Rounding out a solid week of MMA, headlined by the Middleweight division, the Strikeforce 185 pound champion successfully retained his title for the second time with a 5 round decision victory over challenger Tim Kennedy. In the co-main event, Strikeforce finally found a replacement for former Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz, when Nate Marquardt knocked out formerly undefeated Tyron Woodley. Also on the main card, two new Middleweight contenders made their mark in the division when Roger Gracie dominated Keith Jardine with his grappling and Lorenz Larkin outdueled Robbie Lawler in a predominatly striking based affair.
Building on a fantastic 7-1-0 prediction record coming out UFC on Fuel TV earlier in the week, the hot streak kept on rolling with a equally as solid 7-2-0 mark last night. Do the math and that is 14-3 for the week (82% accuracy rate), even more impressive was a 10-0 confidence list pick, 7-3 record for Value List, and a number of winning parlays. I don’t like to brag, but when you are up your up so take I’ll take advantage of it while I can. Lets take a look at the last 5 events:
UFC on FX: Maynard vs Guida- 8-4-0
UFC 147: Silvs vs Franklin II- 5-0-1
UFC 148: Silva vs Sonnen II- 4-6-0
UFC on Fuel TV: Munoz vs Weidman- 7-1-0
Strikeforce: Rockhold vs Kennedy- 7-2-0
Total- 31-13-1 70%
Ok that’s enough about me, lets talk about the fighters.
–Jason High, his fight wasn’t shown on TV, but considering it only lasted 26 seconds and High is a legit contender in the Welterweight division, they should have worked it into the show between fights. Maybe after the Marquardt/Woodley fight to help establish High as a potential contender would have made sense. Not much to say about Nate Moore, he should get another chance, but High is the real important part of this fight a quick finish, a significant winning streak, he should be on a main card fight with title implications. High vs Bobby Voelker- winner gets a spot in a #1 contenders bout and Moore vs Nah-Shon Burrell.
–Jordan Mein showed that he is a legit threat in the division and despite his less then stellar showing in his last fight he is close to a title shot. Mein fought his game and limited his opponent’s opportunities to attack. Tyler Stinson has lost back to back fights and is in desperate need for a win to remain relevant in the division. Mein vs Quinn Mulhern and Stinson vs Yuri Villefort.
–Jorge Masvidal won the fight, but he didn’t do a lot to help fans get over his last performance. He look good in round one when he landed the big knee, but he needs to be more active and push for the finish, especially when he is the superior striker as was the case here. Justin Wilcox fought his opponent’s fight and needed to push the issues with his wrestling, using his striking to set up the shot and keep on pushing. Masvidal vs Isacc Vallie-Flagg and Wilcox vs Joe Duarte.
–Ryan Couture recovered nicely after a tough first round and is continuing to round out his game. With his name and current success he could find his way onto the main card and potentially even a title eliminator belt sooner rather than later. Joe Duarte started strong, but didn’t finish well and needs to work harder to prepare himself. It seemed like he had the capabilities to win the fight but just was prepared properly. Couture vs Bobby Green and Duarte vs Justin Wilcox.
-I talked about this is in my bet pack; Pat Healy needed to be very careful with this fight. He was/is on the verge of getting a title shot and then nearly lost in his hometown to a significant underdog. Don’t take anything away from Mizuto Hirota, but Healy got beat at his own game for the first half of the fight and then barely won a controversial decision. If Healy was angling for a title fight on the basis of that performance in any other promotion he would be overlooked in a heartbeat, but he may still get it with the lack of depth Strikeforce has. At the same time the talk of Melendez/ Thomson IV is starting to build an with Healy not looking that good here it will only add fuel to the fire for the fourth fight. Hirota looked good early, but succumbed to Healy’s size and grinding style in the second half just enough for the hometown judges to take the fight away from him. I don’t know his contract situation but based on his performance I would like to see him stick around and add some new life to the division. It is a hard call on what to do with Healy, I would suggest letting him rematch Josh Thomson with the winner getting a shot at the title and for Hirota vs Caros Fodor would be an entertaining bout.
