Tonight represents a step forward for MMA junkies everywhere. Fox 1 will air the main event live on television. It is the first time a UFC event has premiered on network television and promises to help expand the ever growing nation of MMA fiends ready to see more action. Outside of the main event, the fights will be aired on Facebook and FoxSports.com, so you’ll still be able to catch all the fights you bet on with or without cable television to boot. All betting odds for fights are taken from Bodog.
—Aaron Rosa (5/7) vs. Matt “Luke Duke” Lucas (11/10)
Aaron Rosa made his UFC debut at UFC 131 in June, but he lost the fight to Joey Beltran. From all accounts, it was an entertaining fight that featured a lot of heavy blows, but it didn’t work out for Rosa because Beltran is a fighter who weathers hits very well. Rosa has beat some quality opponents though, notably Abe Wagner, Devin Cole, and Robert Villegas. The best opponent he has fought, however, is likely that against Strikeforce light-heavyweight champ Rafael Cavalcante, who disposed of Rosa in a second round knockout.
Rosa has completley transformed himself as a fighter, though. Against Beltran he clocked in at a fat 261 lbs, and now has trimmed his figure down to 205. It should be interesting to see how the weight change affects both his fight style and his endurance. One would have to figure he’ll have more stamina given the lack of blubber to carry around.
Matt Lucas is 14-2 and spent most of his career in the Rage in the Cage promo. His most notable win was over Homer Moore, by TKO, but he lost his toughest fight ever to Giva “The Arm Collector” Santana, who beat Lucas on an armbar submission. His 14-2 record seems impressive at first glance, but it really isn’t when all factors are taken into account, as he has only beat 2 quality opponents, and against better competition he hasn’t faired well. Rosa should be able to beat Lucas in this one, but isn’t favored by much. Still, bettors will be wise to back Rosa in this fight.
—Mike Pierce (2/7) vs. Paul “The Gentleman” Bradley (53/20)
Paul Bradley amazingly has trimmed down to being a welterweight again, and his last attempt at this weight division was not a good one. He lost to Rafael Natal in a unanimous decision at UFC 133, and though the fight was taken on short notice, it doesn’t bode well for the fighter. Still, he is a heavy favorite in this fight against Bradley.
Bradley and Pierce have history. The two fought in April of 2009 and Pierce won by unanimous decision, which is a role in why he is favored so heavily in this fight. Bradley has beaten some quality fighters, though, in Johnny Rees and Levil Avera. He is still considered an above average welterweight fighter.
Pierce, still, has won 8 of his last 10 fights and has beat some quality fighters in Brock Larson, Julio Paulino, and Amilcar Alves. The two losses were to two of the best welterweights in Jon Fitch and Johnny Hendricks. Pierce impressed against both fighters, but lost by a narrow margin to both. He’s kind of an underrated fighter, and he has a great wrestling game, not to mention a pretty decent striking game. Bradley, meanwhile, is a decent wrestler, but no where near as versed in martial arts. Pierce shouldn’t have much of a problem disposing of Bradley, much as he has in the past.
—Mackens “Mack da Menace” Semerzier (4/5) vs. Robert “Problems” Peralta (20/21)
Peralta found himself ranked in the USA Today top 25 rankings in the featherweight division by virtue of winning a split decision over Hiroyuki Takaya in Strikeforce. That win, however, represents his only meaningful victory. He lost to Fred Leavy and that more or less signaled he would never be a contender. Still, Peralta did beat Mike Lullo, who now is even more dubious as a fighter than Peralta. Neither, in fact, have much of a chance at anything more than a fly-by-night career as a UFC fighter.
Semerzier beat “Bruce Leroy” and Alex Caceres, but hasn’t won against many other quality opponents himself. Peralta isn’t a top tier fighter, but he should be able to beat a guy like Semerzier without too much problem. At 20/21 odds, Peralta is an excellent value bet in this fight.
—Cole “Apache Kid” Escovedo (1/3) vs. Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres (23/10)
You can’t blame lack of effort for Alex Caceres’ lack of success. The fighter has tried dropping weight classes twice now, and is doing so again to fight this fight at the 135 pound weight class. He has yet to defeat an opponent with 5 career MMA fights. A win tonight would not only be unlikely, but completely unprecidented for Caceres.
