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UFC 161 Betting News and Notes

UFC 161 Betting News and Notes

UFC 161 Preview

Rashad Evans (22-3-1) vs. Dan Henderson (29-9)

Former UFC light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans will take on former Strikeforce belt holder Dan Henderson in the headline bout on UFC 161’s main card Saturday in Winnipeg.

Evans is coming off two straight losses, but has always fought the best of the best. The first of those defeats was for the title against Jon Jones, who won via unanimous decision. In the next bout, Evans again lost by the judges to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on Feb. 2. Henderson is also coming off a loss, pushing his record to 1-1 since his return to UFC. He first beat Mauricio Rua, but then lost to Lyoto Machida on Feb. 23 in a controversial split decision. Machida also beat Evans in a title bout back in 2009. Ultimately, as the odds indicate, this is an extremely even fight. But Henderson’s superior striking and world-class wrestling should be able to send him to victory.

At 6-foot-1, Henderson has a two-inch height advantage in this one. His power is clear with 13 knockouts in 29 career victories, including four of his past five wins. Those knockouts were against Fedor Emelianenko, Rafael Cavalcante, Renato Sobral and Michael Bisping. A 42-year-old who seems ageless, Henderson has fought for the UFC middleweight and light heavyweight titles in his career, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down despite the loss to Machida—a top-notch fighter. "Hendo" has knockout power in both hands and won’t be afraid of Evans’ legendary takedowns as a former Olympic and Division-I wrestler.

Evans is also a solid striker with five of his past nine wins coming by knockout. However, Henderson has never lost via knockout, while Evans lost to Machida that way. "Suga" is also a former D-I wrestler, and he’ll likely win this one if he can overpower Henderson on the mat. Evans has done that against top fighters such as Phil Davis, who is as athletic as they come. Evans, however, does not have Henderson’s wrestling pedigree. But there’s no doubting Evans’ pedigree either as a former belt holder with wins against the likes of Tito Ortiz, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Thiago Silva and Forrest Griffin. He is just one of three Ultimate Fighter winners to also win a UFC title, joining Griffin and Matt Serra.

Roy Nelson (20-7) vs. Stipe Miocic (9-1)

Coming off his first career loss, Stipe Miocic will look to rebound as an underdog against Roy Nelson in a heavyweight bout on UFC 161’s main card Saturday in Winnipeg.

Miocic began his MMA career winning his first nine bouts, three of which were in the Octagon. He lost his lost time out on Sept. 29 to 7-footer Stefan Struva via TKO. Nelson is more of a veteran, having won his past three bouts after a stretch during which he struggled with three losses in four fights. Few can match Nelson’s girth, as “Big Country” stands at just 6-foot-0, but weighs 263 pounds. With that size, he has knockout power, something he combines with elite grappling skills. Matching up against the 6-foot-4 Miocic may be difficult however, given his speed, reach and surprising power.

Nelson’s current three-fight win streak has been against solid fighters: Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione and Dave Herman. All three were first-round knockouts, giving him 13 knockouts in 19 career wins. All of his UFC wins have come by KO. Prior to his three-fight surge, Nelson suffered losses to Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir and Junior Dos Santos, with a win against Mirko Cro Cop in between. All three of those losses came from the judges. Nelson will have to end this one early to win it, something he can certainly do with his top-notch boxing skills. Add in his Jiu-Jitsu skills, and it’s no secret why he’s favored rather heavily in this one.

Like Nelson, Miocic likes to end fights early with seven knockouts, one submission and one decision making up his nine career wins. His speed and athleticism make him a dangerous wrestler, which he honed as a Division-I wrestler at Cleveland State. Miocic will have to outwork Nelson to avoid the same knockout fate he suffered at the hands of Struve and take this fight to the ground. He has a four-inch height advantage on Nelson and his whopping 80-inch reach is seven inches longer. Miocic must make sure to exploit both of those factors.

Ryan Jimmo (17-2) vs. Igor Pokrajac (25-9)

Ryan Jimmo will fight in front of a home crowd against Igor Pokrajac on UFC 161’s main card in a light heavyweight bout in Canada on Saturday night.

