UFC 107 Betting Odds and Analysis

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UFC 107 Betting Odds and Analysis

Quick picks:

o Penn over Sanchez at -275 risking 3 units to win 1.09 units.

o Cheick Kongo for the upset over Mir at +185 risking 2 units to win 3.7 units.

Some fun prop bets:

BetCRIS has some interesting prop bets that should be considered. I’ve taken the following (all are at .25 units a piece):

o Kongo/Mir get fight of the night at +750 to win 1.875

o Belcher/Gouveia get fight of the night at +750 to win 1.875

o Nelson/Wiman get fight of the night at +750 to win 1.875

o Penn/Sanchez fight ends in Rd2 at +325 to win .8125

o Penn wins by submission at +220 to win .55

o Kongo wins by decision at +500 to win 1.25

o Pierce wins by decision at +400 (this is my hedge since I got Fitch at a good line) to win 1 unit

o Florian wins by submission at +275 to win .6875

B.J. Penn (-275, Sportsbook) vs Diego Sanchez (+250,5 Dimes)

How Diego Sanchez can get a title fight after two decision victories at lightweight, is a real mystery. He may have been a beast at 170 until he ran into Fitch and Koscheck, but he still hasn’t truly proven himself at 155. B.J. Penn, on the other hand, has completely dominated the lightweight division. He has looked invincible since moving back down from welterweight, and has proven himself to be on another level compared to everyone else in the division.

Striking wise, Penn has much better boxing then Sanchez. He also has an iron chin, so the Hail Mary punch for Sanchez is nonexistent for this fight. He may be able to out point Penn on the feet, but it is highly unlikely. Penn won’t get into brawling matches with Sanchez like Guida did.

In the wrestling department, Sanchez has better takedowns, but Penn has much better TD defense. Penn has had problems in the past at 170 against strong wrestlers like Hughes and GSP, but it is again doubtful that Sanchez will be able to replicate them. Penn was always undersized in those fights, or lacking in cardio. He will have neither of those disadvantages on Saturday night.

On the ground, Penn is again a clear winner. His top game is just plain nasty, and when he gets an opponent’s back, the end of the bout by RNC is just a formality. His flexibility is out of this world and he uses legs like no other Jui-Jitsu guys out there. The only possibility of Sanchez winning this is getting on top and trying to smother Penn. Penn does have a problem with being on the bottom, especially when his opponents are smart, don’t attempt submissions, and just maintain position to accrue points on the score cards.

In reality, Penn has by far the most paths to victory. His striking, TD defense, and ground game are all superior to Sanchezs. The only chance Sanchez has is to keep his distance, try to pick apart from the outside, and get the decision victory. However, with Sanchez’s aggressive style, he won’t likely try such a patient strategy.

Penn’s kryptonite in the lightweight division will be a strong wrestler that can replicate what GSP did to him. So far, such a fighter hasn’t shown up and Sanchez just doesn’t fit that mould. In all likelihood, Grey Maynard will be the one to do it if he gets a title shot. Therefore, don’t look for the upset in this fight. Sanchez can be as motivated as he wants, it doesn’t change the reality of Penn’s skill sets.

Final Prediction: At -300 Penn is considered a 75% favorite, which is fairly accurate. When the Hail Mary KO is eliminated from Sanchez’s line, Penn should move to about 80%. The only thing to worry about is Penn being a victim of some insane judging (which of course rarely happens in MMA). Therefore, Penn has good value up to about -400. Take Penn now at -275 for 3 units to win 1.09 units.

Frank Mir (-185, SportBet) vs Cheick Kongo (+185, Bodog)

I have a feeling that the general betting public has bought into the Frank Mir hype that started after he beat Big Nog. There seems to be this belief that Frank has developed into some kind of high-level striker since he TKO’ed a sick Big Nog. However, that is far from the truth. He didn’t show the greatest striking against Brock Lesnar, except for one flying knee, and he has always relied heavily on his jui-jitsu to win in the past. Beating a staph infected Nog does not make someone a dangerous striker.

Cheick Kongo, on the other hand, is a high-level striker. He hits very hard, with impeccable timing. Before he came to MMA, Kongo racked up a list of kickboxing and Muay Thai accolades. The only problem he has really had in the cage has been on the ground or due to wrestlers, not other strikers. It is insane to think that Frank Mir will be able to do anything to him on the feet.

In the wrestling department, Kongo is again the winner. When he isn’t getting bested by wrestling machines like Cain Velasquez, he is usually the dominant wrestler. In fact, he was able to take Cain down (he popped right back up, but that is beside the point, Kongo still took him down). Now, Mir has been talking a great deal about improving his wrestling, since it was obviously his weak point after what Lesnar did to him. He has also stated that he has been looking at GSP to model his takedowns after. However, most likely, Mir is still in love with the striking game and will not be caught up to Kongo’s level of either takedowns or takedown defense. Plus, if you look at his past fights, he was never a good takedown artist.

