UFC of Fox was a bit of a flop, but easy money made it worth our while, and UFC 139 has similar heavy plays. Our main event is the return of Dan Henderson at light heavyweight, as he takes on former champion Shogun in a five rounder. So, check out my comparison betting odds and some valid props for this very underrated event.
Now, onto the fights!
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua:
Almost as much of a dream match-up as Henderson vs. Fedor, Dan Henderson makes his return to the UFC, taking on former Light Heavyweight champion Mauricio Shogun Rua. Henderson has managed to defy Father Time over the last couple years, and actually appears to be improving his already world-class game at 205 lbs. His opponent appears to be moving in the opposite direction though, as Shogun has shown far more wear than someone his age should, being one of the ring-rustiest fighters I’ve ever seen. I’d love to give a comparison betting line for this one, but I simply can’t put a reasonable mark on this one considering how badly Rua has performed in the past.
As stupid as this might sound, the tanner Rua is at weigh-ins, the better he typically performs. I attribute this to his knee troubles, and perhaps his darker complexion is a result of more road work done when he’s feeling fit to run. This might be the weirdest advice I ever give in my career, but bet Henderson by KO prop if Rua is pasty at weigh-ins, and just bet Inside the Distance if he’s looking tan and fit.
Cung Le -160
Wanderlei Silva +130
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance, Le in 3rd Round
A fan favorite from Strikeforce, San Shou master Cung Le makes his way into the Octagon for the first time, taking on Wanderlei Silva. Cung Le has been fairly inactive in recent years as he pursued an acting career, but with a reputation for being an animal in the gym, the idea of ring rust isn’t worrisome for bettors here. Silva didn’t show much in his last fight other than an utter lack of game planning, but he’s clearly only a few fights away from retirement at this point and I don’t expect to see anything new from The Axe Murderer. While I think Le is the all-around better fighter here, my big hang-up is his lack of defensive skills when on the retreat, which is something Silva can capitalize on. For this reason, I think ITD may be the best bet to make. If you’re feeling froggy, a small play on Le in round three could pay out well, as this is when he switches to liver kicks and tends to finish hard-headed opponents.
Urijah Faber -130
Brian Bowles EV
Props: Fight Of The Night
One of the most exciting fights in recent history, Urijah Faber will try to work his way back to a title shot, taking on former Bantamweight champion Brian Bowles. Faber hasn’t won a ton of fights in the last couple years, but having fought nothing but elite competition, he’s always had great showings. The injury-prone Brian Bowles has taken his time getting back to the top of the division, but wins over Takaya Mizugaki and Damacio Page show that he’s primed and ready to face another elite fighter in Faber. This is very close fight, as Bowles has legit punching power and a wiley grappling game that could give Faber fits here, while Faber will need to rely on his dynamic attack and wrestling. Against Mike Brown and Jose Aldo, Faber showed that his style just didn’t jive against an accurate and fundamentally sound striker, and he won’t be able to dance around Bowles like some previous opponents. This will be a game of cat and mouse where Faber will need to land what he can on the feet and stick to the mat, where he can outwork Bowles for the decision win. Betting wise, this is one I’d avoid entirely as every outcome is possible, although a wager on FOTN wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Rick Story -150
Martin Kampmann +120
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over, Kampmann by Sub, Kampmann Sub Of The Night
Two Welterweights trying to break into the top crust of the division will square off, as fan-favorite Rick Story takes on Danish kickboxer Martin Kampmann. Story is coming off a major upset at the hands of Charlie Brenneman (you’re only upset about that if you didn’t get Brenneman Decision at +900), but has proven to be one of the best grinders in the sport today. Kampmann has also had his share of set-backs thus far, coming into this bout on a two fight losing streak, having dropped close decisions to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez. This is an interesting fight as Kampmann’s underrated grappling will come into play here heavily, and may make it a short fight for Story. The issue here lies in Kampmann’s game planning, and if he’ll try to beat Story rather than just countering everything Story does. While I think Story has the best shot of winning a decision here, I wouldn’t count out Kampmann locking on a front headlock submission and getting a quick tap here. While the odds are close here, the Kampmann submission prop should be at a nice number, as well as the SOTN prop.
Stephen Bonnar -120
Kyle Kingsbury -120
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over, Fight Of The Night
A “passing the torch” kind of fight will materialize, as tough-as-nails Stephen Bonnar takes on TUF 8′s Kyle Kingsbury. Bonnar has been a part of some serious bloodbaths in the last several years and continues to impress and improve every time out, even as his career should be winding down. His opponent is very new to MMA in many regards, but Kyle Kingsbury has transformed into a solid competitor due to his work ethic at AKA. This is a coin-flip fight, and depends on Kingsbury’s game plan here, as he’s the only one who can really dictate the pacing or battlefield this fight unfolds on. While squaring up with Bonnar is usually a bad idea, Kingsbury has the tools to mix in takedowns and work angles in his strikes that could surprise the veteran fighter here and perhaps pave his way to victory. There isn’t any sure money here, although the Over could work for you and FOTN play might have some value if it’s not overshadowed by Faber vs. Bowles.