After winning 17 consecutive bouts, Jimmo is coming off a loss to James Te Huna on Feb. 16, his second career defeat. Prior to that, he cruised through lower circuits and his first UFC bout, in which he KO’ed Anthony Perosh in seven seconds, tying a record. Pokrajac is coming off a no-contest with Joey Beltran on Dec. 14 that Beltran initially won, but later had revoked due to a positive drug test. Ultimately, though, Pokrajac has yet to demonstrate that he can handle a fighter as talented as Jimmo, who will have the added bonus of fighting in front of friendly fans. Though Jimmo doesn’t have any marquee victories either, he has displayed far more talent in his career and should bounce back well in this one.

At 6-foot-2, Jimmo stands two inches taller than Pokrajac, though his reach is two inches shorter. But Jimmo’s counter-striking skills bode well against Pokrajac’s boxing acumen, something that should work to his advantage. And the 31-year-old Jimmo has displayed a flexibility in his method of victory that should allow him to go with the flow. He showed his power with the quick KO of Perosh -- his seventh career knockout -- and also has two submission wins on his résumé. But his two victories prior to that were decisions, showing he can outwork an opponent until the final bell. All of the career wins for "Big Deal" Jimmo were in Canada, and his loss to Te Huna came in his first international fight, falling in the United Kingdom. Saturday should be a welcome return home.

The 34-year-old Pokrajac is a UFC veteran, but has seen only limited success. He also lost to Te Huna, back in 2010, and is now 4-4 in the Octagon. Before the no-contest against Beltran, he fell to Vinny Magalhaes, halting a stretch of three consecutive wins. While he is a well-rounded fighter, Pokrajac has not been in top form in his last two fights and has not shown the durability that gave him his limited streak of success. "The Duke" will have to find that and exploit his reach advantage, landing a few key early strikes. Fourteen of his 25 career wins have come via knockout, and that’s probably his best chance of being victorious Saturday. He also has eight submission wins in his career, and 10 of his past 11 wins have come by either TKO or submission.

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Re: UFC 161 Betting News and Notes

UFC 161 Odds and Picks – Evans lays short price vs. Henderson
By: The Linemakers

A light heavyweight fight between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson headlines UFC 161 in Winnipeg, a card that’s being criticized by MMA fans and media – but vigorously defended by UFC president Dana White.

As of Friday morning, Evans is the -130 favorite on the oddsboard at both the LVH SuperBook and the Wynn. Henderson is the +110 underdog.

Critics have taken their shots at Saturday night’s card at TS Centre, home of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, as a foot injury to Renan Barao caused the main event to be called off, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira pulled out due to a back injury.

“It’s similar to what happened last year in Calgary at UFC 149, which was also panned,” notes the Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton (via SportsBusiness Daily).

“We have a bunch of fans who love to bitch about s---,” said White. “If people aren’t bitching about s---, they’re not happy. I don’t know how many times it’s gotta be proven (wrong) when you say a card sucks before it happens. You’re either a fight fan or you’re not.”

Saturday night's main event comes at a critical point in both fighters’ careers. Evans (17-3-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC) is coming two consecutive losses, and Henderson (29-9 MMA, 6-3 UFC) also lost his last bout in a split decision to Lyoto Machida.

MMA Junkie’s Matt Erickson writes a loss “could mean ... the end of their title aspirations in the UFC.”

Hugh Citron is the first oddsmaker in Las Vegas to post numbers on MMA fights. As always for big UFC events, we ask Hugh for his thoughts – and maybe even a pick. Take it away, Hugh....

“Evans is surprisingly only about a 6-to-5 favorite here, which I think is too low. I could have seen odds as high as 9-to-5 on him in this spot. Evans is still in the prime of his career, even though he’s coming off a lackluster loss in his last fight to Nogueira, when he injured his hand in the first round and lost the last two rounds. Nogueira, the twin brother of heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, won the three-round bout by unanimous decision.

“Henderson is also coming off a one-sided loss to Machida in a fight I called here on The Linemakers as a strong play for Machida.

"Before that loss to ‘Little Nog,’ Evans went the distance with Jon Jones – not an easy thing to do. Evans lost that decision, but easily beat a very good fighter in Phil Davis before that.

“While Hendo, now almost 43, could be near the end of his career, he still has great power in his right hand. But his lack of speed really showed against Machida, who basically never got hit. I expect Evans to use similar tactics and use his speed to frustrate Dan and maybe even throw in a takedown here or there.

“Leaning towards Evans as the short-priced favorite.”

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Re: UFC 161 Betting News and Notes

UFC 161: Evans vs. Hendo
By Brian Edwards

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is poised to make its debut in Winnipeg on Saturday night for an 11-fight card headlined by a light heavyweight showdown between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans.

