The finale of The Ultimate Fighter offers a good chance to take advantage of the general lack of knowledge surrounding the reality show fighters. Few people have seen enough of most of these guys to have a really good fix on what they’re capable of, and the variance in the betting lines from one online sportsbook to another bears that out.
It’s with this in mind that we now examine the odds for Saturday night’s TUF Finale, using the lines taken from bodoglife.com. As with any analysis that you get for free, you should realize that I stand behind my picks, but am not responsible for/generally don’t care about the state of your finances should you choose to put money down on these fights. Betting on professional fighting ranks just below scanning the beach with a metal detector as far as financial strategies go, so be warned.
That being said, let’s have some fun.
Roger Huerta (-115) vs. Clay Guida (-115)
Interesting choice here by Bodog. By giving the same odds on each fighter, and yet making those odds slightly worse than even, they’re basically asking you not to bet on this fight unless you really, really want to. This is a reflection of how unpredictable this fight is. We haven’t seen Huerta tested in the UFC, and while Guida has faced some tough guys he hasn’t always done well against them. Huerta is still my pick, but Guida keeps saying he’ll be surprised when the cage door closes. I could see this going either way, and that’s why I’m staying away from it.
Mac Danzig (-150) vs. Tommy Speer (+120)
Danzig is the favorite, and for good reason. He’s more experienced, more technical, and seems to have a sense of inevitability ala Hillary Clinton two months ago (note to Mac Danzig: I apologize for comparing you to Hillary Clinton just now. I, uh, it just happened, okay?). The downside is, as Danzig has said, the pressure is all on him. Speer is just happy to be in the finals, as well he should be. If he loses to Danzig people will just talk about what a great talent he’ll be someday. If Danzig loses, it’s going to seem like this torturous experience after such a long climb up was completely wasted. I’m picking Danzig, but so are the oddsmakers.
John Koppenhaver (-125) vs. Jared Rollins (-105)
I’m a little surprised to see J-Roc as the slight underdog. He’s an all-around better fighter than Koppenhaver, not to mention that “War Machine’s” mental game is questionable at best. We all saw him psych himself out on the show, and I have a feeling he’s just waiting for an excuse to lose here. J-Roc will give him one upside his head, and the odds, while not great, are good enough.
George Sotiopoulos (-500) vs. Billy Miles (+300)
Stay faaaar away from this one. The only way Miles is beating Sotiropoulos is if he sticks his thumb in his eye. The odds reflect that. It’s a longshot that could pay off big time if somehow Miles is a new man on Saturday night, but many a down-and-out gambler has been ruined by hopes like those. Don’t do it. I know it sounds cool in Bukowski novels and Hold Steady songs, but don’t do it.
Richie Hightower (-145) vs. Troy Mandaloniz (+115)
I like “Rude Boy’s” chances of pulling off the minor upset here. Hightower never looked good on the show except against Blake Bowman, who is, you’ll notice, not on this card at all. Mandaloniz has hopefully asked his friend B.J. Penn for a few jiu-jitsu tips since the show ended, and we all know he has a decent defense and some heavy hands. I’m going with “Rude Boy”, no question.
Ben Saunders (-260) vs. Dan Barrera (+200)
I think this is going to be a lot closer than the first meeting, so I’m surprised the odds are so out of whack. Saunders is good at using his lanky, awkward attack on the feet and the ground, but Barrera can be a buzz saw when he wants to be. He lost that first fight due to inexperience, and I happen to know he’s been training with Tim Kennedy in the interim, which can’t possibly hurt his technical skill level. I’m going with Barrera, but mainly because the odds are so great. Saunders is going to be very tough.
Matt Arroyo (-330) vs. John Kolosci (+260)
Wow. This surprises me. Arroyo’s ground game gets touted on the internets a lot, but look at his record. He’s 2-1 against nobody who matters. Kolosci has had much tougher competition along the way to an 8-4 mark, and he beat jiu-jitsu fighter Erik Tavares, who I’ve trained with and can attest is an overwhelming presence on the mat. I don’t know what people are seeing that I’m not, but I’d definitely be willing to lay a bet on Kolosci here. He looked bad against Danzig, sure, but so will a lot of people. Kolosci is my underdog pick of the night.
Roman Mitichyan (-500) vs. Dorian Price (+300)
I know what you’re thinking, but back away from the ledge. Price has great striking skills and only needs one opening, but Mitichyan is another bad-ass Los Angeles Armenian who trains with Karo Parysian. Think he knows how to spike a guy on his head and capitalize once he’s on the mat? I do. The odds on Kolosci (see above) are almost as good, and the chances of him actually winning are much better. Look there if you want a heavy underdog so bad, you jerk.
Jonathan Goulet (-500) vs. Paul Georgieff (+300)
How come Georgieff is the only TUF contestant who has to fight a real, experienced opponent here? Everyone else gets another reality show guy, he gets Goulet. Talk about getting screwed. If I’m Georgieff I’m wondering why they won’t feed me Blake Bowman. Sotiropoulos gets Miles and he has to fight a veteran? It just seems mean. Anyway, I don’t think I have to tell you who I’m picking here. Unless Goulet is injured or drunk for this fight (both, maybe?), he should get the win.