Ryan Bader -150
Jason Brilz +120
Being on the wrong side of the upset of the year really hurts financially, and having dropped 40u on Bader against Ortiz last time out, I’m trying to keep an open mind here. Bader comes into this fight with an uncertain mindset following two losses in a row, but faces a relatively safe opponent in Jason Brilz. Brilz is one of a handful of “part-time fighters” who work a full-time job and fight as a hobby, rather than a career. Even still, Brilz has shown a seamless grappling ability in his UFC bouts that makes him a terror on the mat, as well as a basic, yet powerful punching style. The problem I have here with Bader and most of his team is that they’ve taken running a gym upon their shoulders at a young age. Gym owner/fighters are notoriously behind the curve of other fighters, as they can’t concentrate fully on themselves, and this shows in Bader and Dollaways last outings. Brilz brings in the exact same functional style as Tito Ortiz, and with Bader focusing on his students, I’m not sure he’s had time to fix the defensive faults that lead to his last loss. This is one to avoid for the most part unless some wild odds find their way out there, as I can’t put my trust in Bader until I see some evolution.
Chris Weidman -300
Tom Lawlor +220
Props: Lawlor by KO
Perhaps the most complete prospect we’ve seen in recent memory, Chris Weidman hasn’t been matched easy in his time in the UFC, but continues to impress. Having pulled off two solid victories thus far, Weidman has shown not only his fantastic wrestling pedigree, but also the fundamentals of a developing boxing game and razor-sharp front headlock submissions. His opponent is ATT’s Tom Lawlor, who has had, in turns, tremendous success and surprising failure in his UFC career. On paper, Lawlor looks like an inferior version of Weidman, but the same could have been said of CB Dollaway, whom Lawlor choked unconscious in under a minute in their fight. This fight could play out in any number of ways depending on what Weidman wants to show off and what Lawlor wants to let him get away with, making this a tough bout to handicap. The only prop I care for is a flier on a Lawlor KO, as Lawlor has no fear of wrestlers and could potentially overwhelm Weidman in the early goings of this fight. Otherwise, close up the wallet and enjoy the show here!
Rafael Dos Anjos -130
Gleison Tibau EV
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
One of the most underrated fighters in the Lightweight division, Rafael Dos Anjos once again steps into the cage, taking on Gleison Tibau. Dos Anjos has had serious ups and downs in the cage, but managed a major upset in his last bout, KOing George Sotiropolous in spectacular fashion. Tibau has had similar problems keeping afloat in his career, but coming off a win over Rafael Oliveira, he’ll look to axe another BJJ black belt and keep his momentum going. Like with most Tibau fights, this comes down to his ability to get takedowns and land his power punches during the few stand-up exchanges in this fight. While Dos Anjos may facilitate this with his liberal use of leg kicks, he’s also a lethal submission artist off his back and may not mind Tibau’s wrestler-style approach to MMA. While Tibau could ride the clock out here, Dos Anjos could just as easily turn the tables on him here by chopping out his legs and using his own takedowns. Overall this is a close fight, but I don’t see this one ending early, making the Over or Fight Starts Round 2 a wise purchase.
Miguel Torres -400
Nick Pace +300
The former king of the Bantamweight division takes another step back towards the top, taking on mid-tier fighter Nick Pace. Torres had a serious fall from the top with three losses in a short span, but remains a deadly adversary for even elite fighters. Looking at Pace’s match-making, I get the impression he either requests tough fights or pissed off Joe Silva, as he’s faced nothing but top-notch fighters since arriving in the division and faces Torres while coming off a loss. This is stylistically the worst possible match for Pace, as he’s a standard kickboxer and BJJ guy facing a far superior version of himself. Torres has all the defensive skills to avoid Pace’s volume strikes and land his own, while utterly dominating the clinch and ground realms. This is the easiest fight to call in a long time as Torres handles Pace at will. Because of the disparity here, picking a prop is a tough call and you’re much better off with the straight bet on Torres if odds permit.
Seth Baczynski -130
Matt Brown EV
One of my favorite UFC fighters takes to the cage again, as Matt “The Immortal” Brown faces Seth Baczynski. Brown has been on a rollercoaster ride in his UFC career, but never fails to put on exciting fights; constantly working for the finish. Seth Baczynski is a monster in the Welterweight division though, as demonstrated with a thrashing of Clay Harvison in his last fight. Both men are well-rounded, but Brown’s weaknesses will play into Baczynski’s hands here, as he tends to let opponents dictate the fight. Without being able to assert himself against the larger Baczynski, Brown will find himself defending takedowns and submissions, rather than using his own grappling offense and striking. While Baczynski need only make one mistake to find himself staring at the lights, his composure at this level of competition will help him overcome a beast in Brown. Betting wise, this one could go in a lot of different directions, but Baczynski’s straight line will probably open at an appealing number.
Shamar Bailey -120
Danny Castillo -120
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
One of a handful of TUF 13 products still in service, Shamar Bailey takes to the cage against former WEC favorite Danny Castillo. Bailey came onto the set of TUF as nearly a pure wrestler, but showed in his last outing that he’s added savage striking to his arsenal, as well as some championship-level grit. His opponent has been a terror in the lower tier of the division, as Castillo packs a ridiculous punch into his small frame. Using his wrestling to force a stand-up fight with most foes, Castillo has managed to stay afloat thus far, but will face a stern test in Bailey. While Bailey is still a fairly raw prospect, his rate of progression since the show has been impressive. While Castillo is the more talented fighter for sure, Bailey’s size and takedowns could be all that’s needed to grind out a workmanlike decision over the Team Alpha Male fighter. The safest bet here will be the Over though, as Castillo will have to land flush to knock Bailey out, and this fight will include a lot of clinch stalls and feeling out.