This could be a nightmarish card for the overly-aggressive bettor. UFC 95 features a lot of tight fights. We've had a load of trouble recently with the top three fights on UFC cards and the three marquee battles in London might again provide some shockers. After a lousy night at UFC 94, we bounced back with a winner at UFN 17 with Kurt Pellgrino. That makes it 24-5 and +1815 with the recommended picks dating back to UFC 88 (UFC 88, UFN 15, UFC 89, UFC 90, UFC 91, TUF 8, UFC 92, UFC 93, Affliction 2, UFC 94, UFN 17).
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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 the favorite. Anything over -300 is a huge favorite. Anderson Silva was massive at -800 for his UFC 90 fight. The plus number is what you get if you a bet an underdog for $100
UFC 95 ODDS (Venetian Resort Hotel Casino):
Cage Writer's official plays in BOLD
JOE STEVENSON (+200) v. DIEGO SANCHEZ (-250) - LIGHTWEIGHT
On paper, Sanchez does everything a little bit better and his versatility as a striker may be a lot better. His reach is going to be problem for Stevenson who is going to take shots on the way in. I also worry about Stevenson's mental state after getting dominated by Kenny Florian and B.J. Penn. Sanchez should be sky high now that he's not the smaller fighter out there. Sanchez wins but -250 is a litle too rich for my blood.
PICK: SANCHEZ -250
WILSON GOUVEIA (+150) v. NATE MARQUARDT (-180) - MIDDLEWEIGHT
We picked Marquardt on the video but in the days since we taped, Gouveia has grown on us especially at these odds. Gouveia has a sneaky game on the feet, he's got surprising power with his hands and his kicks are dangerous. He can take a punch, this is a guy who went the distance at 205 against Keith Jardine. Marquardt gets better with each fight but he still worries me in terms of pacing and killer instinct. If this gets any higher, roll the dice on the underdog.
PICK: MARQUARDT -180
CHAEL SONNEN (+200) v. DEMIAN MAIA (-250) - MIDDLEWEIGHT
Sonnen's honesty in some recent interviews about how good Maia is, scares me a little. He's giving Maia's ground game a lot of respect. As he puts it, hopefully it's not a case of paralysis by analysis. Sonnen has to fight a carbon copy of what he did against Paul Filho - stay away on the feet and only go to the ground when absolutely necessary. It's time for someone to prove if Maia has game with his stand-up. Sonnen will be competitive but 15 minutes is a long time to avoid the dreaded mistake and submission.
PICK: SONNEN +200
PAULO THIAGO (+300) v. JOSH KOSCHECK (-400) - WELTERWEIGHT
Thiago, 28, comes from out of nowhere to make his UFC debut against a top five 170-pounder in Koscheck. The Brazilian is unbeaten at 10-0 and clearly has jiu-jitsu skills with seven submissions. But in watching several of his fights (Carelli, Pecanha, Cavera, Kheder, Dutra Jr.), it's clear that's he uncomfortable on the feet and doesn't use his hands much. Everything for Thiago is built around clinching or shooting for the takedown. As long as Koscheck keeps it on the feet or has top control on the ground, he should roll.
PICK: KOSCHECK -400
RORY MARKHAM (+130) v. DAN HARDY (-160) - WELTERWEIGHT
We addressed the question of why this fight was the lead-in to the main event during the video, simply go back and watch some Markham fights on YouTube. The guy is exciting and most of his fights end with a finish either way. He was in real trouble against Brodie Farber in his UFC debut and ripped out a head kick to finish the fight. Markham's hands are excellent but he does take a lot of shots.
I'm going to stay out of this one and go the safe route. Screw it Hardy has grown on me. I could see either guy getting Knockout of the Night.
PICK: HARDY -160
JUSTIN BUCHHOLZ (+130) v. TERRY ETIM (-160) - LIGHTWEIGHT
The Brits have high hopes for Etim. The kid has a good build for 155, his kicks are dangerous and his submission game is nasty. Keep in mind, the guy has already gone the distance with veterans Rich Clementi and Gleison Tibau. Etim, 23, also went toe-to-toe on the feet with Sam Stout. Buchholz is solid standing but I don't trust him on the ground. Etim is already on another level.
PICK: ETIM -160 BRIAN COBB IN FOR BUCCHOLZ
STEFAN STRUVE (+180) v. JUNIOR DOS SANTOS (-220) - HEAVYWEIGHT
How confident are you in Dos Santos? He was immediately tabbed a heavyweight prospect/contender after his upset knockout win over Fabricio Werdum. We still don't know what he has on the ground and if there's a crack in the armor, he'll be submitted by the 6-foot-8 Struve. The 20-year-old is already 16-2 and with his last 10 wins coming by submission.
PICK: STRUVE +180
TROY MANDALONIZ (+220) v. PAUL KELLY (-300) - WELTERWEIGHT
There's real question mark here about "Rude Boy" and his stamina. Mandaloniz has been out of action for 15 months and
he's fighting at a bigger weight class (he's always been a welterweight. Several of his castmates from TUF6 dropped down to 155). It'll be interesting to see if either guy tries the ground. Neither is proficient with jiu-jitsu and Kelly has been downright lousy down there. This should be a total throwdown and there is enough value on Mandaloniz to take a shot.
PICK: MANDALONIZ +220