Category Archives: MMA


UFC 174 Betting Odds, Tips & Picks

By Matty Simo

Saturday’s UFC 174 event will mark the first time flyweights headline a Pay-Per-View card, as champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (19-2-1) takes on fourth-ranked contender Ali Bagautinov (13-2) for the 125-pound crown. Johnson has previously defeated the top three contenders and will attempt his fourth title defense as the biggest favorite on the betting board, with MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas from making him -565 (bet $565 to win $100) to keep his belt. The champ has never been this big of a favorite in his MMA career, and he will be appearing on his fourth PPV card overall, including his second straight in Canada, as the UFC 174 main card gets underway at 7 p.m. (PT) from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

While Johnson is an extra large favorite against Bagautinov, their championship bout looks to be an anomaly on an otherwise surprisingly balanced card from a betting perspective. Nine of the 11 fights had favorites open at -180 or less, which is extremely rare in today’s age of MMA betting (click here to check the latest UFC 174 lines and get odds on the go with the Don Best Mobile app). For example, the latest event UFC Fight Night 42 last Saturday saw six of 11 bouts close with favorites at -210 or higher according to Kalikas. This has been a fairly common pattern recently, as UFC 173 – the last PPV event on May 24 – had seven of 12 fights close with faves of -215 or higher. In fact, you have to go back to UFC 169 on Feb. 1 to find as many as nine favorites who closed at -200 or less on the same card.

Johnson has reeled off five wins in a row since earning a draw with Ian McCall in the semifinals of the UFC Flyweight Tournament that eventually determined the inaugural champion in the division. The champ later beat McCall in the rematch, then knocked off the top two contenders at 125 in Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson before turning in consecutive impressive stoppage performances against John Moraga (fifth-round armbar submission) and Benavidez (first-round knockout) in his last two bouts.

Meanwhile, Bagautinov is a +435 underdog (bet $100 to win $435) and will enter the Octagon riding an 11-fight winning streak, but only three of those bouts have taken place in the UFC. The Dagestani-born Sambo specialist has been training with Greg Jackson’s MMA camp, and he has earned unanimous-decision wins against Tim Elliott and John Lineker in his past two fights.

“The division’s been pretty consistent in terms of entertaining,” said UFC commentator Jon Anik about the flyweights. “A lot of that’s because of the volume that they throw with and just the footwork across the board is better. I’m excited for Demetrious Johnson always, certainly one of my Top 5 guys to watch in the world. He’s raised the bar every time, he just keeps trying to outdo himself and accomplishing that. This won’t be the guy that will test (Johnson), but we’ll see.

“It’s going to take a special performance to beat this guy, and I just don’t see it this weekend. I think it’s interesting because Bagautinov is a really hard guy to finish. Of course Demetrious Johnson has never been finished either. I think it lends itself to a 25-minute fight, but Johnson never ceases to amaze me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls out a new trick from his bag. I’m struggling to find ways where Bagautinov might have an advantage. I’m looking for the champion to once again make a statement to Dodson and anyone else who he might be fighting next.”

Watch Nick Kalikas & Frank Trigg break down UFC 174

The co-main event originally looked like it would produce the next challenger for Johny Hendricks’ welterweight title belt, as No. 2 contender Rory MacDonald (16-2) and No. 3 Tyron Woodley (13-2) square off. But since each of them last fought, No. 1 Robbie Lawler and No. 5 Matt Brown have wowed UFC president Dana White enough to set up a No. 1 contender matchup between them at UFC on FOX 12 as Hendricks continues to rehab from bicep surgery.

“To me, it’s just all about this co-main event,” Anik said. “There’s so many guys at welterweight right now. I would say there are four guys you can make a case for as the No. 1 contender to give a title shot to. And two of them are fighting Saturday night. I’m so curious, I have no idea who’s going to win. It’s two guys who I always seem to back and two guys who I think very highly of.”

Woodley opened as a -140 favorite vs. MacDonald (+120) at the LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas, but that line has since shifted the other way. MacDonald has moved to -120 at LVH and will be fighting in his home country for the third time as a member of the UFC roster. He lost to No. 4 Carlos Condit via third-round TKO with seven seconds left in Vancouver four years ago after winning most of the fight and then bounced back with a UD victory vs. Nate Diaz a little more than 10 months later in Toronto. MacDonald’s only other loss came against Lawler at UFC 167. Ironically, Woodley registered a TKO win against Condit in his last bout at UFC 171 in March when his opponent suffered a knee injury and could not continue.

