For the first time since 2011, Dominick Cruz steps into the cage this Sunday evening (Jan. 17, 2016) with the Bantamweight belt on the line when he challenges 135-pound kingpin, T.J. Dillashaw, in the main event of UFC Fight Night 81, which takes place inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
That's not the only great match up, though, as former Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will take on former Bellator MMA 155-pound king, Eddie Alvarez, while Travis Browne and Matt Mitrione attempt to rebound from recent setbacks up north at Heavyweight.
The main card and a good chunk of the "Prelims" undercard will be televised on FOX Sports 1. If you want the extra scratch to pay for the Fight Pass portion, we've got you covered below.
UFC Fight Night 81 Odds For The Undercard:
Ben Saunders (-120) vs. Patrick Cote (EVEN)
Tim Boetsch (-230) vs. Ed Herman (+190)
Chris Wade (N/A) vs. Mehdi Baghdad (N/A)
Maximo Blanco (-130) vs. Luke Sanders (+110)
Paul Felder (-260) vs. Daron Cruickshank (+220)
Ilir Latifi (-265) vs. Sean O'Connell (+225)
Charles Rosa (N/A) vs. Augusto Mendes (N/A)
Rob Font (-220) vs. Joey Gomez (+180)
Elvis Mutapcic (N/A) vs. Francimar Barroso (N/A)
Thoughts: As you can see, several lines remain to be released at the time of writing, which is annoying. Among what we have, however, Gomez is worth a look.
Font-Gomez is close to a 50/50 fight, which is what makes Gomez a bargain. He’s sorely undervalued at +180, packing some serious punching power and decent boxing technique. Further, Font hasn’t fought in nearly a year and a half due to injuries. A moderate bet on the UFC newcomer makes sense.
UFC Fight Night 81 Odds For The Main Card:
T.J. Dillashaw (-145) vs. Dominick Cruz (+125)
Anthony Pettis (-345) vs. Eddie Alvarez (+285)
Travis Browne (-155) vs. Matt Mitrione (+135)
Ross Pearson (-150) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (+130)
Thoughts: Let’s keep playing underdogs here, Cruz and Mitrione specifically.
Far from being a Cruz wannabe, T.J. Dillashaw is a badass in his own right. That said, Cruz’s intelligence and wrestling make him a major threat. Everyone "The Dominator" has wanted to take down has gone down, his knee tap in particular enjoying cheat code levels of success. I’d also argue that, while he doesn’t have anywhere near Dillashaw’s stopping power, he’s the better defensive fighter.
Cruz has been hurt a lot and is likely still a bit rusty, though, so while I firmly believe Cruz has the skills to reclaim his belt, don’t invest too heavily in him.
The real star of the betting show is Mitrione for one very simple reason: Since joining Glendale Fighting Club, Browne has abandoned the things that made him so dangerous in the first place. "Hapa," at his best, uses his length and a wide variety of kicks to keep opponents at long range, then punish them at close range with elbows. The man’s not built to box, and yet he exclusively threw hands with Andrei Arlovski. Two fights prior, he was soundly routed by Fabricio Werdum on the feet. Mitrione, for all his faults, has impressive hand speed and tremendous power. He should not be a bigger underdog than Trinaldo is against Pearson, so make sure you’re in position to benefit from this oversight.
UFC Fight Night 81 Best Bets:
- Single bet -- Joey Gomez: Bet $30 to make $54
- Single bet -- Dominick Cruz: Bet $25 to make $31.25
- Single bet -- Matt Mitrione: Bet $40 to make $54
The judges weren't kind to us last time out, but I'm confident here. See you Sunday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC Fight Night 81 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you've got riding on the sportsbook.