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UFC 137 odds and betting guide for 'Penn vs Diaz'

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No Georges St. Pierre? No problem!

With B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz in the vanguard, not to mention streaking contenders like Matt Mitrione, Dennis Siver, and Donald Cerrone, UFC 137 is about to take "Sin City" by storm tomorrow night (Oct. 29) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

And that means there's money to be made for the gamblers among us.

First you have to win, of course, and you should never bet what you can't afford to lose, but since I've recently started putting money down on the sport I love, I thought it might be prudent to share some wagering tips before major UFC and MMA events, pointing out the most profitable scraps.

And which bouts to avoid.

Included in the UFC 137 betting guide are all the odds for tomorrow night's show, but first check out my three important rules every bettor should follow right here.

Now then, let's get to it.

Undercard

Clifford Starks (-120) vs. Dustin Jacoby (-110)

Chris Camozzi (-140) vs. Francis Clarmont (+110)

Ramsey Nijem (-185) vs. Danny Downes (+155)

Brandon Vera (-500) vs. Eliot Marshall (+350)

Tyson Griffin (-365) vs. Bart Palaszewski (+275)

Donald Cerrone (-275) vs. Dennis Siver (+215)

Thoughts: To be perfectly honest with you guys, I don’t really see any value in the Facebook portion of the undercard, loaded as it is with UFC newcomers and fighters making their debuts in a lower weight class. The sole fight I’m confident in, Vera vs. Marshall, has odds so rightfully lopsided that there’s really no money to be made there, although if you’re feeling lucky, banking on Vera’s inconsistency to take advantage of Marshall’s +350 wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.

The Spike portion, however, just screams opportunity; both Siver and Palaszewski are live dogs. Tyson Griffin has been on a pretty bad slump lately, robbery loss to Nik Lentz notwithstanding, and Palaszewski has proven able to knock out lightweights with decent consistency. That said, Bart has never cut to 145 before and has generally faltered against high-level competition, so don’t make him the cornerstone of your parlays.

Cerrone is a very good fighter, but he’s displayed some serious defensive liabilities in the past, while Siver has just looked better and better since Melvin flattened him. Granted, the Fisher fight could have gone either way (I honestly believe, without question, that he beat Wiman) and he lost to Pearson, but Pearson also just arguably outworked Edson Barboza standing. Plus, Cerrone hasn’t shown any indication that his mind is on this fight; he talked about cutting to 145 to beat up Nam Phan and, when asked about Siver, just brushed him off as a one-trick pony. This smell like an upset in the making to anyone else?

Main Card

Hatsu Hioki (-400) vs. George Roop (+300)

Scott Jorgensen (-450) vs. Jeff Curran (+325)

Roy Nelson (-240) vs. Mirko Filipovic (+190)

Matt Mitrione (-150) vs. Cheick Kongo (+120)

B.J. Penn (-130) vs. Nick Diaz (EVEN)

Bit of a mixed bag with the main card this time; let’s look closely.

With all the trouble JMMA fighters have been having in the Octagon, George Roop might seem like a great bet, but there are several factors that make me put my money behind Hioki. One, he trains at Tristar with the likes of GSP, meaning he’s got training partners accustomed to American MMA. Two, he has wins over some seriously good competition, including two over Mark Hominick, and while Pat Curran may have dulled the accomplishment, Hioki’s complete domination of Marlon Sandro was a sight to behold. Three, he’s eaten blows from monstrous strikers in the past and stayed up, and considering he’s nearly as lanky as Roop, there’s not much stopping him from closing the distance, tying up, and unleashing that crazy ground game of his. You’re not going to get much from a straight bet, but stick Hioki in a parlay or two.

Jeff Curran is a great coach, but he really hasn’t beaten anyone worth a darn since 2006, and with Jorgensen’s wrestling prowess, I don’t see "The Big Frog" getting a chance to use his ground game. Scott is a legitimate top-5 bantamweight, and while I don’t think he (or anyone else) will touch the title while Cruz has his filthy meathooks on it, there aren’t many people I’d pick to take "Young Guns" out. The odds are too lopsided towards Scotty to make a profit, methinks, and a Curran upset is too remote a possibility. Stay away from this one.