“I feel badly for Woodley in a lot of respects because I think he’s a worthy No. 1 contender. When he fought Condit, he beat the guy, and it’s hard because you get penalized when a guy gets injured in a fight. But he finished Carlos Condit at least on paper, and to me that should count for something. Now he has to fight Rory MacDonald in Canada, which to me is just a huge ask.

“Rory has just had so few bad nights in his career and bad moments. He’s just so consistent. And when he does win, he usually dominates. I think Woodley may be able to take him down, but I can’t see him being able to do it with regularity. Rory’s just so cerebral and so skilled, I think if you can get him at plus-money in Canada, you’ve got to take a look. You can’t convince me it’s not value.”


Rory MacDonald +100 (line at Mirage in Las Vegas on June 12 at 1:15 p.m.)

Ryan Bader -145 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on June 12 at 1:15 p.m.)

Brendan Schaub -140 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on June 12 at 1: 15 p.m.)

For complete betting coverage of UFC 174, including previews and picks for every fight, click here.

UFC Ring Girl

UFC Fight Night 42 Betting Odds & Picks

Saturday's MMA action is covered with UFC Fight Night 42 odds and betting tips from former fighter Frank Trigg and MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas, who preview Benson Henderson vs. Rustam Khabilov and Diego Sanchez vs. Ross Pearson.

Click here for the latest UFC odds.

UFC Ring Girl

UFC Fight Night 41 & TUF Brazil 3 Finale Betting Odds

Saturday's MMA action is covered with UFC odds and betting tips from MMA insiders Frank Trigg and Nick Kalikas, who preview two key fights, Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 41 and Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale.

Click here for the latest UFC odds.


UFC 173 Betting Odds, Tips & Picks

By Matty Simo

UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao has not suffered a loss in his MMA career since being on the wrong end of a unanimous decision in his very first fight back on April 14, 2005. Since then, Barao has gone a remarkable 32-0-1, including a perfect 9-0 in his time split between the WEC and UFC, leading up to Saturday’s title fight against fourth-ranked challenger T.J. Dillashaw (9-2) at UFC 173.

Barao-Dillashaw is the main event on a 12-bout card that also features four former contestants from The Ultimate Fighter in the prelims, including champs Tony Ferguson (TUF 13), Michael Chiesa (TUF 15) and Chris Holdsworth (TUF 18). Those fights will be showcased on FOX Sports 1 starting at 8 p.m. (ET) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas following three preliminary card bouts that will be shown on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. before the main card gets underway on Pay-Per-View starting at 10 p.m.

Barao is a monstrous -800 favorite (bet $800 to win $100) for his fourth title defense according to MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas from with Dillashaw a +565 underdog (bet $100 to win $565), and those numbers could go even higher before fight night (click here to check the latest UFC 173 lines and get odds on the go with the Don Best Mobile app).

So does Dillashaw really have what it takes to end the champ’s 32-fight unbeaten streak? UFC commentator Jon Anik certainly thinks so, as he has been a big fan of the Team Alpha Male fighter, who he believes will definitely “go for it” in an effort to take down Barao and walk away with the title belt.

“A lot of people have written about Dillashaw, maybe the title shot is coming a year or 18 months sooner than would be ideal as far as his development goes,” Anik said. “But sometimes in this sport, this is sort of just the way it goes down. I think he’s had enough time to prepare. I feel like he’s not the type of fighter who would take any type of opportunity lightly.

“Unlike Ricardo Lamas against Jose Aldo, T.J.’s going to go for it. He doesn’t mind paying for it. I think that’s really what sets him apart from a lot of contenders. I’ve called him the most offensive-minded bantamweight in the world.  The numbers back it up if you’re a numbers person.”

After beating top contender Urijah Faber twice in four fights within an 18-month period, Barao was expected to face No. 2 Raphael Assuncao, who was forced to pull out due to a rib injury. That opened the door for Dillashaw, yet another former TUF contestant who was previously knocked out in the first round by top flyweight contender John Dodson in the TUF 14 Finale. Dillashaw has won five of six since that first defeat, with the other loss coming via split decision against Assuncao in Brazil late last year.

