The biggest grossing fight in UFC history is almost here. Vegas is torn on the battle between Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture. It's a pick'em fight as we speak. The line will move but in what direction? My guess is that the late public money will come in on the bigger, younger, more impressive looking Lesnar.
The Yahoo MMA Expert blogs is in the midst of an 10-1, +1025 run with official selections at UFC 88, UFN 15, UFC 89 & UFC 90. The key to making money on the fights in locating a few strong plays and showing the discipline to not play every fight on the card.
Dave Farra from RawVegas.tv helps Yahoo! Sports break down the top of the card. The rest of the fight selections/breakdowns come after the jump.
Sports betting on MMA is simple to understand. When you see a minus number that is the amount you need to bet to win $100. The favorite is always a minus number. So the bigger the minus number, the bigger favorite that fighter is. Anything over -300 is a huge favorite. Anderson Silva was a huge favorite at -800 for his UFC 90 fight. The plus number is what you get if you a bet a dog for $100.
Here are the odds for UFC 91 (Venetian Resort Hotel - Las Vegas):
OFFICIAL PLAYS IN BOLD
BROCK LESNAR (-115) v. RANDY COUTURE (-115) - UFC HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
This is a handicapper's nightmare. Lesnar has huge physical advantage outweighing Couture by 50 pounds on fight night but Couture has a gigantic edge with experience and cage saavy. Lesnar will score some takedowns but won't be able to keep Couture down consistently. When they're on the feet, Couture has a way of confusing opponents with combos backed up by leg kicks. It'll have Lesnar confused. Couture may not submit Lesnar but he's too wily to not find a way to win the fight on points. Either way you play this fight you must shop the number. There will be sizable gaps from book-to-book. PICK: COUTURE -115
KENNY FLORIAN (-200) v. JOE STEVENSON (+170) - LIGHTWEIGHT (155 lbs.)
As I said in the video piece, Stevenson's height will be a problem here. He's barely 5-foot-6 and Florian will have a reach advantage at 5-10. KenFlo is also the much more refined striker. If Stevenson does get the fight to the ground, Florian is fine in that realm. There are too many ways for Florian (10-3, 8-2 UFC) to win this right. Watch out for the KenFlo elbows, we've seen Stevenson (29-8, 6-2 UFC) turn into a bloody mess in past fights. PICK: FLORIAN -200
DEMIAN MAIA (-150) v. NATE QUARRY (+120) - MIDDLEWEIGHT (185 lbs.)
This is your classic striker versus grappler matchup. Maia (8-0, 3-0 UFC) is a whiz on the ground with submissions while Quarry is a heavy-handed knockout artist. Quarry (10-2, 5-1 UFC) isn't a novice on the ground but he won't be able to withstand Maia for too long down there. This fight won't stay on the feet. Maia schooled a good ground fighter in Jason MacDonald his last time out, Quarry will find the same fate. PICK: MAIA -150
DUSTIN HAZELETT (-120) v. TAMDAN McCRORY (-110) - WELTERWEIGHT (170 lbs.)
The fighters are mirror images. Both are 22, tall for the weight and dangerous on the ground. But Hazelett (11-4, 4-2 UFC) is on a different level with his submissions plus his striking is much further along. Don't forget that Hazelett nearly pulled the upset on Josh Koscheck back in March. Hazelett will catch McCrory (9-1, 2-1 UFC) at some point. PICK: HAZELETT -120
GABRIEL GONZAGA (-330) v. JOSH HENDRICKS (+250) - HEAVYWEIGHT
Gonzaga is as physically talented as any big man in the sport. He's 250 lbs, a good boxer, great at submissions and has a nasty streak. But I still question his mental state at times. He's was broken in losses against Couture and Fabricio Werdum. He seemed to lose his will early in those fights. If things are going his way in this one, Gonzaga (9-3, 5-2 UFC) should roll. Hendricks (15-4) is a legit heavyweight and does have a good wrestling background. If he frustrates Gonzaga early on with some takedowns and ground and pound, let's see if the Brazilian's head remains in the fight. PICK: GONZAGA -330
JORGE GURGEL (-150) v. AARON RILEY (+120) - LIGHTWEIGHT
Gurgel (12-4, 3-3 UFC) consistently puts on a great show. His specialty is jiu-jitsu but he can generally be suckered into the opponent's fight. Gurgel should win this one but only if he controls the pace. He won't. Riley (26-10-1, 0-2 UFC) is no joke. His 37 fight resume is dotted with quality contests against Robbie Lawler, Chris Lytle, Ryan Schultz, Eddie Alvarez, Spencer Fisher and Yves Edwards. The fight will turn into a stand-up war. And with 4 oz. gloves, you never know what happens. I'll stay away from this one. PICK: GURGEL -150
JEREMY STEPHENS (-180) v. RAFAEL DOS ANJOS (+150) - LIGHTWEIGHT
Stephens, just 22, is a hidden gem. He's lost to Din Thomas and Spencer Fisher in the UFC but battled Fisher hard for those 15 minutes. His striking is dynamic and he's tough. Cole Miller had Stephens (13-3, 2-2 UFC) in some deep triangle chokes in the first and second rounds at UFN 12 but the Iowa native wouldn't tap. Dos Anjos, a 24-year old Brazilian, may be a little small for the weight and looks raw on his feet. PICK: STEPHENS -180
ALVIN ROBINSON (-160) v. MARK BOCEK (+130) - LIGHTWEIGHT
This is a tough one. Bocek (5-2, 1-2 UFC) should be able to get this to the ground and submit Robinson (9-3, 1-2 UFC). The worry just like with Gurgel is that Bocek can be suckered into a standup war. I'll roll with the value here but with little confidence. PICK: BOCEK +130
RYAN THOMAS (-130) v. MATT BROWN (Even) - WELTERWEIGHT
Our only UFC look at Thomas (9-2, 0-1 UFC) was against Ben Saunders where he got manhandled in a loss. Brown's game is pretty solid and likes to bang which always help in pulling the slight upset. He could've very easily gotten the decision in a loss to Dong Hyun Kim. PICK: BROWN EVEN
Yahoo! Sports/ESPNRadio1100 will be doing a live UFC 91 Post-Fight show from the MGM Grand on Saturday night. The show starts at 10:30p PT and will be taking calls from around the country. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ON SATURDAY NIGHT!
- Randy Couture
- Brock Lesnar