UFC 134: A Bettor’s Guide

Written by: AJ Hoffman

UFC 134 is the first time the company has been in Brazil since UFC Ultimate Brazil back in 1998. Of course the card features a lot of Brazilian fighters, 14 total and one involved in all but one fight. The true theme of the card is redemption. The top 3 fights all feature fighters looking for some sort of redemption. Antonio Noguiera has lost 2 out of 3 and is a loss of way from falling into irrelevance in the heavyweight title scene. Shogun Rua was submitted by Forrest Griffin in his first UFC fight and was just dismantled by Jon Jones. A win for Rua puts him back in the title picture and redeems one of the most disappointing losses of his career. Anderson Silva has not lost since January 2006, when an illegal upkick cost him a disqualification against- (DRUMROLL) Yushin Okami. He views this as a chance to make up for that defeat as well as perform in his home country. The card is handicapped below.

PRELIMINARIES

Ian Loveland
(-215)
VS Yves Jabouin
(+165)

Big clash in styles between these two as Loveland matches his wrestling against Jabouin’s striking. Jabouin should be huge for 135 lbs., but Loveland is an outstanding wrestler who will likely dominate the match with that aspect. If Jabouin can defend the takedown he can pick Loveland apart, but I don’t see that happening. Look for Loveland to frustrate Jabouin and eventually submit him late. LOVELAND DEF. JABOUIN BY SUBMISSION (RD 3)

Yuri Alcantara
(-500)
VS Felipe Arantes
(+350)

Another matchup of UFC first timers will feature a couple of local guys. Alcantara impressed in his fight under the WEC banner, and has fought at an average of 6 times a year for the last 3 years. Most of his opponents have met a quick finish. Arantes trains under Macaco’s Gold Team and is another young, promising striker. I like Alcantara, but at the price I am going to have to take Arantes to pull the upset. Whoever wins, expect this to be one of the most exciting matchups on the card. ARANTES DEF. ALCANTARA BY TKO (RD 2)

Erick Silva
(-275)
VS Luis Ramos
(+215)

Ramos took this fight on short notice after Mike Swick had to bow out due to injury. Silva is an elite prospect with outstanding standup. Ramos is probably better than Silva on the ground, but the gap is not nearly as wide as the separation in the standup games. Look for Silva to impress en route to a decision. I was excited to see this fight and had hoped that Silva had a better number. Not great value here. SILVA DEF. RAMOS BY DECISION

Raphael Assuncao
(-175)
VS Johnny Eduardo
(+145)

Eduardo has been around far too long to be considered a prospect, but he is on a nice tear. 7 of his 8 career losses have come via submission. Assuncao will look to make it 8 of 9. He is a fairly one dimensional fighter, but it is a very good one dimension, and one that Eduardo struggles against. I think Eduardo hurts Assuncao for a couple of rounds but gets caught late. ASSUNCAO DEF. EDUARDO BY SUBMISSION (RD 3)

Paulo Thiago
(-450)
VS David Mitchell
(+325)

Thiago has been hit or miss in the UFC, but has consistently has faced top level competition. Mitchell lost a decision to TJ Waldburger in his UFC debut, marking the first time he had felt defeat in his 12 fight career. Thiago is just too much for him wherever the fight takes place. This is an easy win for Thiago, and if you are looking for a little bit better bet, betting that the fight won’t last two full rounds pays even money.  THIAGO DEF. MITCHELL BY SUBMISSION (RD 2)

Rousimar Palhares
(-315)
VS Dan Miller
(+245)

Palhares borders on the elite level of UFC middleweights. Had he not stopped to argue with the ref in the middle of his fight with Nate Marquardt, he could be sitting at 6-1 in the UFC with his lone loss against Dan Henderson. Miller is tough as hell, but not nearly on the level of Palhares, on the ground or the feet. Miller is well rounded, but that won’t save him once Palhares grabs hold of one of his legs. PALHARES DEF. MILLER BY SUBMISSION (RD 2)

