Whenever a big MMA card rolls around I always have to check the betting lines. It’s strange, really, especially when you consider that I’ve never made a bet on an MMA fight except with friends (still think Hughes was a good pick over GSP, Matt Powers? Sucker.)
As something of an industry insider, or at the very least, industry nerd, I feel like I should be able to pick fights better than the Vegas handicappers at least some of the time. When the IFL went to Vegas, for instance, there were lines on some of our fighters who I’m sure the handicappers had never seen in the ring before.
And yet, when I looked at the lines for that event they all seemed pretty accurate. That is, even if I thought that an underdog might win, the line wasn’t good enough to make the risk worth it. Which is how betting odds work, when you think about it. I guess my grandfather was right: they don’t build all those big casinos from people winning.
Here now, is a breakdown on the betting lines for UFC 75, as found on betus.com:
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (-140) vs. Dan Henderson (110)
It’s hard for me to understand why Jackson is the betting favorite here, unless it’s owing to so many MMA fans putting money on him because they can’t remember anything past six months ago.
I just can’t see how Jackson might win this one. Hendo is nearly impossible to KO, and he’s excellent on the ground so a submission is out of the question. The only explanation I can come up with is Henderson’s relatively poor record against 205-pounders. Then again, “Rampage” isn’t exactly on par with the Nogueria brothers.
My pick: Henderson. Even so, the betting line isn’t good enough. +110 means laying down a hundred bucks gets you a hundred and ten, and it’s not out of the question for “Rampage” to land one big punch and get lucky.
Save your money and put it toward something useful, like an Affliction T-shirt. I hear the ladies just go crazy for a middle-aged guy in one of those, provided that middle-aged guy is rich.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (-400) vs. Chieck Kongo (300)
This is where some money could be made. “Cro Cop” is very beatable right now, and Kongo has some great skills when he decides to get aggressive and use them. The problem is that both men are so unpredictable, and “Cro Cop” usually does well against strikers.
I’ve heard Kongo running off at the mouth about his wrestling skills of late, but it sounds like bravado to me. Still, I can definitely see Kongo catching “Cro Cop” early on if he comes right at him. Trying to hang back and counter-strike against the Croatian is a bad idea, but no one ever accused Kongo of having the greatest strategical mind.
My pick: Kongo. If it were someone else’s money, or if I just had more of it to spare, I’d put a hundred down on Kongo in a second. Then again, there’s a reason I’m not dipping into my savings to bet against “Cro Cop”, who can be vicious when he wants to be.
Michael Bisping (-240) vs. Matt Hamill (180)
Honestly, I’m a little surprised that Hamill isn’t a bigger underdog in this one. The guy’s a good wrestler, but have we seen him do anything else very well? Bisping is a complete fighter. You’re not going to wrestle your way to a decision over him, and that’s pretty much Hamill’s strategy every time out.
The only reason this fight is even happening is because Hamill had the good (or bad?) sense to call Bisping out publicly a few months back. That, added to the little bit of bad blood between them on the reality show, combined with Bisping being an obvious draw for an event in the U.K., is how this ended up on the card.
My pick: Bisping. You’re not going to make any money off of it, and that’s the way the bookmakers like it.
Bisping needs to fight some tougher competition, and I think he will after this one is over. It’s just too bad Thierry Sokoudjou isn’t in the UFC, because that would be an interesting match. In the meantime, Bisping vs. Arona, anyone?
Houston Alexander (-160) vs. Alessio Sakara (130)
Assuming Alexander’s gritty performance against Keith Jardine (who has now been demoted to “The Guidance Counselor of Mean”) wasn’t just a flash in the pan, he should handle the striker Sakara fairly easily.
While I like Sakara – mainly for his awesome ancient Roman tattoos, but also for his skillful striking – I can’t understand why he doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency about learning the ground game. Dean Lister submitted him faster than he used to submit me when I trained at Fabio Santos’ (then again, Dean is too nice a guy to beat the hell out of beginners), and Drew McFedries made similarly short work of him in a very winnable bout for “Legionarius”.
My pick: Alexander. I’d like to see Sakara win a big one here, but I learned long ago not to bet with my heart.
Marcus Davis (-210) vs. Paul Taylor (165)
Do you even care? Seriously? Fine. But here’s a word of advice: when the UFC brings in a guy nicknamed the “The Irish Hand Grenade” to fight on a card in the U.K., it’s not so he can lose. Not unless he’s fighting a Brit, that is.
My pick: Davis.
P.S. Nobody tell the London crowd that Davis is really from Bangor, Maine. Not unless you want to see them start a riot and turn over a bunch of funny-looking British cars and weird red telephone booths. On second thought, go ahead and tell them.