UFC 99 Preview: The Comeback

Event: UFC 99: The Comeback
Venue: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany
Date: June 13, 2009

The UFC comes to Germany! Saturday night's card is full of promising, young European fighters and a few old veterans in the twilight of their Hall-of-Fame careers. There are a dozen fights scheduled in all, so let's take a look and see if we can pick the winners.

It is the UFC Monster's mission to find value in the Las Vegas betting line as it relates to mixed martial arts fights. Using strong handicapping skills and a vast range of experience in sports betting, I attempt to make our readers a little extra spending money, as well as help them enjoy the fights with a bit more background. It's good clean fun, and if readers had followed my advice in UFC 98, they would have netted a nice profit of $178.50! That's enough to buy five (5) years worth of Platinum subscriptions to this Web site!

In tonight's featured fight, we have a non-title battle at a 195-pound "catch weight" between Rich "Ace" Franklin (26-4-0) and Wanderlei "The Ax Murderer" Silva (32-9-1). Wow. Here's two future HOF'ers. Franklin used to own the UFC 185-pound middleweight division, but Anderson "Spider" Silva changed all of that with two convincingly devastating Muay Thai exhibitions on Ace's face. Franklin then moved up to light-heavyweight (205 lbs) where the UFC's deepest division lies. In comes Wanderlei Silva from Japan's Pride where he ruled undefeated for almost half a decade, and we have some history here.

Unfortunately, The Ax Murderer has had a blunt instrument in the UFC, losing four of five, but his style is the same as Spider used to defeat Franklin, so that may be his key to victory. But, my guess is that Franklin can stay away from the onslaught with some precision kicking, and will do enough effective striking to gain a majority decision. I can't believe I'm thinking a Wanderlei Silva fight will go the distance, but let's take Franklin and lay the 140. That looks cheap. Interestingly, 60% of UFC fighters polled liked Silva to win this fight. I hope they are wrong.

Huge Frenchman Cheick Kongo (24-4-1) is on a tear these days mowing down opponents with his powerful punching. He is no easy opponent for the rising star of Cain Velasquez (5-0-0), who many of you should remember as a great wrestler from Arizona State. Somehow, the bookies made the relatively inexperienced Velasquez the -200 favorite, giving Kongo some legitimate value as an underdog. But, before I walk into that trap, I have seen the beast of Cain, and I think this will be a classic battle of great wrestler against great puncher. The wrestler wins almost every time! I think Kongo will get a few shots in (and it only takes one)! But Velasquez will control the mat, where the fifht will end in the very first round with some vicious ground-and-pound. Take Velasquez and lay the 200 to win by TKO.

Welterweight (170 pounds) Mike "Quick" Swick (13-2) is known for some lightning quick knockouts. His skinny arms turn into lawnmower-like blades as he saws his opponents down. He is the real deal and a favorite of Dana White's for his loyalty to the organization. His mission? To defeat the undefeated en "Killa B" Saunders (7-0-2). Saunders is another awesome Muay Thai fighter, long and gangly, usually able to control his opponent's distance and the pace of the fight. This one should be full of fireworks with both fighters standing up throwing hay-makers. No judges decision will be needed here. This is my underdog play of the night. I like Saunders to unleash his fury of knees and end this early in the second round with a TKO victory. I'm going to the winner's window with a +160 'dog.

More welterweights, Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis (21-5-0) and Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy (21-6-0) have a real dislike for each other. The heavy-handed Davis always seems to fight on the UFC's overseas cards. Hardy, known for his Mohawk, is a strong kickboxer, with ample Muay Thai, and an almost non-existent ground game. I see Davis trying to end this quickly, and if he is unable to, he will find a way to the mat, where his ground-and-pound will shortly end this affair. Take the Irish Hand Grenade and lay the 200.