Barao, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, won the interim title with a UD win vs. Faber at UFC 149 nearly two years ago and was promoted to bantamweight champ when it was determined that Dominick Cruz could not fight due to multiple knee injuries. It’s worth noting that this will be the first time Dillashaw enters the Octagon as an underdog, and he was in Faber’s corner for his two bouts against Barao.

“Barao is just a monster physically,” Anik said. “He’s just bigger. Even if the height (5-foot-7) and reach (70 inches) don’t tell you there’s that much of a size difference, being around both men to me is pretty telling. There’s a reason he gets that type of respect from Las Vegas.

“But to me, I’d have to call T.J. Dillashaw a live underdog just because I know he’s going to go for it. I know he’s going to push the pace and do whatever it takes. People internally within that camp feel like T.J.’s the guy best equipped to beat Barao, so I’m about as excited as I can possibly be for a fight with that type of line on it. I’m curious to see what T.J. does against a guy who really looks like an all-time great in the making in Renan Barao.”

Watch Nick Kalikas, Frank Trigg & Jordan McDonald break down UFC 173

Like the main event, the co-main event appears to be a similar mismatch from a betting perspective, as light heavyweights Daniel Cormier (14-0) and Dan Henderson (30-11) meet in what looks to be a second tune-up fight at 205 for the former and a final chance to jump into title contention for the latter. No. 4 contender Cormier is an even larger favorite than Barao at -855 compared to +600 for No. 6 Henderson.

Former heavyweight contender Cormier quickly disposed of volunteer opponent Patrick Cummins in his light heavyweight debut at UFC 170 back on Feb. 22, needing just 79 seconds to finish him via TKO. The 35-year-old former Olympic wrestler is likely in line for a title shot against the winner of champion Jon Jones vs. top challenger Alexander Gustafsson pending a victory here after their rematch.

A little more than a month later, the 43-year-old Henderson pulled off a somewhat surprising upset of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in Brazil, scoring a second-round TKO after he looked like he would not last much longer in a rematch of their epic battle at UFC 139. Hendo had lost three straight prior to that impressive win, including consecutive split-decision setbacks against Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans last year, and he now sits as high as +575.

“Some people suggested that for the first time, (Henderson) really did show his age against Shogun even though he won that fight,” Anik said. “He had to dig really deep not a long time ago, so he’s having to peak here in a very short amount of time. Even though that fight didn’t go the distance, I think it took a lot out of Dan.

“(Hendo’s) coming back around against a guy in Cormier who’s just at a totally different place in his career, on a huge uptick. (Cormier) gets better with every few days it seems, nevermind his UFC appearances. If you’re someone like me who thinks Cormier is one of the best in the world and could one day be the best in the world, this is a custom-made fight for him. Hendo can always touch you, but I just think you’ve got two guys who are going in different directions.”


Francisco Rivera +150 (line at Wynn in Las Vegas on May 22 at 12:06 p.m.)

Michael Chiesa -130 (line at LVH in Las Vegas on May 22 at 12:06 p.m.)

Al Iaquinta -360 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on May 22 at 12:06 p.m.)

For complete betting coverage of UFC 173, including previews and picks for every fight, click here.

UFC Ring Girl

UFC Fight Night 40 Betting Odds & Picks

Saturday's MMA action is covered with UFC Fight Night 40 odds and betting tips from former fighter Frank Trigg, MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas and Jordan McDonald, who preview Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva and Costas Philippou vs. Lorenz Larkin.

Click here for the latest UFC odds.


UFC 172 Betting Odds, Tips & Picks

By Matty Simo

One can certainly argue that all four light heavyweights featured in the top two fights on Saturday’s UFC 172 main card have something to prove after their last performances inside the Octagon. And only two of them will have the opportunity to leave with the title belt as UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones (19-1) takes on second-ranked contender Glover Teixeira (22-2) in the main event, which will cap off an 10-bout show Saturday at the Baltimore Arena. A preliminary card match between bantamweights Chris Beal and Patrick Williams kicks off UFC 172 at 4 p.m. (PT) and will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass followed by four more that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 starting at 5 p.m. before the five-fight main card gets underway at 7 p.m. on Pay-Per-View.

