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Jizay 07-11-2009 12:39 PM

UFC 100 analysis
UFC 100 analysis

Welcome to perhaps the most stacked card the UFC has ever put on. Lots of fun fights, but I don’t see any value in the lines obvious enough to recommend a confidence play. I think some of the favorite lines are a little high, so a way to play it might be to take 3 underdogs in Mir, Bisping, and Belcher and hope to hit at least one. I don’t recommend betting against Georges St. Pierre, who always comes ready. If you want to add a fourth and hope for 2, Coleman over Bonnar is not a bad play – even though Coleman is past his prime, he can still wrestle and Bonnar has questionable takedown defense.

Here is a breakdown of the 5 fights on the main card:

Paulo Thiago vs. Jon Fitch: Someone at the UFC doesn’t like Paulo Thiago. In his first ever UFC fight, Thiago was fed to Josh Koscheck, a heavily-favored top tier fighter in the welterweight division. After shocking the world with a knockout victory, his reward is facing Jon Fitch, arguably the #2 fighter in the division who will be looking to avenge his training partner’s loss. Fitch is a tough, well-rounded, and reliable fighter. But before you throw money down on him at -470, consider that Thiago is a complete mystery. Before the UFC, he fought in the jungle somewhere. Honestly, there isn’t any footage of this guy at all. What we do know is that he has a professional record of 11-0. Maybe his competition wasn’t so good, maybe his KO of Koscheck was a fluke, but maybe, just maybe, he’s the next sensation to come out of the talent-rich nation of Brazil. I’ll stay away from this one and just enjoy watching.

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alan Belcher: This fight marks the UFC debut for “Sexyama,” who comes with a wealth of international experience and a cult following of internet fanboys. Doubtless, the UFC should like for the decorated judoka to succeed so that they can better market to his part of the world. But they aren’t doing themselves any favors by matching him up with Belcher, a tough, well-rounded veteran with KO power. Many an international veteran has struggled in his first UFC fight, and it wouldn’t be the first time that Belcher ruined such a debut (he defeated Denis Kang in January). Akiyama is talented, and if he can use his judo to turn this into a grappling war, he should be OK. But I couldn’t see paying -200 for him amid the uncertainties for this fight.

Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping: The much-hyped grudge match between the coaches from this season’s “The Ultimate Fighter” could have been a co-main event on any other card. Bisping has only lost once in the UFC, a split decision at light heavyweight to the then-undefeated Rashad Evans. Yet, Bisping is almost a +200 underdog against the legendary Henderson, in part because many question the quality of his opposition. One wonders, though, whether opinion is biased against Bisping because he made his break by winning the reality show. Henderson has decent hands and a heavy chin, but he would do well to use the wrestling skills that earned him an Olympic medal to take the more dynamic striker Bisping to the ground. The one factor I don’t hear being discussed enough is that Henderson will turn 39 in August. Sure, he has still been fighting effectively, but the way these things work is that one day he will step in the ring and be old, and there’s no guarantee this won’t be the day. Again, I can’t see spending -200 given the uncertainties.

Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves: This fight is easily the best on the card. St. Pierre comes up in any discussion of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and he’s still only 28 and seems to be improving. For his own part, Alves is perhaps the most interesting and dangerous opponent St. Pierre has faced. He is a big welterweight that can match St. Pierre’s physical strength, and his takedown defense is excellent enough that he can perhaps keep St. Pierre from dictating where the fight happens as he usually does. Indeed, several pro fighters agree, and some are picking Alves to pull the upset. St. Pierre might be expensive at -290, but I certainly wouldn’t go against him. He is a consummate professional who always comes in shape and executes a game plan. I am continually impressed with the way he seems to be able to reinvent himself in each fight and find ways to win. I don’t know how he’ll win tonight, but my guess is he WILL win.

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir: For two fighters who aren’t especially talented (the UFC heavyweight division is notoriously thin), this rematch is remarkably hyped. Mir was a +200 underdog last time out and won by first round submission. This time out, he’s +200 again. I can’t say that I understand why. People seem sure that Lesnar has “learned so much” since their last fight and “won’t make the same mistakes.” That may be true, but believing so is more an act of faith than an analysis of fights. Lesnar has only had 2 fights since their last matchup, both against wrestlers without a good submission game. That means that to beat Lesnar, they had to dominate him at what he does best. Mir is a different kind of fighter, with vastly more experience in submission grappling. Maybe the much larger Lesnar will smash Mir early as many think, but if he doesn’t, there is an excellent chance that Mir will catch him in a submission again. I don’t buy the hype; Mir is probably worth a small play here as the underdog.

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