Desert Dog back with the second installment of tips and "Smart Bets" for this Saturday, July 19; however, this time we'll cover Affliction: "Banned" at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
The first thing that struck me about this card is how many big name heavyweights it holds. This is something that’s really been lacking in the UFC of late and I’m looking forward to the show.
Secondly, many fights on this card feature 4 to 1 favorites. That can make for some sizeable risks if you like the favorites or you can bundle your picks into parlays to limit any potential for loss.
Regardless, the big spreads mean that there is money to be made for those mixed martial arts fans who like to spice up the action that much more on fight night by laying down some cheddar.
Here are the "Smart Bets" for "Banned:"
(Note: + = Underdog; - = Favorite)
Main card picks:
Fedor Emelianenko -400 (Bet $100 to win $25)
Josh Barnett -400 (Bet $100 to win $25)
Andrei Arlovski -300 (Bet $200 to win $66.66)
Mike Whitehead +200 (Bet $50 to win $100)
Aleksander Emelianenko -350 (Bet $100 to win $28.57)
Matt Lindland -450 (No Bet)
Three-fight parlay (Fedor, Barnett, Aleksander) +101 (Bet $100 to win $101)
Remember the parlay bet is intended to be used instead of three separate bets.
Arlovski is the most solid bet on the card and I would use it to cover either a parlay or a bet on Whitehead. Whatever your bets are for Affliction, make sure you look at the realistic outcomes and remember you don’t have to bet on them all ... just stick to the fighters you know and match ups that give that best probability to make some dough.
Now onto a more detailed breakdown of the fights for those bettors who require a little more reassurance.
Fedor Emelianenko (-400) vs. Tim Sylvia (+300)
Fedor Emelianenko (27-1) was the last Pride heavyweight champion and is widely regarded as the most dominant fighter in MMA. Emelianenko has not lost a fight since early 2000. It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen the Russian Cyborg in action against a serious competitor, however, and many people wonder if the Fedor of old will show up.
His typical style is a fast combination to get into the clinch, take the opponent down and pound away or secure a submission. His Sambo fighting background lends itself to quick sweeps leading into great submissions. His hands are nothing to be trifled with, either.
Fedor’s weakness I suppose has been his propensity to get cut and his occasional decision to coast when he’s fighting off his back. With such fast submissions from his back he's been guilty in the past of hanging out a bit too much. And if he were to not finish a fight he could end up dropping a decision spending too much time in that position.
That said Tim Sylvia is not the guy who’s going to get Fedor on his back.
Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia (24-4) still trains as a Militech fighter. He has been the UFC heavyweight champion twice and absolutely loves having a belt around his waste. Although he dropped two of his last three fights, I’d have to say his loss to Nogueira was his best looking performance in some time. It’s exactly the tactic he’ll need to employ with Fedor, staying outside cracking away with big jabs and quick combinations and avoiding the takedowns.
There’s no big secret to this fight: Tim will brawl and sprawl as usual and if he connects he can put any one to sleep ... even "The Last Russian Emperor." Fedor will stalk and circle with a style that’s a mix of Couture and Nogueira, looking to chop his way in and topple the tree. The difference is Fedor has proven that he can use his style to beat everyone, while Tim has been hit or miss.
Fedor wins this fight three out of four times, which translates to the odds being pretty close to correct. I’m placing a standard size be on Fedor, but if Tim’s odds get above +350 it’s worth a serious thought.
Prediction: Fedor via submission (Bet: $100 to win 26.67)
Josh Barnett (-400) vs. Pedro Rizzo (+300)
Josh "The Babyfaced Assassin" Barnett (22-5) is yet another former UFC heavyweight champion and is the current Pancrase open-weight champion. His most recent victories are over Jeff Monson and Hidehiko and his last loss was to Big Nog. Josh has remained active and in excellent condition since Pride closed its doors and looks to still be performing at a top level. His catch wrestling background has led to a great clinch and ground game, with the vast majority of his wins come by way of submission.
Pedro "The Rock" Rizzo (16-7) fights out of Ruas Vale Tudo. Pedro was a long time fixture in the UFC with 14 fights in our favorite promotion. He has a laundry list of great knockouts with one of his best and most memorable happening seven years ago when he knocked the bejesus out of Barnett. During the first part of his career great wrestlers like Couture and Randleman were the ones who gave him trouble. But, over the last portion of his career it’s been his chin and stamina that’s let him down.
There aren’t many questions about Barnett’s current condition or skill level ... he looks great. Most of the questions are centered on Pedro’s condition, chin and desire. He’s not shown the fire of old and it’s going to take a great performance to deny Josh his revenge.
Basically, this is a Muay Thai striker versus a submission wrestler, but Barnett is an angry man in the cage who would love to beat Pedro at his own game. To be honest, looking at Rizzo’s standup of late it could easily happen. This tactic would of course leave Josh much more open to getting caught himself, but the man loves to put on a show.
I believe Barnett’s strength, conditioning and aggression will easily overwhelm Rizzo where ever the fight goes. Much like the headline fight, I think Josh wins this 75 percent of the time and the odds are close to true. These "chalk" bets aren’t exciting but they keep the account green, just don’t get carried away, stay with a standard size bet or smaller.
