Moderately-Wacky Money: A Gambler's Look at UFC 135

It’s a good time to be an MMA fan.


This Saturday, UFC 135, the second in a four-week string of UFC events, will bring a light-heavyweight title fight and a bevy of intriguing matchups to Denver, Colorado.


Not only excitement, but opportunity awaits those willing to reach for it. Let’s take a look at where to put your hard-earned money to fatten it up a bit.


Included are the odds and lines for every fight. Let’s get to it.

Just as a reminder, all of these bets come with three rules all MMA gamblers should follow.


Rule One: Never bet on a fight unless you have seen both fighters in action.

Rule Two: Bet only on the winner. Do not bet on length/method of victory.

Rule Three: No panic bets.


Now that that’s over with, let’s examine Saturday’s matchups. The lines provided are those on as of this morning; as always, BestFightOdds gives a side-by-side comparison of various sites’ odds.



James Te-Huna (-155) vs. Ricardo Romero (+125)

Eddie Yagin (-145) vs. Junior Assuncao (+115)

Takeya Mizugaki (-200) vs. Cole Escovedo (+160)

Tim Boetsch (-160) vs. Nick Ring (+130)

Tony Ferguson (-350) vs. Aaron Riley (+275)


Thoughts: Bit of a sparse undercard compared with last week’s, but understandable considering the injury woes. Of the ten fighters, I see the most value in Te-Huna, Mizugaki, and Boetsch.


As I said in my breakdown of the fight, the only aspects of Romero’s game that have impressed me are his resilience and drive. Aside from catching a gassed Petruzelli in that straight armbar, he has essentially spent the entirety of his UFC debut getting beaten in cringe-worthy fashion. Te-Huna isn’t as technical or varied as Petruzelli on his feet, but he possesses some seriously nasty power and speed in those hands of his, plus a serviceable wrestling game to back it up. I expect Romero to run headlong into a Te-Huna uppercut somewhere in the early going, so -160 is a wonderful bargain.


Mizugaki plateaued after his fight with Torres, but he hasn’t been losing to bad opposition, and in general, has held his own on the feet against them. Powerful wrestlers are his kryptonite, but Escovedo doesn’t fall into that category. Mizugaki is the faster of the two and has proven almost impossible to finish. Stick him in a parlay.


Perhaps the Fukuda debacle was due to “Ring” rust, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Ring doesn’t have much to offer Boetsch. His wrestling is alright and his subs are good, but so were Kendall Grove’s, and he didn’t faze “The Barbarian” at any point. Grove isn’t a great barometer, but Boetsch really did look good in that fight, and I think that he was legitimately fighting above his proper weight class during his 205 days. Big wrestlers have beaten him in the past; Hamill, Matyushenko, and Davis all fit into this archetype. Nick Ring does not, and for that reason, I think we’re going to see another “TUF” guy bite the dust.


Main Card

Travis Browne (-400) vs. Rob Broughton (+300)

Ben Rothwell (-340) vs. Mark Hunt (+260)

Nate Diaz (-270) vs. Takanori Gomi (+210)

Josh Koscheck (-550) vs. Matt Hughes (+375)

Jon Jones (-500) vs. Quinton Jackson (+350)


Thoughts: Lot of apparent mismatches here; I’m still pretty ticked that KID and Damacio got hurt, but whattaya gonna do? Anyway, let’s look at them one at a time.


I haven’t had the chance to see Broughton’s sole UFC fight (a submission of fellow debutant Vinicius “Spartan” Kappke de Quieroz, who tested positive for PEDs after the event), but he’s got a few things going against him:


1.      He’s fighting Travis Browne.

2.      He hasn’t fought since UFC 120.

3.      He’s fighting Travis Browne.


Browne is a sizeable favorite for a reason, and I don’t think he’ll have much trouble. That said, making a recommendation on this fight would be breaking Rule One, so I’m not putting anything down on it.


I honestly expected Rothwell to be at -400 or worse; sure, he hasn’t fought in a year, and sure, he hasn’t exactly impressed in the UFC, but if I had to bet my life on one fight on this card, it would be this one. Not only is he far more well-rounded than Hunt (not to mention WAY taller), but Hunt may not even have a puncher’s chance here. The Samoan hits like a truck, but Rothwell has one of the most underrated chins in the game. Sure, Arlovski did wind up finishing him with strikes, but it is absurd how many it took, and Rothwell even shrugged off a jumping knee with no ill effects.


And that’s not even mentioning the shock-and-awe campaign Cain dropped on his face.


I love Hunt and would literally just start dancing with joy if he flattened Rothwell, but I will be flabbergasted if Rothwell doesn’t get a takedown and submission within the first five minutes.


If you’ve been obsessively following my posting, that’s very creepy and I would like you to stop. Also, you may have noticed that I’ve spent the last couple days telling everyone on every site that Takanori Gomi is going to defeat Nate Diaz. Considering I’ve pretty much put my entire reputation on the line for this fight (not to mention seventy dollars), I might as well go into further detail.


Nate Diaz is 3-5 in his last eight fights. One of those wins was over a notoriously chinny fighter who came in out of shape (Rory Markham) and another, over Melvin Guillard, was largely due to Melvin stupidly taking Nate down when he was winning handily on the feet. Plus, this is his first lightweight fight in over a year, and he bulked up for welterweight; he’s always in good shape, but there’s no telling whether he’ll be affected by the weight cut


In addition, he got legitimately dominated by MacDonald; the third round of that fight looked like an eighth-grader taking on a mouthy third-grader behind the cafeteria after lunch. Nate’s lost before, but not that definitively since Franca armbarred him.


Gomi hasn’t exactly been on a hot streak himself, but he still has colossal power and an underrated wrestling pedigree. Nate Diaz is not a defensive virtuoso by any stretch of the imagination; he gets dropped with surprising regularity.


Yes, Gomi got gogo’d by Nick, but he also broke Nick’s face beforehand. There aren’t many human beings that could take a punch like that and stay conscious, and I don’t think Nate is one of them. Especially at +210, it just seems logical to me to put dough down on Gomi.


If you’re going to bet on the Koscheck-Hughes fight, go with the latter. Koscheck is the harder puncher, but probably about equal on a technical level. Nobody’s outwrestled Hughes since GSP, so there’s no telling how the two will match up, though Koscheck will probably have an advantage there. That said, Koscheck hasn’t fought in almost a year, and seems to have been at least partially crushed mentally by GSP handling him so easily. I’m not telling you to bet big on Hughes, but it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to lay ten or twenty down.


The lines for Jones-Rampage aren’t quite as ridiculous as they were a few days ago (-700 for Jones), but I don’t really see a bargain in there. Rampage has a legendarily tough chin and has gone five hard rounds before, but Bones has a more varied offense, superior wrestling, and plenty of tools to keep Rampage at arm’s length. Rampage is certainly capable of winning this fight if he can effectively close the distance, but I have too many questions about his ability to do so to put any money on it.


My Current Bets:

Parlay: Tim Boetsch and Takeya Mizugaki-$36 to make $50.67

Parlay: James Te-Huna and Ben Rothwell-$45 to make $50.81

Single Bet: Takanori Gomi-$70 to make $151.10 (Note: I made two separate bets, one early in the week at +190 and one recently at +210)


It’s gonna be a good weekend. Enjoy it, and remember to never bet more than you’re willing to lose.

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