The only area that Mir has an edge is on the ground, and it is a pretty sizable edge. Kongo was originally known as a heavy handed striker that was completely out of his element on the ground. However, Mir made his name in the UFC with his submission victories. Kongo has since improved greatly in both his comfort on the ground and his submission defense, but he is still not near the level that Mir is at. Therefore, if it hits the ground, Mir has a very real chance of pulling off a submission.

There are several extra variables to consider with this fight that are probably skewing the lines. First off, the perception that Mir is some fantastic boxer. This is giving people the sense that he will be able to strike with Kongo. He will not. Kongo dropped Cain every single time they were on their feet, and should be able to do the same to Mir. Second, the loss Kongo has against Cain. Cain did dominate, but it must be remembered that Kongo was never finished, got out of numerous bad positions, and came into that fight on short notice after Heath Herring pulled out. Thirdly, Frank Mir’s lost to Brock Lesnar isn’t being factored in quit as drastically, after all, Lesnar is an insanely huge freak of a heavyweight that has the speed of a lightweight (that might be a little excessive, middle or welter might be more appropriate). Finally, everyone knows that Frank can steamroll Kongo on the ground, but he does not have the tools to get it there. Since he doesn’t have the wrestling to take Kongo down, his Jiu-Jitsu edge is effectively neutralized.

Now for some paths to victory. If Frank is egotistical enough to stay on the feet with Kongo, he is going to go to sleep. If Kongo stay’s smart, he will use his wrestling to keep the fight on the feet and turn it into a kickboxing match. There is really no reason for him to go play the Jiu-jitsu game with Mir on the ground. Therefore, Kongo definitely has the better path to victory with his wrestling being the deciding factor.

Final Prediction: This line is really skewed. Kongo shouldn’t be the favorite, since Mir has a huge edge on the ground, but he should be much closer to even money due to his wrestling and striking advantage. Take Kongo for 2 units at +185 to win 3.7 units.

Clay Guida (+185, Bodog) vs Kenny Florian (-200, BetCRIS)

This is a really tough fight to call. Both guys have well defined paths to victory, and it is hard to tell which one will be able to pull it off.

Kenny Florian is a well rounded fighter that sits near the top of the lightweight division. He did just lose to B.J. Penn, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous to the rest of the 155ers. Standing up, he has great Muay Thai kickboxing. Takedown wise, he has good trips from inside the clinch, but is somewhat lacking when it comes to traditional wrestling skills. However, he has shown some improved TD defense over his last few fights. Florian is very skilled on the ground. His bread and butter from the top position is to work to mount and get the RNC. From the bottom, he has brutal elbows, and can punish guys that take him down like no one else in the UFC. If he doesn’t win by cuts from that position, he does open up transitions and sweeps to work toward his top game.

Clay Guida can only be described as a cardio machine with good takedowns. He is a grinder that tends to decision his opponents by maintaining top position throughout the fight and tiring his opponents out with his frantic pace. Skills wise, he is somewhat lacking. His boxing has been subpar for a while and has never really shown improvement. He has an iron chin, and has been relying on it to get him through the standup portion of his fights. His submission defense is good, but he never looks for his own subs to win the fight. He has excellent wrestling, but that is about it.

Florian’s path to victory in this fight is to either out point Guida on the feet where he has a clear striking advantage, or attempt to get this to the ground with his trips while in the clinch and get the RNC. When Guida takes him down, he could also end the fight via cut since his elbows seem to have razors sewn into the skin. Guida’s path is the same one he relies on in every fight and that is to grind out a decision using his wrestling.

The probabilities for these paths and possibility of execution have to include some high variances. If Florian doesn’t get the RNC in round one, the fight has decision written all over it. Therefore, it will come down to Florian out pointing on the feet, or Guida maintaining top control and scoring more points. Since MMA judging has been a little suspect lately, give the lines a lot of leeway. Florian at -200 is fairly accurate given his skill set and how badly he has beaten everyone else in the division (sans Penn and Sherk). He could even go as high as -250. However, with the judging problem the line can be brought back down to about -175. All that being said, it is hard to pick Guida for the upset, due to the one dimensional manner with which he wins and lack of development over the years. He is currently with Greg Jackson’s camp, but it is doubtful that they will be able to change much of his style or strategy and have an effect on this fight.

Final Prediction: Leave this fight alone. Throwing Florian into a parlay might be ok, but a straight up bet is not worth it due to the likelihood of a decision and the unknown factor that is MMA judging.

Jon Fitch (-355, BetCRIS) vs Mike Pierce (+325, Bodog)

Jon Fitch is just one of those walls in the welterweight division. He lost against GSP when going for the title, but has destroyed everyone else below him. As such, the UFC seems to be trying to feed him midlevel guys that will probably not be a threat to GSP. That way, they don’t ruin some possible challengers which they are in need of at 170.

