The greatest Welterweight of all time returned to form at UFC 154 as Georges St-Pierre defeated Interim Champion Carlos Condit to once against stand alone atop the division. Condit had his opportunity in round 3, but was unable to put the Champ away and GSP showed that he has the ability to get hurt and then recover. In the co-main event, Johnny Hendricks took another step towards a title shot with a outstanding knockout of the ultra tough Martin Kampmann. Overall, UFC 154 had some solid action and was certainly worth the watch. Check out everything I had to say on the event, my predictions, the bet pack, and I will draw the winner of our HeartandGlory.com MMA shirt give away at the end of the show.
Steven Siler $2.05 vs Darren Elkins $1.74
There are a couple of fights on this card that are really all over the place as far as the odds are concerned. I have seen both guys as the dog, a couple lines at even, but most often Elkins comes out the favourite. I expect this to be an excellent fight and could even be a sleeper pick for FOTN. I do believe that Siler has more tools and his length will give Elkins problems. I was really torn making this pick and went back and forth, but when I saw how often Elkins stuck his neck out and guys jumped on it and then watched Siler attempt multiple submissions when the same opportunity was presented I had to go with Siler. This could be a close fight, but I do like Siler to win it, although if your book has Elkins as the dog then making a small play on him would make sense. For me I will bet on Siler on a single bet and work him into a coupe of parlays as he does has solid value at anything above $1.70
Azamat Gashimov $3.15 vs Ivan Menjivar $1.36
This fight can turn out to be a bettor’s nightmare. Menjivar is a known commodity making him the favourite while Gashimov is not and that makes him dangerous. Is Gashimov worth a bet as the dog? I would like to see him compete at this level at least once before investing, even if he losses this fight it will give us some indication of what he is capable of. I think that Menjivar wins this fight, unless Gashimov really brings something special to the cage that we aren’t already hearing about. For betting purposes I would suggest a bet on Menjivar at anything above $1.30 but when you get below that then the risk/ reward situation is pretty poor. The reason I say just make single bet here is that if the Russian shocks us and gets the win you don’t want your parlays to be wiped out. By making a single bet then you can isolate the damage done if this is an upset in the making and there are much more tempting options on this card as far as price is concerned when filling out your parlay cards.
John Maguire $2.20 vs Matt Riddle $1.67
Okay, Matt Riddle please fight smart here. Use your size, use your wrestling in reverse, and keep this fight standing until at the very least you have worn down Maguire enough to feel comfortable taking him down. John Hathaway laid out a perfect game plan to beat Maguire and Riddle has the ability to use it and maybe even improve on it. Maguire is very good on the ground, but his striking leaves a little to be desired. In his first two fights he was able to draw his opponents into grappling exchanges and then got the better of them, but if Riddle can keep it standing he wins this fight more often then not. Now with Riddle’s size and Division I wrestling background there is a possibility that he could take Maguire down and control him from the top. In reality, unless Riddle really screws up on top the only way Maguire wins this fight is if he can get it to the ground in top position or pull off a sweep. I would think that Maguire will be motivated by his poor performance last time, but I also think Riddle will come out hungry after having his win over Clements taken off the board. I think Riddle has some solid value at anything above $1.50 and I would probably even go lower then that down to $1.40. I will be using him on a couple of parlays and I will most likely take a mid range shot (not your biggest bet of the night but not your smallest) for a single bet. For Maguire there are too many similarities here to the guy that just bested him and although he did look good in fights 1 and 2 in the UFC his submission win came over DaMarques Johnson who has a very bad history of submission losses.
Rodrigo Damm $2.90 vs Antonio Carvalho $1.40
This fight should be a nice little scrap even if most don’t know Damm and/or Carvalho. Both guys can compete in all realms of the game, but I think that Carvalho’s striking is the deciding factor. If Damm proves to be the better grappler and can use his wrestling to take Carvalho off his feet he could very well neutralize the striking edge, but I think that Carvalho’s own grappling skills especially his Judo background will provide an adequate defense. Carvalho looked very good in the second fight of his UFC career and many don’t realize that he does hold a win over highly ranked Hatsu Hioki. Another edge I like to consider in this one is that Carvalho is fighting at home in Canada and even though I took him by knockout, if this fight goes to decision it seems that in close fights (like this one could be) the local gets the nod. Damm’s issues with getting hurt on the feet are a big one and although we have yet to see them follow him to Featherweight, it could only be a matter of time especially with Carvalho’s sneakily disguised head kicks. I would play Carvalho in your larger parlays for the night as well as a decent single bet. For Damm, every-time he steps up in competition (except against Jorge Masvidal) he seems to come up short and I think that trend continues here.
