UFC 131 brings another round of weekend cards in the month of June, we’ve got title eliminators, weight class debuts and a lot of new blood at this event. Between the explosive Carwin vs. Dos Santos bout to the Middleweight scrap in Munoz vs. Maia, we’ve got quite the event here, and some decent money-making opportunities on this card. So, let’s dig in and see where the value lies on this card.
Junior Dos Santos -160
Shane Carwin +130
Valid Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance
I was all over Lesnar to hand JDS a beating, but this becomes a far more interesting fight. While JDS is a fantastic striker, his power is still a bit of a question mark compared to monsters like Carwin. This is a close fight, but a flaw in Carwin seals the deal for me, as he tends to start very stiff. It’s the reason Gonzaga was able to drop him early, and someone like JDS can land on that jaw early and often. The only sure money in this fight is a prop that it doesn’t make it the distance, as Carwin’s cardio won’t allow for it and both men simply hit too hard.
Kenny Florian -140
Diego Nunes +110
Valid Props: Fight Goes Distance, Nunes by Decision
After six fights and six decisions under the WEC/UFC banner, Diego Nunes will finally see the light of day. His opponent is a much more recognizable figure though, as Kenny Florian makes his trek down to Featherweight and into a fight he’ll be hard-pressed to win. If you haven’t seen Nunes before, don’t think for a second Florian is going to walk over this guy, as he brings highly technical muay thai, as well as a surprisingly sound wrestling game. While I could see Nunes working his typical game plan of running and gunning with a mix of takedowns, he’s going to be facing a large Lightweight who knows how to use his reach. Look for a technical kickboxing match here, but Florian’s use of the jab and superior speed give him a slight edge, taking this by split decision.
Dave Herman -280
Jon Olav Einemo +200
Valid Props: Herman by KO
A dangerous Heavyweight who has long been lurking on the fringe, Dave “Peewee” Herman is ready to break into the big time. While his original opponent may have been a tougher debut than he wanted, Herman finds himself given a much softer bout in Jon Olav Einemo. Herman is the rare heavyweight who specializes in bottom game submissions and sweeps, but tends to use his takedown defense and brutal striking power to overwhelm opponents, and meets the perfect punching bag in Einemo. While Einemo might have some impressive BJJ credentials, 5 years of ring rust will ruin anyone. Don’t expect this fight to ever see the ground, as Herman lands early and often, winning by an early KO.
Mark Munoz -120
Demian Maia -120
Valid Props: Munoz by KO, Maia by Submission
The coin-flip fight of the night, Mark Munoz will bring his considerable punching power to bare against the BJJ wizard in Demian Maia. The more you think of this fight, the harder it is to pick a winner, and that’s never a solid basis to start betting from. The value in this one lies in the prop bets, as I can see Munoz stopping Maia standing or with ground and pound, while Maia getting the submission isn’t unbelievable either.
Donald Cerrone -240
Vagner Rocha +180
Valid Props: Fight Ends Inside, Cerrone by KO, Rocha by Submission
With Mac Danzig out, we get to see a talented BJJ stylist in Vagner Rocha make his debut, taking on former WEC title challenger Donald Cerrone. Rocha will have a tough fight here on short notice, as Cerrone is one of the most unique Lightweight in the division, requiring a full fight camp to deal with. The lack of preparation, compounded with Cerrone’s heavy wrestling training will be the deal-breaker here, as Cerrone catches Rocha coming forward with straight punches.
Yves Edwards -120
Sam Stout -120
Valid Props: Fight Goes Distance, Fight Of The Night
Another pickem fight for the evening, long-time UFC fighter Sam Stout will face veteran striker Yves Edwards in what could be the best fight on the card. This one comes down to if Edwards has the speed on the feet to close distance or the takedowns to work his superior ground game. For Stout’s end of things, he needs to keep Edwards at the end of this reach and work bodyshots to ruin Edward’s sometimes lackluster cardio while avoiding killshots. Like Munoz vs. Maia, the value here is in prop bets, and I don’t think either guy can finish the other. Betting the Over or the Distance is likely to pay off nearly every time these two meet.
Chris Weidman -200
Jesse Bongfeldt +160
Valid Props: Weidman by Decision
A hot prospect in the Middleweight division, Chris Weidman looked strong in his debut against Alessio Sakara with his functional boxing skills and elite-level wrestling. His opponent is a relative unknown outside of Canadian MMA, but Jesse Bongfeldt is as game as they come, and brings a great deal of raw power and technical grappling to this fight. This is one that likely proves closer on paper than in reality, as Weidman should be able to negate anything Bongfeldt tries on the mat, taking a spirited decision win.