Mike Pierce is a perfect example of this policy. He has a big upset win over Brock Larson, but he is a very one-dimensional wrestler. His striking is lacking and so is his ground game. Fitch, however, has Pierce’s wrestling ability (if not being better), good striking, and very good Jiu-jitsu. He should dominate this fight in all aspects.

The only danger is that Pierce might be able to out wrestle Fitch for a decision win. Yet, Fitch displayed some amazing grappling against Paulo Thiago, which makes it unlikely that Pierce can just get the takedown and LnP his way to victory. Fitch is very crafty and could easily end up on Pierce’s back at some point to get the RNC.

Pierce is outclassed in every possible way by the well-rounded Fitch. There is always the chance of him getting the lucky punch KO, but it still isn’t worth a long shot bet at these odds. This fight will most likely see Fitch putting pierce on the ground and dominating him for a decision victory.

Final Prediction: Fitch should win, however, with MMA it is best to stay away from odds over -350. He may be worth throwing into a small parlay, but stay away from this fight for now. (Note: You could throw a couple units on Fitch and then hedge it a bit with the prop bet on BetCRIS that Pierce wins by decision at +500)

Paul Buentello (+140,BetCRIS) vs Stefan Struve (-150, Bodog)

Paul Buentello was a one-time heavyweight title contender in the UFC back in 2005, which he lost to Arlovski. Stefan Struve is a very young guy (22) that has seen success in the octagon, except for his run in with Junior Dos Santos in his octagon debut. Struve will have both a massive height and reach advantage in this fight.

Buentello’s strengths and game plan are pretty straight forward. He prefers to stand up and bang with his opponents. He has crisp boxing that utilizes a stiff jab and a methodical switching of head to body shots. He also has some good head kicks that will probably not show up in this fight (Struve is 6’11”). In all of his fights, he has never shot in for a takedown. Instead, he likes to pick his opponents apart and slowly build up steam as they accrue damage to either get the TKO later in round 2 or 3, or get the decision victory.

From a wrestling perspective, he has a good sprawl, and never attempts to take the fight to the ground. However, Struve doesn’t tend to shoot for his takedowns, instead, he likes to trip his opponents while wrapped up in the clinch. Therefore, his sprawl is not likely to be a factor against Struve. Inside the clinch, Buentello has very dangerous uppercuts and tends to look for body locks to control his opponent while he works his dirty boxing.

Stefan Struve is a long and lanky fighter whose greatest strength is on the ground. He doesn’t have extremely dangerous striking. Instead, he prefers to get in the clinch, work for trips, and then work his ground game. If he is unable to wrap his body around his opponents while going for the trip, he will revert to plan B, which is jumping into guard. Once there, he can use his long limbs to get the figure 4 body lock and work toward triangles. If he is able to get in top position, his best path to victory is working to mount, flipping to the back, and working for the RNC. In all of his UFC fights, he has been pretty much owned on the feet. He has a couple good knees, but has not yet learned to use his superior reach to work the jab and kicks.

There are some very interesting variables in this fight that make it a little difficult to set a good line. First off, Buentello just got kicked out of AKA due to a management dispute. So there is no telling how well his camp has gone for this fight (rumors are that they went poorly). There is also the fact that he was originally slated to face Todd Duffy, a strong wrestler, who had to pull out due to a back injury. Secondly, Paul tends to be the one with the longer reach in his fights, and he uses that by leveraging his stiff jab to pick at his opponents. He won’t have that advantage with Struve. However, since Struve doesn’t tend to use his reach while striking, it may not have a huge effect on Paul’s game plan. Finally, Struve is a young guy that will probably be making leaps in bounds in his training over the next few years. He is only 22 years old, so it is difficult to gage just how much more improved he will be since his last time in the octagon. There is a decent chance it will be significant.

With all that being said, this fight really has two possibilities. Either Paul picks Struve apart on the feet, bloodies him up while in the clinch, and avoids his trips to move to a decision victory (maybe TKO like Dos Santos did). Or Struve will be able to get his trip when they lock horns, takes this fight to the ground, and then gets the submission victory. The most likely scenario is that Buentello will be able to have his way on the feet. He is a crafty veteran and it is doubtful that he will be sucked into a grappling match with Struve on the ground. Therefore, the line should be around -150 for Buentello. (Since he prefers to pick away at his opponents, there is a chance this fight could go the distance, and the longer it goes, the higher the chance that Struve can take it to the ground. He proved in the Stojnic fight that he has a lot of heart. If Buentello had more KO power, this starting line would be closer to -200.) Since there have been issues with his management and camp, his line should drop to about -120. With Struve’s unknown improvement due to being so young, the line drops a bit more to +110. Since he is currently in deeper underdog territory at +140, he has some value in this fight.

Final Prediction: Take Paul Buentello at +140 for 1 unit to win 1.4 units. (Note: Buentello has since moved back to around +105. That is much more accurate and there should be no action at such a price)

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