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UFC on FOX 21 odds, gambling strategy guide

esther lin

It's fight night and so we are back again with another gambling preview of the fights, the odds, and my own personal breakdown of where the value lies. Fights with debuting fighters get less in-depth analysis because stats aren't available and same goes for fighters with only a couple of UFC bouts.

Also, just to clarify because I've gotten some questions about this: the number after the odds on each fighter is the percentage probability of victory that those odds imply. That means Carlos Condit at -130 says he will win that fight 56.52% of the time. If you think he wins it more than that, then you should bet it because there is inherent value in the line.

As always, all stats come from FightMetric and all the odds are from Best Fight Odds. Net Value means how much money you would have made if you bet $100 on that fighter in every one of his/her fights that odds could be found for and is calculated using the closing odds for each fight.

Doubly as always, I'm trying to provide the most thorough guide I can for those who want to legally bet or who just enjoy following along. If you are a person who chooses to gamble, only do so legally, responsibly, and at your own risk.

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Breakdown

Full disclosure: I'm an unabashed Carlos Condit mark. I love watching him fight and have been pretty vocal about thinking he should have beaten Robbie Lawler for the welterweight title and that he is the best 170-pound fighter in the world. As such, I think he is going to finish Demian Maia.

Maia's is one of the most interesting fighters in MMA, a throwback to a time of one-dimensional grapplers in an age where striking is the more vaunted skillset. He succeeds in this because he is the very best grappler in the world of MMA and one of the most effective wrestlers on top of that. Maia's game is all about getting a tie up with his opponent and from there it is a decision tree of options. In the clinch, he has foot sweeps and throws (dude hit a lateral drop on Chael Sonnen...think about that for a moment) and he can drop levels to attack the legs as well. Once in on a single leg, he can chain attacks and directional shifts, moving from side to side and changing angles to doggedly pursue the takedown. He also has an excellent sweep game meaning he is comfortable pulling guard and transitioning from that into a roll up single or using an excellent arm drag to sneak around to the back.

Once on the ground, there is no one better at BJJ. His game is fundamentally flawless and positionally dominant. He grapples like he wrote the textbook on it 40 years ago and has just been doing it over and over again since. He moves from position to position and he rarely opens up for strikes that would create openings for his opponents to scramble through. Eventually, he finds his way to mount or back mount and locks in the fight ending choke.

On the feet, Maia... well, he's there. He knows how to punch and kick but still looks gangly and uncomfortable doing so. His striking mostly exists to disguise his relentless takedown attempts. Predominantly, he uses a jab feint to set up his outside shot. Beyond that, there really isn't much to write home about here.

Conversely, Condit is an offensive dynamo on the feet who can and will throw 40 different strikes in 100 different combinations. He kicks well, he punches well and he does both with power and tons of volume. Volume and repetition are the keys here. Condit is not an organic striker, he doesn't throw natural counters in transition. Instead, Condit takes planned bombing runs in on his opponents, throwing a set combination and then doing it again with changes commiserate with the counters his opponents used the last time. It is an effective style for him mostly because Carlos Condit is phenomenally conditioned and has the best chin in MMA history. Eating huge counters doesn't matter if your head is made of concrete and steel apparently.

Condit's biggest weakness is his wrestling which is not good, though improving. The nature of his offense opens Condit up for level change counter takedowns and Condit doesn't have the hip ability to counter these effectively. Instead, he opts to use switches and sub counters to create scrambles and get back to his feet. When an opponent lands a clean takedown on him, Condit has an active guard and uses his length well to tie up his opponents for stalls.

To me, the change to five rounds put Condit firmly in the driver's seat of this fight. Condit has incredible cardio and Maia has been prone to fading. Maia will likely have success early because of his ability to wrestle and grapple, but it is important to remember that Maia doesn't just tie everyone he rolls with into knots. Ryan LaFlare survived five rounds with Maia and really beat him up in the final round when Maia was spent. Moreover, Condit's grappling game matches up pretty well against Maia's as outlined here by BJJ Scout. Condit is the far more dynamic fighter and 25-minute fights favor fighters with more ways to win. I expect Condit to make Maia work hard early and take over as the fight goes on and Condit's pressure and work rate tire out the BJJ wizard. Maia certainly can win, but in a five-round fight, I will never pick against Carlos Condit and I like him for a bet here.

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Breakdown

Anthony Pettis is one of the most offensively gifted fighters in MMA history. When allowed to work at his preferred range, Pettis' striking game is predatory and lethal in a way few are. He has some of the best kicks in MMA and equally strong boxing, though not a tremendous combination worker. He is also top shelf athlete and dynamic grappler, with improving takedown defense (though it's still not a strong suit). Pettis' shortcomings are mostly tactical. He has never developed sharp footwork which allows him to be backed into the fence where he is far less dangerous and where fighters can get in on his hips to wrestle (a la Eddie Alvarez). A consistent, well-executed pressure game from a fighter who can't be backed off with one or two strikes is the way to beat Pettis.