Escovedo is merely using this notch as stepping stone to get his career back on traack. He lost both to Takeya Mizugaki and Renan Barao, and has lost 4 of his last 5 fights. Still, he does have 10 years experience and some decent wins, including wins over Steven Siler, Jeff Bedard, and Yoshiro Maeda. He also beat Michael McDonald. While his best days are behind him, Caceres is not even a UFC level fighter and will likely be out of the UFC either after this fight or his next one. I don’t expect Escovedo to have any problem at all disposing of Caceres, and even at 1/3 odds, this is still a decent proposition for bettors seeking action.
—DaMarques “Darkness” Johnson (5/14) vs. Clay “Heavy Metal” Harvison (11/5)
This welterweight fight showcases two Ultimate Fighter competitors in Clay Harvison and DaMarques Johnson, neither of whom have been able to get much going of late. Johnson is 3-3 in UFC and hadn’t faced a lot of quality opponents in the welterweight division, beating the likes of Matt Riddle and Amir Sadollah. Harvison, meanwhile, is 1-1 in the UFC, with his victory being a split decision over Justin Edwards, while the loss was a one sided romp of a loss to Seth Baczynski.
Neither Johnson nor Harvison excel in any one area of fighting, while both can tout themselves as a jack-of-all-trades type fighter. While that may be good for being a competitive fighter, it isn’t great for being a “great” fighter, and while both have pretty advanced striking games, they are both far from being aces at that or anything else. Johnson has only won a strike battle once, though, when he landed two strikes on Guymon, compared to one, and none of his fights have gone to decision, with two being submission wins, while he has lost by TKO and once by submission due to strikes.
Harvison will be smart to take Johnson to the ground and start throwing strikes at him. Johnson has given up 12 takedowns in his career. Unfortunately, for Harvison, that really isn’t his main strength, an he himself was taken down seven times by Edwards in his debut.
If the fight remains standing, it’s really tough to say who has the advantage here, and while Johnson is a heavy favorite, the value bet here would be on Harvison, because at 11/5 he is offering a good pay out for a fight that should be much closer to even odds, all things said.
—Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (10/37) vs. Darren “BC” Uyenoyama (14/5)
This fight shows off two of the best fighters in Japan and UFC is planning a show in Japan in February, so this may be just a bit of a preview and ball-roller to get things started. Yamamoto is a big time fighter and this will help to stir up some interest in the upcoming event. He is underrated in some senses, as he has beat Rani Yahya, Caol Uno, and Genki Sudo, who are all great fighters.
Uyenoyama is a pretty exciting fighter, but will find himself outmatfched against a fighter like Yamamoto. Uyenoyama is 6-3 but is 2-2 against opponents with 5 career fights. He beat Katsumura, but other than that there aren’t a lot of reasons to expect him to be able to rise to this challenge. This seems to be more of a fight to showcase what a fighter Yamamoto is than to pit two fighters with equal abilities. Still, at these kinds of odds, I don’t really see the point in backing either fighter, and advise most bettors to steer clear of this fight from a value perspective.
—Ricardo Lamas (5/7) vs. Cub Swanson (23/10)
Cub Swanson has had a career so far marked by horrible lowlights, such as losing to Aldo in 8 seconds and then losing to Chad Mendes in a fight in which he was dominated in, but these “lowlights” are tempered by the fact that Swanson does something you would think most atheltes would do: beat the fighters he should beat, and lose to the guys he should lose to. Unfortunately, this falls into the latter category, as Swanson finds himself more than a 2:1 underdog against Ricardo Lamas. Though Swanson lost to elite fighters Aldo and Mendes, he has beaten some very good fighters, such as Hiroyuki Takaya and John Franchi.
Lamas lost in a first round KO to Yuri Alcantara and a second round TKO to Danny Castillo, but has also lost to Jens Pulver. These losses bring down the standing of a fighter like Lamas, until you consider he has beat Matt Grice, Dave Jansen, Bendy Casimir, James Birdley, and Bart Palasewski. Swanson doesn’t have that kind of resume. Lamas should be able to win this one either by KO or even by decision, but it’s a pretty evenly matched fight, again, for one with pretty uneven odds. This is not that attractive of a fight from a bettor’s perspective, though, unless you value Lamas’ victories more than the average bettor does.
––Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (1/3) vs. Pablo “The Scarecrow” Garza (23/10)
On New Year’s day, Porier took on Josh Grispi and won the fight in very decisive fashion, as he beat the snot out of Grispi using a variety of different strikes. The win made Poirier an exciting prospect, but since then he hasn’t been any where near as impressive. He was demolished by George Roop in the subsequent fight to the Grispi victory, which spoke volumes about the win over Grispi to begin with, as Grispi has since fallen apart.
Garza lost his prelim fight on the 12th season of The Ultimate Fighter, but still recevied the UFC invite, and then proceeded to dominate Fredson Paixao, knocking him out quite easily. He also had an asesome rare flying triangle choke over Yves Jabouin, which pulled his UFC record to 2-0. Garza beat two pretty inferior opponents, that he should have beaten, but the style and manner with which he destroyed them was pretty impressive. For a featherweight, Garza is long, at 6’1″, so taking this fight to the ground is his best chance. Porier isn’t really short, at 5’9″ for his weight class, but he will be at a serious disadvantage on the mat and will seek to keep this fight standing as much as possible. Even standing, though, Poirier is a great striker who lands at a high rate, which is a strength of Garza’s too.
If this fight goes to the ground, Garza has an advantage, but if it stays standing, it’s a wash. At 3/1 odds, this is a terrible fight to back the favorite, and Garza has a very good chance at winning this fight. It is a very smart bet to back the underdog given these odds.
—Ben “Smooth” Henderson (5/13) vs. Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (2/1)
Clay Guida seems to be a fighter that fights more to win decisions than to win by knockout or submission. In a sport governed so much by decision making, it isn’t really that fair to expect anything different from many fighters.
Expecting that to work against Ben Henderson, however, is a risky proposition.
Henderson is a great wrestler and is difficult to submit, and he has a great guillotine choke that will leave him ready to pounce on Guida, should he leave his neck exposed in a takedown. Henderson is also a very exciting fighter to watch. He knows how to finish off fighters and should deliver some exciting moves in this fight. He’s a very strong wrestler and a great striker as well, giving him a good chance at victory regardless of the Octagon control strategies that Guida will try to employ. Ben Henderson’s active approach in the ring is everything that Guida fears, and I don’t think there’s a lot of weight to Guida at all as a fighter. Expect Henderson to win this one without it ever going to decision at all.
—Cain Velasquez (5/9) vs. Junior “Cigano” dos Santos (3/2)
Finally, the main event, the heavyweight bout between two of the best and most exciting fighters in the UFC. They are both very well rounded fighters and it is a true showdown between the #1 and #2 fighters in the heavyweight ranks.
Velasquez was ranked by many pundits in the top 2 long before this fight. Be that as it may, many don’t have Santos far behind him. Velasquez is a persistent fighter who will seek to exploit every hairline of an advantage he can get. He got very aggressive against Brock Lesnar and it paid off as he took the title. He always seeks to move forward in fights and has a lot of power, which is why many bettors are backing him, even at 5/9 odds, not the greatest payout for a pretty evenly matched fight.
Velasquez’ biggest weakness, if it can even be called one, is that hi striking defense has been somewhat suspect. Cheik Kongo hit Velasquez very hard a couple times, and Lesnar had his chance to punish him, too, in their fight. Still, it doesn’t happen often enough to substantiate it as a true weakness. Perhaps a tiny “chink in the armor” is the best way to describe it.
Velasquez is also a better takedown artist than Santos, who rarely attempts them. He prefers to keep fights standing and out-box his opponents, and sometimes — no, most times — looks more like a boxer fighting in the UFC than a true mixed martial arts specialist.
This fight should be worth its weight as a main event. Both fighters are going to be aggressive early and they will be exchanging blows. This one is really difficult to bet on, though. It should be a lot more fun to watch than to bet on, and I recommend more closely examining my analysis of the other fights, than to wager on this one just because it is on TV. Then again, if excitement is your thing and you want action on this one, drop a bet on the defending champion.
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