Many thought Jones lost his last fight against No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 a little more than seven months ago as a gargantuan -840 favorite (bet $840 to win $100), and he will face a nearly identical lay-off as his previous title defense against Chael Sonnen, which resulted in a first-round TKO at UFC 159 despite the champ suffering a gruesome toe injury. Jones ended up edging Gustafsson via a unanimous yet somewhat controversial decision to set the UFC record for most consecutive title defenses at light heavyweight (six), leaving MMA fans salivating for an immediate rematch.

While Jones-Gustafsson 2 looks to be a distinct possibility following another win here against Teixeira, the challenger will have something to say about that and try to pull off a massive upset after opening as a +425 underdog (bet $100 to win $475) vs. Jones (-735), according to MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas from Teixeira has reeled off 20 wins in a row since losing to UFC veteran Ed Herman more than nine year ago, and he recovered from some early trouble to knock out Ryan Bader in his last bout on Sept. 4, 2013.

“We hear this in professional sports all the time, with teams playing up to their competition,” UFC commentator Jon Anik said. “And I feel like Glover Teixeira might be cut from that cloth. He very nearly lost to Ryan Bader, and I remember interviewing him in the Octagon after the fight, and he was so disappointed in his own performance. I think fighting the best in the world – which Jon Jones is – will bring out the best in him.

“This fight with was really an eventuality, but I think the Bader performance was a little bit underwhelming. I was there in Brazil, and the fight was Bader’s to lose at one point in time. I think for a lot of people, even though it was a win and his 20th straight, it was a little bit of a stain because it was by no means a complete performance by Glover Teixeira.”

Watch Nick Kalikas, Frank Trigg & Jordan McDonald break down UFC 172

The betting line has come down substantially on Jones since the opener, dropping as low as -360 at the LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas (click here to check the latest UFC 172 lines and get odds on the go with the Don Best Mobile app). Anik said he thinks there’s still value on Jones at the high price as he looks to silence his critics and continue building his legacy as one of the best MMA fighters ever.

“I always get so super excited for Jon,” Anik said. “With these all-time great guys, you never know when they’ll lose. I certainly don’t expect him to lose this weekend. This is definitely a different type of challenge for him. I feel like there’s a huge amount to be gained by Jon Jones after the way things went down with Gustafsson at UFC 165. I think he won the fight but obviously he sustained a lot of damage along the way, and some people question whether or not that’s going to help or hurt him going forward. I think it’s going to help him, to have the confidence to know that against an elite striker like Gustafsson, he can hang in there and still have his hand raised at the end of the night.

“I feel like Jon Jones has this legion of haters that are going to criticize him no matter what he does. I think it’s a bad time to be fighting Jon Jones just because he’s at the height of motivation. I think Jon’s going to be looking to make a major statement. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this thing end inside of 10 minutes. At what point do you just sort of blindly play Jon at anything under -800 if you have the money to put down? Or maybe throw him in with somebody else on the card, I don’t know. To me, I hate to say it, but anything below -600 almost seems like value.”

It’s worth noting that this will be Teixeira’s first five-round fight, and he has gone a full three rounds in only four of 24 career bouts, the last coming in a UD victory vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Jan. 26, 2013. He has finished 19 opponents (13 knockouts and six submissions) among his 22 wins, with six of his past eight ending in the first round. He is widely considered one of the top strikers at 205.

“Puncher’s chance is always sort of a trite phrase in combat sports, but I think it is applicable here because the puncher might be the most powerful striker in the 205-pound division,” Anik said. “There is no denying – whatever you think of Glover Teixeira – if he hits you in the right place, you can very likely be twitching on the canvas. I give him that chance, but overall I think Jon Jones is better in every discipline of mixed martial arts and deserves to be installed at a 5-to-1 number.”

In the co-main event, No. 4 Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (12-1) will meet No. 14 Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (16-4), who will make his return to the UFC after being released following a 197-pound catchweight fight vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 142. Johnson failed to make weight at 185 after moving up from welterweight and then lost to Belfort via rear-naked choke submission in the first round. He has since fought in three different promotions, the latest being a 3-0 stint in the World Series of Fighting, highlighted by two impressive first-round knockouts.

Meanwhile, Davis is coming off a UD win against Lyoto Machida at UFC 163 last August, a bout most except the judges scored against him. Davis often relies on his grappling as a former Penn State wrestler who won the NCAA championship at 197 pounds in 2008, and he had not done much self-promoting until recently when he called out Jones on multiple occasions during the UFC 172 conference call.

