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UFC 146: By the Odds

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Yours truly is in Las Vegas -- the beating heart of America’s gambling-addicted body -- for UFC 146 on Saturday night, which means I have no shortage of options for throwing my money away. From horses I’ve never heard of to baseball teams I’ve never cared about, there are odds on just about everything here.

But when a bunch of heavyweights get together on a Saturday night, how reliably do you trust your own ability to predict the outcomes? If you feel like testing yourself and backing it up with cold hard cash, these odds straight from the sportsbook provide the perfect opportunity.

Junior dos Santos (-550) vs. Frank Mir (+400)

If you stroll through the MGM Grand this week, you’ll notice two things: 1) there’s some annoying construction going on, so the lions are nowhere to be found, and 2) you can find all sorts of fun prop bets on Saturday night’s main event. For instance, the MGM sportsbook is currently offering 8/1 odds on a Mir victory in either rounds two or three. And if you think this one will go the distance, you can get +450 odds on that. Meanwhile, the most likely outcome, according to the experts at the MGM? That would be JDS in round one -- a scenario that’s currently popping off at 5/7. As my grandfather likes to remind me whenever he hears that I’m off to cover a fight in Vegas: "They didn’t build those casinos off of people winning." That is to say, the odds look like this for a reason. Mir has a suspect chin, and dos Santos has beaten better wrestlers than him in the very recent past. Even if you think Mir has the edge on the mat, how capable is he of getting the fight there? As we covered earlier, these are heavyweights we’re talking about, so just about anything is possible. But if that’s the attitude you’re bringing to this, you might be better off investing in lottery tickets.
My pick: JDS. The odds are too long and the division too unpredictable to make it worth the risk, but I can’t picture him losing this fight no matter how hard I try.

Cain Velasquez (-550) vs. Antonio Silva (+400)

Daniel Cormier’s victory over "Bigfoot" explains a lot about this line. If a smaller, quicker wrestler was able to demolish Silva once, why wouldn’t the formula work a second time around? Not only are Velasquez and Cormier physically similar, they’re also teammates who have no doubt compared notes on this match-up. Silva’s size and power are always a consideration -- and, okay, he claims his heart really wasn’t in the Cormier fight -- but it’s hard to imagine him catching Velasquez in one spot long enough to do much to him.
My pick: Velasquez. I feel the same about this one as I do about JDS-Mir. I like the favorite, but not quite that much. I’ll sit this one out, maybe save my money for a couple hands of blackjack.

Roy Nelson (-225) vs. Dave Herman (+175)

Is Herman ready for this fight? We have no way of knowing, because he won’t stop joking around long enough to give us a straight answer on what it was like when he got the call. If you believe his version of events, he woke up after a drinking binge and agreed to fight "Big Country." I suspect this is not completely accurate, but fine, let’s assume he’s as ready as he’s ever been. Does it matter? Nelson has the edge in power, and in quality of competition faced. He keeps coming no matter what you hit him with, and he’s got to be in something resembling a desperation mode after losing three of his last four. Herman might be a better all-around athlete, but I don’t like his chances to finish Nelson, who can take it as well as he can dish it out.
My pick: Nelson. If he drops below -200, he might be worth the risk. On the flip side, if Herman gets over +200, the same is true for him.

Shane del Rosario (+145) vs. Stipe Miocic (-165)

Normally, I’d say del Rosario was a steal at these odds. And when I say normally, I mean if he were not making his UFC debut after more than a year out of action. It’s a question of risk factors. The long injury layoff? That’s one risk factor. The Octagon jitters? That’s another. Put them together and you have a bad bet. The tough part is, I suspect that del Rosario might legitimately be the better fighter. If he didn’t have this stuff working against him, I’d like his chances to beat Miocic, all other things being equal. But all things are never equal, and so it is here.
My pick: Miocic. Could del Rosario rise above the risk factors? Possibly. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Stefan Struve (even) vs. Lavar Johnson (-120)

Okay, you’re thinking. So you’re just going to take all the favorites? Not quite. I’m not sure why the MGM experts think Johnson deserves the slight edge, especially when online bookmakers mostly disagree. This fight pits Johnson, who had to jump back into the gym right after his fight with Pat Barry in order to take this short-notice opportunity, against a superior grappler with the height and reach to keep him on the outside until he’s frustrated enough to come charging in with reckless abandon. If you ask me, that’s not a great idea for him. Struve knows Johnson doesn’t want to be on the mat with him. He probably also knows that Johnson is putting all his eggs in the knockout basket, which only makes it easier for Struve to work out a winning strategy. After all, he knew he was facing a powerful striker back when he was still slated to fight Mark Hunt. Going from Hunt to Johnson is actually a bit of a break.
My pick: Struve. The even odds aren’t going to change your life, but it’s as good as you’re likely to get with a pick this solid.

Quick picks:

- Dan Hardy (-130) over Duane Ludwig (+100).
It’s not just do-or-die for Hardy’s UFC contract. It’s do-or-go-down-as-a-cautionary-tale. I don’t see him meeting that fate easily.

- "Mayhem" Miller (-145) over C.B. Dollaway (+115).
I had to go to the internet to find this line, since the MGM lists the odds as ‘TBA.' I base this pick entirely on the fact that the sportsbook lists this fight as Jason Miller vs. C.B. Dollawa. That’s all I need to know.

Craziest Internet Prop Bet That Could Make You Rich: Dos Santos wins in round three (+1075).

The ‘For Entertainment Purposes Only’ Parlay: Dos Santos + Velasquez + Struve + Hardy.

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