In just a few hours, UFC 80 will get underway in England. This time, instead of offering it up free on Spike TV to make up for the broadcast delay, the UFC is broadcasting it live on pay-per-view at 3 pm, then again at 10 pm for those of us who don’t want to break routine. As always, several betting websites have lines up on the fights, though for the purposes of this discussion we’ll be looking at the lines from Bodoglife.com.
I don’t need to go through that disclaimer about betting on sports again, do I? Because if you read this blog and you haven’t learned your lesson one way or another by now, I almost hope you lose your shirt and end up down at the bus station dancing for quarters. Say hi to my friend Dan Brooks when you get down there. He’s the one giving free massages to sailors in the corner.
B.J. Penn (-300) vs. Joe Stevenson (+240)
This line would indicate that the oddsmakers believed Penn when he said he’d rededicated himself to MMA. Either that, or they think Stevenson is so far beneath his level that he could show up out of shape and still win. I’d be more likely to believe the former than the latter, but regardless I’m still a little surprised at the line. It’s tempting to put down a small bet on Stevenson, because who knows what B.J. Penn will do. Stevenson is a work horse and you can’t count a guy like that out. Then again, if I were to bet on Stevenson, it would be a small bet, and I’d consider that money as good as gone when I did it.
Gabriel Gonzaga (-250) vs. Fabricio Werdum (+200)
This is interesting when you consider that Werdum won the first meeting between these two. They’re both jiu-jitsu champions, but Werdum is a little bigger and stronger, and they’ve both been in the sport for a while now. It makes me think that people are still basing their opinion of Gonzaga off the “Cro Cop” victory. Not that it wasn’t impressive, but it also doesn’t mean he’s going to go charging up the heavyweight ladder just because of it. Gonzaga deserves to be the (slight) favorite here, but I think it’s going to be closer than people are expecting.
Kendall Grove (-295) vs. Jorge Rivera (+235)
That seems about right. Rivera is being brought in as a credible and beatable opponent for Grove, who the UFC has money and time invested in promoting and who needs an impressive win to help him bounce back from his loss to Patrick Cote (another credible and beatable opponent the UFC fed to him). This one isn’t even worth thinking about at these odds.
Marcus Davis (-365) vs. Jess Liaudin (+285)
I can understand why Davis is a heavy favorite, but you could still get burned going with a guy like that. He’s dangerous, but also reckless, and Liaudin might have the better ground game. The rumor is he wants to stand and trade with Davis, though that might just be some psychological trickery from Liaudin. If it is, he’s smarter than I previously gave him credit for. If it isn’t, he’s much dumber. Too many ifs there to be worth a bet.
Alessio Sakara (-135) vs. James Lee (+105)
This could get interesting. Sakara has been inconsistent, and while there have been rumors that his ground game has improved, we haven’t seen it yet. Lee’s been on a streak and could easily win this if he doesn’t get into a boxing match with Sakara. The line isn’t too great (though I’ve seen a slightly better one on other sites), but still worth a modest risk.
Antonio Hardonk (-335) vs. Colin Robinson (+265)
Why do I feel like the UFC should offer some rebate on the pay-per-view price if this one turns out to be as bad as I think it will? Two pretty boring, plodding heavyweights, neither of which seems likely to go anywhere with their UFC careers. Hardonk has probably never been this heavy a favorite in a fight that wasn’t a domestic violence incident, and I have to wonder if he’s worthy of it. Robinson is on the card for local drawing power, but if you’ve got twenty bucks that’s burning a hole in your pocket, the line is worth it. I guess.