“(UFC president) Dana White sort of alluded to (Davis) being a reluctant contender this week,” Anik said. “He is sort of happy-go-lucky, and you almost do get the sense at times that he’s a little bit contentious to be one of the best in the world. He’s not losing sleep over not having the belt on his nightstand.

“(But) he does have those championship aspirations. He isn’t always one who is going to bark from the rooftops, but obviously he sort of ratcheted up the trash talk this week. Of course he’s trash talking Jon Jones and not toward the opponent here in Anthony Johnson.”

As for Johnson, he has more to prove than anyone on the card and should be able to stick back with the UFC regardless of his performance as long as he continues to make weight in a more manageable division. Anik said he expects Johnson to be more than ready to rumble and believes he will earn some respect from bettors prior to Saturday, which could eventually lead to a more attractive price on Davis.

“I don’t expect any sort of rust or jitters out of Anthony Johnson returning to the big show – he knows he belongs here,” Anik said. “He’s never short for confidence, and I think he’s so confident in this weight class now. I expect a great performance out of Anthony Johnson, but I just think Phil Davis has the advantage. Obviously the wrestling credentials give him a major advantage, but I also think he is underrated in the striking department. He has a good jab, he mixes it up well. I think he’s a pretty versatile striker. Not that he’s going to be trying to necessarily beat Anthony Johnson at his own game, but he’s definitely going to be mindful of Rumble’s one-strike finishing power. I think Phil Davis can more than hang on the feet and mix in his takedowns. And over 15 minutes, I just think Phil Davis is a really, really difficult guy to out-decision and obviously we know he is a very difficult guy to finish.

“I imagine the line to close a little bit closer than it is right now. I think some money’s going to come in on Anthony Johnson, just because if people look at this matchup, Anthony Johnson is the more likely guy to get a finish. A lot of the bettors might find +170 or +180 to be tantalizing and go in that direction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it. If you are going to play Phil Davis, I might suggest waiting and see if you can get him around -170 or -175 on fight night.”

Even though UFC 172 may not appear to be as stacked as last Saturday’s UFC on FOX 11 card, the two light heavyweight fights that will close out the night should provide plenty of fireworks and give MMA bettors more than one reason to tune in as the title picture at 205 becomes even clearer.

“This historically has been the UFC’s premier division,” Anik said. “It’s nice that there seem to be four or five guys right now that you’d be interested in seeing fight the best in the world.

“If Phil Davis finishes Anthony Johnson as the appetizer to this main event, I think there might be some groundswell of support for him to get a title shot. This is a huge spotlight for Phil Davis.”


Jon Jones -380 (line at LVH in Las Vegas on April 24 at 9:15 a.m.)

Phil Davis -210 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on April 24 at 9:15 a.m.)

Danny Castillo -270 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on April 24 at 9:15 a.m.)

For complete betting coverage of UFC 172, including previews and picks for every fight, click here.

UFC Ring Girl

UFC on FOX 11 Betting Odds & Picks

Saturday's MMA action is covered at Don Best Advantage with UFC on FOX 11 betting odds, tips and picks from former fighter Frank Trigg and MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas, who preview Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum and Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza in the video below.

Click here to check the latest UFC betting odds.

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UFC 171 Betting Odds, Tips & Picks

By Matty Simo

The UFC's welterweight division will crown a new champion this Saturday when No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks squares off against No. 3 Robbie Lawler for the title vacated by former champ Georges St-Pierre. Hendricks (15-2) vs. Lawler (22-9, 1 No-Contest) is the main event on a stacked UFC 171 card that will take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas and also features four more welterweight fights, including another big bout pitting No. 2 Carlos Condit (29-7) against No. 11 Tyron Woodley (12-2) in the co-main event. Four of eight preliminary card fights will be televised on FOX Sports 2 starting at 5 p.m. (PT) before the five-bout main card gets underway on Pay-Per-View at 7 p.m.

“It’s pretty fortunate for the UFC when Georges St-Pierre steps away for however long that the division just has so many intriguing guys,” UFC commentator Jon Anik said. “The more we talk, I’m probably going to sound more like a promoter, but I can get behind several of these guys as being worthy (of a title shot). I’m out of superlatives when it comes to these guys in this division.”

