Desert Dog back again with tips and "Smart Bets" for UFC 84: "Ill Will" this Saturday, May 24, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s a fight card that has volatile match up between UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn and former 155-pound skipper, Sean Sherk, going at it in the main event of the evening. In addition, two sensational light heavyweight showdowns -- Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida and Wanderlei Silva vs. Keith Jardine -- will be featured on the televised portion of the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.
Sportsbooks have been slow to roll out odds for this one; therefore, right now we're just going to focus on the three aforementioned fights.
It’s clearly solid card in terms of fantastic match ups -- all the brouhaha outside the Octagon only makes it all that much better. Now it’s time to see if it’s a solid card in terms on money-making betting possibilities.
Let’s get to it.
Here are the "Smart Bets" for UFC 84:
(Note: + = Underdog; - = Favorite)
Main card picks:
BJ Penn -280 (Bet $100 to win $36)
Lyoto Machida -210 (Bet $100 to win $48)
Keith Jardine +145 (Bet $100 to win $145)
NOTE: MMAmania.com recommends BetUS.com to place wagers (FREE $60 play with sign up). However, Bodog.com is also a good place to bet and compare odds.)
The Ortiz fight is tough to call because "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" is such a great self promoter. However, it's important to try and tune that out and focus on his most recent performances compared against those of "The Dragon."
And it that department Machida clearly gets the nod.
However, there are intangibles such as the feud with Dana White, looming free agency and desire to get back on top that could all benefit Ortiz and propel him to victory. Let's also remember pressure: This is the biggest fight to date for Machida and his boss is counting on him to win.
Therefore, I wouldn't blame anyone who takes a flier on Ortiz, considering also that it is more than likely his last fight in the Octagon. It could be sentimental pick ... just not one I'm prepared to make.
Whatever your bets are for UFC 84, make sure you look at the realistic outcomes and use solid bets to cover your bigger risks. You don’t have to bet on them all, just stick to the fighters you know and match ups that give that best probability on a return.
Now onto a more detailed breakdown of the fights for those bettors who require a little more reassurance.
Main card bouts (abbreviated):
BJ Penn (-180) vs. Sean Sherk (+210)
BJ Penn is the man and Sean Sherk, well, in my opinion, isn't!
The match up definitely makes this fight. BJ has accumulated a retarded amount of skill and now he's decided to start training some of that cardio stuff. Training with Uriah Faber and others who visit his camp in Hilo, Hawaii, will really give BJ the feel for someone who fights with a very fast pace. It can only help his cardio.
In my opinion, BJ Penn in shape has more options to win a fight than anyone else in the game (except maybe Anderson Silva). It's that simple. BJ has a nice reach advantage, and at 155 pounds, he has a size advantage in terms of leverage and mobility. He has a strength advantage in this fight, too. You may think whatever, but watch his fights with muscle strong guys like Joe Stevenson and Matt Hughes -- and even back in the day against Machida -- and you'll see how much of an advantage he can have.
Meanwhile, let's go back to Sherk's last fight, which was a long time ago. Can you really picture Sherk wrestling BJ down and maintaining his lay and pray for five rounds? Because that's his only option for a win. Sherk's reach is so ridiculously short the only way he's ever scored a real technical knockout was via ground and pound. It takes the crazy athleticism of someone like Georges St. Pierre to get BJ down and punish him there (BJ being gassed helps as well). Yes, I know Hughes beat him with ground and pound, too, but I give the injury more credit for that than Hughes.
This is a bit more of a rant than a straight analysis for this fight -- sorry, but sometimes you just have to let a little out. Here's the short and sweet version: BJ is feeling it right now and he's not going to be denied by the likes of Sherk. With the current odds I'll be laying down a max bet on BJ with a smile on my face.
Prediction: BJ Penn via submission BET NOW!