Charles Oliveira is an offensive dynamo in his own right but his success comes on the mat. Oliveira is one of the very best grapplers in the UFC and having him latched on anywhere near your neck is a recipe for disaster. On the feet, Oliveira is a somewhat wooden striker who prefers to operate in single shots and is very hittable. He also doesn't bring a consistent pressure game that would be required to give Pettis problems, preferring to operate at middle kicking range.

There are many people out there who are suggesting that this fight is very close. I disagree completely. Lost in the shuffle of Pettis' three-fight losing streak is that two of those losses were to horrific style matchups and the other was a robbery to the guy who just so happens to be the current lightweight champion. Yes, Pettis has holes in his game that are serious and are exploitable, but Oliveira doesn't have the game to consistently take advantage of those openings. I also think that Pettis spending more time at Jackson-Wink with Brandon Gibson will pay big dividends for him going forward and help to mitigate some of these deficiencies. If Oliveira can get takedowns, he certainly can win because he has that "puncher's chance" style of grappling game. But Pettis is no slouch in transition and on the feet, Do Bronx operates in the range that Pettis wants and is hittable, which is practically an execution order. The only question is, how does Pettis look in his first foray to 145 pounds? I'm inclined to think he will be fine and that he is going to show out on Oliveira. I like Pettis to win, and I like him for a bet.

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Breakdown

Paige VanZant is a good developing fighter that is probably underrated. Make no mistake though, she's a very talented, if raw, young fighter. VanZant is aggression personified. An athletic, physical fighter, VanZant excels at forcing her opponents backwards and mauling them up against the cage with knees and elbows. She continues her assault by taking opponents down and working them over on top with continuous activity. She also thrives in scrambles by virtue of her aggression and athleticism coupled with good natural instincts. All of this is held together by the fact that VanZant is $2 steak tough. You can't disincentivize her by hitting her in the face and her relentlessness breaks opponents more often than not.

Bec Rawlings is also very durable and very aggressive, but unlike VanZant, she isn't a tremendous scrambler and she doesn't have great cardio. On the feet, Rawlings is an improving striker and probably better than VanZant at range (though she is dreadfully hittable). On the floor, she is a somewhat sloppy grappler more focused on offense than defense. She also fades in every fight which is a problem against the attritive pressure of VanZant.

This fight is VanZant's to lose. Her game plays excellently against what Rawlings does and she is a far superior athlete. Rawlings could have some success in the very early stages, but I expect VanZant to bully her way into the clinch and work Rawlings over from there. Whether VanZant can get the finish, is another question though. Rawlings is tough but prone to defensive lapses. VanZant is aggressive but hasn't show great finishing skills. Ultimately, I favor VanZant to pick up an increasingly lopsided decision and also like her for a bet at anything south of -250.

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Breakdown

This is a rematch from a 2012 barnburner of a fight and this one looks to be equally as exciting. Lauzon is one of MMA's premier action fighters and despite being on the decline is still every bit as fun to watch. Aggression is the name of Lauzon's game. He's a powerful puncher and wrestler who comes out of the gate like hell on wheels, and while this has led him to be one of the all-time leaders in bonus award wins, it also results in him only having cardio for about seven minutes, which is why he's only won a single decision in his almost 40-fight career. On the floor, he's a good transitional grappler but not the most consistent.

Jim Miller hasn't looked good lately, but Miller is a rugged southpaw who can do everything at above average skill level. Miller has an underrated kicking game, works well in the clinch, has good wrestling, and is a superb grappler especially from top position where he is rock solid fundamentally. Also, Miller is a much better defensive fighter which should help him survive the early onslaught.

The dynamics of this fight are pretty clear: Lauzon gets him out of there early or Miller hangs in there and wins. Miller is a craftier striker, has better cardio, and is the much better wrestler. The only question is "How washed up is Miller?" If the Diego Sanchez fight was an anomaly rather than the new normal, Miller should take this fight. If Miller is just done with fighting mentally, but still doing this to pay the bills, then Lauzon will even the score. Because of this, I think this fight is a 50/50 proposition meaning plus money on either guy has value. I'll go with Miller as the pick and say that if you feel the same way you could hedge a Miller pick with Lauzon Inside The Distance at +175.

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Breakdown

Sam Alvey is basically a one-trick pony but that trick is a good one. He's a slow, plodding puncher who hits hard on the counter or the lead and can hurt you with either the left or the right hand. He is a fair defensive fighter but it comes at the expense of his offense. When fighters work a range striking game on him, his offense freezes while he blocks each shot. When he is in punching range, he is very hittable in exchanges but he has a good chin which saves him. His striking game is tied together by the fact that he has solid takedown defense.

Takedowns and top control are the straws that stir Casey's drink. Kevin Casey is a wonderful athlete and, despite the fact that he is a self-appointed black belt, a good grappler. He has powerful takedowns when he gets in on the hips, and good - if conservative - positional control. The problem is, he can only do these things for about seven minutes after which his cardio drops off dramatically and he holds on to scrape out wins.

