Desert Dog back for a look at -- and to offer up some betting tips -- for UFC 73: "Stacked" this Saturday, July 7, at the the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California.
There are some serious match ups on the card, which not surprisingly, translates to tight wager lines. I'll try and shed some light on these bouts, as well as provide some tips on how to cash-in on the action.
Here are the "Smart Bets" for UFC 73:
Main card picks:
Anderson Silva -165 (Bet $100 to win $60.61)
Antonio Nogueira -700 (No action)
Rashad Evans +105 (Bet $100 to win $105)
Hermes Franca +210 (Bet $100 to win $210)
Kenny Florian -300 (No action)
Alvin Robinson +220 (Bet $100 on Alvin if the line hits +400 to win $400)
Preliminary card picks:
Chris Lytle -450 (No action)
Frankie Edgar -280 (No action)
Jorge Gurgel -260 (No action)
Stephan Bonnar -500 (Bet $100 to win $20)
The best value on this card is Hermes Franca at +225. Evans is also a fine bet at +115 or better. Bonnar -- who is making his return after a nine-month layoff -- has some value as a chalk bet at -300 or better -- the risk may not be worth reward, however, if this line continues to hover around -500.
In addition, Robinson deserves serious consideration as an underdog bet if his odds hit +400 -- he would be very undervalued at that price. Now at +220, this line has tightened up since the early odds were revealed ... most likely because Robinson poses a significant threat to topple "KenFlo."
Let's move on to some more detailed analysis. Before we go any further, however, it's time for the usual disclaimer:
As always — if you are going to bet — only play with what you are willing to lose.
Now onto a more detailed breakdown of the fights for those bettors who require a little more reassurance:
Anderson Silva (-165) vs. Nathan Marquardt (+135)
As far as match ups are concerned, this is a tight one. Both fighters have the ability to finish the other standing and on the ground.
Silva is as dangerous as they come at 185 pounds. His speed, accurate striking, as well as knees and kicks that seemingly come from all angles, tend to always land with bad intentions. "The Spider's" list of victims demonstrate that he can also handle people on the ground and from his back. His weakest point is his takedown defense. But once he's down, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt kicks in with those spider limbs looking for an opening.
Marquardt is just as seasoned – if not more – than Silva. He is also perhaps the most powerful fighter Silva has faced to date. His speed and accuracy aren't quite up to Silva's, but he definitely has greater power. For Marquardt to be successful in the stand up he's going to have to move inside of Silva's long angular strikes. An even better place for Nate would be putting Anderson on his back and overpowering him. Marquardt may not be up to Silva's level in jiu-jitsu, but he's no slouch and should be able to avoid being submitted.
This fight will likely end in a technical knockout stoppage and my gut says it will be Anderson Silva. Typically when a fight is this close I go with the more favorable odds, but I see the winning fire in Anderson's eyes.
Prediction: Silva via technical knockout
Antonio Nogueira (-700) vs. Heath Herring (+500)
The odds paint an ugly picture for Herring in this third meeting -- the first of which ended in a decision and the second via submission.
So is there any difference in store for the third?
The only difference I see is the cage. If Herring can pull a little Gonzaga magic out of his ass he might pull off a ridiculous upset ... but that's just not going to happen this weekend.
No matter how good the odds look stay away from this one.
Prediction: Nogueira via submission
Tito Ortiz (-135) vs. Rashad Evans (+105)
Tito Ortiz is quickly getting pegged as a one dimensional ground-and-pound specialist who likes to complain much more than he likes to get hit. Okay, maybe I'm the one pegging him. Tito in his day brought the sport to a new level, but he hasn't changed his game in 10 years. Yes, he has great conditioning and Yes, if he gets you stacked into the fence he's a machine.
So all the well-prepared Rashad has to do is use his better wrestling skills to nullify Tito's takedowns, get on his bike and run circles around him while peppering him with punches and the occasional head kick in hopes of reliving his Salmon highlight. By the third round his confidence will be so high he will take Tito to the ground go for a ground and pound finish of his own.
I don't think Evans will finish Tito, but I do think the odds are in our favor for a bet on "Sugar."
Prediction: Evans via unanimous decision
Sean Sherk (-280) vs. Hermes Franca (+210)
This should be the fight of the night.
