TUF 14 wasn’t bad for a wager or two, but if you’re looking for some serious Christmas money, this is the card. Between Jones defending his title and both Nogueira brothers on the same card, its money well spent on the PPV and money in pocket with smart wagers. So, let’s dig into my comparison betting odds and valid props for this event and get the bankroll growing. Now, onto the fights!
Jon Jones -300
Lyoto Machida +220
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Under (4.5 rounds)
While it wasn’t the fight we actually wanted, it’s still a title fight! This is, hands down, the worst fight possible for Machida, as he’ll need to leap in and close distance on an ultra-long Jones. With Jones being able to keep Machida well outside of his traditional karate range and owning the clinch, it’s only a matter of time before Jones puts this on the mat. With the amount of variables here, I think the safest bet is Inside the Distance, as this could go into late rounds if Machida stays back for the entire fight. Don’t think that Greg Jackson will allow this to hit the score cards though, and count on that late switch to aggression if Machida won’t give Jones anything early.
Frank Mir -200
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira +160
It’s funny how their last fight was a huge upset, yet now the universe agrees that Mir should take this fight. This is a classic case of a fighter overstaying his welcome in the fight game, as Big Nog will once again find himself the victim of a beating from a less shop-worn fighter’s hand. While Nog did manage to get the win last time out, the ease of which he was struck and staggered by Schaub didn’t do much to dispel his perception as a broken-down fighter. Mir has the major fault of fighting at his opponents pace, which makes betting anything but straight here a mistake. Either Nog tries to work a kickboxing fight and loses due to Mir’s superior reflexes, or gets aggressive and ends up losing due to powerful clinch knees. Regardless, bet Mir straight or nothing at all.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira -240
Tito Ortiz +180
Props: Nogueira Inside Distance
In an odd role reversal of the above fight, Little Nog takes on a broken-down Tito Ortiz in what could be either man’s last fight in the UFC. While Little Nog hasn’t exactly been racking up wins lately, he’s faced some seriously stiff wrestling competition in Ryan Bader, Phil Davis and Jason Brilz. The record doesn’t necessarily reflect what actually happened in each fight though, and despite dropping decisions, Little Nog made each bout a nail-biter. To put Ortiz in the same class as Little Nogs last three opponents would be a mistake, as he doesn’t have the speed, wrestling ability or endurance to execute a grappling game plan. One way or a nother Nog can land heavy punches and knees or lock up a guillotine on a slow shooting Ortiz to pick up a win inside the distance.
Mark Hominick -160
Chan Sung Jung +130
Props: Jung by Submission
One of the more intriguing fights of the night, former title challenger Mark Hominick will face the iron-chinned Chan Sung Jung. This is a classic example of a short-range fighter needing to beat a long-range fighter with superior clinch skills, making it a deadly game of cat and mouse. Hominick has all the skills to move in and out on Jung and land punches, but I’m not entirely sure he can avoid takedowns and submissions. While I think Hominick wins this more often than not, the best value here may be a Jung submission, as Hominick is notoriously bad at avoiding chokes on the mat.
Krzysztof Soszynski -185
Igor Pokrajac +145
Props: Fight of The Night
A fight with serious bloodbath potential, Krzysztof Soszynski will take on hard-nosed fighter Igor Pokrajac in Toronto. These guys are very similar fighters, with Pokrajac having the better standing defense, while Soszynski has the better grappling offense. The real difference here is that Soszynski is a huge LHW with a history of bullying opponents, and I can see him putting Pokrajac on his back over and over again, or winning the striking and clinch exchanges. This isn’t the safest fight to bet on due to Pokrajac’s power and Soszynski’s sometimes lacking takedown defense, but a small play on FOTN could pay off big here.
Jared Hamman -200
Constantinos Philippou +160
A potentially forgettable MW showdown takes place, as Jared Hamman faces Greek boxer Constantinos Philippou. Neither guy has a long career ahead of them in the UFC, but Philippou has shown he’s completely out of his element thus far, being manhandled by Nick Catone and fighting tooth and nail with Jorge Rivera. Hamman has shown he’s a tough nut to crack at 185lbs and should have little trouble taking Philippou out of his element. Hamman’s strong takedown game will lead to a punishing fight, and one I don’t see Philippou winning often. Props wise, this is a difficult bout to handicap, and would recommend just a straight play on Hamman if odds look favorable.
