The UFC arrives in Houston, TX with UFC 136 this Saturday, October 8th, at 9PM ET, live on Pay-Per-View.
This is a stacked fight card, headlined by two title fights, as well as potentially two title contention eliminator fights. UFC 136 features five main card fights, and six preliminary card fights. If you're a fight fan, you'll want to be in front of a TV for this one:
- Steve "Robot" Cantwell vs. Mike "The Master of Disaster" Massenzio
- Aaron "A-Train" Simpson vs. Eric "Red" Schaefer
- Tiequan "The Wolf" Zhang vs. Darren "The Damage" Elkins
- Stipe Miocic vs. Joey "The Mexicutioner" Beltran
- Anthony "Showtime" Pettis vs. Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens
- Demian Maia vs. Jorge "The Sandman" Santiago
- Melvin "The Young Assassin" Guillard vs. Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon
- Nam Phan vs. Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia
- Chael Sonnen vs. Brian "All American" Stann
- Jose "Junior" Aldo vs. Kenny "Kenflo" Florian
- Frankie "The Answer" Edgar vs. Gray "The Bully" Maynard
Stay with me as I make my main card predictions and gambling suggestions. Without further ado, let's get on to the fights...
All gambling lines are provided courtesy of BestFightOdds.com.
Melvin "The Young Assassin" Guillard (46-9-3, 1NC, -312) vs. Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon (20-6, +310)
Guillard is coming into this fight on a hot streak, having won eight of his last nine fights and his last five in a row, and is looking to make his case for a title shot.
Lauzon, on the other hand, has gone in fits and starts in the UFC. Though he's built a 7-3 record inside the Octagon, he hasn't been able to win more than three in a row at any one time.
This is a tough match-up for Lauzon. Despite being the owner of impressive submission skills, which provide him with a distinct advantage over Guillard on the ground, Guillard has pretty good defensive wrestling and is by far a better, and more powerful, striker. I expect Guillard to work to keep this fight standing and punch his way to a victory, by knockout or decision.
From a betting standpoint, Lauzon's +310 line might tempt you, but I don't think he has a legitimate shot at taking this one. I'd stay away.
Nam Phan (16-10, -210) vs. Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia (19-7-1, +206)
Phan is coming off of two straight losses, and even though one of those losses was in a controversial split decision to Garcia in December 2010, he needs to get in the win column.
Garcia is coming off of a loss to Chan Sung Jung, whom he previously defeated via a controversial split decision in April 2010. The WEC import would do well to prove he deserved his first win over Phan here, as a second straight loss won't look good.
If their first fight was any indication, this will be another shot for shot standup battle. Neither fighter is particularly impressive on the ground, and both are content to trade shots. Though Garcia is supposedly a power puncher, he only has three wins by knockout, and is best known for his sloppy, albeit relentless, style. Phan, on the other hand, is a much more accurate, and technically sound striker. He should be able to get the better of exchanges and use his superior cardio to put a pace on Garcia. Though he wasn't correctly announced the winner last time, I expect he'll get his revenge on Saturday.
From a betting point of view, I can easily see someone putting a small bet down on Garcia. His style has a way of mesmerizing judges, making them forget that they actually need to score for effective striking, and not for whiffs. It isn't out of the question that he'll take this fight as well.
Bet: If you're feeling lucky, a small bet on Garcia
Chael Sonnen (26-10-1, -260) vs. Brian "All American" Stann (11-3, +231)
Sonnen returns to the cage more than a year after losing in a championship bout against Anderson Silva at UFC 117. Since then, he has gone through much publicized legal issues, and will be looking to rebound strong here against Stann.
Since dropping down to middleweight, Stann has won three straight, including notable knockouts of Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago. He will face his toughest challenge to date against Sonnen, the widely regarded #2 middleweight in the world.
If this fight plays out the way it's supposed to, Sonnen will take Stann down repeatedly, ground and pound, and ride him out to a decision or possibly open up an opportunity for a submission victory. I like to think that won't happen, however. Stann is the better, and certainly more powerful, striker. If he can bring improved defensive wrestling to the cage and keep this fight standing, I like his odds at winning. Though it may be the unpopular answer, I'm taking the underdog in an upset special.
From a betting point of view, if you share my view of this fight, Stann is a no brainer. Otherwise, at -260, Sonnen should only be used in a parlay.
Bet: I'm going with Stann. Otherwise, a Sonnen parlay works.
Jose "Junior" Aldo (19-1, -320) vs. Kenny "Kenflo" Florian (16-5, +300)
If we count back to the days of the WEC, Aldo will be looking to defend his featherweight title for the fourth time on Saturday night. Though he seemed a bit out of sorts in his last fight against Mark Hominick, Houston is hoping Aldo will be back in his typical violent form.
Florian will be fighting in his third title fight and fourth weight class. After debuting in TUF Season 1 as a middlweight, Florian eventually found his way down to lightweight, by way of welterweight, where he competed for most of his career. He successfully dropped down to featherweight at UFC 131, defeating Diego Nunes and earning a title shot.
This is a very tough fight for Florian. Aldo is an incredibly dynamic and violent striker, with seven of his nine WEC/UFC wins coming by way of KO or TKO. If Florian gets stuck on the feet with Aldo, its sure to be a very long (read: short) night for "Kenflo." If there's one place that Florian has the advantage, it's likely on the ground where he has stopped opponents 15 times, but it isn't easy to get Aldo on the ground. Shooting for a takedown carries the very real risk of catching a knee to the face, and Aldo is typically able to keep opponents at bay with his strikes.
Though it would be nice to see Florian finally get a belt around his waist, I don't see it happening against such a dominant striker.
From a betting point of view, I'd pass on this one. Aldo's line is too big to make any bet worth it, and I can't come up with a scenario in which Florian wins.
Frankie "The Answer" Edgar (13-1-1, -126) vs. Gray "The Bully" Maynard (11-0-1, 1NC, +120)
Edgar and Maynard both enter this fight after fighting to a draw at UFC 125 on New Year's Day 2011. After being dominated by Maynard in the first round, Edgar battled his way back to earn the draw and remained the lightweight champion. Though nearly everyone had varying opinions on the result of the fight, there is no question that it was thrilling, and this third showdown should be no different.
This is a tough fight to predict, as we've seen such disparate results from these two fighters. In their first meeting, Maynard dominated Edgar en route to a unanimous decision victory. In the second fight, Maynard completely dominated the first round, but Edgar survived and turned the tables on Maynard, winning three of the next four rounds. So...which Edgar and Maynard show up this time?
I'm personally impressed by the heart that Edgar showed in the last fight, and think he's seen the worst that Maynard has to offer. If Edgar can avoid Maynard's power shots and use his wrestling to stay off of his back, he should be able to out box Maynard. I think we'll see more of Edgar's resilience and champion level work ethic in another back and forth battle.
From a betting point of view, really either of these fighters make for a good bet. A bet on whomever you think will win is fine in my book.