John Makdessi $2.60 vs Sam Stout $1.50
Sam Stout seems destined to hover around the middle of the division for his entire career. When he starts to string a couple of wins together and gets that push to that next level he almost always comes up short, but not for a lack of effort (he won that Thiago Tavares fight and could have been given the Jeremy Stephens decision). That being said, this is the type of fights he typically wins. Makdessi is a slightly undersized and one dimensional Lightweight. He is a good striker, but really hasn’t shown much else to his game and against Anthony Njokuani who proved to be a better striker he wasn’t capable to make the changes needed to get the win. If Makdessi hasn’t added any new dimensions to his game then he will need to beat Sam Stout on the sole basis of his striking which can be difficult, not impossible, but difficult. What I saw from Stout in his last fight actually brought me out of my chair yelling “finally!”. Against Fisher he landed multiple takedowns, something that he isn’t known for but badly needed to do. If Stout can even threaten a takedown it will force Makdessi to think about them and take some of his focus on the striking which will create more openings for Sam to land. I really like Stout at $1.50 and anything above $1.30. He is near the top of my confidence list so a large single bet here is what I have in mind and incorporating him into most parlays is also the play for me. For Makdessi I really don’t see how he wins this fight short of hurting Stout and putting a dent in that iron-clad chin, a scenario that should pay north of $3.50 and even then it might not be worth a bet.
Mark Bocek $1.87 vs Rafael dos Anjos $1.87
When I was making this prediction I was really hoping that Dos Anjos would come in as the dog, but the opening lines had it at even and now RDA is sliding into the role of the betting favourite. Either way he still has solid value and this is going to be a pretty good fight. Essentially what it comes down to is can Bocek dominate with his ground game? If he is unable to get this fight to the ground, keep it there, and get some offense off he will be hard-pressed to win this fight. But at the same time Bocek has made a career out of this style winning fights with his grappling. He is a high level ground fighter, but he has lost fights when he wasn’t able to dominate on the ground. Against both Jim Miller and Ben Henderson he did get the better of the takedowns, but because both guys were able to do equally as much on the ground and win the striking exchanges they got he nod. I think that Dos Anjos is a sleeper in the division especially with his improved striking. If he can defend the takedowns or at the least match Bocek on the ground he should be able to light him up on the feet. Another thing that is kind of off the wall but still relevant, is that Bocek has a tendency to show damage. Rafael has power and the technique to deliver it and if he can start busting him it could really play a role with the judges. What it comes down to is dimensions and Dos Anjos simply has more to offer. As I lready said I like Dos Anjos and at anything above $1.55 he is the play. Bocek might be worth a look if he starts creeping above the $2.10 mark, but I will be making a play on Dos Anjos both as a single bet and as part of my parlays.
Cyrille Diabate $1.83 vs Chad Griggs $1.91
Gifted striker versus brutal brawler. So who wins? I like Griggs’s style, but the weight cut is a bit of a concern here considering he has never done it before. If he is able to get to down to 205 and carry with him the power and strength from Heavyweight he could be an interesting member of the division. For Diabate the biggest issue he has had was with grapplers- Gustafsson and Perosh tapped him and DeBlass was doing well until he gassed. Now I don’t expect Griggs to submit him, but what these guys and Griggs have in common is pressure. When Gustafsson and Persoh beat Cryille it was because they kept coming at him, not allowing him to settle in and if Diabate does get comfortable he will pick anyone apart with his reach and technique. Griggs wont be looking for the sub like the other guys, but he will be moving forward looking to brawl and score the knockout. We have seen Diabate break and wilt and that is what I think he will do here. For betting purposes I would suggest a mid-range bet on Griggs and then maybe double him up with Rafael Dos Anjos or triple him up with Sammy Stout and Costa Philippou. On the flip side, with Diabate there is some value there but I just think the line is a little fishy and makes me stay away from him. I actually expected that Diabate would come out as a bigger favourite based on his veteran status against a fighter making his divisional debut, I guess I was wrong. Either way I like Grigg’s resolve and aggression to overcome Diabate who could be at the end of his career.
