Like many of you, my head still spins a little when I think about what the 170-pound division looks like now. Lucky for us there aren't any vital welterweight fights to think about this weekend.
There are, however, some important heavyweight implications, including the possibility that Andrei Arlovski might earn another title shot with a win over Fabricio Werdum (no small feat).
All in all, there are some exciting match ups and several of them could easily go either way, which is great in terms of betting because the tight odds mean much smaller amounts of exposure on any given bet.
So with that, let's get to the smart bets and UFC 70 betting analysis.
Here are the Smart Bets for UFC 70 (Odds courtesy of BetUs.com):
Mirko Cro Cop -500: 5 points to win 1 (Bet Now!)
Andrei Arlovski -115: 1.15 points to win 1 (Bet Now!)
Ryoto Machida -350: 3.5 points to win 1 (Bet Now!)
Michael Bisping -600: No Action unless odds hit -350 (Bet Now!)
Chieck Kongo +190: 1 point to win 1.9 (Bet Now!)
Preliminary Card Picks (few bets):
Dennis Siver -140: No action (Bet Now!)
Alessio Sakara -170: No action (Bet Now!)
Matt Grice +105: 0.5 points to win 0.525 (Bet Now!)
Junior Assuncao -170: No Action (Bet Now!)
Edilberto Crocota -240: 1.2 point to win 0.5 (Bet Now!)
As always, if you are going to bet only play with what you are willing to lose.
The best values on this card are Cro Cop at or below -500 and Chieck Kongo at +170 or better. The odds have been moving a lot at all of the sportsbooks because of influxes of bets from folks across the pond. The lines on Arlovski and Werdum have actually flipped several times, as well as a couple of the undercard fights.
It's been quite a while since we've had this many close fights on one card. Hopefully, the fights live up to the odds.
Here's a more detailed look at the UFC betting action:
Mirko Cro Cop (-500) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (+350)
There's not much need for me to rehash Mirko's record or even his fighting style. Plain and simple, he's one of the best heavyweights in the world. So the question is will this fight go any differently than the Cro Cop-Eddie Sanchez fight? Well ... yes and no. Gonzaga is not crazy enough to believe he'll walk in there and knockout Mirko, but he will push the action to get into an advantageous position on the ground. Things will change drastically when he feels a couple of those cannonballs Mirko has hiding under his gloves. After which point I think you will see a defensive Gonzaga grasping at straws and hoping to survive much like Sanchez did. The only man to submit Mirko was "Big Nog" back in 2003. And, I don't think any of us would consider Gabriel that class of fighter.
This one is only a matter of time — Cro Cop by decapitation. I'd give Mirko a 90 percent chance to win this fight. Therefore, as long as the odds stay at or below -500, there is enough value for a straight bet.
Andrei Arlovski (-115) vs. Fabricio Werdum (-115)
In my opinion this will be the best fight on the UFC 70 card; two proven top level fighters with distinctive differences in style. The odds say it all — this one can go either way.
Fabricio Werdum is a former training partner of Mirko Cro Cop and has fought primarily in PRIDE FC. His strength is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but his standup is no joke. The well-rounded Werdum has an impressive list of victims. The two fights that relate best to this matchup are his recent wins over Aleksander Emilianeko and Alistair Overeem — both are excellent "Sambo/kickboxing" style strikers with solid ground games. His two losses were both decisions — one against "Big Nog" and one against Sergei Kharitonov. However, these losses were from excellent ground defenses and slightly better stand up games.
Of course, Andrei Arlovski is the former UFC heavyweight champion and is considered by many one of the best strikers in the sport. His power and speed are frightening; unfortunately, recent memories of "The Pitbull" are marred by those fights against Tim Sylvia. His last fight against Marcio Cruz was a reminder of his athleticism and power. Andrei has never been submitted — all his losses have come by way of technical knockout or decision. He would prefer every fight to be spent in the middle of the ring. He rarely looks for the takedown and typically if he's on the ground it's to finish off someone he's knocked down. This will be his most well rounded opponent to date and definitely the best he's seen on the ground.
Both fighters are 6'4" and 240ish.
I don't see any edge for either in strength. In the standup, Andrei will eventually find an opening and finish. And on the ground, Werdum will eventually find an opening and finish. If it goes to a decision, stand-up fighters tend to have an edge. I'm going with Arlovski to escape a few close calls and then finish it off with a late second-round knockout.
However, I am pleased to see Ryoto on the main stage. The unbeaten Machida is best known for knocking out Rich Franklin. But, he's also defeated Stephan Bonnar and BJ Penn in K-1 competition. His most recent win over Sam Hoger at UFC 67 didn't set off any bells and whistles, but if you've seen any of his other fights the skill and power are quickly evident. His oft-forgotten kicks will be the key in this fight.
David Heath comes in with a run-of-the-mill unbeaten record ... seems like no one has ever lost around here.
Heath is a powerful fireplug who said he loves to just hit people, but I did see him pull a flying armbar in a little highlight reel. That ain't going to fly against Machida. His submission wins over Sean Salmon and Cory Walmsley showed that he actually has a very respectable ground game. His ground game will be his best chance for success — even if that chance is slim.
In this fight, Ryoto is simply going to have too much for Heath. Both these guys can take a shot and have enough heart to make this an entertaining battle. Ryoto wants to move higher in the 205 ranks and I see him ending this one late but emphatically. The odds here are good enough for a straight bet.