After losing a controversial split decision to St-Pierre at UFC 167 last Nov. 16, Hendricks opened as a -290 favorite (bet $290 to win $100) to beat Lawler, a +210 underdog (bet $100 to win $210), according to MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas from Many sportsbooks actually now have Hendricks as a much bigger fave, as high as -450 at the LVH in Las Vegas, with Condit sitting between -165 and -185 compared to +145 to +150 for Woodley (click here to check the latest UFC 171 betting lines and get odds on the go with the Don Best Mobile app).

“It’s a great fight all-around,” Anik said about the main event. “I think there’s definitely value on Lawler, I really do like the matchup for him. A lot of us believe Johny Hendricks right now, with Georges St-Pierre on the side, is the No. 1 welterweight in the world, so you expect him to get some respect from Las Vegas, I just don’t think Robbie Lawler is getting much of any.”

Nick Kalikas, Frank Trigg & Jordan McDonald analyze top two UFC 171 fights

While Hendricks and Condit are now the highest-ranked welterweights in the UFC with GSP out, Lawler and Woodley have been more than impressive in earning their way to the top of the fight card almost three years to the day that their former promotion Strikeforce was acquired by Zuffa, LLC. Even though both Lawler and Woodley are underdogs against their respective opponents, neither should be overlooked from a betting perspective, and each is capable of winning.

For the record, former Strikeforce fighters are 56-55 in the UFC with two NCs, according to Editor Tim Burke. Of those 56 wins, 33 have been finishes (24 knockouts and nine submissions) while 32 of the losses were decided by the judges (58 percent). Lawler and Woodley are a combined 5-1 in the UFC since the Strikeforce merger with four knockout wins.

When handicapping any MMA matchup, bettors need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the fighters and try to figure out what strategy they will use in an effort to defeat their opponent. For example, unbeaten women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey studied videos of her most recent opponent Sara McMann and figured out that a knee to the liver would be the most effective way to beat her. As it turned out, Rousey needed just 66 seconds to finish McMann at UFC 170 last month after delivering the lethal liver shot.

Jordan McDonald, Carla Esparza & Jessica Penne offer MMA betting tips

Like Rousey, Hendricks, Lawler, Condit and Woodley all have devastating finishing ability, and only 15 of their combined 78 wins (19 percent) have gone to the judges. Surprisingly, Hendricks leads the way with six decision wins while Condit has stopped 27 of the 29 opponents (93 percent) he has beaten, including 14 knockouts and 13 submissions. In fact, Condit has twice as many losses via decision (four) than wins.

So what does that mean? Hendricks, a two-time NCAA champion wrestler and four-time All-American, used takedowns early and often to defeat Condit when they met at UFC 158 last March 16. In their three-round bout that ended up winning Fight of the Night, Condit trailed on the scorecards over the first two rounds to the point where he desperately needed a victory by stoppage in order to have his hand raised. That obviously did not happen. The 5-foot-9 Woodley is the same height as Hendricks, also is an outstanding wrestler and would be wise to follow a similar gameplan vs. Condit, who is five inches taller and has a three-inch reach advantage. Of course that is easier said than done, and Woodley’s last two wins were first-round KOs while his lone UFC loss came via split decision against Jake Shields.

“Tyron Woodley’s a monster, he wants to knock your head off, and yet he’s fighting another guy in Carlos Condit who is the former UFC interim champion and with bonuses in six of his last seven,” Anik said. “I think this one has a pretty clear storyline. Carlos Condit needs to be able to stop the takedown. He’s fighting a guy who has great power in the standup game.

“I think it’s an interesting challenge for Condit. A five-round fight is very beneficial to a guy like Carlos Condit, he’s a very difficult guy to out-point and out-cardio over 25 minutes. But in 15 minutes for Tyron Woodley, he can get a takedown and run clock a little bit and get a round in the books. The first round is very key for Woodley to get in his back pocket.”

In the five-round UFC welterweight championship bout between Hendricks and Lawler, UNDER 3.5 rounds is favored, and with good reason. Hendricks finally went more than three rounds for the first time in his MMA career in his last fight against GSP, and Lawler’s longest bout went to the fourth round vs. Frank Trigg nearly seven years ago. They have 26 knockout wins between them, including 15 in the first round (11 by Lawler). At 30 years old, Hendricks is only one year younger than Lawler, who is two inches taller, owns a three-inch reach advantage and has 15 more fights under his belt, including seven from a previous stint in the UFC more than a decade ago.

