He’s baaaaaaaack ...
Former two-division Pride FC champion Dan Henderson, after three spectacular knockouts under the Strikeforce banner, returns to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for his third tour of duty this Saturday (Nov. 19, 2011) to re-launch his campaign for the promotion's 205-pound title.
Standing in his way, however, is the legendary Mauricio Rua, who famously crushed Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona on the same night to capture the Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix title in 2005.
Not only are two of the best light heavyweights in the world squaring off for another shot at the title, but former champions Brian Bowles and Urijah Faber will also duke it out for another crack at division kingpin Dominick Cruz.
Needless to say, we’ve got one helluva UFC 139 fight card. And an awesome card means the opportunity to make some cash on the side.
Join us after a jump for a thorough breakdown of the odds behind UFC 139: "Shogun vs. Hendo" as we examine the betting lines for this weekend's myriad match ups at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California:
UFC 139 Odds for the Under Card
Danny Castillo (-300) vs. Shamar Bailey (+230)
Matt Brown (-145) vs. Seth Baczynski (+115)
Miguel Torres (-300) vs. Nick Pace (+230)
Gleison Tibau (-170) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (+140)
Chris Weidman (-350) vs. Tom Lawlor (+265)
Michael McDonald (-450) vs. Alex Soto (+325)
Ryan Bader (-380) vs. Jason Brilz (+290)
Thoughts: On both the under card and the main card, I think you’re going to find the most success with a careful selection of favorites rather than banking on an underdog. To wit, the three guys I have my eye on are Castillo, Torres and Tibau.
I’m well aware that a man with neither the drive nor ability to secure a finish can be a dangerous opponent, but even then, I have serious doubts about Shamar Bailey’s chances against Castillo. In the Dunham fight, Bailey seemed to completely abandon the takedown as soon as "The Kid" demonstrated the ability to stuff him. I am in no way insinuating that Castillo is anywhere near Evan Dunham’s level, but he is a solid wrestler and, since Bailey still hasn’t learned how to set up a shot with punches, he should be able to get Bailey to stand with him. And he has a definite advantage there. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put him in a parlay.
With Pace, while there was an argument to be made that he won the Ivan Menjivar fight on the strength of a late knee that left the "Pride of El Salvador" one-eyed for the last 90 seconds or so, I don’t see him finding the same success against Torres, who not only has an experience advantage bordering on the absurd, but is also taller, longer and better off his back than Menjivar. Plus, as good a grappler as Pace is, he doesn’t possess the power (Bowles) or wrestling (Benavidez, Johnson) that have been used to defeat Torres recently. Let's remember that Torres was dangerously close to taking one of Demetrious Johnson's limbs home with him, too. Three losses in five fights notwithstanding, I consider Torres a safe bet and recommend putting him in parlays.
Tibau is hideously inconsistent. I am fully aware of this fact. I’m putting money on him based on two things: his major wrestling advantage and the fact that I’d rather he didn’t win. When Tibau actually gets it in his head to take people down, there aren’t many who can stop him. And based on his fight with black belt Jim Miller, he doesn’t let his opponents’ solid ground credentials get in the way of his wrestling. This is probably the least-secure bet I’m recommending on the entire card, so be warned, but despite dos Anjos’s excellent ground game, I’m taking Tibau by virtue of being huge and because when he wins, my disappointment at dos Anjos getting smothered again will be mitigated by the warm feeling of cash in my bank account.
UFC 139 Odds for the main card
Kyle Kingsbury (-150) vs. Stephan Bonnar (+120)
Rick Story (-145) vs. Martin Kampmann (+115)
Cung Le (-150) vs. Wanderlei Silva (+120)
Urijah Faber (-250) vs. Brian Bowles (+195)
Mauricio Rua (-140) vs. Dan Henderson (+110)
Thoughts: One of the closest batches of main card fights I’ve seen in a while. Let’s take a look under the hood.
