UFC 75: Champion vs Champion Fight & Betting Line Analysis
by Matt Corenzwit
BetOnFighting.Com Staff Writer
MMA Odds Maker Nick Kalikas and www.BetOnfighting.com have released this weekends Official UFC 75 “Champion vs Champion” Odds.
This is quite possibly the UFC’s most active month in the organization’s history. Sandwiched between the phenomenally deep cards of UFC 74 & 76 is the first title unification bout since the acquisition of PRIDE FC. The title bout features the amicable & entertaining Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and stalwart multiple belt-holder, Dan “Hollywood” Henderson. The rest of the fight card promises to be entertaining & title implications surround several fights in several weight classes. Stand-up in particular will be the theme of UFC 75, so it promises to be exciting. The best part is: the event is free!
Quinton Jackson (-135) Vs. Dan Henderson (+105)
On the heels of his magnificent knockout victory over the longtime reigning 205 lb. champ, Quinton Jackson’s stock has never been higher. Never before did rise to the occasion in such fashion and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down anytime soon. Does this remind you of anyone else? It should. The same can be said about the new PRIDE champ, Dan Henderson. He, too is coming off of the biggest win of his career; a dominating performance over the incumbent champ.
All we keep hearing is how much bigger and stronger Jackson is, when compared to Henderson (who is also the reigning PRIDE 183 lb. champ). To be sure, “Rampage” is a freak of nature. The man has demonstrated the ability to lift & slam his opponents, even when in precarious positions. That in mind, we’ve been down this road before. “Hendo” continues to flourish even after stepping up in weight. His most recent victims have been the established and well respected Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva. Like his former teammate & current champ, Randy Couture, Dan finds a way. He continues to prove us all wrong.
Going against the grain can be a risky proposition, but it also pays well when you’re right. Dan will be the better conditioned, better prepared, and functionally stronger fighter. It’d be foolish to say that he won’t be slammed at all, but he’s never been stopped in MMA outside of the Nogueira submissions. Coming from an Olympic wrestling background, sporting a terrific chin and much improved standup, Dan Henderson will obtain his third major MMA belt.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (-420) Vs. Cheick Kongo (+340)
The biggest question surrounding this heavyweight slugfest is simple: Which Cro Cop will show up? The Mirko we’ve seen for years in PRIDE; the very man who won the Open Weight Grand Prix a year ago; the perennial top-five heavyweight…or… a sluggish, ill-prepared, and out of shape Cro Cop. If the latter shows up to fight, he may be in for a rude awakening. Anyone who plans to stand & trade with Kongo would be well advised to come prepared. The Frenchman has the tools to stop anyone in his tracks, even the great Cro Cop.
If you believe Mirko’s lost his focus and is looking past Kongo, Cheick is set at pretty juicy price. I, however, don’t believe it. While the value may be there in the underdog, I refuse to buy into the majority of the skepticism surrounding Cro Cop. He has been training with great intensity and will make quick work of the French striker. Mirko will quickly prove his worth and silence the critics by cementing his place as the top contender for the UFC heavyweight crown.
Michael Bisping (-250) Vs. Matt Hamill (+200)
Also on the card is a pair of undefeated fighters, in what is being called “The Finale We Didn’t Get to See” (to The Ultimate Fighter 3). Britain’s own Michael Bisping looks to continue climbing the 205 lb. ladder when he takes on outstanding wrestler & fellow TUF veteran, Matt Hamill. A serious clash of styles is represented in this match-up. There’s little question where each combatant wants the fight to take place.
Bisping wants to keep the fight standing, plain and simple. If he has his way, Hamill will not last long. He’s not terribly resilient and has demonstrated a serious aversion to getting hit. Hamill, conversely, is a top of the line wrestler and wants to get Bisping onto his back, fast. Unfortunately for Bisping, his takedown defense is one of his weaker assets. As the fight progresses, we will see Hamill establish himself as the physically superior athlete. He’s bigger, stronger, and with his wrestling pedigree, he will get Bisping down. I don’t see the hometown Englishman getting back up. Good value on Hamill at +200.
Houston Alexander (-165) Vs. Alessio Sakara (+135)
Stand-up MMA enthusiasts will certainly have their fill this Saturday, and this duo of Light Heavyweights will not disappoint. Each fighter is coming off of an impressive first round knockout; Alexander in particular shocked the world by stopping Keith Jardine dead in his tracks. An impressive physical specimen, he is set to prove that his victory was not a fluke when he takes on another UFC veteran in Alessio Sakara. Sakara is a dangerous boxer with roots in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He relies more on his striking than his ground game, which can be a dangerous game plan when facing a lethal striker like Alexander.
