UFC 141: A Bettor’s Guide

Written by: AJ Hoffman

The UFC always tries to make their last card of the year a big one, and this time they succeeded by pairing two of the biggest men in the sport. The matchup between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem will also pair two of the most popular heavyweights in the world. On top of that you have a battle of fast rising lightweights with Donald Cerrone taking on Nate Diaz. I see some solid value on this card. I will be playing a ton of underdogs. While they may not all hit, I definitely should pop 1 or 2. The card is handicapped below.

PRELIMINARIES

Diego Nunes
(-260)
VS Manvel Gamburyan
(+200)
 

This fight was supposed to happen in September, but Gamburyan had a shoulder injury. Nunes is coming off a loss to Kenny Florian, while Gamburyan has matched his career-long losing streak with back to back losses against Jose Aldo and Tyson Griffin. Gamburyan is one of the toughest guys pound for pound in the UFC. I have always questioned if his skill matches his heart. I think Nunes is a notch above him.  NUNES DEF. GAMBURYAN BY DECISION

Matt Riddle
(-145)
VS Luis Ramos (+115)  

Both guys are fighting for their jobs here. Riddle is a nice guy who looks like a beast with his shirt off, but just isn’t really on the level of most guys in the UFC. Ramos trains out of Black House in Brazil, but is no Anderson Silva. He is a fairly one dimensional ground fighter who got knocked out in 40 seconds by Erick Silva in his UFC debut. I expect Riddle will have the strength advantage, and is a good enough wrestler to keep it OFF the ground. Won’t be exciting. RIDDLE DEF. RAMOS BY DECISION

Jacob Volkmann
(-260)
VS Efrain Escudero
(+200)

Escudero was expected to fight in Houston next time out for Legacy, but got the call to go to the UFC when TJ Grant was injured. The TUF winner was cut from the UFC after his loss to Charles Oliveira (and missing weight for the fight) and went 5-1 fighting in smaller shows. Volkmann is on a real tear, and has the kind of game that may give Escudero fits. I think Volkmann out-grapples Escudero and gets a finish. VOLKMANN DEF. ESCUDERO BY SUBMISSION (RD 2)

Dong Hyun Kim
(-400)
VS Sean Pierson
(+300)

Kim is the biggest favorite of the night, and with good reason. He is coming off the lone loss in his career, a knockout in a title eliminator against Carlos Condit. Pierson is making his first appearance outside of Canada. His competition took a big step up last time out, and he was knocked out by Jake Ellenberger. Kim is just too good for Pierson at this point. KIM DEF. PIERSON BY TKO (RD 2)

Danny Castillo
(-180)
VS Anthony Njokuani
(+150)
 

This is one of the more interesting fights on the card. Castillo is 2-1 since coming to the UFC. Njokuani is 1-1 in the promotion. He has great knockout power but Castillo’s wrestling could equalize it. This fight could go either way, but at the price I will take the striker here. NJOKUANI DEF. CASTILLO BY TKO (RD 1)

Ross Pearson
(-350)
VS Junior Assuncao
(+250)
 

Junior Assuncao was impressive first time out at featherweight, defeating Eddie Yagin by unanimous decision. Pearson is on a bit of a slide, having lost two of his last three. Pearson will have a clear striking advantage, but Cole Miller proved that enough jiu jitsu can overcome Pearson’s hands. I think at this price, it is hard to pass on Assuncao, who has won 7 straight fights. ASSUNCAO DEF. PEARSON BY SUBMISSION (RD 2)


MAIN CARD

  Nam Phan
(-220)
VS Jim Hettes
(+175)

Phan has worked his way onto main cards in the UFC due to his showmanship in two fights with Leonard Garcia and his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. Often it is overlooked that he is 5-7 in his last 12. Hettes is an unheralded prospect who has gone unbeaten (9-0) since turning pro. He won his UFC debut by choking out Alex Caceres in August. Hettes submission game is legit, and I don’t know if Phan has the power to finish him. This is a good upset play. HETTES DEF. PHAN BY SUBMISSION (RD 3)

Alexander Gustaffson
(-350)
VS Vladimir Matyushenko
(+250)

This has the potential to be one of the best fights on the card. Gustaffson is a highly regarded prospect who is 4-1 in the UFC. Matyushenko is the wily veteran. Matyushenko’s has only 1 loss in his last 5, and it was to Jon Jones. He has only lost 5 times overall, and all of those have come to high level fighters. This is a huge test for Gustaffson, and will show Matyushenko how much he still has to give. I will take the veteran with the long-shot odds. MATYUSHENKO DEF. GUSTAFFSON BY DECISION

  Jon Fitch
(-300)
VS Johny Hendricks
(+220)

Hendricks is on a nice little run since his loss to Rick Story, winning against Mike Pierce and TJ Waldburger. Fitch is a different animal. He has 15 fights in the UFC. He has lost 1. By the way, it was against Georges St. Pierre. Fitch will control the fight and keep it where he wants it. He is too good of a wrestler and too strong for Hendricks to trouble him. FITCH DEF. HENDRICKS BY DECISION

  Donald Cerrone
(-280)
VS Nate Diaz
(+210)

This is going to be a war. Cerrone is on as good a run as anyone, coming off wins against Dennis Siver and Charles Oliveira. Diaz has had his ups and downs in the UFC, but is the perfect gatekeeper for the lightweight division. Most people think Cerrone has a marked advantage on the feet, but Diaz is a great boxer. I think Diaz can defend himself on the feet and draw the fight out long enough to use his gas tank to win the decision. This might be way off base, but at over 2-1 the value is too good. DIAZ DEF. CERRONE BY DECISION

MAIN EVENT

Alistair Overeem
(-165)
VS Brock Lesnar
(+135)

A classic wrestler vs. striker matchup, both will try to avoid the other’s realm. Overeem will try to blast off on Lesnar much how Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin did standing. Lesnar will look to put Reem on his back, where he is a fish out of water. I think Lesnar eats some shots, but works Overeem to the ground, and pounds him out to get the upset win. A loss here would really have to put into question where Lesnar sits as an “elite” heavyweight. LESNAR DEF. OVEREEM BY TKO (RD 1)

SAFEST PICKS FITCH, KIM
RISKIEST PICKS DIAZ, LESNAR
CONSERVATIVE PARLAY KIM, FITCH, VOLKMANN, RIDDLE – PAYS 3/1
MODERATE PARLAY FITCH, KIM, HETTES, LESNAR- PAYS 9/1
AGGRESSIVE PARLAY FITCH, LESNAR, MATYUSHENKO, NJOKUANI- PAYS 15/1
LOTTERY TICKET PARLAY ALL 11 FIGHTS- PAYS 3031/1

(all head shots used courtesy of UFC.com)