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UFC on FUEL TV 4: By the Odds

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Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC on FUEL TV 4 goes down in San Jose in just a few hours, but there’s still time to get with your favorite internet bookie and make some financially ruinous decisions. Okay, I’m not doing a great job of selling it, but you know what makes even a mediocre mid-week fight card a lot more exciting? Money, either the loss or gain of it. No one ever said excitement had to always be positive.

Now for a look at tonight’s odds, along with some reckless advice that you follow at your own risk.

Mark Munoz (+115) vs. Chris Weidman (-145)

I’m surprised to see Weidman as even a slight favorite over Munoz, and I’m not sure what to make of it. I would have thought it would be the other way around, but then again, I’m not one of the offshore numbers guys whose job it is to determine these things, so I have to assume they must be basing it on something. Is it wrestling ability? Probably not, since Munoz has the superior college credentials. Is it knockout power? Unlikely, since Weidman has yet to win a fight by TKO in the UFC, while Munoz has proven that he has some force behind his punches. It can’t be experience, because Munoz has more fights against better opponents, even if he’s not undefeated like Weidman is. I tell you, I can’t figure it. The line isn’t long enough to suggest that Munoz has a secret injury that only the oddsmakers know about, but it is just long enough to allow me to convince myself, however foolishly, that I’m smarter than the guys who do this for a living. No way for that to turn out badly, right?
My pick: Munoz. I think he’s just a little bit better than Weidman in every area, plus he’s battle-tested and primed to take the next step up the middleweight ladder.

James Te Huna (-400) vs. Joey Beltran (+300)

I’ve made mention before of what I like to call The Fighter’s False Friend, which is the change of weight class after a few consecutive losses. Occasionally it delivers the hoped-for resurrection, but more often it just slows down the fall. Beltran is the latest to try it, dropping from heavyweight to light heavyweight after his release from the UFC earlier this year. Now, thanks to a little fight card reshuffling, he’s back to fill an empty spot on this lineup, but obviously oddsmakers don’t expect the new division to make him into a new man. And why should they? At 6’1" and carrying more spare tire than spare muscle, he was undersized at heavyweight. But his problem wasn’t that he was getting pushed around by bigger guys; his problem was that he was getting beaten by better, often faster and more athletic guys. That’s something that’s not going to change at light heavyweight. Te Huna has beaten a few not-quite-primetime players in the UFC, and his only loss in the Octagon is to Alexander Gustafsson, who seems to be a star in the making. Beltran’s a game opponent who might be able to take what Te Huna dishes out, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to deliver much in return.
My pick: Te Huna. The odds aren’t quite worth the risk, since Beltran still has a puncher’s chance, but it’s nowhere near enough of a chance to make him a decent underdog pick.

Aaron Simpson (-310) vs. Kenny Robertson (+240)

I never like to bet on any fighter who doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page yet. I don’t claim that this method is one hundred percent reliable, but whether you’re playing bar keno or baccarat you’ve got to have a system, and this is mine. Robertson is 0-1 in the UFC so far, and most of his wins have come against guys who also lack a Wikipedia page, if you catch my drift. Simpson may not be setting the world aflame, but he can be relied upon to pursue a very specific type of attack that it is as unremarkable to watch as it is effective against lower-tier fighters. Could it be that Robertson is really an upper-tier fighter waiting to be discovered as such? Maybe. But until Wikipedia finds out about it, I’m not taking the chance.
My pick: Simpson. My guess is he’ll wrestle his way to another decision that will surprise as few fight fans as it impresses.

Karlos Vemola (+170) vs. Francis Carmont (-210)

Carmont had his ups and downs in his last fight with the big Swede Magnus Cedenblad, but in it he proved that he can suffer through the bad times to get to the good ones. He should have a size advantage over Vemola, and, if he can keep from getting overwhelmed early on, probably has more ways to win the fight. That said, Vemola has finished a couple quality opponents in his time inside the Octagon, so don’t let the line fool you into thinking this is going to be an easy night of work for Carmont. It won’t.
My pick: Carmont. Some websites have him at just below 2-1 odds, others at just over. This is one where I might shop around for a better deal.

T.J. Dillashaw (-450) vs. Vaughan Lee (+325)

The submission win over "Kid" Yamamoto in Tokyo was undoubtedly the biggest win of Lee’s career, but it’s tough to know what that means these days. Is Yamamoto as washed up as people say, or did Lee really show us something there? Dillashaw will probably have little trouble getting Lee to the mat, so what you have to ask yourself here is if you like Lee’s chances to pull off a sub (or at least a sweep leading to a sub) off his back. Personally, I do not. I think Dillashaw takes him down and keeps him there as long as it takes.
My pick: Dillashaw. It feels close enough to a sure thing that I’m sticking it in the parlay and then completely forgetting about it. Just like I did with all that Facebook stock I bought.

Rafael dos Anjos (-200) vs. Anthony Njokuani (+160)

You want some more underdog action? In that case, Njokuani is worth taking a hard look at. He’s been a little, well, inconsistent of late, but he’s still got plenty of tools in the bag and once he gets into his rhythm he’s hard to stop. Dos Anjos has been a little up and down himself lately, but my suspicion is that oddsmakers were more impressed by his quick win over Kamal Shalorus than they should have been. That was a big win, and dos Anjos is certainly dangerous in the first few minutes, but if Njokuani can get into the second round it’s not unreasonable to think he might pull off the minor upset.
My pick: Njokuani. Am I doing this in part because I feel bad taking so many big favorites? Probably, but what the hell. You can’t take it with you. Not unless you die in a mansion fire that torches all your priceless belongings, in which case, well played, you crazy bastard.

Crazy Internet Prop Bet That Could Make You Rich: Munoz in round three (+1500)
He might not have a ton of early finishes, but could Munoz potentially wear Weidman down and put him away in the third? Seems to me like it could be just his style.

The ‘For Entertainment Purposes Only’ Parlay: Munoz + Simpson + Carmont + Dillashaw