We’ve seen Alessio involved in several wars already in the UFC, and he certainly knows how to finish. Alexander, on the other hand, in his win over Jardine showed that he is difficult to contain when he moves forward. All things considered, I am not convinced after one fight. Sakara’s fans have already bet him closer to even in what I deem as more of a pick’em than the line would suggest. Sakara’s the better bet at +135, and is certainly worth a play if his payout increases.
Marcus Davis (-200) Vs. Paul Taylor (+160)
In a difficult fight to handicap, constantly improving Marcus Davis (of TUF 2 fame) takes on Britain’s own, Paul Taylor. Davis is an accomplished boxer who has developed into a fine mixed martial artist. He has grown by leaps and bounds each and every time we’ve seen him, displaying the ability to end the fight either standing or on the mat. Taylor is back in the UFC following an impressive victory over the previously unbeaten Edilberto “Crocota” de Oliveira.
Davis, being the more seasoned fighter with four consecutive UFC victories is the rightful favorite, but he’s not had the toughest competition. That in mind, it’s tough to say just how good he is. How he will handle being on his back against Taylor? If he is getting the worst of the stand-up exchange, does he have the tools to get the fight to the ground? Taylor will likely find out the answers to these questions first hand, as he’s an in-your-face type of fighter. My pick is Davis to continue his impressive streak, but if the price rises on Taylor, he’s worth a shot.
Gleison Tibau (-175) Vs. Terry Etim (+145)
If I had to choose one ‘dark bout’ to make the televised card, this would certainly be the easy choice. In what promises to be the most technical grappling match of the night, these two impressive lightweights look to build off of their recent successes. The 6’1 Etim, of England, ordinarily holds a massive size & reach advantage over his opponents at 155 lbs. He uses his frame effectively to nullify his opponents’ standup and showed off his submission skills in his UFC debut, utilizing his length to create serious leverage in a guillotine choke.
Tibau, however, is a very big lightweight in his own right. In fact, his first UFC fight was at 170 pounds, against Nick Diaz. Etim will not be able to show Gleison anything he has not seen before, and he will be overpowered for the majority of the fight. It should be a terrific fight, and I hope we get to see it. I’d bet on Tibau before the he gets above -200.
Thiago Silva (-325) Vs. Tomasz Drwal (+265)
We hoped to see just exactly what Silva could bring to the table in his UFC debut. Although he got the victory, it was mainly due to a freak injury to the knee of James Irvin. The same questions still surround Thiago: Just how good he can be? Is he indeed the next generation of Chute Box? Following in the footsteps of Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and a host of others, Thiago remains unbeaten and poised to take the UFC by storm. Opposing him Is Drwal, who sports an impressive 14-1 record, but has certainly not fought fighters the caliber of Silva thus far in his career. Look for Silva to make his presence known in the UFC with an exciting win.
Naoyuki Kotani (-210) Vs. Dennis Siver (+170)
Japanese submission specialist Naoyuki Kotani meets submission-susceptible Dennis Siver in a 155 lb. affair. Kotani has faced some of the best in the world, and although he is 0-1 in the UFC, he is still a very dangerous fighter & grappler. Siver, a highly touted European mixed martial artist and impressive athlete, has fallen onto his face on more than one occasion as soon as the fight hits the mat. While he possesses the tools to one day become a successful fighter, he needs to seriously work on his submission defense. Kotani’s a very good bet if the line dips closer to -150.
Jess Liaudin (-115) Vs. Anthony Torres (-115)
In yet another tough fight to gauge, journeyman Jess Liaudin takes on TUF 2 veteran, Anthony Torres. Torres has been out of MMA action for quite some time, and one has to wonder what kind of effect such a layoff will have on the BJJ practitioner. Liaudin’s record may not look like much, but it would not be wise for Torres to take him lightly. “The Joker”, Liaudin, is a very crafty and intelligent fighter. The odds makers have hit this tilt right on the nose, as it’s very difficult to predict. The biggest factor, in this bettor’s opinion, is Torres’ ring rust. Given Liaudin’s ground skills, it’s unlikely for Torres to get a stoppage easily. Bet Liaudin if his odds get to even (or underdog).
–Please bet responsibly! Enjoy the Fights!