UFC 131: A Bettor’s Guide

Written by: AJ Hoffman

UFC 131 was supposed to feature Junior dos Santos and Brock Lesnar in the culmination of their season on The Ultimate Fighter. Lesnar’s illness has forced him off the card, and former interim champion Shane Carwin will fill in. Kenny Florian will make his debut at 145 pounds and Dave Herman will be fighting in the UFC for the first time. The card is handicapped below.

PRELIMINARIES

Michihiro Omigawa
(-325)
VS Darren Elkins
(+250)

Darren Elkins has seen just a minute and a half of cage time in his two fights in the UFC. He beat Duane Ludwig when Ludwig’s ankle blew out 44 seconds into the fight and was arm-barred by Charles Oliveira in 41 seconds the next time out. Omigawa has not had much success in the UFC, but has worked his way up the featherweight charts with some big wins in Japan. Elkins is dropping from 155, and I think his wrestling will be enough to pull off the upset. ELKINS DEF. OMIGAWA BY DECISION

Aaron Rosa
(-165)
VS Joey Beltran
(+130)

Rosa is a veteran of the Houston scene, fighting in the Renegades promotion from 2005-06. Beltran has not been good in his last two fights, most recently getting his leg destroyed by Pat Barry. One thing Beltran is though is tough. Rosa will have to work to finish him, and I think that may be too tall of a task. Three rounds of beating up the sloppier Beltran should get him a decision win though. ROSA DEF. BELTRAN BY DECISION

Dustin Poirier
(-500)
VS Jason Young
(+300)

Poirier was going to be known as “the guy who beat Josh Grispi”, but after last weekend it looks like he won’t be the only one doing that. He is very good though. Young is making his UFC debut having mostly fought in small shows up to this point. Hard for me to judge him, as I have only seen him fight once, but I really like Poirier. Until I see Young do something against big time competition I will have to bet with what I know.  POIRIER DEF. YOUNG BY TKO (RD 2)

Nick Ring
(-130)
VS James Head
(EVEN)

This really should be one of the most competitive match ups of the night. Ring has always impressed, whether in the UFC, The Ultimate Fighter or his early fights in Bellator. I think he is pretty underrated. Head is another solid fighter who recently scored the biggest win of his career over UFC veteran Gerald Harris. This will be his UFC debut. Both guys are well rounded, but I like Ring to pull out a close decision. RING DEF. HEAD BY DECISION

Krzysztof Soszynski
(-525)
VS Mike Massenzio
(+325)

Soszynksi was supposed to be fighting Igor Prokrajac, but an injury last week forced the UFC to find someone on short notice. Mike Massenzio was the best they could find. He sucked his last couple of fights in the UFC and they cut him. Pretty sure they are setting him up for failure here. SOSZYNSKI DEF. MASSENZIO BY TKO (RD 1)

Chris Weidman
(-550)
VS Jesse Bongfeldt
(+350)

Weidman is a highly touted wrestling prospect who walked through Alessio Sakara first time out. Jesse Bongfeldt is a well rounded guy who will be fighting in front of his home crowd. I think this fight could really go either way, but at the number I have to take Bongfeldt, who has the coolest nickname in MMA- WATER. BONGFELDT DEF. WEIDMAN BY DECISION

Sam Stout
(-150)
VS Yves Edwards
(+120)

Stout is one of those one dimensional fighters who is really good at his one thing. In this case it is striking. Problem is, he doesn’t really have knockout power. Edwards is really well rounded and I expect him to push the pace and finish the fight. EDWARDS DEF. STOUT BY SUBMISSION (RD 2)

MAIN CARD

Donald Cerrone
(-500)
VS Vagner Rocha
(+300)

This is going to be a better fight than people think. Rocha is REALLY good on the ground, but Cerrone is just too well rounded. He will have the ability to keep the fight where he wants it, which will likely be standing. Look for “Cowboy” to showcase the hands in a TKO victory. CERRONE DEF. ROCHA BY TKO (RD 2)

Mark Munoz
(-115)
VS Demian Maia
(-115)

Aside from the main event, this is the fight I am looking forward to the most. Munoz is an outstanding wrestler who has incredible punching power, although his standup technique is questionable. Maia is a world class jiu jitsu player and will have to defend ground and pound long enough to grab a submission. I think it will be exciting, and I think both guys will be in danger a couple of times, but in the end I think Maia has too much experience and grinds out a tough decision. MAIA DEF. MUNOZ BY DECISION

Dave Herman
(-200)
VS Jon Olav Einemo
(+160)

Herman has long been considered the best heavyweight outside the UFC and Strikeforce. He will make his organizational debut against Einemo, who hasn’t fought since 2006. Einemo is outstanding with his jiu jitsu, and will put Herman in some bad situations. I don’t have a great feel for this fight either way, but I am going to go with Einemo to grab a sub at some point. EINEMO DEF. HERMAN BY SUBMISSION (RD 2)

Kenny Florian
(-275)
VS Diego Nunes
(+215)

Kenny Florian is dropping down to 145 (after starting his career at 185) and will debut at this new weight against Diego Nunes. Nunes has been really good since coming over to the WEC and most recently beat former champion Mike Brown in his UFC debut. Florian was a title contender at lightweight, and should be a monster at 145. I expect Florian to get this to the ground and find a quick submission.  FLORIAN DEF. NUNES BY SUBMISSION (RD 1)

MAIN EVENT

Junior dos Santos
(-175)
VS Shane Carwin
(+145)

Stepping on for Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin finds himself in position to get another shot at the UFC heavyweight title. Junior dos Santos is looking for his first shot at the belt. Both guys are hungry, and either could end the fight early. I think this fight boils down to whether or not JDS can survive the early storm because as we know Carwin is a fast starter. I think he will, and as the fight goes on dos Santos will take over and eventually catch Carwin with a big shot. DOS SANTOS DEF. CARWIN BY KO (RD 2)

SAFEST PICKS SOSZYNSKI, CERRONE
RISKIEST PICKS EINEMO, MAIA
CONSERVATIVE PARLAY SOSZYNSKI, CERRONE, FLORIAN, DOS SANTOS- PAYS 2/1
MODERATE PARLAY SOSZYNSKI, DOS SANTOS, MAIA, ROSA- PAYS 5/1
AGGRESSIVE PARLAY SOSZYNSKI, EDWARDS, BONGFELDT, ROSA- PAYS 18/1
LOTTERY TICKET PARLAY ALL 12 FIGHTS- PAYS 1680/1

(all head shots used courtesy of UFC.com)