Desert Dog back again with my picks and bets for UFC 71: "Liddell vs. Jackson," which is slated for this Saturday, May 26, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I've researched these fights for the last month or so, but as a working man (yes, I do have job) I've been very busy. Therefore, my write up this time around is a bit thinner than in the past.
Nonetheless, we'll give you some solid tips to consider if you plan on betting on the fights this Memorial Day weekend.
The main card is packed with fights that could go either way, which in terms of odds, provides some great betting values.
I've listed five "smart bets" for the night, but I definitely have a couple of favorites. I've also dropped the point system from my picks (i.e. 1 point to win 1.45) and went with lines based on $100 bets — this fits the odds system better and gets rid of those pesky decimals.
It's also a little easier to understand.
So here we go ... the "smart bets" for UFC 71:
Main card picks:
Quinton Jackson +150 (Bet $100 win $150)
Josh Burkman +220 (Bet $100 to win 220)
Terry Martin +140 (Bet $100 to win $140)
Keith Jardine -550 (No action)
Kalib Starnes +200 (Bet $100 to win $200)
Preliminary card picks:
Din Thomas -350 (No action)
Thiago Silva -260 (No action)
Sean Salmon -130 (Bet $100 to win $80)
Wilson Gouveia -240 (No Action)
The best value on the entire card is Terry Martin followed closely by Quinton Jackson. Burkman and Starnes at +200 or better are decent bets. Salmon at -130 is my least favorite bet, but worth it in the end.
As always, if you are going to bet, only play with what you are willing to lose.
(Note: UFCmania.com uses odds from BetUs.com.)
Following is a more detailed breakdown for the UFC 71 smart bets above:
Chuck Liddell (-180) vs. Quinton Jackson (+150)
Plain and simple, this is Chuck's toughest competition since he faced Randy Couture.
Regardless, the "Iceman" will do what he always does: stay upright, counter and flurry when he sees an opening. I have to believe that Rampage is over his "cage jitters" and will put on his typical aggressive show. If Quinton keeps a fast pace, engages inside Chuck's strike zone, and gets control – physically and mentally – he will take this fight. I hope this doesn't go to a decision, but if it does, it could be a split decision with round-to-round swings in control.
With endless training videos, interviews and commentaries leading up to this rematch, the betting lines on this one have really tightened up. If you were looking to follow Couture's advice and bet on Jackson, the best odds are behind you now but still worth it. However, if you think Lidell is taking this one home you should be able to get a piece of him for as low as -180, but I wouldn't go above -200. Myself, I already dropped my dinero when Jackson was +200.
Prediction: Rampage via third-round round stoppage.
Karo Parisyan (-300) vs. Josh Burkman (+220)
The betting public is still in love with Karo and money continues to come in behind him.
In my opinion, the line on this fight should be much closer (-115/+135). These two solid fighters have taken all but a few of their fights to decision. It's not because they are boring fighters, it's because they're tough to finish. Neither has great knockout power, they just beat down their opponents with relentless aggression. The deciding factor in this fight could be a slight difference in attacking style, with Karo tending to counter more and Burkman attacking a bit more consistently.
Burkman could easily pull off the upset in this fight especially if it goes to decision ... and odds are it will.
It would be sweet if this turns into another Sanchez vs. Parisyan — we're due for a real war. With the current money line, the only value I see is a bet on Burkman at +190 on up.
Prediction: Burkman via decision (one hell of a decision at that).
Ivan Salaverry (-170) vs. Terry Martin (+140)
This is an extremely unique match up.
Salaverry is very reminiscent of Matt Lindland — an unassuming-looking fighter who knows how to win. He has been very inactive, however, with only one fight in 2006 and his last Octagon appearance was a loss to Nate Marquart in 2005.
Terry Martin, on the other hand, has been very active with four fights in 2006 and one so far this year. He has only two losses on his record and seven straight up knockouts ... that's some serious shit. Martin also just dropped down to the middleweight division this year and showed no loss in power during his brief fight with Jorge Rivera.
