Gambling Spotlight: UFC 103

It's the biggest match in UFC history.  Lesnar.  Fedor.  Dallas, Texas.  Networ....oh?  Fedor's in Strikeforce?  Franklin vs. Belfort's headlining?  Well, that's kind of cool.  At least it's not going up against a big boxing PPV.  What's that?  Mayweather's fighting Juan Manuel Marquez on Mexican Independence Day?  Well, slap me silly and call me Sally.

If you need any extra incentive to watch the UFC over boxing this Saturday, why don't you take some of that money you earned at your job at Target, put it on a respectable off-shore book, and place some wagers on your favorite fighters?

Hey, you might even make enough to pay for the pay-per-view?  What's that?  You're $3,000 in credit card debt?  Well, what's another $50, right?


Rich Franklin

#8 Light Heavyweight
Former UFC MW Champ



Vitor Belfort

#8 Middleweight
Former UFC LHW Champ

-120 (5DIMES) Best Line +110 (5DIMES/BODOG)
34 Age 32
6'1" Height 6'0"
25 - 4 - 0, 1 NC Record 18 - 8 - 0
13 / 9 TKO / SUB 12 / 2
AMC Pankration Camp Xtreme Couture
W - W. Silva (UD)
L - Henderson (SD)
W - Hamill (TKO)
Last Three W - Lindland (KO)
W - Martin (KO)
W - Zikic (UD)

What do Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, and Vitor Belfort all have in common?  Brazilian, BJJ black belts, left handed, quick, accurate, and powerful strikers.  The only thing Belfort lacks is a win over Rich Franklin.

Belfort and Franklin have their similarities as well.  Again, both fight left handed.  Neither man has an embarassing loss on their record.  Consequentially, neither has proven themselves regularly at the highest levels of competition.  Franklin's best win came in June when he left Cologne, Germany, with a closely contested decision over a Wanderlei Silva most consider on the downside of his career.  On the flip side, Belfort's best win - outside of a freak cut TKO over Randy Couture - also comes against Wanderlei Silva, this time the 22 year old incarnation, in a 44 second demolition.

That's where the similarities end.  Belfort is a clean and explosive boxer known for having some of the quickest hands in MMA.  Franklin, meanwhile, strikes awkwardly and relies on a battle of attrition through superior coniditioning.

I think this fight will come down to a very critical flaw in Franklin's game that falls prey into Belfort's strengths.  Rich drops his hand(s) after nearly every strike he throws.  Both Wanderlei and Dan Henderson clipped Rich in his last two bouts, and their wild, loopy punches were the reasons Rich made it to the final bell in both fights.  

If (when?) Belfort lands a shot that rocks Franklin, he'll have a much better chance of stopping the fight.

At the same time, Rich's conditioning provides a good foil for Belfort's repuation for fading in fights.  This seems like a problem that might be minimized with the cut to 185 and working with the gym rats at Xtreme Couture.  And while one fight shouldn't outweigh the career preceeding, Belfort maintained effectiveness well into the second round against Terry Martin.  Still, expect the cardio advantage to go to Franklin in any event.

I like a fairly solid play on Belfort here (1-2 units).  People may be surprised, but Belfort should pick him apart standing.  Eventually, he'll clip him and the ensuing swarm will end the fight.  Without many avenues for Rich to finish, he'll have to win a decision, and I think Belfort will have enough gas to win the first two rounds enough of the time.

NOTE: The line's changed a bit since the time of writing, though I still like Belfort for a play.



Junior dos Santos

#14 Heavyweight



Mirko Filipovic

#15 Heavyweight
2006 Pride OWGP Champ

-130 (5DIMES) Best Line +120 (5DIMES)
25 Age 35
6'4" Height 6'2"
8 - 1 - 0 Record 25 - 6 - 2, 1 NC
6 / 2 TKO / SUB 19 / 3
Black House Camp Team Cro Cop
W - Struve (TKO)
W - Werdum (KO)
W - G. Dos Santos (TKO)
Last Three W - Al Turk (TKO)
W - Choi (TKO)
NC - Overeem

This fight has more question marks than the Riddler's costume.  In one corner, you have an up-and-coming Brazilian prospect who has less than three minutes of ring time in the Octagon.  In the other, you have an aging MMA legend coming off a two-and-a-half years of nagging injuries and mediocre performances. 

