We kick off things in Nashville at 5 p.m. ET with a live fight-by-fight Ultimate Fight Night 18 blog. Maggie Hendricks will also host a live chat during the televised portion of the Spike event at 8 p.m. ET. Check out Cage Writer's picks and Las Vegas odds for the entire card after the jump.
Betting on MMA is simple to understand. A minus number 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. Anything over -300 is a huge favorite. The plus number is what you get if you bet $100.
UFN 18 odds (Venetian Resort Hotel Casino) - Cage Writer's picks in bold:
Martin Kampmann (-115) v. Carlos Condit (-115) - Welterweight
Condit's been dying to test himself against the best. Kampmann (14-2, 5-1 UFC) may not be a huge name yet at welterweight but he's got the potential to be. It's his second fight down at 170 so stamina shouldn't be an issue. The
Dutchman Dane is very dangerous on the feet and has a big chin so Condit (22-4) doesn't want to trade leather for very long. He should try to get this one to ground and use his length. Kampmann (Xtreme Couture) and Condit (Arizona Combat Sports) come from two of the best training camps in the country but I have a little more faith in Xtreme Couture. This is a huge fight for Condit. The 24-year-old would love to be mentioned in the same breath as top five welterweights like Georges St. Pierre, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves. We'll find out here if he has a complete game.
PICK: KAMPMANN -115
Carmelo Marrero (+325) v. Ryan Bader (-450) - Light Heavyweight
There are mixed reviews on Bader. Some think the former Arizona State wrestler has the upside to be a player in the loaded light heavyweight division. Others think in a division this deep, a one-trick pony may not thrive. The issue at hand is Bader's standup. How quickly can he add some dangerous elements on the feet to augment his takedown and ground and pound skills? He did score a knockout with some big rights in the The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale against Vinny Magalhaes. This is a nice test against another former college wrestler in the former Rider Bronc Marrero (10-2, 1-2 UFC). Marrero, who grappled in college at 285 pounds, isn't dynamic standing and should be custom-made for Bader. This is a huge price though for a fighter just kicking off his UFC career. Marrero is no pushover having logged time with guys like Gabriel Gonzaga, Cheick Kongo and Wilson Gouveia.
PICK: BADER -450
Rafael Dos Anjos (+325) v. Tyson Griffin (-450) - Lightweight
Griffin should be motivated to crush Dos Anjos. After losing a tight decision to Sean Sherk, Dos Anjos is a step down from a status standpoint. Dos Anjos showed some good jiu-jitsu skills against Jeremy Stephens but then got sloppy and was KO'd. Griffin is one of the top 10 lightweights in the world and I'm sure UFC would like to see him score a dominant victory before they put him back in with a high profile opponent this summer.
PICK: GRIFFIN -450
Junie Browning (+130) v. Cole Miller (-160) - Lightweight
This is a tough one. Browning shouldn't be seasoned enough to hang with Miller on the ground but he is a big, strong guy for the weight and dangerous on the feet. If he can keep it standing, he has a chance to pick up a big win. I don't love this one, but we'll roll with Junie.
PICK: BROWNING +130
Jeremy Stephens (+130) v. Gleison Tibau (-160) - Lightweight
Stephens not making weight (158) is a warning sign. He's dinged up and didn't get to work as hard as he wanted coming into this fight. Tibau is the more well-rounded fighter and really dangerous on the ground. Stephens couldn't handle Joe Lauzon on the floor and was in a load of trouble against Rafael dos Anjos before scoring a big knockout. Tibau didn't make weight either but it's a result of a huge cut he makes before each fight. If asked to remove his trunks, he would'nt been there.
PICK: TIBAU -160
Matt Horwich (+150) v. Ricardo Almeida (-180) - Middleweight
This will be a helluva scrap on the ground. Almeida is outstanding with his submissions, is Horwich? He's good but I don't think he's at the level of Almeida. My only worry is size, Almeida looked a bit small for the weight during the weigh-ins.
PICK: ALMEIDA -180
Jesse Sanders (+240) v. Brock Larson (-320) - Welterweight
This is a huge fight for Larson as he gets another shot at the UFC, moving over from the WEC. He knows a loss to someone like Sanders will bury him. Sanders has a solid boxing background but his wrestling may not be up to snuff to hang with a beast like Larson.
PICK: LARSON -320
Nick Catone (-115) v. Tim Credeur (-115) - Welterweight
Catone is making up for lost time. He had his UFC debut pushed because of injuries to Amir Sadollah. He fought six weeks ago and easily handled Derek Downey via submission. He won't submit Credeur, who is a very polished submission fighter. Catone, a former college wrestler, may not want to mess around on the ground with Credeur. There could be openings on the feet where Credeur is still very loose with punches and stance.
PICK: CREDEUR -115
Nissen Osterneck (+140) v. Jorge Rivera (-170) - Middleweight
There are worries galore in this one. Osterneck (5-1) has to show a better gas tank than he did in his lone WEC fight against Jake Rosholt. There's no concern about Rivera's conditioning but is he all there for this one, mentally? Rivera (15-7, 4-5 UFC) suffered a tragic loss when his 17-year-old daughter passed last year. Cage Writer spoke to him the other day and it was hard to tell if he was just being stoic or still out of it. There's enough doubt on both sides that we'll roll the dice on value.
PICK: OSTERNECK +140
Tim McKenzie (+130) v. Aaron Simpson (-160) - Middleweight
Joe Vedepo (+130) v. Rob Kimmons (-160) - Middleweight
Steve Steinbess (+160) v. Ryan Jensen (-200) - CANCELED