– Lorenz Larkin looked fantastic, he survived the early attack that had him stumbling backwards and went onto dominate Robbie Lawler, even mixing in a little ground work where it was least expected. Larkin could find himself challenging for the title in the near future, but hopefully they give him one more fight before then to establish himself further. Robbie Lawler didn’t look good outside of his opening barrage. He always comes to fight, but his strategy (if he had one at all) didn’t really offer anything for his opponent to be concerned with beyond a lucky punch finding its way through the guard. There are a limited number of options for Larkin to face off with, but Lumumba Sayers might work or Derek Brunson if he wasn’t already set up to face Jacare. Robbie Lawler wont get his walking papers as he is a veteran that the company needs to have, I would think a fight with Keith Jardine would work.
–Roger Gracie has also entered his name into the title contention conversation, but I would think he needs at least 2 more wins before he gets the shot. He did a nice job of countering Jardine’s aggressive rush, Jardine thought he could get Roger to freeze up when he rushed forward. Instead, Gracie changed levels and took the fight to the place he wanted to and although he didn’t finish on the mat he still was dominant. Keith Jardine does serve a purpose, he is a name that will probably get at least one more shot and I expect it will be against Robbie Lawler as the winner will be once again relevant for a little bit longer. It is hard to find an appropriate opponent for Gracie, maybe a fight against the winner of Amagov/ Berry could be interesting.
-I really enjoy this fight, who would have thought that Nate Marquardt vs Tyron Woodley was going to be the best fight on the entire card? It certainly was not me. Marquardt is the champ and his time could already be limited in the promotion because at 33 years of age he only has a limited time to make a splash and will most likely look to get back to the UFC as soon as possible. He looked very good in all areas and considering he was making his divisional debut and returning from over a year away makes his performance that much more impressive. Woodley will hopefully learn from this fight and since this was the first time he wasn’t able to use his wrestling to earn a win it will force him to make changes to his training in an attempt to become a more well rounded fighter. I like the Welterweight division and I feel there are a number of decent opponents to challenge for the title. I think that Kazuo Misaki’s performance against Paul Daley and past history against Nate Marquardt (2 fights, hard to sell on the 0-2 record vs Nate but still worth a shot) make him a viable first opponent. Make this fight happen sooner rather then later, and potentially get another challenger lined up as soon as possible for the winner. Woodley is back to the drawing board, he should get lined up with a fighter like Nah-Shon Burrell which would give him a chance to showcase any improvements made after his first career defeat. Some might suggest this is too far from him to fall, but the manner in which he was beaten by the champ should require 2, 3 or even 4 fights to get another shot at the title.
–Luke Rockhold looked good, not great, but good and Tim Kennedy is a tough opponent to look good against. Rockhold is one of the cornerstones of the company and should be promoted as such. In fact, Strikeforce/ Zuffa should go out of their way to bring in a few Middleweights (Yang, Massenzio, Grove) and/or convince a couple Light Heavyweights (Kyle and Mousasi) to make the drop in an effort to build up the division but with depth and talent. Kennedy is in a tough spot right now; he has lost a pair of fights with the title on the line and will most likely not get another shot for a long time. There was some talked that if he lost the fight he would return to active military duty which would be devastating for the company. Luke Rockhold will probably rematch Jacare next and there are a couple of options after that fight. If Rockold drops the belt in a close fight then the series is tied 1-1 which could lead to a rematch (Jacare winning would also be good for Kennedy as he probably stands a better chance of beating him then the current champ), if Rockhold retains the title he could fight Lorenz Larkin next, and if he wins that bout a battle with Gegard Mousasi would be a huge draw. For Kennedy it is wait and see, maybe back to the military, maybe a shot against a lower level Middleweight or maybe even considering a drop to 170.
-Probably the best Strikeforce card we have seen in a little while and hopefully they can keep it going with their next event in August. UFC 149 is on tap next and then a short break so check back soon for my next prediction video.