Alessio Sakara $3.00 vs Patrick Cote $1.40
This is a fight that everyone seems to be siding with Cote because of Sakara’s chin and I do think that it should be the most telling part of this fight. The difference between me and others is that I think Alessio does have a chance to come out on top. I would not be the least big shocked if Sakara shot for a takedown right out of the gates. Cote has struggled against guys that can outwork him on the ground an if Alessio sends the message that he is looking for the takedown it will really slowdown Cote’s forward push. At the same time, will Sakara abandon his striking and main source of offense? Most likely not and that is why I took Cote because it is hard to bet on a fighter hoping he will deviate from a game plan that he has used his entire career. Cote will need to be aggressive and he will need to walk through Sakara’s combinations in order to land that big game changing shot. Cote isn’t my favourite play on this card and although I still think he wins this fight I will most likely reserve him for a parlay play but nothing too intensive. For Sakara that chin just isn’t something I am willing to bank on unless the number climbs beyond $3.50 and even then it would only be a small bet.
Pablo Garza 3.30 vs Mark Hominick 1.34
Mark Hominick is suffering through the title contender blues. He went from challenging for the title at the largest UFC event ever, to getting knocked out in 7 seconds, and then followed that up with another loss to a much lower ranked opponent. If Hominick losses this fight he could be cut and the same could be said for Garza who really hasn’t looked good for a while. Is Mark’s chin gone? Has a career taking punishment finally caught up to him? Quite possibly yes. I felt the KZ knockout was just an unfortunate mistake on his part but getting dropped twice by Eddie Yagin really concerns me. Yagin does have power, but for this fight I will be tense hoping not to see Mark stumbling backwards especially if Garza can land a big head kick. Hominick should have the striking advantage and the tools to get through Garza’s reach but as was the case in the Yagin fight you can clearly be the better striker but all it takes is one big shot (or 2 in that fight) to change the outcome. Garza had issues with pressure against Jabouin, Poirier, and Bermudez and Mark is the type of fighter that thrives off of outworking and constantly attacking his opponent. Aslong as he sets up his strikes and avoids getting predicatble looking for the knockout he should be fine. Almost all site have him around $1.30-$1.35 an I will include him a on bet or 2 because I actually think the UFC put this fight together looking to rebuild Hominick’s confidence against a fighter with limited knockout power. Although I wont include him too extensively simply because there are other bets on this card that I like bettor (see the Top 5 Lists).
Nick Ring 2.85 vs Constantinos Philippou 1.44
This is my favourite pick of the night, hence I have Costa as my #1 Confidence Pick. Would I stake my career on this one fight, of course not because anything can happen in MMA. Would I be willing to put a large sum of money down on Philippou? Yup! Ring has won some close decisions but he takes a lot of damage, needs to land takedowns, struggles if his opponent is able to match his footwork, and tends to fade late. Against Philippou, if you allow him to land with regularity you are going to show some serious damage and that won’t sit well with the judges. Ring attempts a lot of takedowns with varied success and Costa has shown some of the best TDD in he division so again if Ring continually fails on his attempts that is another knock against him. Ring does a decent job moving away from his opponent and forcing them to chase him. Tim Boestch took a round to figure this out, but when he did start to cut off the cage instead of chasing he found success. Costa has very good footwork of his own and should be able to use angles to cut off the cage and limit Ring’s ability to move away, another strike agaisnt Nick. Finally, Ring isn’t the type of fighter that is going to get stronger in the later stages, it is just the opposite. He slowed down against Tim Boetsch and Court McGee (yes he still won the McGee fight) but finishing poorly is something that one can ill afford to do if you are going to the judges scorecards. Philippou isn’t going to blow anyone out of the barn with his conditioning either, but he seems to have found a comfortable pace that will allow him to effectively perform bell to bell and should carry well against Ring in later stages. Unless Ring brings a Herculean effort to the cage or Costa has a major let down in one of these areas (all of them seem to have been getting better with each fight) then Philippou should take this one. I would suggest saving one of your biggest betting totals for Costa and using him across the board on your parlays. For Nick Ring no matter what the outcome of his fights, except his submission win over James Head, he hasn’t impressed me. Even if he does manage to pull this one out there is nothing at this point in time that would make me put a wager on him, I am completely comfortable backing Costa here win, lose or draw.
