It seems like there is a UFC card every weekend these days. This weekend is no exception, as UFC 86 comes to us live via pay-per-view from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This is definitely a card for the avid fans and not the casual ones. Several of the fights have the potential to be very interesting, but none have the wide, exciting appeal of recent main events. The main event here has the look of a bit of a mismatch, and the two fighters like each other too much for it to be truly riveting. There are a few intriguing betting possibilities on the card, though. Here’s a quick look, with odds from 5Dimes.
Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson (-265) vs. Forest Griffin (+225) – The two coaches from the past season of The Ultimate Fighter meet in the main event. I like Griffin, and I respect most aspects of his game. The problem is that Jackson is stronger and better in almost every one of those aspects. He’s a better striker, he’s better on the ground, and he’s generally more ferocious. Griffin will make it interesting, but I just can’t pick him. If Jackson has anything close to his normal day then this one will be over.
Ricardo Almeida (-130) vs. Patrick Cote (+110) – This is i the one I am looking forward to. Almeida built quite a reputation in Japan as a submission fighter, but he retired in 2004 to run a jiu-jitsu school. Apparently the teaching life wasn’t for him, because he recently signed a six fight contract with the UFC. This is his second time back. The first was an absolute destruction of Rob Yundt. Cote is a respectable veteran who comes in riding a nice four bout win streak. Neither of these guys like spending much time in the ring, so they will both be enthusiastically looking for a way to end this one as soon as they can. Either guy could win, but Almeida provides some value at this price in my mind.
Joe Stevenson (-210) vs. Gleison Tibau (+175) – Both guys need to bounce back from losses. Tibau had a ‘nice loss’ to Forest Griffin – he was outclassed, but he held his own very well. Stevenson was totally picked apart and exposed by B.J. Penn. On the assumption that he has pride and he wants to get rid of the taste of embarrassment of that last fight, I will pick Stevenson here. He is the more experienced fighter, and he has shown us more game over his career. He has to know that he needs a win here to keep himself in the elite title picture in his class. I think he will pull it off.
Tyson Griffin (-330) vs. Marcus Aurelio (+270) – Griffin faces a guy who sounds like he should have been Julius Caesar’s buddy. By the odds you would guess that this is one-sided. I don’t buy it. I have picked the favorites so far, so I’ll mix it up and take an underdog here. Griffin is probably a better fighter, and he is definitely much better known. Aurelio is new to the main event cards with the UFC, but he’s a better fighter than people who don’t know him would guess. I give Aurelio pretty much an even chance of pulling off the upset. That makes Aurelio an attractive value play. He’s no guaranteed winner, but his chances are way better than the price suggests.