UFC/Strikeforce Bet=================================================== Parlay =================================================== Selection 1: Chris Weidman 1.71 Selection 2: Nate Marquardt 1.83 =================================================== Price: $3.13 =================================================== Parlay #6 =================================================== Selection 1: Francis Carmont 1.57 Selection 2: Chris Cariaso 1.36 Selection 3: Chris Weidman 1.71 Selection 4: Nate Marquardt 1.83 =================================================== Price: $6.68
Jason High 1.55 vs Nate Moore 2.64
Both guys have been away from the cage for a long period of time; High 10 months and Moore 19 months so you don’t know what they have been working on and how they have have improved/regressed since they last competed. High has been staying active in the grappling circuit winning the BJJ World Championship at the blue belt level, which then got him bumped to a BJJ purple belt. With both of these fighters being grappling based you would normally expect this fight to be mainly contested on the feet, but that may not be the case. High didn’t hesitate to take BJJ black belt Todd Moore down and completed multiple takedowns against another dangerous submission fighter in Quinn Mulhern. Nate Moore is coming off a win, but it was a come from behind victory where he lost the opening round to Nate Coy because he couldn’t handle Coy’s wrestling. Moore eventually on the fight in round 2 via knockout, but it was evident that he was the second best grappler in the cage. I have said before that I don’t like to jump in too heavy on the opening fight of the night, but I do like High in this position. The striking could be even, but I think that High should be able to out work Moore on the mat to gain the win. High is part of a nice group of favorites on this card that actually have value sitting between $1.50 and $1.85. I suggest using him in combination with these better paying favorites, maybe on a 4 fight parlay or working a rotation system. For example rotating through High, Marquardt, Mein, Masvidal and maybe Larkin in various 2 fight or 3 fight parlays should produce at least one winner maybe more. At $2.64 Moore is worth a look, if you want to use him try and work him together with any fighter above $1.75 (Marquardt, Duarte, Jardine, Wilcox, Lawler) to attempt to increase his return while limiting how much you have to put on the line.
Ryan Couture 1.60 vs Joe Duarte 2.53
Couture is coming off a solid win, but he is still relatively green so I am surprised he is the favorite in this fight. Couture struggled early in the last bout with Huen’s takedowns, but started to take over when Huen slowed down. Duarte is a far more well rounded fighter then Heun and Couture is only one fight removed from the first defeat of his career where he really struggled against a far less experienced fighter then Duarte. Could Couture be getting the nod here because of his name and its familiarity with the betting public? Maybe a little, I have said it before and I will say it again the average bettor who doesn’t take the time to research fights will go with what they know. In this case, it goes something like this ” Ryan Couture? Oh yeah that’s Randy’s kid, Randy is awesome, former world champ, fought Brock Lesnar. His kid will take this one easy, he is already the favorite, so I will bet on him” or something to that effect. I don’t want to take anything away from Couture, and its not like Duarte has been destroying the competition either, but until Ryan picks up a couple more wins now that he has moved up in competition I can’t back him in the role of the favorite just yet. Duarte isn’t exactly a world beater either, but he has the value here and between the two fighters he has double the experience (although less experience fighting in Strikeforce) and the biggest win on either fighters record (Jorge Gurgel . He has been out of action for almost a month which is concern, but again the value is good, he is well rounded and Couture needs to prove himself against a fighter like Duarte before he is worth backing as a favorite. I will use Duarte both alone and as part of a parlay or two (high valued parlays, so the risk is low and reward high) but if Ryan passes this challenge with flying colours I don’t want my night ruined so I will have plenty of investments that don’t include Duarte as well.