Most betting shops have Evans installed as a -130 favorite, while Henderson is available at even money.

Henderson-Evans was moved up to the main event when interim featherweight champ Renan Barao had to pull out of his fight with Eddie Wineland a few weeks ago. Therefore, Henderson-Evans is only scheduled for three rounds instead of five for most main events.

The total for ‘over/under’ wagers is 2.5 ‘over’ (-250). Gamblers taking the ‘under’ can earn a +195 return (risk $100 to win $195).

Evans (17-3-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC) has lost back-to-back fights for the first time in his career, including a lackluster unanimous-decision loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his last bout at UFC 156.

Coming off a five-round decision loss to Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, Evans was heavily favored against Little Nog. However, the former Michigan St. wrestler, who has scalps of four UFC Hall of Famers (Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin), Michael Bisping, Rampage Jackson and Phil Davis on his resume, was hesitant to engage Nogueira and never attempted to use his wrestling.

The fight was a total snoozer and clearly the poorest effort of Evans’s career. Fortunately for Evans, he was given a great matchup with Henderson. With a convincing victory, he puts himself right back in the mix in the 205-pound loop.

The same can be said for Henderson (29-9 MMA, 6-3 UFC), who was gearing up for a title shot last summer before a knee injury forced him to withdraw from a bout against Jones only two weeks before the fight.

Henderson had won four consecutive fights before dropping a split decision to Lyoto Machida in his last outing at UFC 157. Machida’s slippery and evasive style can create headaches for judges, especially in three-round affairs. Needless to say, Henderson felt he won the fight in which Machida spent a good chunk of the 15 minutes refusing to engage.

Prediction: Evans certainly can’t afford a third straight loss if he wants a rematch with Jones in the next 18-24 months. At the age of 41, Henderson almost certainly falls out of the title picture for the rest of his career with back-to-back defeats. These factors create a wash because both fighters have equal motivation. Although both fighters are excellent on their feet, I believe Henderson has the boxing advantage with the incredible power in his right hand. Evans has a quickness advantage and at this stage of their career, is probably the better wrestler. Evans will want to put ‘Hendo’ on his back, using the blueprint Jake Shields employed in a win over Henderson three years ago. This one is basically a toss-up and I think this should be one of the smaller plays (units/amount-wise) for the night. With that said, I won’t sit on the fence and I’ll call for Henderson to get the victory.

In the co-main event, Roy Nelson will take on Stipe Miocic in a heavyweight battle. Most books have Nelson installed as a -260 favorite, while Miocic is a +200 underdog (risk $100 to win $200). The total for ‘over/under’ wagers is 1.5 rounds (-115 either way).

Nelson took this fight on short notice when the card lost the main event and the UFC wanted to add another big name to the pay-per-view card. When Little Nog had to pull out of his match with Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, Nelson-Miocic was elevated to co-main event status and Rua was pulled off of the show altogether.

Nelson (20-7 MMA, 6-3 UFC) has won three consecutive fights by first-round knockout, garnering a pair of KO of the Night bonuses. He has laid waste to Dave Herman, Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo with overhand rights in a total of 5:52 of cage time.

With another dominant performance, Nelson could be in line for a title-eliminator fight. In the event of an injury to Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos in preparation for their next encounter, Nelson could be the first phone call made by the UFC for a replacement.

But none of that happens if ‘Big Country’ can’t get past Miocic, who is coming off his first career loss to Stefan Struve by second-round KO.

Miocic (9-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) won his first three fights with the promotion over Joey Beltran, Phil De Fries and Shane del Rosario. Struve was a big step up in competition, though, and the result wasn’t good. And bettors should keep in mind that Nelson finished Struve by first-round KO in only 39 seconds.

Prediction: ‘Big Country’ has five first-round knockout victories in nine career Octagon appearances. I think he adds a sixth in Winnipeg. My recommendation is to avoid backing Nelson at the expensive price. Instead, just go with ‘under’ 1.5 rounds at the inexpensive odds.

In a heavyweight tilt that’s a prime candidate for Fight of the Night honors, Pat ‘HD’ Barry and Shawn ‘The Savage’ Jordan will collide in the first fight on the pay-per-view portion of the card at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Most books opened Barry (8-5 MMA, 5-5 UFC) as a -170 favorite. However, as of Friday afternoon, the number had been reduced to Barry as a -125 ‘chalk.’ The total is 1.5 rounds (-115 either way).

