UFC 135: A Bettor’s Guide

 

Written by: AJ Hoffman

 

UFC 135 is like a chick with a great rack but a flabby ass and a busted face. There is one great matchup on the card, and the rest is kind of blah. That said, there are some good values outside the main event, including 3 former world champions pencilled in as huge underdogs. The main event is one of the most anticipated of the year as Jon “Bones” Jones looks to defend his title against former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The card is broken down below…for entertainment purposes only of course.

PRELIMINARIES

Junior Assuncao
(-115)
VS Eddie Yagin
(-115)
 

While it is probably not fair to judge Junior Assuncao on his first run in the UFC, where he went 1-2 between 2006 and 2007, it is hard for me not to. He has put together a nice run of wins lately, though most have been in local shows and a couple in Brazil. Eddie Yagin is a Tachi Palace vet who just notched a win over former Bellator standout Joe Soto. Look for Yagin to be the more aggressive fighter and establish himself as a solid prospect in the lightweight division. YAGIN DEF. ASSUNCAO BY DECISION

Takeya Mizugaki
(-220)
VS Cole Escovedo
(+175)

This is probably a “win or you are f***ing fired” match between a couple of old WEC vets trying to make one last go at it. Escovedo is definitely in more dire need of a win, having lost 3 of his last 4 fights. Mizugaki has alternated wins and losses in his last 8 fights, and most recently lost to Brian Bowles. Maybe that is good news for him. Escovedo’s only win in his last four was against current TUF cast member Steven Siler. I just think at this point he is more about the story of his comeback from staph infection than his actual in-cage abilities. Mizugaki wins. MIZUGAKI DEF. ESCOVEDO BY DECISION

James Te Huna
(-160)
VS Ricardo Romero
(+130)
 

This should be an interesting match, despite neither guy having much of a profile. Te Huna just lost a 6-fight winning streak at the hands of Alexander Gustaffson. Prior to that he had wins over Igor Prokrajak and Anthony Perosh. Romero won his UFC debut over Seth Petrozelli via armbar, but was finished by punches in just 21 seconds his last time out by Kyle Kingsbury. Romero is a slick submissions guy, but Te Huna packs too much of a punch for him. Look for a finish in a back and forth fight. TE HUNA DEF. ROMERO BY TKO (RD 2)

Tim Boetsch
(-160)
VS Nick Ring
(+135)

This is one of the more surprising betting lines to me. Boetsch gained some fame when he slammed David Heath into oblivion a few years back, but has been wildly inconsistent since then. Ring has been solid, but not spectacular. He won his UFC debut in VERY controversial fashion against Riki Fukuda in a decision that led Dana White to pay Fukuda his win bonus. His second fight went better, defeating James Head via submission. Look for Ring to get the fight to the ground and finish with a submission. RING DEF. BOETSCH BY SUBMISSION (RD 3)

Tony Ferguson
(-350)
VS Aaron Riley
(+250)
 

This is another “good value” fight. Aaron Riley has a ridiculous advantage in experience, especially against top level opponents. Ferguson has no big show experience outside the finale of The Ultimate Fighter. I think Ferguson is good, and has a bright future, aside from being a total douche. Riley will control this fight though and frustrate Ferguson en route to a decision win. RILEY DEF. FERGUSON BY DECISION


MAIN CARD

Ben Rothwell
(-350)
VS Mark Hunt
(+250)
 

This is actually going to be a really fun fight to watch considering neither of these guys are anywhere near title contention. Both guys love to stand and bang and that is always recipe for a show. Rothwell hasn’t fought in a while after suffering a torn ACL in his last fight back in June of 2010. Mark Hunt has literally gone up against a murderer’s row in his career, including matchups with Fedor, Cro Cop, Wanderlei, Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem. He had lost 6 straight after starting his career 5-1, but won his most recent fight against Chris Tuchscherer to give him his first victory since 2006. Hunt has crazy power, but if Rothwell can get him on the mat it is pretty much over. I am going to say that the ring rust on Rothwell catches up to him. Hunt with the upset. HUNT DEF. ROTHWELL BY KO (RD1)

Nate Diaz
(-260)
VS Takanori Gomi
(+200)

Nate Diaz is my gambling equivalent to Kryptonite. I almost always pick him to win, because he has a lot of the same skills that his brother has, yet he just hasn’t really been able to put it together. He is on a recent slide, and has notoriously struggled with wrestlers. All signs tell me to bet Gomi, but the Fireball Kid is just not what he used to be. I think on the feet Diaz will be too fast, and if taken down, Gomi will not have the same ground and pound that made him so fearsome as the PRIDE lightweight champion. I will just keep being a sucker for Nate Diaz. DIAZ DEF. GOMI BY SUBMISSION (RD 3)

Travis Browne
(-375)
VS Rob Broughton
(+275)
 

After mauling James McSweeney and Stefan Struve, and taking Cheick Kongo to a draw, Travis Browne has got to be considered one of the up and comers in the heavyweight division. He is still unbeaten as a pro and 5 of his 11 wins have come under a minute (two under 10 seconds). Broughton has been good of late, winning 5 straight fights. He holds wins over James Thompson and Neil Grove. Ultimately I think Browne will overwhelm him with his hands though, and could lead to big things for the Jackson MMA heavyweight. BROWNE DEF. BROUGHTON BY TKO (RD 1)

Josh Koscheck
(-500)
VS Matt Hughes
(+350)
 

Part of me sees a former champion who has fought really well of late as a near 4/1 underdog, and wants to jump on it. The other part of me realizes that Josh Koscheck is probably as good as anyone not named Georges St. Pierre at 170 lbs. The rumor was that Kos was about to change weight classes when this fight opened up. I would love to bet Hughes and hope that he can land a big shot that drops Koscheck long enough for him to jump and finish, but the reality is that Koscheck will probably control Hughes on the ground and likely finish him from the top. I won’t say that I blame you if you throw a few bucks on Hughes at this price though. KOSCHECK DEF. HUGHES BY TKO (RD 2)

MAIN EVENT

Jon Jones
(-550)
VS Rampage Jackson
(+375)

I know Jon Jones is the next big thing. I know he is a great wrestler who hits hard and has insane reach. That said, I cannot believe how lopsided this line is. We have yet to see someone press Jones with a solid striking game (Shogun Rua certainly didn’t), and Rampage seems like the kind of opponent who can get in on Jones and at least test his chin. I don’t know if Rampage can crush him, but I think at +375, the odds are good enough that Rampage is almost a must play. I wouldn’t bet my house on it, but at nearly 4/1 I won’t have to. With Jones being such a huge favorite in every fight, going against him in every fight until he loses isn’t a horrible strategy, especially if you believe that the 205 curse will keep him from holding onto the title for a lengthy run, something no one since Chuck Liddell has been able to do. JACKSON DEF. JONES BY TKO (RD 2)

SAFEST PICKS KOSCHECK, BROWNE
RISKIEST PICKS JACKSON, HUNT
CONSERVATIVE PARLAY KOSCHECK, BROWNE, MIZUGAKI, TE HUNA- PAYS 5/2
MODERATE PARLAY KOSCHECK, RING, DIAZ, YAGIN- PAYS 11/2
AGGRESSIVE PARLAY RING, TE HUNA, RILEY, YAGIN- PAYS 22/1
LOTTERY TICKET PARLAY ALL 10 FIGHTS- PAYS 1156/1

(all head shots used courtesy of UFC.com)