Combined with a few youtube videos of his fights in Brazil, I've found less than ten minutes of fight tape on dos Santos.  Here's what we can gather about him: he's big, strong, and hits like a Mack truck.  While he has a submission loss on his record, he's the protege of Minotauro Nogueira, so we can at least assume he's competent on the floor, though that shouldn't be a concern with Mirko Filipovic. 

Since winning Pride's Open Weight Grand Prix in 2006, Mirko's career has been charactized by dominating journeymen (Al-Turk, Choi, Mizuno) while struggling with legitimate competition (Overeem, Kongo, Gonzaga).  How much of his poor performances can be blamed on injuries and nut shots is up for debate, but Cro Cop did have surgery on an injured knee months before the Al-Turk fight.

Without some more information, I can't recommend a play on either side.  If I felt more confidence that the dos Santos we've seen is the dos Santos we'll get, he would be a fairly heavy favorite.  That said, dos Santos size is a huge hurdle for the Croatian.  Injuries or not, it's worrisome for the Cro Cop side that the two strikers he's struggled with in the recent past share the same physical qualities with dos Santos.  While I would be thrilled to see it, I feel like we'll need to see a Cro Cop we haven't seen in years to win this fight.


Martin Kampmann

#6 Welterweight



Paul Daley


-350 (BOOK) Best Line +300 (BODOG)
27 Age 26
6'0" Height 5'9"
15 - 2 - 0 Record 21 - 8 - 2
7 / 5 TKO / SUB 16 / 1
Xtreme Couture Camp Team Rough House
W - Condit (SD)
W - Barros (TKO)
L - Marquardt (TKO)
Last Three W - Barata (TKO)
W - Siacuila (KO)
L - Thompson (UD)

5Dimes apparently just put up a line of -310/+230.  I was pretty heavy on Kampmann as an underdog against Swick, and I think this is an appropriate line for this fight.  Kampmann has some defensive liabilities standing, but is otherwise good enough to hang with Daley standing.  In fact, he can be outstruck with a patient and heavy output of jabs (see the Nick Thompson fight).  Daley, on the other hand, cannot match Kampmann on the floor.  Martin has excellent takedowns from the clinch, and a very good ground game.  

As I said, I think the current line is efficient, but if money comes in on Daley, I start to hit Kampmann around -250.


Josh Koscheck

#7 Welterweight



Frank Trigg

#25 Welterweight

-400 (5DIMES) Best Line +355 (5DIMES)
31 Age 37
5'10" Height 5'8"
12 - 4 - 0 Record 19 - 6 - 0
3 / 4 TKO / SUB 8 / 6
American Kickboxing Academy Camp Xtreme Couture
L - Thiago (KO)
W - Yoshida (KO)
L - Alves (UD)
Last Three W - Babcock (UD)
W - Vitale (UD)
W - Takimoto (UD)

Trigg's come out and called this a "mirror match," and I agree with him - if his reflection shows a younger, more athletic version of himself.  He's 37, hasn't fought since February, and hasn't fought a legitimate opponent since Robbie Lawler over two years ago. Koscheck, meanwhile, has fought some of the best in the world at 170 in that same timespan.  Paulo Thiago shocked him in February, but I think we can all rest assured that Trigg won't give us a repeat of that event.  

I don't really like the line on either side.  Koscheck under -300 is fine, and I'd start to think about Trigg past +400.


Tyson Griffin

#16 Lightweight



Hermes Franca


-290 (5DIMES) Best Line +260 (5DIMES)
25 Age 35
5'6" Height 5'6"
13 - 2 - 0 Record 19 - 7 - 0
5 / 3 TKO / SUB 6 / 11
Xtreme Couture Camp Team Hermes Franca
W - dos Anjos (UD)
L - Sherk (UD)
W - Aurelio (UD)
Last Three W - Aurelio (UD)
L - Edgar (UD)
L - Sherk (UD)

Coincidentally, these guys last two losses came to the same two guys - Sean Sherk and Frank Edgar.  The difference being that one guy lost because he can't wrestle (Franca) and the other because the others stopped his wrestling (Griffin).

And wrestling's the big reason why Griffin's a big favorite here.  Franca spent well over 90% of his fights with Sherk and Edgar off his back.  Unless Griffin decides to keep it standing, I expect the same will happen in this fight. Franca's "crafty" as Joe Rogan likes to put it, and will have to rely on catching Griffin with a sub or wild right hand.  

If you can get the 5dimes line under -300, you can get a little value on Griffin.  Otherwise, steer clear of this fight.

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