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TUF 13 Finale: By the Odds

You paid close attention to a full season of reality TV shenanigans on The Ultimate Fighter. You even sat through Brock Lesnar's repeated attempts to turn a kind of insulting metaphor into a motivational speech. And what did you get for it? Nothing but a brain full of video game commercials and Burger King slogans.

Until now.

With the TUF 13 Finale barreling down upon us, time to put that hard-earned knowledge to good use and make the oddsmakers pay for their indolence. The experts have laid down their odds on Saturday night's action. Now it's our turn to tell them where they went wrong.

Clay Guida (+190) vs. Anthony Pettis (-250)

One word: seriously? Okay, so that's one word aided by punctuation, but you get the point. You're telling me Guida is nearly a 2-1 dog against a fighter who most people know for one (albeit amazing) kick and very little else? That seems like a stretch. Look, I don't disagree that Pettis ought to be the favorite. On skills alone, he's the better fighter. But that's nothing new for Guida. His experience, his pace, his badger-like relentlessness – all that makes him impossible to overlook. Sure, Pettis has the ability to kick him upside the head, but it's not like Guida hasn't been there before. His list of scalps is much more impressive than Pettis', even if he lacks the mainstream attention that comes with SportsCenter highlights. Look past "The Carpenter" at your peril, people.
My pick: Guida. At these odds he's simply too good to pass up. He could get outclassed, or he could win this on veteran savvy alone. At 2-1, I'll risk it on the latter option.

Ramsey Nijem (-120) vs. Tony Ferguson (-110)

As usual with TUF finale fights, oddsmakers seem unsure what to make of this one. How much can you really know about two guys after seeing them in a frantic series of fights over the course of a few weeks? The TUF house tells you a lot about how different fighters handle pressure and outside stimuli, but it doesn't always tell you who'll be the better man after they've had some time to go home and work on things. Nijem likely gets the edge because of his wrestling ability, while Ferguson had to close out the season by listening to his coach, Brock Lesnar, hoping out loud that his athleticism could "make up for some things." What a confidence-builder. It's a pick 'em, and one where you won't profit much either way.
My pick: Nijem. I'd save it for the parlay, if at all. Oddsmakers seem intent on making sure no one has any fun here.

Ed Herman (-115) vs. Tim Credeur (-115)

The same rule applies here as in the Nijem-Ferguson fight. A line like this – you'd have to bet $115 on either guy to make $100 if he wins – is the oddsmaker's way of trying to steer you away from a bet or at least make sure you don't score too big on it. And really? That's fitting here. After nearly two years off for each fighter, we don't know what they'll have in their respective first fights back. If this fight were happening in the summer of 2009, I'd throw my support firmly behind Credeur and never think twice. Now I have to think twice, but I honestly still come up with the same answer. Herman has always had some cardio issues, and knee injuries rarely help those. At least Credeur was out for a brain anomaly, which ended up being a false alarm and not an actual physical defect to overcome.
My pick: Credeur. I'm saving it for the parlay, but I think Herman tires out while Crazy Tim stays strong.

Kyle Kingsbury (-200) vs. Fabio Maldonado (+160)

I'm a little surprised to see the line this close, particularly after word went out that Maldonado was laid up in a hospital with a virus recently and, if I'm reading the translation on Tatame.com correctly, ate "salty food" to raise his blood pressure back to normal levels. I'm no doctor, but I do wonder if that's the best strategy for a pro fighter. He weighed in a couple pounds under the limit, while Kingsbury was his usual shredded self at 206 pounds, thanks to the help of Victor Conte. I'd probably pick Kingsbury even if both were at full strength, since he's been on a tear in the UFC of late. But hearing that Maldonado might be in a weakened state for this fight really seals it for me.
My pick: Kingsbury. I'm putting it in the parlay and then putting it out of my mind. Next.

Chuck O'Neil (-175) vs. Chris Cope (+145)

So how is it that oddsmakers feel they know enough about these two to pick a clear favorite, when they haven't seen much more of them than they have of Nijem and Ferguson? I have no idea, which is why I'm treading lightly here. Honestly, I'm still sort of shocked that the UFC opted to put this fight on Spike TV at the expense of some other, more compelling undercard bouts, but there's no point crying over dark fights, I suppose. Based on what little we saw of them – and on the almost arbitrary odds – Cope seems like a decent enough pick. Still, something doesn't feel right here. I'm suspicious. If this were an action movie, here's where someone would point out that it was quiet....too quiet.
My pick: Cope. I guess. But I'm leaving this one alone.

Quick picks:

- Danny Downes (+250) over Jeremy Stephens (-350). You want a crazy underdog pick that could easily blow up in your face? Here it is. Stephens can always knock you stiff with one big punch, but he depends on that too much and loses rounds in the process. Downes can play it smart and pull out a decision. If he remembers to get his chin out of the way when it matters.

- Scott Jorgensen (-430) over Ken Stone (+330). Not exactly going out on a limb here, but Jorgensen is being handed what I would term a showcase fight...if only it weren't on the prelims. Thank God for the last-minute Facebook save.

The 'For Entertainment Purposes Only' Parlay: Guida + Credeur + Kingsbury + Jorgensen.