“Nineteen pro fights before Hendricks made his pro debut,” Anik said of Lawlor. “I think Johny has stockpiled a lot of high-level experience though, especially of late, 15 wins already, and his career started that much after Robbie Lawler’s. It’s amazing for Lawler – he was supposed to face Tarec Saffiedine last July in Seattle. He ends up fighting Bobby Voelker (second-round KO victory).

“It’s one of the greatest things in sports that Robbie Lawler is getting a title shot right now at this stage of his career. You get so excited for guys getting this opportunity, and people are so thankful that Johny Hendricks is getting another shot. I just couldn’t feel greater for Robbie Lawler. I think he’s peaking at the right time to capitalize on an opportunity, and people should be careful if they’re dismissing him from this fight. Screams live underdog to me.”

One might think Lawlor would be favored with what look to be some significant edges, but Hendricks has superior wrestling skills and will probably look to use them to take the fight to the ground like he did against Condit. The big question is, can Hendricks sustain that for 25 minutes, or will he be tempted to throw down with Lawlor on the feet and possibly risk getting knocked out himself? Bettors can certainly expect plenty of fireworks in this one, with the last man standing likely being named the new champ.


Hector Lombard -180 (line at LVH in Las Vegas on March 13 at 1:30 p.m.)

Kelvin Gastelum -175 (line at LVH in Las Vegas on March 13 at 1:30 p.m.)

Sean Strickland -145 (line at LVH in Las Vegas on March 13 at 1:30 p.m.)

For complete betting coverage of UFC 171, including previews and picks for every fight, click here.


UFC 170 Betting Odds, Tips & Picks

By Matty Simo

For the second time in a year, undefeated champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey will headline a UFC Pay-Per-View card when she defends her women’s bantamweight title against unbeaten challenger Sara McMann in the main event at UFC 170 this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Rousey (8-0) is probably best known for her brash and polarizing personality as a result of submitting opponents with her signature armbar in every one of her MMA fights after becoming the first American woman to earn a medal (bronze) in Judo at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

However, McMann (7-0) could very well be Rousey’s toughest opponent to date as a silver medalist in freestyle wrestling at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.  Rousey has welcomed being tested by another world-class athlete and opened as a large -400 favorite (bet $400 to win $100) against No. 4 contender McMann, a +325 underdog (bet $100 to win $325) that has already started to rise in the champ’s favor due to the public commonly betting in that direction as fight day draws closer.  The five-bout main card will get underway at 7 p.m. (PT) following four preliminary card fights televised on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 5 p.m.

Don Best MMA analyst and fighter Jordan McDonald believes nobody in the UFC is shining brighter right now than Rousey, who has become the current cash cow of the organization with former champions Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva both out indefinitely and not expected to enter the Octagon in 2014.  St-Pierre took a leave from the UFC and vacated his welterweight title following a controversial split-decision win against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 while Silva is recovering from a gruesome broken leg suffered in a second-round TKO loss to middleweight champ Chris Weidman at UFC 168.

“Rousey is special – she is a rock star,” McDonald said. “Every time you get to see her compete, you are watching greatness, a rare kind of greatness that you don’t get to see too often.  Her legacy is only growing, though I can’t imagine she’ll be fighting a whole lot longer.  We should all enjoy it while we can.”

McDonald was recently joined by friends and fellow mixed martial artists Carla Esparza and Jessica Penne in the Don Best Studios to break down the two women’s bouts on the UFC 170 card in the video below.  Esparza won the Invicta strawweight championship before signing on with the UFC to compete on Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, which is scheduled to shoot and air later this year.  Penne previously held the Invicta atomweight title belt but has decided to move up to 115 pounds and compete with Esparza to become the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champ who will be crowned at the TUF 20 Finale.

“I’m always going to go for the wrestler because that’s my background,” Esparza said. “But just knowing Sara McMann and her work ethic, I’m really going for her in this fight and think she’s going to win it.”

“I think that this is a really interesting matchup, you have two Olympians and two top-level female athletes,” Penne said. “I’m going to give a slight advantage to Rousey just because I really think her Judo translates really well to MMA.  Sara McMann has adjusted really well with her wrestling into MMA, but I think Rousey’s a little bit more active in attacking and trying to finish fights.”

