Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion will have to settle for the concrete jungle of Newark, N.J., this weekend (Sat., April 27, 2013) to prove it when he collides with former two-time No. 1 Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen in the UFC 159 main event inside the Prudential Center.
Joining them on the pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast are recently-derailed top 185-pound contenders Alan Belcher and Michael Bisping, who will look to get back on track at each others' expense after tough losses in their most recent Octagon appearances.
In addition, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10 Heavyweight winner Roy Nelson will bump bellies with his diametrical physical opposite Cheick Kongo, while Phil Davis and Vinny Magalhaes will battle for a place among the Light Heavyweight elite.
All in all, it's set to be a solid card. Follow me below for a closer look at the latest odds behind -- and best bets for -- UFC 159: "Jones vs. Sonnen:"
UFC 159 Odds For The Under Card:
Ovince St. Preux (-190) vs. Gian Villante (+165)
Leonard Garcia (-175) vs. Cody McKenzie (+155)
Sara McMann (-750) vs. Sheila Gaff (+525)
James Head (-155) vs. Nick Catone (+135)
Steven Siler (-130) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (+110)
Rustam Khabilov (-300) vs. Yancy Medeiros (+250)
Johnny Bedford (-135) vs. Bryan Caraway (+115)
Thoughts: There are several tight fights, but I see value in Villante, Head and Bedford.
Of the bets I'm suggesting, I'm least certain about this one, but I really think Villante is a stylistically-unfavorable match up for St. Preux. That's because St. Preux is certainly the stronger of the two and hits damn hard, but he was repeatedly put on his back by Gegard Mousasi, a smaller and, on paper, less accomplished wrestler than Villante. The cardio trouble Villante has had in the past and the difficulty he had with Chad Griggs make it far from a sure thing, but as far as underdog bets go, you could do a lot worse than Villante at those odds.
The thumping Mike Pyle laid on Head was one of the bigger eggs on my face last year, but I have no concept of pattern recognition. I can't even recognize the pattern of me telling you that I have no concept of pattern recognition and then losing anyway. That said, I really think Head's size and power will carry him to victory. Catone is a very skilled wrestler, but I don't see him spending enough time on top of Head to overcome the beatdown he'll suffer on the feet. Head in a parlay should score returns.
I'll admit that I'm high on Bedford, but I really do think he has an excellent chance to win this. Caraway struggled against Mitch Gagnon and Takeya Mizugaki when they put pressure on him, and if there's one thing Bedford is good at, it's putting pressure on people. Gagnon in particular was able to lay down the hurt on Caraway against the fence with impunity before he gassed. Combine this with the fact that Bryan had less than a week to prepare for this fight and you've got a recipe for hurt.
Go straight-up on Bedford.
UFC 159 Odds For The Main Card:
Jon Jones (-1100) vs. Chael Sonnen (+700)
Michael Bisping (-170) vs. Alan Belcher (+150)
Phil Davis (-335) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (+275)
Roy Nelson (-240) vs. Cheick Kongo (+200)
Jim Miller (-325) vs. Pat Healy (+265)
Thoughts: I think your best chance at making money will come from the under card, but Belcher and Healy have enough of a chance that a modicum on them wouldn't be the worst idea.
At this point in time, Bisping is about as good as he's going to get, and I'm not that impressed. He's still a sucker for the right hand and he still lacks stopping power. His wrestling game is solid and Belcher did get bulldozed off his feet by Rousimar Palhares, but he did a solid job stopping Yushin Okami's takedowns and usually only wound up on the bottom after a scramble. If he fights just a little smarter than he did against Okami, his power and technique should overcome Bisping's volume.
Again, not a sure thing, but not a terrible idea.
If you can find a better spoiler in any weight class than Healy, I'll be impressed. He's just a huge, strong, pain in the ass for pretty much anyone at 155 pounds. And he's only got one loss since 2009 and that was to Josh Thomson, who, as we learned on Saturday, is pretty damn good.
Miller is the rightful favorite and should have a huge advantage on the feet, but Healy's cinderblock head and the issues Miller has had with powerful wrestlers in the past make "Bam Bam" a decent underdog bet.
UFC 159 Best Bets:
- Single bet: Gian Villante -- Bet $20 to make $33
- Parlay: James Head and Alan Belcher -- Bet $30 to make $93.90
- Single bet: Johnny Bedford -- Bet $70 to make $51.85
- Single bet: Pat Healy -- Bet $20 to make $53
Title fight, contender bouts and plenty of opportunities for spectacular finishes.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 159 main card PPV action on fight night (Sat., April 27, 2013), which is slated to begin promptly at 10 p.m. ET. The latest fight-by-fight updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 6 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX Channel.