Lightweight (155 lbs) Spencer "the King" Fisher has an incredible 23-4-0 record, built on a relentless attacking style. He likes stand-up fighting, but has a strong guard and can put you in a chokehold in a flash. Caol Uno (25-11-4) is a seasoned former UFC fighter than is making his return into the Octagon. I will always remember Caol as the victim of a 17-second beating he took at the lightning fast hands of BJ Penn in a fight I attended many years ago at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Since that fateful day Caol has learned a lot, including an improved ground game. Tho' I like Fisher as a fighter, I think the betting value lies in Uno's potential upset as a +175 underdog. Let's take him to surprise the crowd with a stunning guillotine choke midway through the third round.

Nobody on this card has as an impressive resume of victories than heavyweight Mirko Cro Cop (24-6-2), who somehow owns three (yes, 3) victories over Josh "The Baby-faced Assassin" Barnett, as well as going the distance with Fedor Emlianenko, most recognized as the world's greatest heavyweight fighter. The Croatian Cro Cop is best known for his powerful high kicks that end many a fight. But, his UFC arrival has been anything but successful, as he has struggled to win even half of his most recent fights. Mostapha Al Turk is coming off a loss to Cheik Kongo, and the Englishman has been posted as a big underdog in this one. Cro Cop may be an undersized heavyweight at 220 lbs, but he should have enough left in the tank to KO Al Turk in the second round. Let's bridge jump at 450.

That completes the main Pay Per View card. Now let's take a quick look at the prelims ...

Lightweight Terry Etim (12-2) has superior striking skills here. His lanky frame and long reach will keep Justin Buckholz (9-2), a wrestler, at bay. I see Etim winning by triangle choke in the 2nd round. Let's take another bridge jump at 370.

German lightweight Dennis Siver (13-6-0) will be the crowd favorite as he meets relative unknown, Dale Hartt (6-1-0). Siver is the stronger striker and his power and motivation should get the job done as a modest 170 favorite. I'm calling it a first-round KO.

Englishman and welterweight Paul Taylor (9-4-1) brings a strong kicking game into his fight with German newcomer Peter Sobotta (8-1-0), whose only hope is taking it to the mat with some ground control wrestling. I don't see that happening. Taylor brings home the bacon as another big fave. Lay the 380.

Lightweight Paul Kelly (9-1-0) is a brute, who is dropping down in weight. He will be trying to ground and pound his way to a convincing win over "The Crazy Cuban" Rolando Delgado (8-3-1). While I believe Kelly is the more rounded and probably better fighter, I think we take a chance here that Delgado at +300 gets a surprise submission and his late first-round rear-naked choke ends this one.

Two UFC newcomers, heavyweights, Denis "the Menace" Stojnic (12-2-0) and Stefan "Skyscaper" Struve (20-3-0), will try to settle things quickly. When a good big man (Struve at 6'11" tall) meets a good little man (Stojnic at 5'11"), you generally want to be on the larger man. That puts me on Struve with his longer reach. He wins by second-round KO and cashes at a very cheap 130.

Welterweight John "The Hitman" Hathaway (11-0-0) will try to stay unbeaten against Rick "The Horror" Story (7-2-0) who is making his UFC debut. The hyper-active Hathaway should outwork his opponent here and gain a majority decision for his efforts. I'm taking the Hitman and laying the 150.

OK, there you have it. Twelve (12) fights, and hopefully, more winners for us than losers. Let's try our luck with a fictitious $1000 bankroll.

Let's lay $140 to win $100 on Rich Franklin.
Let's lay $100 to win $50 on Cain Velasquez.
Let's lay $100 to win $160 on Ben Saunders.
Let's lay $100 to win $50 on Marcus Davis.
Let's lay $40 to win $70 on Cael Uno.
Let's lay $90 to win $20 on Mirko Cro Cop.
Let's lay $74 to win $20 on Terry Etim.
Let's lay $85 to win $50 on Dennis Siver.
Let's lay $76 to win $20 on Paul Taylor.
Let's lay $50 to win $150 on Rolando Delgado.
Let's lay $65 to win $50 on Stefan Struve.
Let's lay $75 to win $50 on John Hathaway.

In total, we are laying $995 to try and win $790. Let's give the remaining $5 to our local youth wrestling program.

Good luck and enjoy the fights!


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