Tom Lawlor 3.25 vs Francis Carmont 1.40
Francis Carmont where have you come from? Prior to his UFC run he was 16-7 and that was after going on a significant 5 fight winning streak. Now he has won 3 in a row, 2 by stoppage, and is quietly climbing the Middleweight ranks. His history with defeats, does bring some pause as he has been knocked out once, submitted 3 times and has a decision defeat against Evangelista Cyborg Santos at Light Heavyweight. Not having lost since April 2008 will go along way to quell those concerns, maybe we can attribute his new found success to him joining the Tri-Star gym and training with one of the top gyms in MMA. Lawlor is a guy that is still working on his game, he seems to be improving but as we saw in the Weidman fight he isn’t ready for the elite level competition. One of the reasons it is hard to guage Tom Lawlor is that he fought once in 2011 and just once so far in 2012 amassing a total of 2:57 inside the cage. In those two efforts he got put to sleep by Weidman and then knocked out Jason MacDonald providing very little information to build an opinion on in the process. What I do know is that Carmont is going to have a decent size advantage, Lawlor has had difficulty with conditioning when a fight goes long, and his last two losses have come by submission. This is a make or break fight for Carmont- a win and he gets the push to the next level and a defeat takes him back down the ranks to rebuild his position in the divison. Carmont has a lot of tools at his disposal- striking, submissions, size, and, raw physical strength. Tom Lawlor on the other hand still seems to be working on the first two and in this fight at least I believe he is overmatched the last two. I will play Carmont for a single bet, on a large portion of my parlays, and would drop some money on a triple play of Carmont, Philippou, and Stout. For Lawlor I need to see more from him before I start picking him especially against a fighter that creates so many problems for him.
Martin Kampmann 2.31 vs Johnny Hendricks 1.69
My big upset pick of the night and I am picking against Johnny Hendricks who I am 4-0 when predicting a fight involving him with Johnny winning 3 times and then one defeat against Rick Story. Kampmann always seems to be underrated by most and here is no exception. This will be the first time that Hendricks has had to deal with a striker on Kampmann’s level and the last time he face someone with a similar skill set (Muay Thai) it was TJ Grant and things didn’t look good for Johnny on the feet. Martin Kampmann does have issues with getting hurt in fights and off the top of my head he has been hurt to some degree by Ellenberger, Alves, Story, Sanchez, and Paul Daley since making the cut to Welterweight. Interestingly enough, only Daley was able to actually put him away and Kampmann beat 3 of the other 4 and probably should have gotten the nod over Sanchez. If Hendricks either a) elects not to use his wrestling b) can’t get past Kampmann’s TDD or c) can’t mount enough offense after landing a takedown he is going to need to out-strike Martin. That is a tough one. Kampmann is about as technically sound as they come and he will have a reach advantage here. For Hendricks there is no denying that he is improving and he has big time power but unless he can brawl and catch Kampmann he will be hard-pressed to land with regularity. In the process of trying to hit Kampmann I expect that Martin will be countering as fast as he can and doing some damage like he did in the Diego Sanchez fight. One thing that I saw with Johnny in the Koscheck fight was that he has a tendency to cover up when under pressure and just wait for the barrage to end instead of trying to evade or counter strike. Against Kos who was just winging big punches that might work, but if you give a guy like Kampmann an oppurtunity to attack like this he will find holes in your guard. Yes Kampmann is the dog but I am glad of that and really like his value here especially with his wins over Ellenberger and Story giving him confidence that he can beat a hard-nosed wrestler. For Johnny Hendricks, even though he beat Kos I didn’t like a couple of the things I saw in his striking mechanics and when this fight was announced that is the first thing I thought of. I’ll make a decent single bet on Kampmann, play him on couple of parlays but will do so with a little caution. For Hendricks I would consider using him in a back up role, maybe parlayed with Costa, Stout, and Carmont.
