UFC 136 is almost here, ladies and gentlemen, and we’ve got ourselves a hoedown.
The promotion has pulled out all the stops for its Oct. 8 trip to Houston, Texas, packing a bevy of contenders in various weight classes to complement two title fights.
And that means there's money to be made for the gamblers among us.
First you have to win, of course, and you should never bet what you can't afford to lose, but since I've recently started putting money down on the sport I love, I thought it might be prudent to share some wagering tips before major UFC and MMA events, pointing out the most profitable scraps.
And which bouts to avoid.
Included in the UFC 136 betting guide are all the odds for tomorrow night's show, but first check out my three important rules every bettor should follow right here.
Now then, let's get to it.
Tiequan Zhang (-145) vs. Darren Elkins (+115)
Steve Cantwell (-160) vs. Mike Massenzio (+130)
Aaron Simpson (-400) vs. Eric Schafer (+300)
Stipe Miocic (-285) vs. Joey Beltran (+225)
Anthony Pettis (-325) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+240)
Demian Maia (-300) vs. Jorge Santiago (+230)
Thoughts: In my humble opinion, your best chance for making a reasonable sum from this undercard is to bet on Elkins and then parlay him with one of the large favorites later in the card. I’m a fan of Zhang and dearly wish to see him succeed in the UFC, but while his 100% finishing rate in victory is impressive, it also means he doesn’t have experience in deep waters. The only time he has gone past two rounds was against Danny Downes in a fight where he dominated the first round before gassing badly and losing a unanimous decision.
And that was at 155.
Elkins has not looked great in any of his 3 UFC fights, but he proved against Omigawa that his gas tank is sufficient to take him three rounds. Zhang has not, and submitting Jason Reinhardt in one minute doesn’t really answer any questions about how he’ll fare at 145.
Beltran might also be a good bet due to Miocic’s inexperience and apparent lack of head movement, but I haven’t seen any of Miocic’s fights in their entirety, so I’m not risking any of my own money.
Nam Phan (-225) vs. Leonard Garcia (+175)
Melvin Guillard (-500) vs. Joe Lauzon (+350)
Chael Sonnen (-275) vs. Brian Stann (+215)
Jose Aldo (-500) vs. Kenny Florian (+350)
Frankie Edgar (-140) vs. Gray Maynard (+110)
Thoughts: These fights are a lot more intriguing than the skewed lines would have you think. Let’s dissect this lovely main card.
Nam Phan beat Leonard Garcia the first time they fought. I don’t think there is a rational human being who would seriously argue against this. What that fight further confirmed, however, is that beating Leonard Garcia is no guarantee that you will actually win the fight. Plus, the man is a nightmare to finish; Brown only submitted him after rocking his world and using his wrestling advantage, while Jung utilized a technique that caught Leonard unawares.
Nam doesn’t have the wrestling or submissions game to replicate those results, nor does he have the power to finish Leonard on his feet.
Nostradumbass is calling a Garcia knockout. Garcia, for all the talk of his power, has a grand total of three knockouts to his name. Even an opponent who stood directly in front of him and fought the exact fight Leonard wanted, Chan Sung Jung, only went down once. Garcia has been given every opportunity to prove he’s a legitimate power puncher, but the only finishes since the Takaya and Pulver fights were at his expense. Still, while I fully expect Phan to beat the tar out of him for three rounds, there’s no telling how they’ll score any fight involving Leonard "The Judge Whisperer" Garcia. I’m not touching this one.
I’m a major Guillard doubter, I’ll admit it. His Dunham and Roller stoppages were impressive, yes, but his previous two efforts were close, controversial affairs. I will argue all night that Jeremy Stephens was robbed in that fight.
I still think he’ll beat Lauzon, though. I just don’t think it’s as likely as these odds are making it out to be.
Joe Lauzon in the first round of a fight is an absolute monster. He’s got heavy hands, solid striking, and one of the most aggressive submissions games I’ve ever seen. Guillard has great striking, but his chin isn’t rock-steady; while getting rocked by Stephens happens to everyone with a functioning brain, getting dropped by Joe Stevenson isn’t something that should happen to anyone. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Lauzon berserk his way into top position on the ground and latch on an armbar.
