UFC 157 Picks & Bets
You can’t hold a good man down for long, as evidenced by both a picking (8-4) and betting (+2.9U) resurgence on UFC on Fuel 7. Those results have me in a good mood despite UFC 157 not being the most intriguing fight card in the world. Let me be clear, I watch MMA because I enjoy watching fights. Especially highly skilled fighters squaring off against one another in competitive bouts.
My contention with UFC 157 is that the fight which has become the sole focus of this card is not a competitive fight. I treat Women’s MMA just like Men’s MMA. When the fights are intriguing, I will be intrigued. When they’re not, I won’t be. If Ronda Rousey was fighting Cristiane Santos or Alexis Davis, I’d be hooked. However, she is fighting Liz Carmouche, and the allure of this being the first female fight in the UFC isn’t enough to draw me in when the fight is so unevenly matched.
Women’s MMA is nothing new to MMA fans, which probably explains the gap between MMA fans and the mainstream media in terms of interest in this card. Media sources which only follow the UFC see this as the first Women’s fight, and as such are treating it as something new and fascinating. MMA fans have already seen Rousey face better fighters in Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufmann, and as such are treating this as a showcase. Your perception of this card is likely shaped by which group you fall into. Before we get to that main event, there are 11 other fights on the docket, so let’s take a look:
- Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Yuri Villefort
- Pick: Villefort via 1st Round Submission
- No bet
- In what will become a trend on upcoming UFC cards, there is a good likelihood that the loser of this bout will find himself no longer employed by the organization. Burrell is the better athlete and better wrestler in this fight, but I see Villefort as the more skilled striker and submission grappler. Burrell also seems to have stopped improving following a James Terry “victory” in Strikeforce, and that is the biggest reason I’m picking Villefort here. I think he can sting Burrell early with strikes and find a submission when Nah-Shon desperately shoots in to take the fight down.
- Neil Magny vs. Jon Manley
- Pick: Magny via 2nd Round TKO
- No bet
- Many people are calling this a striker (Magny) versus grappler (Manley) fight, but I see Magny as a complete fighter while Manley is really only capable of working from top position. In watching tape on Magny, he is long and has some ability to strike from distance, but he also has an effective outside trip and a good ability to advance position from the top. I think he can either win this fight on the feet, or surprise Manley by taking him down and working from the top. Manley hasn’t shown the best cardio in the past, and if he tires in this one I think Magny can put him away with strikes, or by taking the back and punching until a stoppage comes.
- Brock Jardine vs. Kenny Robertson
- Pick: Robertson via Decision
- 2U to win 3U on Robertson (+150)
- Basically this pick and bet comes down to the fact that despite being outworked by a superior wrestler in Aaron Simpson, Robertson impressed me in that fight. His scrambling skills are decent, his striking is wild but gets the job done, and his wrestling is effective. In contrast, Jardine looked tentative against Rick Story and showed nothing. Especially worrisome was his terrible balance and takedown defence. Story took him down with no effort and was able to get dominant positions with ease. I expect that Robertson can replicate that strategy to some degree, while avoiding Jardine’s own wild striking.
- Caros Fodor vs. Sam Stout
- Pick: Fodor via Decision
- No bet
- Every time he fights, I make the same terrible Sam ‘Hands are Slow’ Stout joke, but until people stop overrating the effectiveness of his striking I refuse to stop. He has good technique, but his strikes and combinations come so slowly that you have to go all the way back to his bout with Jeremy Stephens at UFC 113 (6 fights ago) to find the last time he landed more significant strikes than his opponent. Despite that, Stout has managed the victory in 2 of the 4 fights during that time which have gone to decision. He style certainly has a certain ‘je ne sais quois’ with judges, and that’s probably the only thing keeping me from betting Fodor. Caros will fight with a greater volume of strikes, and has the better grappling of these two fighters and I expect him to win the bout clearly, but Stout’s way with the judges worries me.
- Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice
- Pick: Bermudez via 1st Round Submission
- 1U to win 1.1U on Bermudez to win Inside the Distance (+110)
- Grice has a tendency to start out well in fights and then flame out in a fashion that gets him stopped. He has a solid wrestling base to fall back on, but that is really all he has. Against Bermudez, a wrestler who may not be as technically proficient but has incredible strength, he is likely to get stuck on the feet. Once there, I expect him to get hit with hard shots which could finish him, or he could dive headlong into another guillotine (Bermudez’s favourite submission) to get stopped that way. Either way, I don’t see Grice seeing the final bell and I like that I was able to get Bermudez to finish at plus money.
