Gambling Spotlight: UFC 117

This is the kind of pay-per-view the UFC should strive to put on every month. On paper, the title fight looks to be one-sided, but that's OK when you get the chance to watch Anderson Silva fight (whether he knocks clowns out in round one or clowns on clowns for five rounds). You have two very meaningful divisional bouts with title shots at stake, a nice little rivalry fight with the student trying to avenge his mentors, and what should be a high-paced lightweight bout in the middle of it all. This is what fans want to spend their money on.

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Odds provided by Best Fight Odds. Odds should update on their own.

All photos by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.

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Anderson Silva

#1 Middleweight
UFC MW champ

vs.

Chael Sonnen

#2 Middleweight

35 Age 33
6'2" Height 6'1"
77.5" Reach 73.5"
26 - 4 - 0 Record 24 - 10 - 1
15 / 4 KO / SUB 7 / 3
Black House Camp Team Quest
W - Maia (UD)
W - Griffin (KO)
W - Leites (UD)
Last 3 W - Marquardt (UD)
W - Okami (UD)
W - Miller (UD)

BestFightOdds.com

This one's pretty easy to break down. How often can Chael Sonnen drag Anderson Silva to the mat and hold him there without finding himself trapped in a submission? I tend to think not very often. Five rounds is a long time to 1) hold Silva down, 2) avoid getting smashed in the face, and 3) avoid being submitted.

And Sonnen is notorious for his poor submission recognition. Of his ten losses (in which he beat up his opponents), seven have come by submission. Even in recent victories over Nate Marquardt and Dan Miller, Chael had to escape from multiple deep submission attempts.

The only other variable in this fight is Silva's age. Jonathan Snowden brought up the point in our predictions: fighters like Anderson Silva are susceptible to falling off a cliff at a certain age. If his speed and reflexes start slipping, you're going to see a massive fall from grace. That being said, I've seen no indications that Silva is anywhere near a physical dropoff.

At -400, we would need Anderson Silva to win 80% of the time to break even. Let's do a math experiment. Five round fights get finished roughly 77% of the time. Let's be conservative and say this one gets finished 7 out of 10 times. Let's further estimate that of those finishes, Silva will be on the winning side 90% of the time. If the fight goes to a decision, we'll be aggressive on Sonnen and give him 65% of decisions. If we do the math, we have Silva winning 73.5% of the time, not enough to put a bet on him. (It would be enough to bet on Sonnen, though.) If we change the finishing rate to 80% of the time with Silva on the right end 95% of those and Sonnen winning only 40% of the resulting decisions, we have Silva at an 84% win rate, enough to justify a bet at -400.

I tend to think the correct numbers are somewhere in between those estimates and recommend no play.

Ufc_117_button_medium

Ufc-117-presser-pic-6_medium

Jon Fitch

#2 Welterweight

vs.

Thiago Alves

#3 Welterweight

32 Age 26
6'0" Height 5'9"
74" Reach 70"
22 - 3 - 0, 1 NC Record 16 - 6 - 0
4 / 5 KO / SUB 10 / 1
American Kickboxing Acadmey Camp American Top Team
W - Saunders (UD)
W - Pierce (UD)
W - Thiago (UD)
Last 3 L - St-Pierre (UD)
W - Koscheck (UD)
W - Hughes (KO)

BestFightOdds.com

This is easily the most intriguing fight from a handicapping/predicting angle. Fitch mauled Alves all the way back in 2006, although Fitch would be the first one to tell you that Alves is a much improved fighter since then. He's also a much bigger fighter, pushing the very edge of the 170 pound weight limit.

Fitch, meanwhile, has really just become a more refined version of himself. His skills are a little sharper, but his gameplan is the same: pressure, takedowns, and pace.

Ultimately, the fight will be decided on Fitch's ability to stifle Alves. I'm sure many will point to Alves' fight with Josh Koscheck as evidence of his immaculate takedown defense. Now, while improved, it's important to take that fight in its context. FightMetric scored Koscheck 0 for 5 on takedowns. Koscheck's attempt in round one came right after Alves rocked him with a left hook. The "two" attempts in round two came in the same sequence. (FightMetric will score each tug or yank on a single leg as its own attempt.) In round three, the two attempts again come in the same sequence, which followed Koscheck being rocked again.

We must not forget that 1) GSP took down Alves 10 times in 12 attempts, 2) Matt Hughes took down Alves and held top control for half the round, and 3) Jon Fitch's game is much different than Koscheck's (or at least Koscheck's game in the Alves fight). Koscheck, for whatever reason, seemed content to stand with Alves at distance and shoot in from the outside. Fitch likes to get in close, smother, and work for takedowns.

With a plus number and this being a three round affair (and this is a very sad state of affairs), I like a unit play on Jon Fitch.

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Junior dos Santos

#6 Heavyweight

vs.

Roy Nelson

#18 Heavyweight

26 Age 34
6'3" Height 6'0"
77" Reach 73"
11 - 1 - 0 Record 16 - 4 - 0
8 / 3 KO / SUB 9 / 4
Black House Camp Team Country Club
W - Gonzaga (KO)
W - Yvel (KO)
W - Filipovic (SUB)
Last 3 W - Struve (KO)
W - Schaub (KO)
L - Monson (UD)

BestFightOdds.com

This is a tough fight for Roy. Dos Santos is both three inches taller and has a three inch reach advantage. With the wide target that Roy provides and Dos Santos' obvious advantages in athleticism, I'm just not sure what Nelson's going to do here. I wouldn't completely disregard some sort of trip takedown from the clinch, but I'm not sure he's going to be able to get that close. I like a strong unit or two unit play on Dos Santos below -350.

Ufc-117-presser-pic-4_medium

Matt Hughes

#9 Welterweight
Former UFC WW Champ

vs.

Ricardo Almeida

#20 Welterweight

36 Age 33
5'9" Height 6'0"
73" Reach 74"
44 - 7 - 0 Record 12 - 3 - 0
15 / 19 KO / SUB 0 / 4
HIT Squad Camp Renzo Gracie Combat Team
W - Gracie (KO)
W - Serra (UD)
L - Alves (KO)
Last 3 W - Brown (SUB)
W - Grove (UD)
W - Horwich (UD)

BestFightOdds.com

Ricardo Almeida is like Matt Hughes except better at jiu jitsu and without any noticeable wrestling skill. Almeida's also (marginally) better than Hughes standing. From a strict style perspective, I like Matt Hughes a lot in this fight. He won't be in much danger of being hurt on the feet, and if the fight hits the floor, Matt's going to be the one on top. I'm very concerned about Matt's motivation, though. He's openly talked about looking forward to retiring and spending time with his daughters. His choice of which fights he takes is also very telling, though a nice contrast to Chuck Liddell's inability to self-assess. If you're on one of the books offering Matt past +160, I like a small half-unit play on Hughes.

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