Krzysztof Soszynski -200
Mike Massenzio +160
Valid Props: Soszynski by Decision, Massenzio by Submission
While I was certainly looking forward to Soszynski vs. Pokrajac, the replacement fight is a surprisingly competitive one. For those unfamiliar with Mike Massenzio, he’s a dynamic wrestler/BJJ stylist that had a rough run in the UFC, going 1-2 with losses to Brian Stann and CB Dollaway. The record doesn’t accurately portray those fights though, as CB Dollaway had a rather infamous fake tapout while in Massenzio’s guillotine, while Stann was on his way to losing decision before locking on a triangle late in the 3rd round. This is water under the bridge, and fighting at Light Heavyweight may not be a smart fit for Massenzio, but this is the fight he gets. Size will likely play a major factor here, but size won’t help Soszynski’s shoddy defense against double leg takedowns, while the lack of a weight cut might help Massenzio with his lack of cardio in previous outings. While Massenzio makes for a live underdog here, I still have to give the nod to Soszynski for his strong upright wrestling, strength, and impeccable cardio, giving him the fight via decision.
Nick Ring -120
James Head -120
Valid Props: None
In a rather odd pairing, TUF 12′s Nick Ring will face his doppelganger, as he takes on UFC newcomer James Head. For those unfamiliar, James Head is coming off a win over former UFC fighter Gerald Harris, and has done well for himself with his BJJ and pressure fighting on the feet. Both men specialize in bottom game submissions which makes this an interesting fight, and with Head’s use of constant takedowns, it makes for a fairly even fight. If I had to give an edge, it would be to Nick Ring and his use of leg kicks as well as his superior grappling pedigree, but don’t sleep on Head if he comes in as a heavy underdog.
Dustin Poirier -280
Jason Young +200
Valid Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance, Poirier by Sub, Young by KO
Poirier surprised a lot of people, myself included, with his dominate performance over Josh Grispi last time out and looks to make another strong impression here. His opponent is a late replacement and newcomer to the UFC, as Jason “Shotgun” Young hops across the pond to test his skills in a sleeper FOTN. For those who haven’t seen him in action, Young is a bit like a raw version of Paul Daley with a bit more natural strength, relying on his core strength and wall of standing offense to win fights. While someone like Young has an outside chance against any other striker, Poirier is an ace kickboxer with a highly offensive ground game, and will prove to be too much for the young fighter. Look for some stiff exchanges that quickly go badly for Young, as he’s dropped with strikes and submitted via RNC in the opening round.
Joey Beltran -160
Aaron Rosa +130
Valid Props: None
While his last fight was a losing affair against Pat Barry, Joey Beltran found himself in the rare position of having won over more fans with a loss than with a win. Having eaten a massive amount of leg kicks and stiff shots standing, Beltran managed to limp through three rounds and finds himself given another fight, this time against a veteran fighter in Aaron Rosa. Rosa comes into the UFC with a record that’s impressive at a glace, but with little serious competition among his wins. Nevertheless, this is a tough fight to call, as Beltran’s style of being a slow-paced sponge of punishment doesn’t do him many favors on the judges scorecard. Even so, Rosa faces a sizeable heavyweight that won’t fold against his limited offense, and will be hard-pressed to win this one without constant pressure on the mat. Beltran was training to avoid the ground for his original opponent, and should come into this healthy and set to shine, winning by late TKO or decision.
Michihiro Omigawa -300
Darren Elkins +220
Valid Props: Omigawa via Submission
One of the most solid bets of the night comes in the form of Michihiro Omigawa, who will greet Darren Elkins at Featherweight. While Omigawa never panned out in the UFC Lightweight division, he has enjoyed his time at Featherweight a great deal more, gaining several solid wins abroad. His opponent is a strong wrestler moving down a weight class, but will run into a brick wall against the judoka. While he’s seldom faced strong wrestlers, Omigawa has shown he’s nearly impossible to take down, having stuffed some of the best shots of guys like LC Davis and Chad Mendes. Elkins isn’t nearly on either man’s level, and lacks the finishing skills, either standing or on the mat, to put Omigawa away. Elkin’s will try to put Omigawa into his world, but ends up getting a takedown straight into a guillotine, tapping out in the first round.
The Betting Corner comes out before major MMA events and is meant to help find the solid bets on the card and what bets you should stay away from. The Betting Corner is by no means a sure thing and you should always bet at your own risk.
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