Dennis Hallman -140
John Makdessi +110
Props: Hallman in 1st Round
One of the most underrated grapplers of his era, Dennis Hallman makes his return to Lightweight, taking on the interesting John Makdessi. Makdessi has turned some heads with his unorthodox (at least for MMA) use of Tae Kwon Do and his ridiculous hand speed, but faces a tough draw in Hallman. Hallman falls into a particular category of grapplers that combine raw power and simple, perfect technique to make them an irresistible force. While Makdessi has thus far kept to his striking laurels, Hallman isn’t one to be denied a takedown, and could well expose some flimsy grappling on Makdessi’s part. Overall I think Hallman can get enough mat work in to take a decision more often than not, but I feel his odds of the first round submission are very strong.
Nik Lentz -120
Mark Bocek -120
Props: Bocek by Submission
A true grapplefest awaits us, as D-1 wrestler Nik Lentz faces BJJ ace Mark Bocek. Lentz has been a thorn in my side for some time from an analytical standpoint, because he’s not very good, yet continues to win. His opponent is an underrated BJJ fighter with strong takedown ability, yet Bocek hasn’t had much time to shine due to some seriously tough matchmaking. The big question here revolves around Bocek being able to submit Lentz, and if Lentz will try to work a wrestling game plan, or try his luck on the feet. Standing, this fight is remarkably even, but something that stands out to me is Lentz heavy use of lazy kicking attacks. This has gotten him into trouble in the past, yet he continues throwing weak kicks, and might find himself on his back against Bocek here. If Bocek can get top position on Lentz, his submission game could spell a bad night for the wrestler here; locking up anaconda or guillotine chokes when he attempts to escape. Overall this is an even fight, but I think the best money may come on betting Bocek by Submission at tremendous odds.
John Cholish -300
Mitch Clarke +220
Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance/Under
An exciting addition to the UFC makes his debut in Toronto, as John Cholish steps into the Octagon. Having flown under the radar for some time, Cholish blends an amazing wrestling background with solid BJJ and long-range striking skills, fighting similar to Evan Dunham in many ways. His opponent is also making his debut, although from watching footage of Clarke, I don’t see him having a bright future at this level of competition, being a fairly generic fighter. Cholish should have this in the bag as Clarke is outclassed everywhere the fight goes, leading to a submission early in the fight.
Claude Patrick -160
Brian Ebersole +130
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
Polar opposites will collide here, as the unorthodox Brian Ebersole faces the very orthodox Claude Patrick. Patrick has gone undefeated thus far in his UFC career mainly due to having ridiculously solid fundamental grappling, allowing him to outwrestle and out position everyone on the mat. While this is hardly exciting, you can’t argue with his ability to hang with some of the better grapplers in the division without much trouble. Ebersole comes at us from a completely different direction, using wacky sweeps and taking full advantage of his lanky frame. This comes down to Patrick controlling this fight without allowing Ebersole space to work submissions or sweeps, and I feel fairly confident he can pull that off. Even so, I’d recommend splitting your wager on Patrick straight and the Over, which covers you if Ebersole snatches a split decision or Patrick catches Ebersole’s skinny neck in the early going of this fight.
Rich Attonito -200
Jake Hecht +160
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
Newcomer Jake Hecht enters the overflowing WW division, facing TUF alum Rich Attonito on the undercard. For those unfamiliar, Hecht is an American wrestler who has plied his trade in the Midwest and UK, and brings a complete ground game to the table without being excellent at any one thing. This has potential to be a very forgettable fight, as Attonito has an edge in wrestling which should allow him to stuff takedowns and work his power punching stand-up game. I don’t see this fight having much value and I wouldn’t blame anyone for giving it a pass.
Yves Jabouin -200
Walel Watson +160
Props: Jabouin by KO
A bout that’s bound to be explosive pits two Canadian strikers together, as Yves Jabouin takes on Walel Watson. Watson had an impressive outing in his last bout, scoring a brutal KO set up with a head kick, but has a long way to go to establish himself in this division. Jabouin is perhaps the worst opponent possible for the lanky Watson, as his chin has been shown to have cracks in it previously in his career. Using rapid foot speed and accurate punching, Jabouin could make this look easy, moving in on Watson and putting fist to face. While Watson’s ground game is his best option here, don’t expect Jabouin to allow him to use it as he batters Watson inside the distance.
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