Michael Bisping (-600) vs. Elvis Sinosic (+450)
This bout is seen by most as an opportunity for the very popular Bisping to put on a great show and get a solid win in front of his home crowd. His opponent, Elvis Sinosic (8-9-2), obviously has a losing record. However, his list of opponents is impressive, including Frank Shamrock, Jeremy Horn, Tito Ortiz, Evan Tanner, Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Forrest Griffin and Sakara. The only problem with the list of big name opponents is that Elvis has a big "L" next to all but one of them. Elvis is a well rounded fighter, grounded in jiu-jitsu, but he's just plain beat down.
Unless the odds hit +800 to +1000, I would avoid betting on him.
Michael "The Count" Bisping (13-0) has obvious talent in both the stand-up and on the ground. He has not faced a high-level UFC fighter yet, but his popularity on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), as well as his recent performance at UFC 66 has folks holding him with high expectations. In this particular match up, I see Bisping having an edge in all positions, especially on the feet. I'd give Bisping an 80 percent chance to win, but with his odds sitting around -525 (84 percent probability) he's overpriced for a straight bet.
Bisping by technical knockout, but no bet unless his odds hit -350.
Assuerio Silva (-240) vs. Cheick Kongo (+190)
I like this fight — their last showings in the UFC were not-so stellar performances, but they are both bad asses.
Assuerio is a true Vale Tudo fighter, with a wide array of weapons. His wins are spread between technical knockouts and submissions. His weakness is his patience, with losses coming in fights where he stalked his opponent without enough aggression to control the bout. One exception was his quick loss to Brandon Vera — his aggression resulted in a mistake and guillotine in that one. Silva's best option in this fight will be superior ground control, with ground-and-pound until he can find submission.
Kongo reminds me of a filled-out version of Anderson Silva (minus the black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu). Kongo is a sick striker, with speed and power that should strike fear into any adversary. He's 9-3 in MMA, but tack on 19-1 in Muay Thai fighting with 18 knockouts, for a true measure of how dangerous the Frenchman is. His most recent loss in the UFC was a split-decision to Carmelo Marrero. Although I think he dominated in that fight, it showed that there are still questions about how he'll handle truely proficient ground fighters.
I think the oddsmakers have this one wrong. The lines here should be even and I think Kongo is going to win this one outright. Assuerio will put up another great effort, but he's going to get caught standing. This is my dog pick for the main card and a great value bet all the way down to +170.
Dennis Siver (-140) vs. Jess Liaudin (+110)
Both fighters are dynamic in their standup and have solid ground games. Siver's Judo will provide a slight edge in the clinch and with takedowns. Once this hits the ground Liaudin is looking submission all the way. However,ut in this fight he's evenly matched on the ground. In the standup, Liaudin will throw in a few of his favorite spinning backfists to keep the fight exciting, but Siver should be able to out work Jess and battle his way to the decision.
Alessio Sakara (-170) vs. Victor Valimaki (+140)
Sakara's last two performances exposed a couple of weaknesses that a top level fighter can take advantage of. He can't hang with world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu and even though he outboxed Drew McFedries, he can be taken out by powerful counter punching. Victor does not have the tools to take advantage of Sakara's weak spots. Instead, he will be physically dominated by the faster, larger and more polished Alessio. My pick is Sakara by technical knockout.
Terry Etim (-125) vs. Matt Grice (+105)
Grice is yet another fighter sporting an unbeaten record (9-0), albeit in small promotions. His competitive background was founded as an Oklahoma wrestler, but that path was blocked years ago because of a major accident that required more surgeries than anyone should have to endure. He has since recovered and is realizing his dream as an up and coming MMA fighter. His game is pretty well rounded, but his strength is definitely takedowns and control.
Terry Etim has – big shocker – also boasts a perfect record (7-0). All but one of his wins has come by way of submission. They say styles make fights and this is a classic example: aggressive wrestler vs. patient submission specialist. Often, the wrestler's aggression will play right into the hands of a proficient jiu-jitsu practitioner. Therefore, Etim has a slight edge in this fight with his submission skills, but I see this battle going to the judges and without a finish Grice's aggression and takedowns will earn him enough points for the win.
Junior Assuncao (-170) vs. David Lee (+140)
This fight is all about a couple of lightweights who love to battle.
Junior's favorite fight moment was having Dustin Hazelton break his cheek, as well as his arm, and in return for the favor he knocked-out Dustin en route to a win. David Lee's favorite moment is apparently his near miss flying knee and near miss left hook against Tyson Griffin at UFC 63. Lee later went to sleep via rear naked choke.
The unassuming Lee is looking to follow Pelligrino's example and submit Junior. Lee will be physically outmatched in this fight, but then again, he always is. Lee simply finds a way to wade through the aggression of others, stifling their attacks and finding his own openings. This one is too close for me to call, but I don't see it going to the judges.
Paul Taylor (+190) vs. Edilberto Crocota (-240)
Edilberto "Crocota" Oliveira — a native of Bahia — is another rising student from the famed Brazilian Nogueira brothers. Edilberto and his boxing coach, Luiz Dorea, believe it's training that makes fighters great. The "Alligators" unbeaten record may be proof that he's on the right track, enough so that the UFC has given him a three-fight contract. Although he's seen as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter, he's finished his fights with an even mix of T(KO)s and submissions.
We probably won't see this fight on the airwaves, but I think we'll see him in the near future.
Taylor is a decent fighter with a well rounded record and only one loss. He has beaten Jess Laudin (also on this card), but he's yet to face an opponent with the strength and talent of Crocota. Edilberto will look to finish this fight standing but if he feels he's not getting the job done, he will take it to the ground where he will have an even bigger advantage.