UFC 156 Picks & Bets
UFC 156 is what happens when the organization is able to put together a very good card and not have it ravaged by injuries. Now that the fights are mere hours away, I feel like we’re past any sort of jinx unless the spirit of Kevin Randleman really has it out for MMA fans.
You’ve heard the Featherweight Title bout called a super fight, potential ‘Fight of the Year’ and all kinds of other superlatives, but what it comes down to is that this is the best fight the UFC could possibly make right now. Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar aren’t #1 and #2 in the pound-for-pound rankings, but they are the highest rated fighters who are close enough in weight that a size disparity won’t be the first issue brought up when talking about the fight. In addition, the skill sets of the two fighters should mesh very well to make for an interesting bout with several different potential outcomes.
Unlike some cards recently, this one isn’t just a headlining fight with nothing backing it up. Top 5 fighters Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem, Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall will also be making appearances, the latter two in the second fantastic Flyweight bout we’ve seen in two weeks. Top 10 Welterweights Jon Fitch and Demian Maia will also square off, as each tries to make a second run at a UFC title. Really, the only main card fighter who isn’t highly ranked at the present is Rogerio Nogueira.
So with all the talent on board, let’s take a look at the fights:
- Chico Camus vs. Dustin Kimura – To me, this is the token “who cares?” fight on this card. Camus looked solid, but not spectacular in winning his UFC debut against Dustin Pague. Kimura has made his way to the UFC by beating up underskilled fighters on the Hawaiian scene. I think the jump in competition will prove too much for Kimura in his first Octagon experience as Camus grinds out a decision. Chico Camus via Decision.
- Edwin Figueroa vs. Francisco Rivera – One of the easier fights on this card to break down, Rivera is just a bigger, stronger, better fighter than Figueroa. Since an ill-fated run in Zuffa earlier in his career, Rivera has really shored up his defensive wrestling and grappling. Figueroa on the other hand has seemingly regressed in his UFC career, as even with 2 point deductions in his favour he deserved to lose to Alex Caceres in his last outing. Rivera should be able to land with his crackling power early and often, and I see him scoring a TKO win. Francisco Rivera via 1st Round TKO.
- Bobby Green vs. Jacob Volkmann – Another easy fight to break down. Bobby Green struggles with good wrestlers who can control him from the top. Jacob Volkmann is a very good wrestler with a vastly improving submission game. Green has big power and throws reckless techniques, but unless he connects with one of them on the very first shot that Volkmann takes, he’s in for a bad night. The future presidential candidate wears Green down and submits him late. Jacob Volkmann via 3rd Round Submission.
- Yves Edwards vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg – From a technical perspective, Edwards is the better striker and better grappler here, but I think that the Strikeforce import will use a level of aggression in this fight that won’t allow Edwards to put those advantages into play. Vallie-Flagg will make this an ugly fight standing, in the clinch and on the ground if it goes there, wearing Edwards down over 15-minutes. Given Edwards chin I wouldn’t be shocked to see a stoppage, but I favour the bout going to decision. Isaac Vallie-Flagg via Decision.
- Jay Hieron vs. Tyron Woodley – An interesting clash here as Woodley’s highly one-dimensional game faces off with the well-rounded but never exceptional Hieron. This fight is quite similar to Hieron’s bout with Woodley’s college wrestling teammate, Ben Askren. Hieron found success in that bout — which some felt he won — against a superior wrestler to Woodley. To get stereotypical, Woodley is quicker, more explosive and has more power in his takedowns than Askren, but Hieron’s technical proficiency should be able to keep this fight standing where he is the far better striker. Jay Hieron via Decision.
- Evan Dunham vs. Gleison Tibau – The hardest undercard bout for me to predict finds two fighters who can be very hit and miss. Dunham is noted as one of the slowest starters in MMA, while Tibau can go entire fights where all he does is try to slam his opponent using his massive size for a Lightweight. I’m really torn here, but I think Dunham has the wrestling chops to stay on his feet and keep more active than Tibau in the later rounds. In what is the most sure-fire bet to be a contentious decision, Dunham gets back on track. Evan Dunham via Decision.
- Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall – The two best Flyweights in the world not named Demetrious Johnson are going to lock horns in an attempt to earn another fight against the 125lb champion. While the odds in this bout lean heavily towards Benavidez, I think it is a very competitive fight. McCall has the wrestling edge, while Benavidez is the better striker, so this will come down to who implements their game better. Despite his personal problems, McCall seems more prepared for this bout than he was for the rematch against Johnson. I think he will manage to continue the trend of Benavidez losing when his opponent can find a way to get him to the mat consistently. Ian McCall via Decision.
- Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia – In what has to be considered the most intriguing bout outside of the main event, the apparently rejuvenated submission game of Maia takes on the apparently more aggressive, exciting Fitch. I say apparently because I really don’t feel these fighters are anyone different than what we’ve come to know from them. Maia’s submission of Rick Story wasn’t really a break from his trend of not being able to finish solid submission grapplers, and Fitch has always had entertaining fights when he gets beaten up a bit. I see these guys going back to what we’ve come to expect. Fitch will outwork Maia on the feet, against the cage and in top position, while Maia continues to show that while he is absolutely one of the most skilled grapplers in the world, he isn’t nearly as dangerous from his back as when he’s on top. Jon Fitch via Decision.
- Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva – Bigfoot has an enormous chin. Overeem is good at hitting people. Overeem finds chin. Bigfoot crumples. This all occurs within the first five minutes. That synopsis is part logical pick, part hope. If this fight goes past the first round, it will get ugly, so I’m hoping somebody lands something huge in the first frame to save us all from more painful Heavyweight action. Alistair Overeem via 1st Round TKO.
- Rashad Evans vs. Rogerio Nogueira – In what has almost unanimously been dubbed a stay busy fight for Evans, he faces a fighter who has struggled with lesser versions of himself. Nogueira was taken down by both Phil Davis and Ryan Bader, and unable to do much of anything from his back. Even Jason Brilz, a far inferior wrestler than those two, gave Rogerio everything he can handle. No reason to think that Evans doesn’t roll here. Rashad Evans via Decision.
- Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar – I’ve broken this fight down in great detail already (read that here), but I’ll summarize. Aldo is a better striker than both Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson, just as good at defending takedowns, and will be the fastest fighter that Edgar has ever faced. Edgar has the edge in intangibles, but all of the “pushing the pace” in the world simply isn’t effective when the skills you use to implement that tactic are dwarfed by your opponents skills in the same area. Aldo becomes the first fighter to finish Edgar, and cements himself as the greatest Featherweight we’ve seen. Jose Aldo via 2nd Round TKO.
As always, my bets will be posted and tracked on my 2013 Betting History
- 2.8U to win 2U – Jon Fitch wins by Decision
- 2.405U to win 2U – 2-team parlay (Fitch, Evans)
- 1U to win 1.55U – Francisco Rivera wins by TKO
- 1U to win 1.27U – 3-team parlay (Rivera, Volkmann, Evans)
- 1U to win 1.08U – Jay Hieron to defeat Tyron Woodley
- 0.5U to win 1.2U – Isaac Vallie-Flagg to defeat Yves Edwards
- 0.5U to win 1.52U – Ian McCall wins by Decision
- 0.25U to win 2.38U – 5-team parlay (Evans Decision, Overeem R1, Benavidez/McCall GTD, Tibau/Dunham GTD, Volkmann -3.5)
Note: Given the incredible steam that has come in on Frankie Edgar, bringing Jose Aldo all the way down to a -165 favourite, I will likely make a play on Aldo as well. I’m just waiting to see how far the line will drop before I make that play.