UFC 159 Picks & Bets
I haven’t had a chance to get my picks and bets posted here prior to the fights starting for a couple of events now. I’ve been busy over at MMA Oddsbreaker (if you don’t follow the site regularly, you should do that thing as there is a ton of great betting content over there). However, I’m on vacation for the next week from my full-time job, so I’ve got some extra time to get all my picks and plays on paper for this event.
The event itself really isn’t terribly intriguing, and the from my perspective the betting opportunities aren’t particularly ripe either. Still, I’m a degenerate, so I’ve managed to get some plays in on this card anyways. I took a bit of a different approach to this card, with a lot of very small bets on specific outcomes at high + numbers rather than my normal straight bets. Read on for my picks and bets.
- Steven Siler (-105) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (-105)
- Pick: Holobaugh via Decision
- 1U to win 1.1U on Holobaugh (+110)
- It seems like I’m going to beat the closing line on this one, which is always nice. Holobaugh actually opened at -140, and the public came in on Siler to flip it for most of the week. It seems the late action is back on Holobaugh to return the line a bit closer to the opener.
- As far as the fight, it is very close, as both guys have aggressive striking games and active submission games. I feel like even though Siler is the longer of the two, Holobaugh will combat that with his higher volume approach. We saw even against Pat Healy, a massive grinder at 155, that Holobaugh was able to work for the full 15 minutes at a good pace, while Siler has been known to slow as his fights go on. I don’t see Holobaugh with the finish here, but do think he manages to distance himself over three rounds.
- Leonard Garcia (-190) vs. Cody McKenzie (+175)
- Pick: Garcia via 2nd Round Sub
- Garcia via Sub (+1000) in a Round Robin
- As much as people joke about Garcia not deserving to be in the UFC, and losing his last 11 bouts or whatever ridiculous number that streak has climbed up to at this point, he’s still much better than McKenzie, who really doesn’t deserve to be in the UFC. McKenzie literally has one technique that he’s good at, the guillotine, and that’s it. Garcia, meanwhile, deserved to get the nod against Max Holloway in his last outing, and has been relatively competitive against some quality Featherweights. I know most people are picking Garcia by TKO or McKenzie by Sub in this one, but Garcia is actually the better overall grappler and McKenzie has shown a tendency to fade if he can’t get his guillotine early. At +1000, I couldn’t pass that up.
- Johnny Bedford (-135) vs. Bryan Caraway (+125)
- Pick: Bedford via 2nd Round TKO
- 1.35U to win 1U on Bedford (-135)
- Caraway ITD (+245) in a Round Robin
- I’ll admit that Caraway definitely has the skills to win this fight, as he could take Bedford’s back and choke him out early in this one. If Caraway doesn’t find immediate success in this bout he’s going to be in a lot of trouble though. Not only does Caraway have historically shoddy cardio, but he took this fight on 5 days notice and had to cut 25lbs in that time period to make weight. If he doesn’t end this inside the first round, he’s going to tire and he’s going to take a beating from Bedford. As good as Caraway’s chin is, it won’t matter when he’s exhausted and taking a beating to the body from Bedford, who seems to enjoy hurting opponents in any fashion imaginable. I have a hard time seeing Caraway making it to the cards in this one, but respect the danger he presents in the first round enough to add that hedge to one of my round robins.
- Sara McMann (-530) vs. Sheila Gaff (+455)
- Pick: McMann via Decision
- Gaff ITD (+940) in a Round Robin
- As of this writing, the line on McMann has dropped from -750 to -530 during fight day. I still don’t see any value in it, even though she is the likely winner. Gaff simply has an uncommon amount power for women’s MMA. Question her tactics if you will, but the fact remains that McMann has never been hit by someone who punches as hard as Gaff. If Sheila connects this could be over quickly, and in women’s MMA which is still in it’s early developmental stages there is really only one fighter who deserves to be this huge a favourite.
- Ovince St. Preux (-165) vs. Gian Villante (+155)
- Pick: St. Preux via Decision
- No Bet
- I see St. Preux as both the better athlete, and the athlete that has better converted his skills over to MMA in this fight. Villante can wrestle a bit better, but St. Preux is the bigger, faster, has better (although not great) cardio, and uses his length pretty well. I think that all adds up to St. Preux doing better from range in this fight, and being able to muscle Villante around a bit when they do close the distance. At -230, which St. Preux got up to shortly after opening, this was an absolute no play, but if the line continues to creep back down under -150, I could end up playing St. Preux.
