Time to get right back on the horse with another UFC event just days away. We're in a nice run with our highlighted picks at 9-0 and +990 dating back to UFC 88. The key is finding those spots with the best value. You don't have to play every fight on a card. Don't limit yourself to firing only on favorites. At UFC 89, the underdogs did very well going 4-5.
Yahoo! Sports sits down with Dave Farra from RawVegas to break down some of the fights at the top of the card.
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 is an unreal 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 picks and odds for UFC 90 (Venetian Hotel Casino). Official plays are in BOLD.
ANDERSON SILVA (-700) v. PATRICK COTE - UFC MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE
This may be the easiest fight Silva will face the rest of his career. Mark it down now, the competition will get stiffer from here. Any mortal fighter and I may tro to sell you on the idea that Silva will suffer a let down for this one. It won’t happen. Even if it did, that means Cote just gets to last a little longer. Cote’s game is striking. He has absolutely no interest in the going to the ground. He won’t be able to get at Silva fighting from the outside and he’s too small to make it an inside brawl. Silva may be the best technical striker with his hands in mixed martial arts. His angles are brilliant, and his length keeps opponents at bay. Not many MMA fighters could walk into a straight boxing match and fare well. Silva is one of the guys in MMA who could hold his own in a boxing ring and when you add in the use of kicks and knees, he’s unstoppable in the cage.
The guy who is going to beat Silva has to take him to the ground. It’s going to be a wrestler or jiu-jitsu master who ends Silva’s streak. Cote can’t do it and won’t try it. Fit him for the body bag. The fight is not even worth looking at for a wager unless you’re willing to start at laying down at least $7k. Good luck finding a sports book anywhere that will take a bet of more than $2k. For those not familiar with sports betting a $2,000 bet on Silva would win you $285.71. PICK: SILVA -700
JOSH KOSCHECK (-115) v. THIAGO ALVES - WELTERWEIGHT
Alves really got screwed with the injury to Diego Sanchez. Sanchez is well rounded and probably would have taken his chances at different points in the fight at standing with Alves, who has a very dangerous muay thai game. Give credit to Koscheck for stepping up on short notice, this is the best path to a welterweight title shot and he’s willing to roll the dice on two weeks notice. The lack of prep time should convince Koscheck to fight to his strength, wrestling, and employ a more strategic approach. If he throws some kicks, he should be able to takedown Alves at will and then hold him there for ground and pound. Size may be a little issue. Chances are Alves that will walk into the cage 5-7 lbs. heavier on fight night. This is great value on a superior wrestler like Koscheck. PICK: KOSCHECK -115
SEAN SHERK v. TYSON GRIFFIN - LIGHTWEIGHT
This is a tremendous fight on paper. The wrestler with a nonstop motor in Sherk versus the new breed, true mixed martial artist. Sherk has his limitations on the feet but you have to be focused and highly skilled at avoiding the takedown to expose ‘The Muscle Shark’s’ weaknesses. You can bet that Kenny Florian thought he would pick apart Sherk standing at UFC 64 and then found himself on his back for 20+ minutes. B.J. Penn undressed Sherk with a blend of crisp boxing and the ability to stay off the mat. That said, there may not be more than two guys in the world with Penn’s complete package. Griffin is a high level wrestler with good boxing skills. He needs to make this into a standup fight by frustrating Sherk early by thwarting take downs. I still can’t figure out if Sherk thought it was wise to stand with Penn, it was useless to shoot for take downs or he feared ‘The Prodigy’s’ submission game. My worry is that Griffin will go with the ‘I’ll take the fight wherever it goes’ mentality and allow Sherk too much time on top. I’ll go the safe route with Sherk but there is value on the dog. If Griffin were fetching closer to +170 I would take a shot but not here. PICK: SHERK -160
PETE SELL v. JOSH BURKMAN - WELTERWEIGHT
This one could be wild and is my pick for Fight of the Night. You’ve got to have confidence to step into the cage but then there’s having too much confidence in certain facets of your game. Burkman brims with confidence but he never knows when to play his strength in a particular fight. Before a fight with Jon Fitch, he basically said screw Fitch’s wrestling and that if he, Burkman, had wrestled in college he could’ve been like Cael Sanderson. Sanderson was 159-0 during his career at Iowa State and a two-time Olympian. That’s a ridiculous statement to make going into a fight against a former Big 10 wrestler like Fitch. Burkman decided to wrestle with Fitch at Ultimate Fight Night 4 got thrown around the ring like he weighed 135 lbs. He’ll be making the same mistake here if he says screw Sell’s striking. Sell has one good skill and can be had on the ground. Don’t trust Burkman to fight the wise fight. This will be a slugfest with someone getting knocked out. Sell is dropping down from 185. That is always something to be wary of. Many fighters (Mike Swick, Brandon Vera, Mike Whitehead, etc) are lackluster in that first go around at a lower weight. PICK: SELL +150
GRAY MAYNARD v. RICH CLEMENTI - LIGHTWEIGHT
Now we see just how legit Clementi’s resurgence is. The 31-year old has reeled off six straight wins but it’s come mostly against one-dimensional fighters who had marginal skills on the ground. They generally played right into Clementi’s strong jiu-jitsu game. Maynard provides a different set of challenges to overcome. We know his wrestling is excellent so he’ll be able to get this to the ground. His standup is very underrated. Sometimes it takes sitting cage side or going to the gym to get a feel for who really hits hard. This kid blasts away with full power on almost everything that he throws without gassing. It’s also shocking for most fighters when they step into the Octagon on fight night to see how much bigger Maynard than most 155ers. I see Maynard landing the more impressive shots on the feet and working top control for much of the fight. I don’t trust judges to reward someone who is outworking their opponent from their back. Clementi may be effective on the ground but MMA judges aren’t schooled enough yet to understand fully what they’re witnessing. One caution I do still worry about Maynard leaving his head exposed for a guillotine and triangle choke. PICK: MAYNARD -200
HERMES FRANCA -250 v. MARCUS AURELIO - LIGHTWEIGHT
The value here is on the side of Aurelio. These guys have a bitter feud ongoing which could be extra motivation for the dog. Aurelio has faced a similar slate of fighters over time. We'll sie with the value here in this toss-up fight. PICK: AURELIO +200
FABRICIO WERDUM -600 v. JUNIOR DOS SANTOS - HEAVYWEIGHT
This is a gigantic number and much of it is due to dos Santos fighting for the first time in the U.S. Werdum is well-rounded my only worry laying the big number is his pace. Sometimes, he's a little laid back which could allow dos Santos to do some scoring in this one. PICK: WERDUM -600
THALES LEITES -400 v. DREW MCFEDRIES - MIDDLEWEIGHT
Leites is in a nice UFC run with four straight wins. Leites can do a little of everything while McFedries is helpless on the mat. If McFedries can sucked Leites into standing, he has a shot. PICK: LEITES -400
Spencer Fisher -300 v. Shannon Gugerty +220
Dan Miller -300 v. Matt Horwich +220