Carlos Condit 3.40 vs Georges St. Pierre 1.33
I am going to keep this short and sweet because this is #13 and my strategy for betting this fight is fairly simple. I will not be betting on GSP coming off an 18 month layoff. Condit is a dangerous man and I expect him to push Georges. If there are any complications from ring rust or the injury then we could have a new champ. For me it is either a no play all together or a bet on Condit at any price over $2.50. I would suggest leaving that bet until fight day because the lines are going to move as more and more people start betting on arguably the most popular UFC fighter on the roster. On some sites I am already seeing Condit as high as $3.90 and I think he breaks the $4.00 mark easily before the fight starts. If you want to improve the payout I could consider a parlay for Condit with Stout and Philippou (I am saying that lot these days) paying out at $7.34 which is a solid number. In the end I want to see GSP fight for the first time in 18 months before I bet on him. I did pick him to win, I do believe he takes it, but I will be nervous enough for him in this fight and don’t need to have a big payday resting on his success especially when it only adds a few more bucks. Should be interesting.
Constantinos Philippou 1.44 Sam Stout $1.50
2. Francis Carmont 1.40
3. Antonio Carvalho $1.40
4. Martin Kampmann 2.31
5. Matt Riddle $1.67
1. Martin Kampmann 2.31
2. Rafael dos Anjos $1.87
3. Chad Griggs $1.91
4. Steven Siler $2.05
5. Matt Riddle $1.67
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.
John Makdessi/ Sam Stout Total Rounds Over 1.5 or 2.5 $1.40– Both guys have lots of knockout wins on their record, but neither one has ever been knocked out and I think that there defensive striking should be good enough to keep it that way. If Sammy uses his new found wrestling skills to take Makdessi down this could also serve as a great time killer as far as getting the over is concerned. Play the Over.
Chad Griggs/ Cyrille Diabate Total Rounds Under 1.5 $1.50– Someone is going down here, either as the result of a beautiful demonstration of technical striking or a smash mouth barrage of punches. Griggs’s aggressive style should force the action and Diabate wont be able to sit back and wait. This will force him to either counter strike or get struck on (lol). Play the Under.
Alessio Sakara/ Patrick Cote Total Rounds Under 1.5 $1.50- This pick is based on Sakara’s chin and Cote’s power. Sakara has lost all 4 of his UFC knockouts in the first round so play the odds and play the Under.
Costa Philippou to Win by Decision $2.22– Nick Ring is a tough guy and although I think Philippou has the power to knock him out I think he will pick his spots, do his damage but not over extend himself potentially leading to openings to be countered. I expect a similar performance out of Costa from what we saw against Fukuda and McGee and interestingly enough Ring went the distance with both of those guys too.
Francis Carmont to Win by Submission $1.77– Carmont has picked up back to back submission wins and it seemed like that was the plan from the start of both of those fights. With Lawlor suffering his last two losses by submission why would Carmont look to change anything up. Carmont has the physical assets to control him early while looking for a sub and if Lawlor tires late he will be incredibly vulnerable to getting tapped out.
Martin Kampmann to Win by TKO/KO/DQ $7.25– I did take him by decision, but at this price I can’t pass this one up. Really at anything over $3.50 it is worth a shot. Kampmann just smashed Jake Ellenberger and bet this prop for that fight was much higher that $7.25. He has the tools and we really haven’t seen Johnny’s chin against a direct shot. Hendricks has faced some pretty powerful wrestlers with the capability of throwing bombs but no one like Kampmann, take a shot at this one for the value.
**New** Georges St-Pierre to Win by Decision $1.61– George has talked about being more aggressive, but he is a smart guy and I expect him to try and take things a little slow in his first fight back. If an effort to avoid opening himself up to be countered or attacked he will probably limit his ability to finish this fight. Condit is also a tough dude, which could make it hard for GSP to get the finish even if he goes for it. Take Georges by Decision and add a little value to the pick.