Lyoto Machida (-210) vs. Tito Ortiz (+165)
Machida may not have an endless highlight reel of knockouts, but while training out of the Black House camp with UFC champions Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira, he has developed his own unique style.
One that has kept him undefeated against some very stiff competition.
He has manage to combine his karate background with Muay Thai, wrestling, and Jiu Jitsu techniques (starting at 15) into a calm counter fighting style. "The Dragon" has an efficient style that may never be a fan favorite, but it works by forcing opponents to stray from their gameplans.
Lyoto's gameplan in this fight should look much like it has in other UFC fights. He will stay outside counter punching and throwing the occasional back kick. It is very likey that he will be taken down in the first round and see the same sort of barrage that Forrest Griffin experienced in his fight with Ortiz.
Lyoto has both the chin and the skill from his back, however, to avoid serious damage.
In the second round Tito will likely taste Lyoto's power and speed. We all know what happens when Tito gets hit -- it gets in his head. This has happened in his fights with Forrest, Liddell and Evans. You can see his style and confidence change. His shots come from too far outside and his standup becomes indecisive. If this happens early in the second round Tito will get soundly out worked and drop a decision. Although Machida has an excellent submission game it's unlikely he'll be able to put away Tito.
Tito's strengths and gameplan are the same as they've always been: get the takedown, push the guy to the fence, and rain down a barrage of brutal elbows and fists. His style has worked well except with strong counter strikers or people who could avoid his takedowns. Tito claims (again) to be totaly healthy, and while I don't doubt that he's in great shape, I haven't trusted the mental side of his game for years now. If Tito could put Machida down for the first two rounds and control him with out taking any big shots he could pull off the win, but I just don't trust him. Tito's plan is to simply over power a more technically skilled fighter and it's the perfect scenario to see Tito fall apart.
Prediction: Lyoto Machida via decision BET NOW!
Wanderlei Silva (-185) vs. Keith Jardine (+145)
Oh yeah baby ... this should be a helluva fight -- these two love to bang and put on a great show.
Wanderlei is surprisingly still the favorite in this fight. I say surprisingly because looking at their recent records and the fact that Jardine holds wins over Griffin and Liddell, it's not a stretch to say that he has some serious momentum.
And we all know that Wandi has been on a very rough downswing.
Silva has only won four of his last eight fights and he's suffered a couple of wicked knockouts in his last two fights under the Pride FC banner. His last fight with Liddell showed why he's such a popular fighter and that he has endless heart, but that may not hold up to the reach and power of the awkward Jardine.
While Silva is still using every method in the books to improve his cardio, he has also rededicated himself to solid sparring in all aspects of the game. The one aspect that could serve him best in this fight is his Muay Thai clinch of death. The clinch is where the "Axe Murderer" really earned his name. To put his gameplan into full effect he'll have to wade through Jardine's leg kicks, off angles, and power.
The one place this fight will probably not go is to the ground.
Look for more of the same from Jardine. His awkward, learchy style, thundering leg kicks and huge right hands can be the real difference makers in this one. The one loss that really seams to weigh on everyone’s mind is the knockout he suffered at the hands of Alexander. Well, I think it's safe to say that nobody, including Keith, was ready for Alexander’s style and power at that time. That fight aside Keith's weakness has been fighters with better reach and speed. Wandi will present a new style and challenge to Jardine and should be entertaining the whole way through.
In the end I have to look at which fighter has three straight losses and which won just beat Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell. This fight could go either way and to that is to say bet the odds. With Jardine still sitting as the underdog I have to throw a small bet his way.
Prediction: Keith Jardine via technical knockout BET NOW!
That about does it for this abbreviated installment of betting tips and advice. Remember to bet smart.
Betting is not for everyone. But if you want to take a stab at it head over to BetUs.com (Sign up today and get a FREE $60 play) or to compare competitive MMA lines visit Bodog.com.
Enjoy the fights and good luck. Feel free to leave predictions and other thoughts in the comments section below.