- Michael Chiesa vs. Anton Kuivanen
- Pick: Chiesa via Decision
- No bet
- TUF winners are 15-5 in their first fight after winning the show. This points to a trend of the UFC giving them favourable match-ups coming off the show. I think that trend continues here as Kuivanen isn’t a good enough wrestler to keep Chiesa from taking him down and controlling position. I’m still not entirely sold on Chiesa, and think that had he been on a season of TUF with the normal format that he likely wouldn’t have won that show. Still, the UFC realizes that TUF winners are something of a commodity, and they have done their best to give Chiesa a winnable fight here. I think he wins, but I’m not confident enough to lay down money.
- Lavar Johnson vs. Brendan Schaub
- Pick: Schaub via 1st Round TKO
- No bet
- This is as simple as fights get. Either Johnson lands a punch before Schaub is able to take him down, and he wins by KO, or he gets taken down and either pounded out or submitted early. Given that Pat Barry was able to have success on the ground against Johnson, I have to go with Schaub, but with his chin there is absolutely no bet to be had here.
- Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler
- Pick: Koscheck via Decision
- No bet
- When faced with dangerous strikers, Koscheck always comes in with the same gameplan, get takedowns. Against Paul Daley, he got takedowns. Against Anthony Johnson, he got takedowns. Against Robbie Lawler, he will get takedowns. Much has been made of how putrid Koscheck looked against Matt Hughes in his first fight following the eye injury suffered at the hands of Georges St-Pierre, but he has moved past that and been very competitive with Mike Pierce and Johny Hendricks since that fight. Both of those guys are better fighters than Robbie Lawler, and Koscheck will remain one of the longest standing top 10 Welterweights following this bout.
- Court McGee vs. Josh Neer
- Pick: McGee via Decision
- No bet
- Do we have to go over this bout? Talk about something that isn’t Pay-Per-View worthy. There is nothing spectacular about either of these fighters. Both are mildly well-rounded, with Neer being more of a go-for-broke type fighter. The problem for Neer is that after many, many wars his style is beginning to catch up with him and at 29 he seems to be on a physical decline. McGee is only a year younger, but has far fewer miles on his body and even if he isn’t improving, he’s at least standing pat.
- Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar
- Pick: Faber via Decision
- 1.2U to win 1U on Urijah Faber to win by Decision (-120)
- This could be a bet that I regret. Menjivar has rarely been finished in the past (twice in 34 fights), and hasn’t been finished in the past 10 years, but Faber is still a fantastic fighter who has a knack for putting opponents away. His 21 finishes in his 26 wins is indicative of that, and his ability to follow up after hurting an opponent is very impressive. Hopefully my bet is in the right spot and Menjivar can survive, but I don’t see any danger for those who included Faber in parlays, as he is better than Menjivar everywhere.
- Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida
- Pick: Machida via Decision
- 1U to win 1.09U on Lyoto Machida to win by Decision (+109)
- One of the fights I broke down over at BetonMMA.org, I see this fight being pretty simple. Henderson has a solid chin, and good submission defence (especially for someone who is so positionally bad). I really don’t see Machida finishing this fight, but he is a difficult match-up for Dan. A fighter who doesn’t get hit much, and it excellent at picking his spots in the striking should be able to stifle Henderson’s title hopes, and my personal hope for a Henderson/Jones fight. There is a small chance that Machida looks as sluggish as he was in the Rampage fight and Henderson is able to control him against the cage, but I’m willing to take that risk for this bet.
- Liz Carmouche vs. Ronda Rousey – Women’s Bantamweight Championship
- Pick: Rousey via 1st Round Submission
- No bet
- Quick takedown, mount, armbar. This card is all about Rousey, and the UFC has tried to give her a fight where she can look invincible. Carmouche is probably the most physically talented fighter Ronda has faced in her MMA career thus far, but she’s still lacking in technique and that isn’t going to end well for her. You’d be crazy to bet Rousey at -1200, but if you absolutely need action on this card, take a look at either ‘Rousey in Round 1’ or ‘Fight Doesn’t Start Round 2’, whichever has better odds.
- 1U to win 1.01U on 2-team parlay (Faber, Henderson/Machida GTD)