I like Kingsbury at -150. He’s got some excellent momentum going and he made a fan out of me in his fight with Fabio Maldonado. Even though I was rooting for the Brazilian, the grit "Kingsbu" showed in eating those monster body blows and getting his orbital blasted was damn impressive. Sure, Bonnar looked good against K-Sos (in a rematch of a fight he got dominated in) and Pokrajac (who is intensely mediocre), but he still got controlled by the decrepit remains of Mark Coleman and hasn’t fought in 11 months.. A straight-up bet on Kingsbury, banking on his superior wrestling to get him out of any hairy situations he should find himself in on the feet, should be nicely profitable.
I was considering putting money on Story for the same reason I did so on Tibau, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Kampmann may be one of the biggest in-cage knuckleheads in the sport, and Story may be functionally indestructible, but there are too many variables involved for me to bet on this one. I think Kampmann won both his last two fights, but he shot himself in the foot by not devouring Jake Shields on the feet when he had the chance. I’ve no doubt he’ll be able to stuff Story, but "The Horror" has demonstrated the ability to completely neutralize someone against the fence. And considering Martin’s propensity for abandoning position in favor of his guillotine, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him find himself on the bottom anyway. That said, his technical boxing is far above Story’s, and while I don’t see anything short of an errant meteor knocking Rick out in the foreseeable future, Kampmann is more than capable of picking him apart standing and maintaining range with the jab. But even then, few people snatch defeat from the jaws of victory like "The Hitman." My advice is to just leave this alone. Whatever happens, it should be a good fight, but one that should be enjoyed at a distance.
If Wanderlei Silva utilizes his size advantage, bullies a rusty Le into the clinch and works him over with his knees, this is a very winnable fight for him. Unfortunately, that means that "The Axe Murderer" has to fight smart, and if there’s one thing Wanderlei hates more than Chael Sonnen, it’s fighting smart. Plus, he hasn’t utilized his nasty clinch game in the UFC at all, choosing to instead focus on the wild striking attack that his chin can no longer support. There are a whole slew of factors working in Silva’s favor, from Le’s inevitable rust to the fact that Le’s best opponent so far has been Scott Smith, but with Silva’s chin the way it is, I can’t recommend trying to bank on them.
I love Wanderlei Silva. I still believe in Wanderlei Silva. But, I’m not putting money on him.
While I would have preferred that his line stay at the -210 or so it was a few weeks ago, I feel there’s still money to be made on Urijah Faber. Between his constant stream of title shots and his resultant failures in them, people tend to forget that he really is a very good fighter. His chokes are some of the best at 135 or 145 pounds, In fact, he’s the only man to ever submit Raphael Assuncao, the only man to ever submit Takeya Mizugaki, and the only man in the past 11 years to submit Jeff Curran. Not only that, but the man is bloody fast, has some real power in his hands, and possesses a top-notch wrestling game. Bowles definitely has the one-shot power to end it at any time, but Faber’s wrestling advantage should be too much. Plus, if you, like me, are tired of seeing Faber get title shots, why not profit from your disappointment? Parlay our butt-chinned friend.
Sorry to be flaky for a second straight week, but I’m not touching the main event this time, either. Both fighters have huge power, inconsistent cardio, vicious finishing ability, concrete chins, and a whole lot of adoration from me.
It’s going to be a wonderful fight, just not one from which to make money. I do believe Shogun is going to win, but I can’t find a sufficiently bulletproof argument to justify putting money down at -140, nor is +110 enough to get me to put aside my reservations about Henderson. Shogun is one of the best finishers in MMA and Hendo’s chin has been chipped in the past two fights, but Shogun left Rafael Cordeiro and gassed badly against Jon Jones. Shogun’s sweeps are top-notch, but so is Hendo’s top control. Hendo tends to fade as the fight goes on, but it’s impossible to tell whether "Unrelenting Murder Machine Shogun" or "Roll Over and Die After Two Rounds Shogun" will show up.
Give your wallet a reprieve and let it sit this one out.
My Best Bets for UFC 139:
- Parlay: Danny Castillo and Miguel Torres -- $38.98 to make $30.32
- Single Bet: Kyle Kingsbury -- $30 to make $20
- The Disappointment Parlay: Gleison Tibau and Urijah Faber -- $42 to make $51.39
Another great card stacked top-to-bottom with talent. There’re a whole lot of reasons to give thanks in the coming week.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC 139 results this weekend, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you've got riding on the sportsbook.
See you Saturday!