Jordan Mein 1.51 vs Tyler Stinson 2.75
Stinson is dangerous on the feet, no more proof needed then his last fight against Tarec Saffiedine where he had the natural striker shooting for takedowns to get away from Stinson’s power. Mein is a talented fighter that could have been in the title conversation had he not got laid on in his last fight by Tyron Woodley. Mein’s striking is good enough to handle Stinson, maybe good enough to win the fight, but Mein will most likely take advantage of Stinson’s greatest weakness which is his ground game. No matter how good you are in one area, if your opponent has a glaring weakness that you have the skills to capitalize on that is where your focus should be. I think Mein will take Stinson down early and often, soften him up and eventually start looking for a submission. At $1.51, just like Jorge Masvidal, Mein is a decent favorite with value. It is hard to resist a betting fav between $1.50 and $1.70, simply because they have the talent to win the fight (that is why they are the favorite) and they have value to make your betting worthwhile. I would use Mein as part of your main parlay bets or by himself, either way I encourage you to use him as one of your key investments on the night. Don’t linger though as I have seen him as low as $1.38 which tells me he could drop especially when the money starts rolling in on his side. Stinson simply has too glaring a whole in his game to be considered an underdog with value, he might be able to land that fight changing strike and win the fight, but you don’t really want to make an investment on that basis espesically at anything lower then $4.00.
Jorge Masvidal 1.50 vs Justin Wilcox 2.60
Excellent fight here, unfortunately Masvidal is coming off a less then stellar performance against the Champion and Wilcox suffered a flash KO in his last fight. If these two fighters were coming off better performances this could be a a fight that sets the winner up for a run at the gold. Either way, these guys are still top 10 Strikeforce Lightweights and will put on a good show. Wilcox got shut down quickly against Fodor (I picked Fodor in the upset), a guy he could probably could have used his wrestling on to earn a one sided decision had he been given the opportunity. Now Wilcox has to face Jorge Masvidal who has equally as dangerous standup (10 wins by knockout) and probably better wrestling both offensive and defensive then his previous opponent. Both guys are talented fighters that will want to erase the memory of their previous performances. If Masvidal can use his footwork and speed to avoid Wilcox he should be able to turn this into a kickboxing match, which is hugely in his favour. I like Masvidal simply because he has more levels to his game then Wilcox and at $1.50 he is a solid favorite that pays pretty well compared to the likes of Pat Healy or Luke Rockhold. I would use Masvidal on a parlay combining him in some fashion with the likes of Jason High, Nate Marquardt, Jordan Mein, and maybe an underdog pick. For Wilcox he is worth a look, but try to combine him with a pair of dogs, maybe Jardine and Duarte ($18.42) to make a low risk high reward bet or bet shop and see if you can find him at a greater value.
Pat Healy 1.25 vs Mizuto Hirota 4.25
Pat Healy could be one of the least respected fighters in all of MMA. He is currently fighting in a promotion that is lacking in title challengers, the current champion has beaten everyone they have matched him up with (Josh Thomson twice) and Healy doesn’t have a shot at the title yet. Not only does he not have a shot at the title, he is fighting on the undercard against a debuting fighters. Not to take away from Hirota, but Healy is 6-1 as a Lightweight, he has won 4 in a row, he has defeated (submitting 2 of them) up and coming prospects Eric Wisley, Maximo Blanco and most recently Caros Fodor, and his only defeat since dropping to 155 was against former Champion Josh Thomson in his divisional debut. Healy should be getting ready to fight the Champ, but even if he is given a shot at the title win a win here why is he not being showcased on the main card to further build his notoriety amongst fans? Sorry that got a little carried away. One thing that Healy supporters should be concerned about is that Hirota is a tough dude to put away (0 KO’s & 1 Submission defeat against Aoki) so Healy will need to be very careful not to gas himself out looking for the finish early. We have seen fighters (Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard come to mind) that were on impressive winning streaks, but just couldn’t get the title fight signed and eventually suffered a defeat which set them back badly in their pursuit of championship gold. Hopefully, Mr. Healy doesn’t find himself in a similar position after Saturday night. I think Healy wins this fight with his size and grinding style, but at $1.25 he really doesn’t jump off the page as a bet that should be a integral part of your Saturday night investments, especially with a couple of other fighters sitting around the $1.50 mark. I did include Healy on parlay, but I wouldn’t be against leaving him off all together simply because he pays so poorly. For Hirota, he is making his North American debut and we have heard out difficult the trip from East to West can be for Asian fighters and taking into consideration the potential size mismatch here that plays perfectly into his opponents strengths, he isn’t an underdog that interests me.