Were the current Mirko Filipovic the inhuman monster of the past, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more tailor-made matchup for him; Roy’s takedowns are mediocre at best, he’s at a significant length disadvantage, and he’s not even in the same universe as Mirko on the feet. Unfortunately, this isn’t anywhere near the Mirko Cro Cop that used to make complete and utter annihilation in the standup look easy. Just look at his left straight; it used to be a precision-guided missile capable of shattering bones, and he used it beautifully in conjunction with that evil high kick of his. Nowadays, he just kind of tosses it out there. Still, I’m praying there’s just enough Cro Cop left to make the small amount of money I placed on him worth it; if you, like me, are far too crazy about the PRIDE days to listen to reason, at least keep the amount small and parlay in some big favorite somewhere else on the card.

Why can’t I quit you, Mirko?

I am just full to bursting with misgivings about the co-main event, and that’s due to Kongo being one of the most inconsistent fighters in the UFC since getting blasted and submitted by Frank Mir. The Travis Browne fight is a great example; in the first round, Browne was basically walking in with his hands down and hurling awkward haymakers that couldn’t have been better targets for counters if Browne had waggled his eyebrows Punch Out!!!-style before every punch. Kongo didn’t throw a single blow in return until later in the fight, and even then he seemed more intent on pressing Travis into the cage, grabbing his shorts, and kneeing him in the crotch than exploiting a pretty sizeable technique advantage. Meathead is an excellent prospect and his hands are fantastic, but his defensive wrestling is still a liability, and even someone with grappling as mediocre as Kongo’s could definitely exploit that.

If I knew that Kongo would come out and do what he needed to win, I’d dump quite a large sum on him in a heartbeat, but the fact that I’ve basically seen three different Cheick Kongos in his past three fights has got me staying clear.

Even at -130, Penn is a fantastic bargain here; while I’ve seen various arguments for how Nick will destroy him, I’m just having a hard time picturing him pulling it off.

In terms of boxing, while Nick has looked impressive, he still keeps his head straight up, still uses no footwork, and still throws no kicks. While that was enough against a Paul Daley who apparently fell down some stairs and forgot how to jab sometime before that fight, B.J. has extremely clean boxing and is the faster of the two. Plus, the size disadvantage wasn’t enough to deter K.J. Noons from going toe-to-toe with Diaz with reasonable success. In addition, B.J. offers something none of the other strikers on Nick’s resume could: the ability to take Nick down on a whim without risk of submission. B.J. has shown the ability to dominate on his feet while avoiding a takedown, which Nick so far hasn’t. People point to Diaz’s fight with Sherk as evidence that his takedown defense is solid, and while he did shut Sherk down, he still got boxed to a decision loss on his feet.

On the ground, I strongly believe (and am supported by my BJJ instructor, Rahman Howard) that B.J. is superior; his ability to take the back is astounding. I’ve seen people claim that his reliance on the RNC compared to Nick’s bevy of submissions is indicative of the latter’s superiority, but I’m not even going to dignify that with a response. To be blunt, Nick Diaz is not submitting B.J. Penn off his back.

Yes, Nick Diaz pushes a tremendous pace and yes, B.J. has been known to quit, but I highly doubt that will happen. My hypothesis is that B.J. quits when he runs out of options; against Edgar, he was thinking "I can’t get him down and I can’t beat him standing". Against GSP and Fitch, he was thinking "I can’t stay off my back and I can’t submit him". This is a situation that simply will not arise against Nick; no matter what happens standing, B.J. can take him down whenever he wants. Nick is a reactive fighter; rather than dictate where the fight goes, he tries to just make the best of wherever his opponent takes him. That’s not a style that will work against someone with the top control of Penn.

With Nick’s bizarre behavior in the leadup to the fight combined with B.J. being far and away the best opponent he’s faced in years, there’s a lot of money to be made on the Hawaiian.

My Current Bets

Parlay: Hatsu Hioki and Mirko Filipovic-$16.00 to make $42.00

Single Bet: Bart Palaszewski-$15.00 to make $41.25

Single Bet: Dennis Siver-$20.00 to make $43.00

Single Bet: B.J. Penn-$62.40 to make $50.00

Remember: never bet more than you can lose, bet with your head, and don’t let betting get in the way of your enjoying MMA. We’ve got an excellent weekend of fights ahead of us, kicking off four straight weekends of UFC events, folks.

Enjoy the show!

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