DREAM 9 will kick off on May 26th with a full lineup of PRIDE-style fights that should surely garner a lot of interest from fans everywhere. The event will feature the "Super Hulk" tournament, Featherweight Grand Prix Second Round matchups, a Middleweight title bout, and a Lightweight title eliminator that will see Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante make his return to the ring after over a year layoff from the sport.
With six major books placing odds for this event, there should be a lot of great value with the multiple lines to choose from. Here's a look at the DREAM 9 card, best odds are in parentheses, taken from BestFightOdds.com:
Tatsuya Kawajiri (+150) vs. Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante (-180): This is a very tough fight to call. Kawajiri has top controlling ground and pound while Cavalcante is the explosive fighter with multiple areas to end this fight. JZ will likely come out with powerful strikes to end Kawajiri's night quickly, and from what it looks like from the weigh-ins, JZ is in some of the best shape I've ever seen him in.
I'm going to take JZ at -180 here. I think he's going to be the much more powerful striker, and he's good enough off his back to nullify the "Crusher" in his top control game. He'll have to watch out for Cavalcante's underrated jiu-jitsu while also looking out for the big strikes on the feet.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (-240) vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller (+230): Souza is still a very solid pick here. Souza not only has very good power, but he's one of the best jiu-jitsu fighters currently within the promotion. He might not be able to finish Miller, but I don't think Miller has the chops to defeat Souza in any area of the fight with the exception of potentially being able to outstrike Souza. Souza will likely make this a chess match on the floor, but use his power to maintain top control and work for submissions. I'd like to see it drop a bit, but -240 isn't a bad deal. Miller at +230, if you truly believe he can win, is a great value bet.
Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto (-550) vs. Joe Warren (+420): Interesting that Warren's best line is +420 due to his involvement in marijuana getting him booted from the Olympics. I'd generally just say stay away from this line, but Warren interests me. He is going to likely be a better wrestler than Yamamoto, but can he actually stay away from Yamamoto's power in the standup game? If he can, he may be able to actually defeat Yamamoto by controlling him on the floor. At +420, it might be worth a small, small bet to make some good cash. Yamamoto at -550 really isn't worth a bet, but Warren is at least an exciting way to blow $20 bucks.
Masakazu Imanari (+150) vs. Bibiano Fernandes (-170): Most people would go with the veteran in Masakazu Imanari, but I think Bibiano's background in jiu-jitsu will allow him to avoid the ankle locks and heel hooks. Fernandes will enjoy a huge advantage in the standup game in this fight, and I'd look to see Fernandes use his skills standing to batter Imanari while stuffing Imanari's attempts on the ground. I'll take Bibiano at -170.
Yoshiro Maeda (-195) vs. Hiroyuki Takaya (+160): A stand and bang matchup that American casual fans would appreciate. Takaya is currently 10-6-1 while Maeda enjoys a huge experience edge as he sits at 24-6-2. The difference between these two is that Takaya is much more susceptible to be knocked out than Maeda. I think experience will trump Takaya and give Maeda the win here.
Hideo Tokoro (-105) vs. Abel Cullum (-115): Cullum is the slight favorite here. Tokoro has put on some pretty exciting fights over the course of his career, but he's been thrown to the wolves more often than not against very tough competition. Cullum impressed me a bit with his performance against "Wicky", so I'm going to go out on a limb and take Cullum via decision here. He's worth some money at -115.
Bob Sapp (-205) vs. Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa (+170): This matchup is a tough one to call. I may stay away from this fight and purely enjoy the David vs. Goliath showdown. Minowa is the man who's become famous for defeating these larger opponents with his submission wrestling on the floor, but Sapp's immense size will prove to be a huge problem for Minowa. I'd be more willing to bet Sapp can beatdown Minowa, but Minowa has surprised us all before. Pick your horse.
Jan "The Giant" Nortje (+240) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (-260): This is a no-brainer in my mind. Nortje is huge and slow while Sokoudjou has some speed, powerful kicks, and excellent judo. The only real problem for Sokoudjou is unleashing that power and avoiding submissions. I don't think Nortje is going to submit anyone ever in his career, so that's not a possibility. At -260, Sokoudjou is the big bet.
Gegard Mousasi (-200) vs. Mark Hunt (+185): This is the most interesting line on the card. Mousasi likely has the skills in the striking department to be a formidable problem for Hunt, but Hunt's weight could be a problem for Mousasi if this fight hits the floor. I'm more inclined to pick Mousasi here as Hunt is a shadow of his former self, but Hunt's line interests me. I'd go with Mousasi here, but Hunt at +185 might be a fun underdog bet to take on.
Hook me up with bets on Mousasi, Sokoudjou, Cullum, Maeda, Fernandes, Warren, Souza, and Cavalcante. I think Warren and Hunt would be decent underdog single bets. Sokoudjou should probably be a sizeable bet as I don't be Nortje is going to give him problems. The rest of the bouts are tough calls, so be careful with your parlay possibilities. Parlays are pretty plentiful with this card, so try to match up some lower odds matchups for parlays to maximize profit.
Happy Betting everyone!