Lorenz Larkin 1.87 vs Robbie Lawler 2.04
Kicking off he main card, is a battle of strikers with Robbie Lawler welcoming Lorenz Larkin to the 185 pound weight class. For a while now Lawler has been considered the fourth best Middleweight in the division behind Rockhold, Kennedy, and Jacare (having lost to the last two recently), but undefeated Lorenz Larkin is looking to change that and throw his name into the title contention conversation. Both of these fighters are predominantly striking based having won the majority of their fights by knockout. Lawler is a veteran with a tonne of big fight experience, where Larkin made his move into the upper echelon of competition in his last fight. Despite having the first defeat of his career removed from his record because of his opponent’s failed drug test, Larkin was knocked out and that is still something he will have to mentally recover from heading into this bout. In his last fight, King Mo was able to use his wrestling and size to control Larkin to set up the eventual knockout, neither of which should be an issue for Larkin against Lawler. Lawler is a good striker, but we have seen him out worked before and I expect something similar here. If Larkin can avoid Lawler’s heavy hands by using his footwork and leg strikes to maintain distance he should be able to outpoint his opponent. It wasn’t that long ago that Melvin Manhoef was picking Robbie apart with his striking (especially his low kicks) before Lawler caught him with a lucky punch to finish the fight. At $1.87, Larkin is a solid addition to any bet card combining him with Nate Marquardt or Keith Jardine would make for a nice little main card parlay. Even though I am picking Larkin to win, Robbie Lawler is worth consideration at anything above $2.00. If Larkin has issues with the weight cut or struggles to rise to the occassion against a solid verteran then Lawler will capitalize on this and put him away. Most likely the public will jump on Lawler as the dog and force the line to move closer together, potentially even making Larkin the underdog, so if you want to bet on Robbie get it done soon or wait for Lorenz’s value to increase.
Keith Jardine 2.80 vs Roger Gracie 1.38
Welcome to the ever expanding Strikeforce Middleweight division Roger Gracie. After a 4-1 record at Light Heavyweight, Gracie is making the cut to 185 which could be quite interesting. The reason this is interesting is because Gracie didn’t exactly look like he had a lot of room to drop an additional 20 pounds when he was fighting at the higher weight class. Additionally his height, 6’4″ puts him in rarified air. Taking a look at the UFC’s 185 pound rosters (it was easier to look at the UFC because UFC.com displays the height of each fighter on the main roster page) the tallest Middleweights listed are 6’3″ Francis Carmont and Chris Camozzi, with the majority sitting between 5’10″ and 6’1″ (yes I know Kendall Grove is 6’6″, but he’s not in the UFC). These numbers indicate that it isn’t exactly easy for a man standing ast tall as Roger does to fight at Middleweight and be successful. Essentially that was a really long way of me saying I think Gracie will have issues with the weight cut that will impact his ability to win this fight. Gracie needs to get Jardine to the ground and submit him inside the first half of the fight, maybe even the first round before he starts to slow down. That could be easier said then done. Jardine has pretty solid TDD at 64% and although he was taken down 3 times by Gegard Mousasi (all in the third round when he was gassed from taking a fight on short notice) his erratic movement could make it difficult for Gracie to get a hold of him. Gracie’s striking isn’t great, he has been working with GSP and showed a half decent jab but if Jardine uses a traditional Jackson game-plan of maintaining distance, attacking and then retreating it could be hard for Gracie to implement his grappling game. Jardine is far from elite at this stage of his career but I think he has the ability to out work and eventually stop his opponent whose ability to deal with getting hit was brought into severe question in his last fight. I like Jardine as a big underdog here, probably play him alone and as part of a parlay. Gracie is a world class grappler, but he hasn’t fought at 185 and he hasn’t shown enough to convince me he can survive if things don’t go his way from the start so I will be avoiding him at such a low number. That was long.
