him losing this.

Quick picks:

- Javier Vasquez (+185) over Joe Stevenson (-225). With his recent decline, I'm not sure how Joe "Daddy" is favored this highly, but I think it's a mistake. Vazquez is certainly beatable, but a worthwhile underdog nonetheless.

- Manny Gamburyan (+211) over Tyson Griffin (-239).
Griffin has a better chance of revitalizing himself at featherweight than Stevenson does, but I'd still be willing to do some small action on Gamburyan with odds like these.

- Charles Oliveira (+155) over Nik Lentz (+125). Lentz has been a magnet for boos in the UFC so far, and he was on his way to a loss against Waylon Lowe before he grabbed a last-minute guillotine. My guess is he'll try to bring a little more excitement against Oliveira, and will pay for it with a submission loss.

The 'For Entertainment Purposes Only' Parlay:
Marquardt + Barry + Howard + Oliveira