- Rustam Khabilov (-235) vs. Yancy Medeiros (+215)
- Pick: Medeiros via 1st Round TKO
- Medeiros TKO (+775) in a Round Robin
- Anyone who says they’re confident in picking either fighter here is an absolute crazy person. Although he was ultra impressive in his UFC debut, we’ve barely seen anything out of Khabilov against decent competition. Medeiros, on the other hand showed impressive striking early in his career when he fought at 205 and 185, but hasn’t stepped inside a cage in nearly three years. I’m banking on Medeiros being able to deal with Khabilov’s strength, having fought much heavier opponents previously, and being the more skilled striker. This is a fight that I wouldn’t recommend anyone else bet on, but the round robin Medeiros is in has a total risk of 0.5U, so I’m hardly going to bat an eye should he lose here. That kind of number against someone who we really don’t know a whole lot about was simply too tempting for me.
- Jim Miller (-290) vs. Pat Healy (+260)
- Pick: Healy via Decision
- Healy Decision (+365) in a Round Robin
- I am in the tiny minority picking Healy to win this fight, but I just think the line is out of whack here. Miller is the better striker and better submission artist, but Healy is the slightly better wrestler, way bigger, and has the ability to wear Miller down over the course of this fight, as Jim has a tendency to fade anyways. While I don’t think Pat Healy is a future title contender or anything like that, he exists in a weird space just below the top of the division that Miller has historically beaten, but struggled while doing so. He also brings a style more similar to Benson Henderson and Gray Maynard (both fighters who were able to outmuscle, outwrestle and wear Miller down) than the likes of Joe Lauzon, Melvin Guillard and the rest of Miller’s victims.
- Phil Davis (-290) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (+260)
- Pick: Davis via Decision
- Magalhaes Sub (+550) in a Round Robin
- Not Magalhaes Decision in a Parlay
- Davis should win this fight, as he can likely keep range with his mediocre kicking game and sprinkle in takedowns as he needs to, but given the way he matches up here I just can’t feel confident about it. Even with his chin being a liability, Magalhaes is at least even with Davis on the feet, and he’s far superior on the ground. What kept me from outright betting Magalhaes was his history of questionable cardio. We know Davis can go 15 no problem, and I think that’s what really wins him this fight after some danger in the early going.
- Roy Nelson (-235) vs. Cheick Kongo (+215)
- Pick: Nelson via 1st Round TKO
- Not Kongo ITD in a Parlay
- This fight goes one of two ways. Either Nelson finds Kongo’s fading chin and knocks him out, or Kongo clinches, pushes Nelson against the cage and wins a decision in a terrible fight. I can’t see Kongo stopping Nelson in any way, and Nelson has gotten away from using his ground game, so it’s hard to see him utilizing that to beat Kongo, even though he is quite capable of it.
- Michael Bisping (-165) vs. Alan Belcher (+155)
- Pick: Bisping via Decision
- Bisping Decision in a Parlay
- Although the talk behind this fight has been all about first round knockouts and how exciting it will be, I have a hard time not picturing Belcher jumping for guillotines, putting himself on his back, and Bisping racking up points from the top. Even when it stays on the feet, Belcher’s aggression should make him relatively easy for Bisping to counter (think Bisping/Leben to a lesser degree). Belcher is tough to stop, so as much as Bisping may want to finish this fight (and he is an underrated finisher), I see it going to the cards. This is the most dangerous leg of my parlay, but I still feel fairly confident about it.
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship
- (c) Jon Jones (-925) vs. Chael Sonnen (+725)
- Pick: Jones via 1st Round Submission
- 1U to win 1.4U on Jones via Submission
- Jones ITD in a Parlay
- Jones R1 (+225) in a Round Robin
- As hilarious as it would be for Sonnen to pull off this victory, it’s not going to happen. Jones is better in every aspect of MMA aside from freestyle wrestling. He’s a better striker, he’s better at submission, he’s better in the clinch. If Sonnen can constantly shoot from the outside, get Jones down and keep him there, more power to him. But he can’t, and he won’t. I see Sonnen either getting clipped as he shoots for one of those takedowns, or Jones stonewalling him and wrapping up a guillotine of some sort to finish the fight. Perhaps another standing guillotine, a la the Machida fight?
- Kurt Holobaugh (+110) – 1U to win 1.1U
- Johnny Bedford (-135) – 1.35U to win 1U
- Jon Jones by Submission (+140) – 1U to win 1.4U
- Not Magalhaes Decision, Not Kongo ITD, Bisping Decision, Jones ITD (+306) – 1U to win 3.06U
- Jones R1 (+225), Magalhaes Submission (+550), Healy Decision (+365), Gaff ITD (+940) – 0.5U total
- Medeiros TKO (+775), Caraway ITD (+245), Garcia Submission (+1000) – 0.5U total*
- Johnny Bedford to defeat Erik Perez (+150) – 1U to win 1.5U
- Nick Catone to defeat James Head (+125) – 1U to win 1.25U
- Round Robin #2 also included James Head by Submission (+630), but fight was cancelled.