This fight lines up pretty well for Sam Alvey. Though a decent wrestler, he isn't a sensational one and Alvey is actually a better than average defensive wrestler, meaning Casey will have to work hard for any successful takedowns. There is a real chance he can't take Alvey down anyway, but after a round of hard grappling Casey will be stranded in a stand-up fight. While not complete inept there, his penchant for swinging wide and backing straight up aren't going to play well against the heavy punches of Alvey, especially as his defense starts to fade when his gas tank empties. I like Alvey's chances to land a knockout blow somewhere in the latter half of the fight, and I don't hate him for a parlay inclusion though there are better options elsewhere on the card.

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THE OTHERS

Enrique Barzola (+140/41.67%) vs. Kyle Bochniak (-160/61.54%)

Barzola is an awkward, athletic counter striker who does his best work as a top position grappler. He has good takedowns from single or double legs and he chains attacks well. On top, he is very active and attacks the body very well. Toughness is a particular strong suit for Barzola which is good because he is not a great defensive fighter. Bochniak is also a counter striker though a much more fluid one. He has a powerful right hand that he times well on incoming opponents, staying out of range and then planting and throwing when appropriate. He can get overly reliant on his right hand as a weapon and he is very susceptible to an outside kicking game. His striking is held together by strong takedown defense with excellent balance.

This fight comes down to whether Barzola can get Bochniak down, and I don't think he will be able to for sustained periods. Bochniak controls distance better than "El Fuerte," and even if he is taken down, Barzola is overly aggressive with ground and pound leaving Bochniak the opening to stand. That means that this fight will take place primarily on the feet and Bochniak's striking is a little less diverse but is more technically sound. Barzola is very hittable and doesn't really blend his attacks well. I foresee Bochniak landing numerous right hands as Barzola throws naked kicks which may not be enough to finish Barzola but will win Bochniak the rounds. The odds on this are about right though so probably not worth your time.

Garreth McLellan (+200/33.33%) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (-240/70.59%)

McLellan is a tough guy who will be in it until the end, but Di Chirico looks to be the far better fighter already and that is without factoring in Di Chirico's rapid rate of improvement. On the feet, Di Chirico has far more craft and will chew McLellan up and McLellan hasn't really shown the wrestling to be able to take the Italian down. Moreover, Di Chirico can score takedowns of his own on McLellan and work from top position (though McLellan is relatively good at getting back to his feet). Honestly, barring a Di Chirico being lazy and getting caught in a guillotine choke (something McLellan goes for far too often) this should be his fight to lose, and I like him as a parlay inclusion.

Shane Campbell (-135/57.45%) vs. Felipe Silva (46.51%)

In many ways, these guys resemble each other. Both are former kickboxers with BJJ purple belts and mediocre wrestling. On the floor, Silva probably has the edge but not by a substantial enough margin to really threaten Campbell, and I'm not sure this fight even makes it there in the first place. On the feet, Campbell is the better technical fighter, the better defensive fighter, and also appears to have a speed advantage. Campbell's losses have come as a result of being overwhelmed with speed and power or being out-grappled. I don't think Silva is likely to succeed in either avenue. In a bout that figures to be mostly a striking contest, I favor Campbell's cleaner Muay Thai game and higher pace to overcome his trademark slow start and win a decision. That being said, I would in no way feel good about putting money on this.

Chad Laprise (-280/73.695) vs. Thibault Gouti (+240/29.41%)

There is a reason Laprise is the biggest favorite on the card, and it's because this is a setup fight for him to win after dropping two in a row. Laprise is better in every area here and his pressure and more nuanced striking game should give Gouti fits. Laprise also has the ability to take Gouti down if he feels the need and has shown the ability to transition to the back which has been a problem for Gouti. I expect Laprise to look very good en route to a rear-naked choked finish somewhere in the middle portion of the bout. Previously, I was looking at Laprise as a parlay inclusion but missing weight is always a serious red flag so I would suggest you steer clear of this one.

Jeremy Kennedy (-155/60.78%) vs. Alex Ricci (+135/42.55%)

Ricci is coming in on short notice, and while he was training for a fight in mid-September so he shouldn't be a total cardio disaster, he still won't be in peak form. Kennedy is younger and very green but he shows the type of promise that portends good things in the future. If he can get this fight to the floor it's his to lose, but if it stays standing, Ricci's craft probably earns him a decision. In situations like this, I tend to favor younger fighters who will make big improvements between fights. Ricci is mostly a finished product and Kennedy has upside. The pick is Kennedy by late submission but this is a very close fight and I would never suggest you bet on it given the surrounding circumstances.

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And there you have it folks. Last week there was overwhelming support for a video breakdown to accompany these so I'll start figuring out how to do that and look to have it in the near future. Please feel free to share any suggestions you might have about these articles or things you would like to be included that I haven't.

Enjoy the fights this weekend. Good luck to those who need it and if you've got any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew

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(Editor's note: All this advice is for entertainment purposes only.)