Tyron Woodley 1.91 vs Nate Marquardt 1.83
I really like Marquardt in this fight, even if his odds drop significantly. The chance of Tyron knocking out or submitting Nate are minimal so the only way Woodley wins this fight is if he can take Nate down and dominate at least 3 of 5 rounds with his wrestling. If Nate’s weight cut goes poorly then yes that could happen and Woodley is a good wrestler, I am quite aware of that. But, he has had issues with lesser skilled opponents and is conditioning as struggled to hold up over 3 rounds and now he is faced with his first 5 round fight. Even if Tyron has early success, Marquardt will make him work very hard to get his takedowns and remain on top which should cause him to start slowing down. If this is the case Marquardt could submit or knock him out in the later stages of the fight. If Tyron can’t get the fight to the ground his striking is improving, but not good enough to win him a 5 round fight against someone on Nate’s level in my opinion. There are a couple of red flags for Marquardt that grab my attention, one being the weight cut. The other one is that he has a tendency to struggle in big fights and freeze up, a perfect example was his bout with Yushin Okami for a title shot. He is a true veteran and shouldn’t be nervous, but he is making his debut, dropping to Welterweight for the first time and fighting for a title all of which could create some some issues with Nate. Despite those issues I am still quite confident in his ability to win this fight, so much so that he will be part of a number of my plays on the night along with a potential cross over bet between the UFC and Strikeforce shows that I will post at the top of the page. For Woodley, I don’t plan on using him at all unless he as a significant jump up to the $2.20 area, otherwise I will stay away entirely.
Tim Kennedy 3.40 vs Luke Rockhold 1.33
Two of Strikeforce’s brightest stars meeting in the main event and this should be an excellent fight. They match up quite well, with most likely the biggest edge going to Rockhold in the striking department. I was a little surprised Kennedy was paying as well as he does which makes him a viable option on his own for a bet even though I am taking Rockhold to win the fight. Rockhold is still fairly green with his two biggest wins against an over the hill Keith Jardine and his very close 5 round decision win over the former champion. Kennedy has a solid edge in experience which can help a fighter out significantly, especially if this is a close fight late. I mentioned Rockhold’s ability to push late in the round to earn the edge with the judge’s and I don’t think enough fighters do this, opting instead to coast for the final 60 seconds. I will use Rockhold on a larger parlay, probably couple him with Nate Marquardt or another higher paying fighter but I won’t use him too much that if he gets upset it will cost me my night. As I mentioned above Kennedy is a solid option by himself at $3.40 to play as a backup, or doubling him up with a second fighter to get close to that $5.00 mark.
1. Nate Marquardt
2. Pat Healy
3. Jordan Mein
4. Luke Rockhold
5. Jorge Masvidal
1. Nate Marquardt 1.83
2. Keith Jardine $2.80
3. Lorenz Larking $1.87
4. Joe Duarte $2.53
5. Jordan Mein $1.51
The Value Bet list is a list of fighters ranked based on a combination of their ability to win their fight and the potential financial return you would receive if they win.
*There are not a lot of props posted for this event,
Luke Rockhold/ Tim Kennedy Over the Total Round or Fight to go to a decision– This is one of the few prop bets that I have seen available for Strikeforce. The round total has yet to be posted, I would expect it to be 4.5, but you might get lucky at 3.5. Either way I would take the over or some sites will offer you the option to bet on whether the fight goes to a decision or not, take the decision. Although both guys have a number of stoppage victories in their past, they matchup well and I don’t see either one having enough of an advantage or weakness in one particular area to result in a finish.
Keith Jardine/Roger Gracie Under the Total Rounds– I haven’t actually seen this one posted, but grab it if you come across it somewhere. Gracie will focus on getting this fight to the ground to set up a submission as soon as they touch gloves. Jardine will be looking for the knockout and although he way wait for Gracie to gas, he can’t wait too long in case his own cardio begins to fail. Either way I don’t think this fight goes to the judges, if you can get the under 2.5 rounds that would be a much better bet then the 1.5, but I would still play the 1.5.
I wil look around and see if there are other prop bets posted, but I wont post anything more unless there is actually some place where these can be bet on.