Event: UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen
Venue: Prudential Center (Newark, N.J.)
Date: April 27, 2013
Tonight is Chael Sonnen's (27-12-1 with 8 submission losses) swan song. Somehow, the renown wrestler was able to talk the UFC into letting him have a title shot at 205-pound champion Jonny "Bones" Jones (17-1 with 14 finishes), despite coming off another loss to Anderson "Spider" Silva at 185 pounds. Sonnen hasn't fought at 205 for eight years! Many think this will be his last fight before retiring to the broadcast booth. Chael's loud mouth has served him well.
Rather than force a play at outrageous odds (Jones is favored between -750 and -1000, meaning you lay $10 to win $1), I'm betting that the five-round fight does NOT go 1.5 rounds, and I am getting +140 underdog odds on that wager. I believe that Jones wants to make a definitive statement here and embarrass his overmatched foe. Sonnen's wrestling will be neutralized, and he is weaker in every other category. Bones dominates and wins with a brutal firs- round elbow KO ... Bye-bye, Chael.
Now let's try some barking 'dogs. Only the Brits like middleweight Michael "The Count" Bisping (23-5 with 18 finishes), who ranks second in loud mouth brashness. His opponent Alan "The Talent" Belcher (18-7 with 16 finishes) was on an impressive roll before losing two of his last three. The loser can kiss their title chances goodbye, so this is big. I think Bisping will try to score points and win a decision by bobbing in and out of contact, while Blecher will try to be the first man to submit the Count. Belcher's desperate determination will be the difference here. Let's call the rear-naked choke for Belcher and cash for +160 underdog odds.
Heavyweight Roy "Country" Nelson (18-7 with 11 KOs) is a fan favorite. His overweight, blubbery image and his totally wild striking make him exciting to watch. And, he has an iron chin and has only been stopped once. Cheick Kongo (18-7-2 with 10 KOs) is a beast with a powerful kicking game and some vicious ground-and-pound. Unfortunately, he is Glass Joe (Jaw) in the old Mike Tyson video game. Looks can be deceiving. But if he can avoid the KO, Kongo can steal a decision based on beauty and the beast. I'm rooting for the upset and will gladly accept the +200 (double your money) odds.
I can get in trouble with management here picking against NCAA champion wrestlers on a wrestling website, but so be it. Penn State's Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis (10-1) could be in trouble here against jiu-jitsu world champion Vinnie Magalhaes (10-5 with 8 submissions). Davis' long limbs may be easy targets for the submission specialist. Vinnie called out Davis for this fight and has gotten into his head. And, some recently announced domestic abuse charges and child custody issues against Davis are to be heard in court in just 10 days. So we may have an angry, but distracted fighter here, ripe for the upset. At odds of +265, I'm taking my chances on another big upset. Vinnie wins by armbar in the second round.
Lightweight Jim Miller (22-4 with 12 submissions) has a tight fight game with very few holes. Veteran Pat Healy (29-16 with 15 submissions) is coming back into the UFC, where many Strikeforce fighters have done well, but Miller will be too much for the determined Healy, who was next in line to fight Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce title before that organization folded. I see this fight going the distance and Miller winning a unanimous decision, 30-27 on all cards. Lay the -300. Easy money.
Now let's take a quick look at the undercard.
I'm throwing out the women's match between Olympian Sara McMann (6-0) and the "German Tank", Sheila Gaff (10-4-1). McMann should win, but she's too green to invest -700 to find out.
I'm also tossing James Head (9-3)and Nick Catone (9-4). Head's a modest -170 favorite, but Catone has his chances. No opinion. No bet.
Former college football player Ovince St. Preux (12-5 with 6 KOs) is very athletic. He will use his skill set to win a decision against Gian Villante (10-3 with 6 KOs). This should be a standup affair with both looking for KOs, but my nod goes to St. Preux at -175 odds.
Two fighters trying desperately to avoid the dreaded "pink slip" will do battle when free-swinging Leonard Garcia (15-10-1 with 9 submissions) meets one-trick pony Cody McKenzie (13-3 with 12 submissions, 11 of them by guillotine choke). If Garcia can't defend the choke he will be gone. But McKenzie will be grossly overmatched on his feet and Garcia wins this by second-round KO. Lay the -185. Thanks for the memories, Cody.
Steven Siler (21-10 with 13 submissions) should have more experience to draw from as he beats Kurt Holobaugh (9-1 with 6 submissions) by a narrow split decision. Siler's modest price of -120 lures me in.
Find yourself a video replay of Russian Rustam Khabilov's (15-1) last fight. The repeated suplexes would make any wrestling fan excited. Look for the show to continue tonight as Khabilov tosses and punches his way to a second round stoppage against undefeated Yancy Medeiros (9-0 with 6 KOs). The odds are steep at -300, but I think worth the risk.
This one is right out of the book of logic. Johnny Bedford (19-9-1 with 15 finishes) went from an underdog to a favorite when his opponent had to drop out of the fight due to injuries. Late substitute Bryan Caraway (17-6 with an amazing 15 subs) was named the replacement. Caraway has 15 submissions and Bedford has been submitted 8 times in his 9 losses. You do the math. Mine says Caraway wins by submission. Take the +130 underdog odds.
Now let's take a look at how we can make some money with our fictitious $1000 bankroll:
Let's lay $ 80 to win $112 that Jones/Sonnen does NOT go 1.5 rounds.
Let's lay $ 75 to win $120 on Alan Belcher's upset of Michael Bisping.
Let's lay $ 75 to win $150 on Cheick Kongo out scoring Roy Nelson.
Let's lay $ 75 to win $200 on Vinnie Magalhaes getting his submission.
Let's lay $180 to win $ 60 on Jim Miller dominating veteran Pat Healy.
Let's lay $122 to win $ 70 on ex-football star Ovince St. Preux.
Let's lay $129 to win $ 70 on Leonard Garcia avoiding a pink slip.
Let's lay $ 60 to win $ 50 on Siler's experience to be enough.
Let's lay $150 to win $ 50 on Mr. Suflex, Rustam Khabilov.
Let's lay $ 50 to win $ 65 on another Bryan Carraway submission.
Let's pass on McMann/Gaff and Head/Catone.
In total we are risking $996 to win $947. Not a bad return on investment. Let's use the remaining $4 to buy ourselves a beer!
Enjoy the fights. I know I will ... and don't forget to donate a generous portion of your winnings to your local youth wrestling program, where tomorrow's champions are born!