The lightweight division has been under serious construction for the last year and now we will have a spectacular championship fight to top it all off.
After months away from the game rehabbing a shoulder injury, many new fans are unaware of who Sean Sherk really is. With a gaudy record (31-2) -- with his only losses to Matt Hughes and George St. Pierre -- the answer is straight forward.
Sherk has fought in many shows and built a crisp and powerful style. His reach has kept him from being a major stand up threat, but when he gets it to the ground the muscle shark's power comes through like a jack hammer. Looking at his resume you'll see that he is not a one-trick pony with most of his wins coming via submission. The downside for Sherk -- and this nearly impossible to gauge -- is the potential ring rust after being out for nearly one year.
Hermes Franca has been on a tear and earned this title shot with his impressive technical knockout finish of the extremely tough Spencer Fisher. Much like Sherk, Hermes pushes a relentless pace. In this fight he will have two distinct advantages: (1) reach, and (2) his jiu-jitsu is bad-ass. On the ground this guy knows how to finish from all positions.
Oh baby this will be sweet ... endless exchanges, takedowns, bleeding, submission attempts and repeat. With five rounds to go this should be a war of attrition and as the two tire I think Franca will pull away and find a way to finish. I really don't have a call on the exact method (technical knockout or submission) but Hermes is my straight pick and way to good of a value to pass up at these odds.
Prediction: Franca finds a way to win
Kenny Florian (-300) vs. Alvin Robinson (+220)
Ah that Joe Silva. He is always looking to showcase new talent and create very interesting match ups while doing it.
Robinson is new to the UFC but made a real impression on Silva.With all of his wins coming by way of submission, who better to be tested against than the technician Kenny Florian? Consider Robinson the UFC 73 version Houston Alexander: No one is expecting much, but this guy can certainly shock the fans.
The question is, however, how will Robinson deal with Kenny's greatly improved stand up and those vicious leg kicks?
From what I've seen (Robinson highlight video) takedowns and submissions are his greatest strength and his hands are his biggest weakness -- he's definitely an arm puncher. But with such an aggressive style it will be a solid fight and Florian will be in for a serious test.
I have to give this one to the well rounded Florian, but if the odds get over +400, I couldn't pass up the value.
Prediction: Florian via decision
Chris Lytle (-450) vs. Jason Gilliam(+325)
For Lytle, perhaps the third opponent is the charm, right?
Gilliam is stepping up from lightweight to take this short notice fight. Although it's good to see someone willing to take any fight, this is not a great choice for Gilliam.
Lytle is in for a good workout and an easy win. It's unfortunate that he won't have this chance to show his skills in a real battle, but shit happens. Unfortunately, the odds are too thick to give us any value.
Prediction: Lytle via submission
Frankie Edgar (-280) vs. Mark Bocek (+210)
Edgar made an impressive UFC debut against Tyson Griffin, winning a hard-fought decision. He's showed that he can handle submission specialists like Bocek in previous fights against Jason Miller and Deividas. His game is very well round and athletic, but he hasn't shown a consistent ability to finish his opponents.
Bocek is a young fighter making his first showing in the UFC. He's won his first four fights mostly in the King Of The Cage (KOTC) show and he's got an impressive submission game.
Edgar should be able to defend the submission and take this fight his solid aggression and decent stand up -- even if he is only 5'6". No value for a bet here.
Prediction: Edgar via decision
Jorge Gurgel (-260) vs. Diego Saraiva (+200)
If this was jiu-jitsu match it would be interesting. Fortunately for us, these two get to punch each other in the face, too.
I'll keep this brief: Gurgel has far too many tools in the shed to drop this fight.
Prediction: Gurgel via submission
Stephan Bonnar (-500) vs. Mike Nickels (+350)
I'm not the biggest Bonnar fan in the world but if you can get your hands on odds of -300 or better this is an easy "bridge jumper" bet. Right now, this doesn't seem possible but watch this line leading up to fight night.
I know Nickels won his last two fights convincingly, but in my opinion, he is not a UFC caliber fighter and will be seriously outclassed in this bout.
Prediction: Bonnar via technical knockout.
That about does it for this installment of betting tips and advice. UFC 73 is a fantastic card that does offer some intriguing betting options.
Remember to bet smart.
Enjoy the fights and good luck.