Big. Huge. Large. Enormous. Grrrrrr ...
All those words and more can be used to describe the UFC 141 main event, which will feature more than 500 pounds of angry violence when Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem takes on former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Brock Lesnar for first crack at newly-minted heavyweight kingpin, Junior dos Santos.
In addition, resurgent Nate Diaz and skyrocketing Donald Cerrone will square off in an attempt to break into the lightweight elite, while Jon Fitch will return to action against hard-hitting contender Johny Hendricks in a wrestlers’ clash with potential title implications on the line.
All in all, it's queued up to be a fine night (Fri., Dec. 30, 2011) of decking the halls of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. And where there’s quality violence, there’s quality money to be made.
Join us after the break for an in-depth look at the odds behind UFC 141: "Lesnar vs. Overeem" as we examine the betting lines for this Friday's myriad match ups:
UFC 141 Odds for the Under Card (courtesy of Bovada.lv, formerly Bodog):
Diego Nunes (-325) vs. Manny Gamburyan (+250)
Matt Riddle (-130) vs. Luis Ramos (EVEN)
Jacob Volkmann (-265) vs. Efrain Escudero (+205)
Dong Hyun Kim (-400) vs. Sean Pierson (+300)
Danny Castillo (-200) vs. Anthony Njokuani (+160)
Ross Pearson (-260) vs. Junior Assuncao (+200)
Quick thoughts: Again, I believe your best chance of a profit lies with the favorites here. In fact, the only underdog who strikes me as having odds not reflective of his chances at an upset is Luis Ramos, whose massive experience advantage and grappling acumen warrant a bet of at least moderate size. Anthony Njokuani, who I firmly believe is the best striker at 155 pounds, may also be worth your while, but his ground game remains a massive question mark, especially since we haven't seen it since he was submitted by Shane Roller. Of the favorites, Nunes, Volkmann and Pearson seem the best options.
Nunes is a fairly big favorite, but he strikes me as such a terrible match up for Gamburyan that he's still prime parlay material. Gamburyan's two main weapons -- his grappling and power -- can both be negated by "The Gun's" kicking game, as demonstrated against Mike Brown. Gamburyan's punches are too sloppy for him to land with any regularity and he's going to have considerable trouble finding his way into the clinch. To me, it just looks like anything Gamburyan does well, Nunes can shut down.
Yes, Volkmann's stand up is practically nonexistent, but his wrestling advantage is so significant in this case that said stand up will even become a factor. Escudero is most certainly a solid fighter, but he hasn't done enough to convince me that "Christmas" can't put him on his back consistently or that Escudero can submit or sweep him once he gets there. Add that to the fact that "Hecho en Mexico" took the fight on short notice and you have a solid parlay stuffer in your stocking.
I have some reservations about Pearson stemming from the fact that this is his first time at featherweight; however, there seems to be a large enough gap in their skill levels to make him a worthwhile bet nonetheless. I simply don't see Assuncao winning anywhere it goes. Put some down on the Brit.
UFC 141 Odds for the Main Card:
Nam Phan (-230) vs. Jim Hettes (+180)
Alexander Gustafsson (-325) vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (+250)
Jon Fitch (-225) vs. Johny Hendricks (+175)
Donald Cerrone (-280) vs. Nate Diaz (+220)
Alistair Overeem (-145) vs. Brock Lesnar (+115)
Quick thoughts: Interesting collection of fights. Let's break them down one-by-one.
Hettes has a solid grappling background, but seemed disconcertingly sloppy against Alex Caceres in his UFC debut. While he wound up winning the fight, that performance -- Octagon Jitters or not -- makes Phan's odds quite tempting. That said, I just have a bad feeling about this one. I can't think of any logical explanation, but I just think it's wise to avoid putting too much down on Phan.
I'm a big fan of "The Janitor," but he just doesn't seem to present any stylistic difficulties that Gustafsson didn't already overcome against Hamill. Matyushenko's stand up is definitely (still) improving at 40 years old, but there's a fairly significant speed difference between his strikes and those of "The Mauler." In addition, Gustafsson has a four-inch height advantage and the straight punches necessary to make full use of it. The Swede has massive potential, and despite the rather unsavory odds, still seems to me a safe investment. Put him in a parlay and enjoy the fireworks.
Hendricks has a legitimate shot at an upset here -- the last time Fitch faced someone with comparable wrestling to Hendricks (Mike Pierce), he was hurt badly late in the fight. In addition, Hendricks packs some serious power in that left hand of his. That said, however, unless the latter's odds get closer to the +225 to +250 range, "Unanimous Fitch" still seems like the smarter bet. Hendricks has faced three men with comparable wrestling pedigrees to him thus far in the UFC: Charlie Brenneman, Rick Story and Mike Pierce. While he flattened Brenneman, in none of those fights did he establish the sort of wrestling dominance needed to handle someone like Fitch. And as hard as Hendricks hits, his wild style should open him up to takedowns. Put some money down on Fitch unless, like I mentioned above, Hendricks' odds get a little better before fight night.
I probably sound like a broken record here, but Donald Cerrone seems tailor-made to handle Nate Diaz. He's got the better kicking game of the two and, most importantly, has developed a very good wrestling game that, while probably insufficient against top-tier takedown artists like Gray Maynard, is more than enough to let him dictate where the fight goes. Further, unlike Takanori Gomi, Cerrone has the grappling acumen to avoid getting caught in a submission should things go south on the feet. Therefore, it wouldn't be a bad idea to lay some scratch on "Cowboy."**
**For those of you who believe my judgment may be clouded by my well-documented hatred of all things Diaz, rest assured that I also hate all things Cerrone and am therefore viewing this from a relatively neutral position.**
Speaking of broken records, don't bet on the main event. While I believe Lesnar should win the fight, there are, once again, simply too many questions for me to advocate putting money on either competitor. Much has been made of Lesnar's improved striking, but he's been out for more than one year with an illness and we still have no idea how he will react when clocked in the face. Similarly, Overeem certainly hits hard enough to send Lesanr into panic mode, but he also demonstrated absolutely abysmal cardio against Fabricio Werdum, not to mention an inability to let his hands go for fear of the takedown.
I literally have no idea how this fight will pan out. All I know is that Lesnar's chances of winning improve exponentially the longer the fight goes. That said, I can't make any prognostication accurate enough to warrant risking money. Leave this one alone.
UFC 141 Best Bets:
- Parlay: Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Fitch -- $55.83 to make $55.83
- Single Bet: Luis Ramos -- $20 to make $21
- Parlay: Diego Nunes and Jacob Volkmann -- $54 to make $41.63
- Parlay: Jon Fitch and Donald Cerrone -- $52 to make $50
Prepare yourselves for intense "pumpitude," Maniacs. This is one muscular main event ... and the rest of the UFC 141 fight card isn't too shabby, either.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC 141 results this Friday, 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 then, Maniacs!