Saturday evening comes early this week as the UFC continues its quest to dominate the international sports market by chipping away at a hunk of island property in the lower right corner of your map known as Australia. I did a little research and it turns out this water-bound oasis is actually a continent, huh, thanks a lot public school! A brief review of wikipedia’s history of Australia was quite enlightening but thanks to a low level gas leak in my apartment building I forgot everything between “colonized by prisoners” and “produced the band ‘Men At Work’”. Sounds like a fun place though. Further research revealed to me that there are these things called time zones and according to my calculations this event has already taken place. None the less, I thought I would share my humble thoughts, as both MMA fanatic and degenerate gambler, on how to bet one’s money on this event. Without further ado, I give you the best bets of UFC 110:
1) Goran Reljic (-215) vs. C.B. Dolloway (+175):
This bet, not to be redundant, is a bit of a gamble, given the fact that due to injury Goran Reljic has not competed in professional mixed martial arts in nearly 2 years. However, his debut, a KO victory against the under-conditioned but incredibly tough Wilson Gouveia, was so impressive I’ve been convinced that a little octagon rust is not going to stop the Croatian from barreling through C.B. Dolloway en route to a bright future at 185. Reljik clearly has the better stand-up of the two fighters and Dolloway will waste little time taking this fight to the mat with his superior wrestling. Once there however, he will be on the ground with a longer limbed, more experienced version of Amir Sadollah (who submitted Dolloway twice with the same arm bar during their tenure on TUF). Despite the impressive striking Reljic displayed in his debut, his strength is actually Jiu-Jitsu, having obtained 5 of his 8 victories via submission. Dolloway’s desire to take this fight south should not surprise anyone, meaning Goran will have been working heavily on his ground game.
I see C.B. shooting successfully for the takedown early in the fight and finding his way into another arm bar somewhere in the first or second round. Even as a 2 to 1 favorite Reljic is the smart bet here.
THE BET: Goran Reljic (-215)
2) Keith Jardine (+135) vs. Ryan Bader (-165):
This is another interesting and somewhat mysterious match-up seeing as how Keith Jardine has never fought a high level wrestler and no one, except people who have fought Keith Jardine, has ever fought anyone like Keith Jardine. This being the case, the astute gambler will not have the benefit of assessing the fighter’s past performances against similar opponents. The thing about Jardine that I feel is often overlooked is that he has had a remarkably successful career with the exception of one consistent weakness- he is repeatedly susceptible to early bursts of offense by aggressive strikers. In fact, all three of his KO losses in the UFC (his two other losses by decision) came in the first round due to a flurry of strikes by dangerous strikers (Houston Alexander, Thiago Silva and Wanderlei Silva). If you remove these fights from his record we’re talking about a guy who beat Chuck Liddell, Wilson Gouveia, Brandon Vera, KO’d Forrest Griffin and nearly stole a decision victory from Rampage Jackson. I am not attempting to suppose a “what if” scenario, I am simply pointing out that if you don’t KO Keith Jardine in the first few minutes of the fight, you might have a problem on your hands.
Bader has displayed power in his punches, but does not seem prone to the kind of explosive offense typical of Alexander and the dual Silvas. However, it is unlikely that Bader will choose to stand for long and once he wants to he will take the fight to the ground. It is there that Jardine’s seldom used but underrated submission game will come into play.
Jardine also has the advantage of long-time training partner, and one of the best wrestlers in the 205 lb. weight class, Rashad Evans. In Rashad, Jardine has the ideal training partner for this fight, add to that the expert game plan inevitably being hatched by coach Greg Jackson and you have a couple of big positives for “The Dean”. Bader is going to have a much harder time finding training partners who can mimic Keith’s perplexing style.
Will Jardine submit Bader? Will he KO him? Will he scramble his way to a decision? Not sure. But I do know this, Jardine is damned crafty. He is coming into this fight underestimated yet again and despite mild experience against wrestlers like Bader he will find a way to win this one. Bader has showed real promise but is not ready for the variety of tools and overall experience that Jardine brings to the table. With Jardine the underdog here, this bet is worthwhile.
THE BET: Keith Jardine (+135)
3) Wanderlei Silva (-155) vs. Michael Bisping (+125):
This is the clear-cut bet of the night. Bisping has one viable option in this fight- run. Bisping does not have the power to KO Silva, and Silva’s knows this. Bisping can’t take Wanderlei down, this is no secret either. Bisping is going to attempt to stick and move, a la his victory over Chris Leben. Unfortunately for the Brit, Silva is no Chris Leben. Wanderlei Silva is going to chase Bisping around the octagon, devoid of respect for Bisping’s power, and he is going to catch him with big shots early in the fight. Don’t blink, this one might not last long and at only -155 you should be betting huge on Wanderlei.
THE BET: Wanderlei Silva (-155), via first round KO.
4) Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (-110) vs. Cain Velasquez (-120) :
Another solid bet pits a revived legend of the sport against the man who many see as a future star of the division. The legendary Nogueira’s stock has been undervalued ever since his KO loss to Frank Mir over a year ago. Rumors circulated that Nogueira had come into the fight with a severe leg injury and, ever the fearless competitor, fought anyway, appearing slow and off his game. Since then, fully recovered, he has looked excellent, winning a tough decision victory against Randy Couture. Nogueira has also relocated his training camp and is working with a world class strength and conditioning coach- the difference was apparent in his last fight.
Velasquez has been on a tear and has a bright future, without question. However, he has never fought a solid Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, let alone the greatest Jiu-Jitsu heavyweight to ever live. The counter-argument here is that Cain has no interest in taking this fight to the ground and will use his wrestling to stand and trade with Big Nog. However, the Brazilian has always had very under-appreciated boxing skills, a feature of his game often dwarfed by his submission greatness. I see Nogueira surprising Velasquez with superior boxing, frustrating him into pursuing the takedown at which point he will be in the unfamiliar spider web that is uber-high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I predict a submission for Nogueira in the 3rd round.
THE BET: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (-110), via 3rd round submission.