It would, however, surprise me immensely if that happened after the first five minutes. Guillard, on the other hand, is dangerous for all fifteen. I’m predicting a Guillard stoppage victory in the second round, but at +350, Lauzon is definitely a live dog. Don’t make him the focus of a parlay or put too much on him, but ten or twenty on Lauzon wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Love him or hate him, Chael Sonnen is a handful for anyone at middleweight. I’m a huge fan of Stann for his service to his country, his sense of humor, and his respectfulness, but this isn’t a good matchup for him. He does his best work on the feet, and while he’s demonstrated good takedown defense against Jorge Santiago, Sonnen is a completely different monster. Further, Chael’s chin is iron, and he showed against Silva that even if he gets rocked, his instinct is to get the takedown, not back straight up with his hands down.
What makes this intriguing, however, is that Brian Stann holds a victory via triangle choke. Sonnen’s first triangle loss was eight years ago and he seems to have made little, if any, progress towards getting out of it.
We all know what’s going to happen: Brian is going to flick out some jabs, throw a right, get taken down by Chael, and get punched in the face for five minutes at a time. Stann does, however, possess the capability to finish Sonnen off his back, and after the layoff Chael’s had, might be worth a small bet.
I’ve heard the arguments: "Kenny is bigger than Jose." "Kenny has fought better guys than Jose has." "Blah blah Hellbows blah."
What I still haven’t heard, however, is the answer to a simple question: "What does Kenny Florian do to defeat Jose Aldo?" Does he take him down? Try to cut him off his back? Strike with him?
Frankly, any and all possible gameplans I can think of for Kenny end in painful failure. Not only is Aldo in another universe in striking compared to anyone I can think of below 170, nobody in the UFC or WEC has had any luck getting him down besides Hominick, and Aldo was drained going into the fight.
Plus, even though everyone says Aldo looked bad against Hominick, he still won four rounds without question and dropped Hominick twice. There was absolutely no question he’d won the fight afterwards.
Aldo is faster than Kenny. Aldo hits harder than Kenny. Aldo has more experience at 145 than Kenny. I’m not insulting Kenny; I just don’t see how he wins barring a miracle cut stoppage.
I feel kind of proud of myself; I placed an Aldo/Edgar bet when Aldo was at -285, but sensible people have apparently invaded Bodog and Aldo really isn’t worth much anymore. Still, if you’re putting money on an underdog somewhere, including Aldo would help.
As a huge Frankie Edgar fan, I scored his UFC 125 match with Maynard 47-47, giving Maynard a 10-8 first round and a 10-9 third. Yes, Edgar has had two fights with Maynard and has yet to beat him, but a few things I learned from watching Frankie in action lead me to pick him.
One: Frankie Edgar improves exponentially in rematches. He went from scraping by Penn to dominating him for five rounds, and then went from being smothered by Gray to winning three of five rounds against him. Once the man figures you out, he wins.
Two: Frankie matched Gray’s wrestling. Nobody else in the UFC has ever done so. Gray couldn’t hold him down even when he did get the takedown, and his round-stealer at the end of the third was met with a very tight guillotine. Maynard went 0-9 in takedowns in rounds four and five.
Three: Frankie took everything Gray had and still made it to the bell. Gray hit him as hard as he possibly could, then had twenty minutes to do it again. He couldn’t put Frankie away, and now that Frankie knows he can take Gray’s best, I foresee him taking this third bout.
At -140, he’s worth a straight bet.
My Current Bets:
Parlay: Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo-$84 to win $102.68
Parlay: Darren Elkins and Demian Maia-$30 to win $57.23
Single Bet: Joe Lauzon-$20 to win $70
I’ll be seeing this card live, so expect a full write-up in the coming weeks.
Remember: never bet more than you can lose, bet with your head, and don’t let betting get in the way of your enjoying MMA. We’ve got an excellent weekend of fights ahead of us, so have fun.
Enjoy the show.