Prediction: Barnett via technical knockout (Bet: $100 to win 28.57)
Andrei Arlovski (-300) vs. Ben Rothwell (+200)
So this is where all the heavyweights have gone to play
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) was last seen at UFC 82, where he took out previously undefeated Jake O'Brien. Arlovski -- who is still one of the most popular fighters in the world -- fell out of favor with the UFC after losing to Sylvia twice. Although he came back and won his next three fights, his contract was not renewed and has now found a new home. Best known for his devastating strikes, Arlovski is an athletic wonder at 6’4" and 240 pounds.
It’s been said about a few other fighters, but he truly moves like a middleweight.
Rothwell (33-5) is running with a 13-fight win streak, including his most recent victory over Ricco Rodriguez in the IFL. Rothwell has spent the last two years dominating the heavyweights of the IFL (not sure how big a compliment that really is), but it’s what he’s got. Rothwell has never fought anyone at Arlovski’s level and I haven’t seen anything from him that suggests he’s ready.
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but Ben is a slow flat footed fighter who presents an easy target for a fighter like Andrei. Ben’s best shot is to get the fight to ground and Pillsbury squish Arlovski. I’d give Ben a 10 percent chance of being able to control the fight long enough to get a decision. Odds haven’t been released by the books yet but early numbers look like Arlovski might come in at a very tasty -300.
Not great profits but a great value.
Prediction: Arlovski via murder (Bet $200 to win $66.66)
Renato Sobral (-260) vs. Mike Whitehead (+200)
Renato "Babalu" Sobral possesses a solid record (29-7) and has been a long time fan favorite with an up and down career. His submission game is fantastic, especially if he latches on during the first round while he’s fresh. When every round starts, though, he looks like Larry of the three stooges with wind mill arms and his head down like a ram.
OK I’m exaggerating, but standup is definitely his weakness.
Mike Whitehead (21-5) is on a 12-fight win streak holding notable wins over Vernon White and Ben Rothwell. He also has losses to Keith Jardine, Brandon Vera and Tim Sylvia. His style is very comparable to Jason lambert, with solid standup but a preference for ground and pound and submissions
So here it is Whitehead has his chance to show his chops against a big name. He has a slight size advantage, as well as advantages in stand up technique and power. If he uses his wrestling abilities to maintain control he’s got a great shot at winning this fight.
In betting terms I see this fight as a true coin toss and the odds offered on Whitehead provide a very nice value. I’m putting a half size bet down on this one.
Prediction: Mike Whitehead via decision (Bet: $50 to win $107.50)
Matt Lindland (-420) vs. Fabio Negao (+350)
Matt Lindland (20-5) has a loss to Fedor Emelianenko, and wins over Carlos Newton and Jeremy Horn in his last three fights. He’s the perennial "almost" guy who will never go away. This guy just keeps coming back for more. He’s a very well rounded analytical fighter who focuses on exactly what needs to be done to win. I keep thinking that at some point soon uncle Fester’s conditioning has to give out, but it hasn’t really happened yet.
Fabio Negao (8-3) is an unknown for me. He’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has a Muay Thai background. He’s yet to face any reputable competition and so I don’t have anything to base a bet on. If you have some personal knowledge of Fabio’s skills and why he could beat Lindland please share it. Otherwise this is a full on no bet for me.
Prediction: Lindland via submission (Bet: None)
Aleksander Emelianenko (-350) vs. Paul Buentello (+250)
And the big boys just keep on coming.
Aleksander Emelainenko (13-3) is Fedor’s "little" 6’6" brother. Alek is best known for his striking and surprisingly light feet for a big guy. He’s remained fairly busy since the close of Pride with his most recent win coming in April of this year with a technical knockout of Silvao Santos … a bit of a nobody. When fights have stayed on the feet his only loss was to Cro cop. His only other troubles have been with excellent grapplers, not to worry in a fight with "The Headhunter" it seems pretty obvious where this fight will be.
Paul "The Headhunter" Buentello (25-10) trains with the American Kickboxing Academy. He’s best known for his two of his fights in the UFC where he first annihilated Justin Eilers and was then quickly knocked out by Arlovski. After losing to Arlovski he went on a four fight win streak scoring technical knockouts over each opponent. Then he stepped back up in competition and got in the ring with Alistair Overeem ... who kneed him into submission.
Although I really like seeing all of these big name heavyweights, this one is a mismatch in the overall level of competition. Paul is a very seasoned veteran with over ten years in the fight game, but he’s shown over time that he is just not up to this level. Emelianenko has the advantage in every aspect of this fight as well as physical stature and condition.
The current line has Emelianenko winning this about 76 percent of the time and in my opinion this is another chalk bet that has to be made.
Now maybe you’re thinking I don’t want to risk three full bets on these fights, I only want to risk one bet. Well cards like this that are filled with this many heavy favorites offer good three-fight parlays. With the current odds on Fedor, Aleksander, and Barnet you could get parlay odds of +101; if this is your preferred play, remember the only book offering parlays is BetUS.
Prediction: Aleksander Emelianenko via technical knockout (Bet: $100 to win 28.57)
That about does it for this installment of betting tips and advice. Remember to bet smart.
Enjoy the fights and good luck. Feel free to leave predictions and other thoughts in the comments section below.