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UFC 136: By the Odds

Frankie Edgar vs. Gray MaynardWith UFC 136 just a day away, oddsmakers have made their picks and more or less dared you to disagree with them. You going to stand for that? I didn't think so.

Let's poke around and see where they might be wrong, this time with a little special help on the parlay from one of my MMA Fighting colleagues.

Frankie Edgar (-140) vs. Gray Maynard (+125)

At last, a title defense where Edgar is the favorite, however slight. The last time these two met, the champ was a +115 dog. I know, because I went back and looked at my own betting odds picks for UFC 125, which means I am now sufficiently humbled. Let's just say I didn't exactly knock that one out of the park, though I did pick Edgar when many thought he'd simply get held down for five rounds. Now that he's proven not only his mutant healing abilities between rounds, but also his wrestling prowess, I'm not surprised that oddsmakers are giving him the slight edge.

Still, the line is so close that you aren't going to profit all that much from taking the underdog flyer on Maynard. For those of you struggling to understand what +110 means, imagine yourself putting down $100 on Maynard and then making $110 if he wins. Also imagine yourself being very, very sad if he doesn't. Then at least you'll understand what you're letting yourself in for if he can't shove Edgar around for five rounds to become the new champ.
My pick: Edgar. He's proven he can stay off his back against Maynard. If he can only stay out of the way of those power punches, he'll be in business.

Jose Aldo (-450) vs. Kenny Florian (+300)

Florian is the kind of guy you want to root for, and by 'you' I mean me. He's a diligent worker, a borderline obsessive student of the game, and a real thinking man's fighter. One thing he's not, at least so far, is championship material. Oddsmakers don't seem to think that will change against Aldo, and I have to admit that I agree. Florian isn't going to stand there and out-strike Aldo. Not without getting his legs turned to hamburger. He'll have to put him down, but can he reliably do that, especially in the early rounds? I'm not so sure, at least not unless Aldo suffers through another brutal weight cut like the one he had before the Hominick fight. Florian's best chance might come in the later rounds, but only if he can make it that long. Even then, he'll probably be so behind on the scorecards that he'll absolutely need to start finishing fights at 145 pounds. Easier said than done against the champ.
My pick: Aldo. Honestly, it's not even worth a parlay pick at these odds, but neither is Florian worth the underdog risk.

Chael Sonnen (-260) vs. Brian Stann (+200)

If you know me, you know I have to have at least one big/somewhat reckless underdog pick per event. If I don't, I go crazy and try to bait strangers at the gas station into giving me 3-1 odds on whether I can jump over a moving car (turns out I can't; lesson learned). This time around, I had to take a hard look at Stann, who needs only to keep from getting out-wrestled in order to have a very good chance in this one. Normally, I wouldn't like his chances to do even that, but Sonnen has been off for a very, very long time. Much of that time was spent trying to convince the California State Athletic Commission that he doesn't mean what he says, except for when he does, and distractions like that are rarely helpful. Cage rust affects different fighters in different ways, but if I had to bet (and it's kind of the purpose of this whole feature) I'd wager that Sonnen will be not quite as sharp as usual, and it'll cost him.
My pick: Stann. I wouldn't bet the house, or even the condo, but I will throw some small action on the real American hero this time around.

Joe Lauzon (+300) vs. Melvin Guillard (-450)

Back when he was an immature, though talented fighter who would beat himself more often than not when given a chance, Guillard was still a scary opponent. Now that he's got his act together, dude is positively terrifying. Lauzon's best chance is to get it to the mat and submit him, but the last time Guillard tapped out was in 2009, when he was foolish enough to shoot a takedown on Nate Diaz and get himself guillotined in the process. He's a much smarter fighter than that now, so Lauzon better have a plan B. Matter of fact, he better have plans C-N, too, because I don't see him shooting a double-leg and putting/keeping Guillard down long enough to submit him.
My pick: Guillard. Again, it's not even juicy as a parlay addition, but what are you going to do?

Leonard Garcia (+175) vs. Nam Phan (-225)

Quick question: do we have different judges for the rematch? If so, then you have to give Phan the edge. If it's the same people who think haymakers, whether they connect or not, are enough to win a fight, then take your chances with Garcia. Garcia's problem isn't just that he likes to brawl -- it's that he doesn't like to do anything else, such as defend his face. He's a great guy -- one of the nicest and most down-to-earth in this business, really -- and when he finds a willing dance partner, his style is fun to watch. It's also predictable, and when opponents can keep from getting sucked into it he runs into problems.
My pick: Phan. This one might be more suitable as parlay material, but then you never know what those wacky judges will do.

Quick picks:

- Mike Massenzio (+125) over Steve Cantwell (-145). Massenzio will try to out-wrestle Cantwell, and Cantwell is susceptible to that. With these odds, Massenzio's worth a small risk.

- Anthony Pettis (-285) over Jeremy Stephens (+225).
You won't get rich off of it, but this one is money in the bank.

The 'For Entertainment Purposes Only' Parlay: Just because he's a wild riverboat gambler with dollar signs in his eyes, and because I respect that sort of self-destructive impulse, I'll let my colleague Matt Erickson call it this time. Take it away, Matt.

"A 4-leg parlay of 'dogs on Saturday that pays $473 on a $10 bet:

Maynard +125
Stann +200
Santiago +225
Elkins +120

I've already spent my winnings. That's how sure of that mofo I am."

You heard the man. And if it doesn't work out, you can let him know about it on Twitter: @MattErickson23