Thiago Tavares
(-210)
VS Spencer Fisher
(+170)

Fisher is always an exciting fighter, but I think he is nearing the end. Tavares is also the kind of guy that will hang on Fisher and keep him on the mat instead of standing and banging with him. It probably won’t cost him his job, because he always comes to fight, but will knock him to the bottom tier of the lightweight division. Tavares is too smart to fall into a fistfight with Fisher. TAVARES DEF. FISHER BY DECISION

MAIN CARD

Luiz Cane
(-210)
VS Stanislav Nedkov
(+170)

Cane is a frustrating fighter to bet. He looks great at times, and horrible at others. Nedkov is a solid wrestler but still pretty raw with the rest of his game. I have been excited to see him in the UFC for some time. This is a tough first matchup, but I think Nedkov eats some standup on his way to takedowns and controls most of the fight for a hard fought decision win. I thought this fight might finish sooner, but the more I think about it I am convinced it will draw out. NEDKOV DEF. CANE VIA DECISION

Edson Barboza
(-260)
VS Ross Pearson
(+200)

This is going to be a standup war. Barboza is a BEAST and doesn’t get tired. Pearson is a really tough fighter who will not be afraid to trade. Tough and willing will only get you so far though, and Barboza is just too much for Pearson right now. I do think this fight lasts a little longer than most are predicting, and I think Pearson may land some nice shots. Overall he will spend most of the night on the defensive. BARBOZA DEF. PEARSON BY DECISION

Brendan Schaub
(-250)
VS Minotauro Nogueira
(+195)

Nogueira is healthy for the first time in ages. The question remains if it is too late for his health to matter. Schaub is a real test for Nogueira on the feet and will probably be able to take him down. On the mat will be the one place Schaub doesn’t have an advantage. Nogueira can take a beating with the best of them, and I don’t think Schaub will stop him. Hewill do enough to walk away with an unpopular, but justified unanimous decision win. SCHAUB DEF. NOGUEIRA BY DECISION

Shogun Rua
(-280)
VS Forrest Griffin
(+220)

I know there are two distinctive camps in this one. Those who think Rua will never be what he was hyped to be and think he was overrated because he beat up a bunch of guys the average fan isn’t familiar with in Japan. Then there are those of us who remember Shogun as one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport and make excuses for him such as he was fighting on one good leg when he lost to Griffin the first time. With the exception of the Jones fight, Rua has looked miles better since then, including his two fights against Machida. I have never had much faith in Griffin, and I think Rua exacts revenge for their first meeting. RUA DEF. GRIFFIN BY TKO (RD 2)

MAIN EVENT

Anderson Silva
(-625)
VS Yushin Okami
(+425)

Okami is strong as a bull and holds a solid advantage in the wrestling department. That is probably the only advantage he holds. That said, the only guys that have made Silva look human in the UFC have been Dan Henderson (for a round) and Chael Sonnen (for 4 and a half rounds). Both excellent wrestlers. I think Okami pushes this fight and maybe even wins a round, but in the end is not enough to beat Silva, especially in front of his home crowd. Silva will likely come into this fight looking to make a statement. Okami will make it tough, but not tough enough. SILVA DEF. OKAMI BY TKO (RD 4)

SAFEST PICKS THIAGO, BARBOZA
RISKIEST PICKS NEDKOV, ARANTES
CONSERVATIVE PARLAY BARBOZA, THIAGO, E. SILVA, LOVELAND- PAYS 2/1
MODERATE PARLAY BARBOZA, TAVARES, RUA, ASSUNCAO- PAYS 3/1
AGGRESSIVE PARLAY PALARES, SCHAUB, NEDKOV, ARANTES- PAYS 21/1
LOTTERY TICKET PARLAY ALL 12 FIGHTS- PAYS 260/1

(all head shots used courtesy of UFC.com)