Terry's punching power will likely make its mark in this fight as well. I can't believe Terry is the dog in this fight — it is definitely the best value bet on the card.
Prediction: Martin via knockout.
Keith Jardine (-550) vs. Houston Alexander (+400)
Oh man, a replacement fight on the main card ... time to get another beer.
Not so fast.
Houston has been scratching out a fight career mostly in very small shows, making it hard to get much of an insight into his abilities. Nonetheless, he has been a very active fighter and taken several tournaments, which required up to three fights per night.
Not surprisingly, it was at one of those shows that he got the attention of UFC fight makers.
Zuffa signed Alexander to a standard three-fight contract and have expressed belief in his ability to make a splash in the division. He has an excellent Muay Thai and kickboxing coach in Mick Doyle and his record shows that's the style of fight he prefers.
Houston stated in his interview he's looking to not get hit by Jardine and has been working his leg kick counters. His ground skills are a bit of an unknown, but, of course, he claims they are solid.
Bottom line: Houston is in great shape, hungry, and as long as he doesn't crap his pants in the Octagon, he should deliver a solid performance.
Jardine's weakness is getting picked apart by fast technical standup fighters. Of course, Jardine is coming off his most impressive victory yet, knocking out Forrest Griffin. His confidence is soaring and he sees his path to a future title shot opening up.
In his mind, he's not going to let anyone stand in his way.
"The Dean of Mean" may be surprised at what a good fight Houston puts up. However, he will eventually find a way to chop through and take home the win. Unfortunately, the odds in this fight are too heavy for me to recommend a bet. I think your money will be better spent on Martin or Jackson.
Prediction: Jardine via third-round stoppage.
Chris Leben (-260) vs. Kalib Starnes (+200)
Leben has the name recognition and record to push the odds pretty strongly in his favor.
In my opinion though, this is another close fight.
Starnes has TKO'd the last man to beat Leben (2005) and has the advantage on the ground. In the stand up, Starnes is more technical but unless you throw precise bombs (ala Silva), Leben can take a hell of a shot. And, as he's said before, his reaction is to instantly strike back ... hard.
This fight could go either way.
I'd give Starnes about a 30 percent chance for a sub and a 45 percent chance if it goes to the cards. Overall, I see value in a Kalib Starnes bet at +200 or better. Odds on Leben would need to hit -150 (60 percent) before I see value on his side.
Not the strongest bet ever, but I'm putting a half point on Starnes.
Prediction: Starnes via submission.
Din Thomas (-350) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+250)
Din Thomas will overwhelm newcomer Stephens early in this fight and likely finish things off with a submission. The odds aren't providing any value for a bet here.
Prediction: Thomas via submission
Thiago Silva (-260) vs. James Irvin (+200)
Mmm ... slugfest?
That's what everyone is hoping for.
Unfortunately, Irvin's game just won't hold up when this goes to the ground. Thiago Silva is a great talent and should be able to put on a good show in the standup and take total control when he gets it to the ground.
Again, no real value with these odds.
Prediction: Silva via technical knockout.
Sean Salmon (-130) vs. Alan Belcher (+100)
I can't forget Salmon's ugly knockout loss to Rashad Evans earlier this year.
What's important is that he's past it.
Salmon has all the tools to control this fight and battle out a decision for his first UFC win. This is not a strong bet but there is a bit of value with Salmon at -125 or better.
Prediction: Salmon via decision.
Wilson Gouveia (-240) vs. Carmelo Marrero (+190)
Gouveia has the advantage in all aspects of this match up. I know Marrero beat Chieck Kongo in his last bout, but dry humping will not get it done in this fight.
The current odds offer no real value to bet on this one.
Prediction: Gouveia via submission.
That's a wrap ... best of luck. Don't forget to head over to BetUs.com for the latest lines -- the ones posted above can and will more than likely change before the fights start.
I also think BetUs.com gives a $50 free play for a $100 deposit -- not a bad deal.