While the wrestling vs. Judo debate will likely take center stage leading up to this championship bout, there is also no doubt that UFC president Dana White is counting on Rousey to fill the significant void of marketability lacking this year with St-Pierre and Silva out.  Rousey has definitely seized the moment despite only being in the organization for a little more than a year and will be fighting for the second time in less than two months.  In fact, her first UFC bout (the main event vs. Liz Carmouche at UFC 157) took place almost a year ago to the day of her upcoming matchup with McMann, and she is coming off a third-round submission win over rival Miesha Tate in a rematch at UFC 168 last Dec. 28.

Tate remains the only opponent to take Rousey past the first round, and she closed as a hefty +555 underdog after opening at +650 for their second fight, according to  But bettors seemed to back Tate more due to her likeability than her skills against Rousey following TUF 18 in which both served as coaches.  That will not be the case again here with McMann, who like Rousey went to the 2004 Olympics in Athens and unlike Tate does not command the same type of hatred as an opponent.  Instead, Rousey has mutual respect for McMann as another Olympian trying to make her own name in this sport, and the champ has publicly stated that she does not have a bad thing to say about her foe.

McDonald noted that McMann’s long layoff between fights and lack of MMA experience could be the difference, as Rousey will have edges in both areas as well as battling better competition along the way.

“It has been nearly 10 months since McMann last stepped into the Octagon,” McDonald said. “That is a long break heading into any matchup, and it seems especially long leading into a five-round championship bout with Rousey. (For once) Rousey is also the more experienced fighter.

“In addition to having one more fight, the champion has competed in several title fights now while McMann might be dealing with more pressure in this matchup than she has heading into any contest in her athletic career. Before Rousey's rematch with Tate, I don’t think too many will be making the argument that McMann might have an advantage in conditioning.  Rousey was able to stay active and aggressive, finally stopping Tate in the third round, so I don’t see any significant edge that McMann might have in conditioning.”

Another intriguing women’s bantamweight bout headlines the preliminary card, as No. 3 contender Alexis Davis (15-5) takes on No. 6 Jessica “Evil” Eye (10-1, 1 No-Contest) amidst a bit of controversy.  Davis opened as a slight -185 favorite against Eye (+145) and has won four straight along with seven of eight.

Eye earned this opportunity by originally defeating No. 5 Sarah Kaufman via split decision at UFC 166 in Houston last Oct. 19, but the win was later turned to a NC after she failed her post-fight drug test, which showed traces of marijuana.  The limit of marijuana metabolites in Texas is 15 ng/ML compared to 150 in Nevada, and Eye’s positive test showed 16, which is obviously well below the allowable amount in Vegas.  She was subsequently fined $1,875 and placed on probationary suspension for one year.

In what is close to a Pick’em fight, experience would seem to favor the 29-year-old Davis, who is two years older and has eight more bouts under her belt than Eye.  But the biggest question for bettors is, how will Eye handle the pressure with another step-up in competition after all the backlash she received last week in the wake of the failed drug test?  The criticism got so bad for her that she even felt the need to shut down her Twitter account for a few days.  Eye’s father also recently had surgery to remove a brain tumor, so there has been much more on her mind lately than simply training to fight Davis.

For betting tips on Davis vs. Eye from McDonald and former fighter Frank Trigg, watch the video below.

Two other key bouts on the UFC 170 main card include light heavyweights Daniel Cormier (13-0) vs. Patrick Cummins (4-0) and welterweights Rory MacDonald (15-2) vs. Demian Maia (18-5).  Cummins (+800) steps in for Rashad Evans, who had to pull out due to a knee injury, while Cormier (-1200) is a monster favorite and makes his light heavyweight debut after dropping down from heavyweight.  MacDonald (-290) and Maia (+240) are each coming off disappointing split-decision losses and looking to get back on track as top contenders at 170.

McDonald, Trigg and MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas break down these two fights in the video below.

Two other main card bouts also feature welterweights, as Mike Pyle (25-9-1) faces TJ Waldburger (16-8) and Robert Whittaker (11-3) meets Stephen Thompson (8-1).  For tips on these fights plus odds and complete betting coverage on the entire UFC 170 card, visit


Robert Whittaker +115 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m.)

Alexis Davis -150 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m.)

Zach Makovsky -165 (line at William Hill in Las Vegas on Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m.)

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