Barry is one of the UFC’s most exciting fighters. He probably has the most powerful kicks in all of MMA and has KO power in both hands. The New Orleans product has won four career bonuses with a pair of KO and Fight of the Night awards.

Barry’s ground skills are improving but this is definitely his weakness. He has been submitted in three of his five losses in the Octagon.

Jordan (14-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is a former fullback at LSU who was a member of the 2007 national championship team. He fights out of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jordan is coming off an impressive second-round KO of veteran Mike Russow, who repeatedly took Jordan down and dominated him from the top in the opening stanza. However, Jordan withstood the first-round barrage while Russow emptied his gas tank going for the finish.

In the second round, the fresher Jordan turned the tide and finished Russow with ground-and-pound punishment at the 3:48 mark.

Prediction: Jordan hasn’t faced an opponent with the vicious stand-up skills Barry owns. I like Barry to win by KO late in the first round. This is my favorite play on the card! If there’s a pick to put some muscle behind, this is it.

In the women’s bantamweight division, Alexis Davis (13-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will take on Rosi Sexton. Most books are listing Davis as a -400 favorite, while Sexton is +300 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $300). The total is 2.5 rounds ‘under’ (-125).

Sexton (13-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has won three straight fights with one KO and a pair of decision victories. Meanwhile, Davis has won five of her last six bouts.

In the light heavyweight division, Ryan Jimmo (17-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) will face Igor Pokrajac in a fight that was moved to the pay-per-view card when Little Nog vs. Shogun was cancelled. Most spots have Jimmo as the -260 favorite. The total is 2.5 rounds ‘over’ (-180).

After winning three straight fights, Pokrajac (25-9-0-1 MMA, 4-4-0-1 UFC) has lost two straight. However, his most recent defeat to Joey Beltran was reversed to a no-decision when Beltran tested positive for banned substances.

Prediction: I think Jimmo wins but I’m not confident enough to lay the expensive price. I’ll pass.

The highlight of the preliminary card on FX will be a welterweight clash between Jake Shields and Tyron Woodley. Most books have Woodley as a -180 ‘chalk,’ while Shields is the +150 ‘dog (risk $100 to win $150). The total is 2.5 rounds ‘over’ (-185).

Woodley (11-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) needed only 36 seconds to finish Jay Hieron by KO in his Octagon debut at UFC 156. His lone career loss came to Nate Marquardt by fourth-round KO when he was fighting with the Strikeforce promotion.

Since leaving Strikeforce and abandoning his middleweight belt, Shields (27-6-1-1 MMA, 2-2-0-1 UFC) has a pair of UFC wins over Martin Kampmann (split decision) and Yoshihiro Akiyama (unanimous decision). He lost to Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight strap and suffered a first-round KO defeat to Jake Ellenberger.

In his last outing, Shields moved up to middleweight and beat Ed Herman by unanimous decision, only to see the result changed to a no-contest when he failed a post-fight drug test.

Prediction: I could see a Shields submission or a Woodley KO in the first or second round. With that in mind and most important, the generous +155 odds, I like ‘under’ 2.5 rounds.

Octagon Extras

Roy Nelson and Josh Thomson are likely looking at fines and/or suspensions from the UFC brass in the wake of controversial remarks made this week. Nelson, responding to a question about Daniel Cormier stating that he wanted to kick Nelson’s ass “for Dana White,” told Ariel Helwani, “Having a lot of black friends, they would say that would be more of an Uncle Tom move.” Even if you’re supposedly quoting your ‘black friends,’ you don’t go there… ever! It’s a huge insult for a black man to be called an ‘Uncle Tom’ by another black man. For a white guy to use the term toward a black guy, well, that just takes it to another level. Do I think Nelson is a racist? No. Do I think he should be punished anyway? Absolutely! As for Thomson, he has issued an apology for statements made about gay marriage but will be looking at yet-to-be-determined punishment nonetheless.

Brent Brookhouse of Bloody Elbow went so far as to say Nelson’s comments could result in the end of his career with the UFC. Jason Floyd of The MMA Report disagreed when I asked him if there was a chance of Nelson being pulled off of Saturday’s card. “No, they need him. Nelson is a fighter that people want to see.”

Jon Jones will defend his 205-pound strap against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 on Sept. 21. ‘Bones’ Jones will be gunning for his sixth straight defense of his light heavyweight belt. opened Jones as a -800 favorite vs. Gustafsson (+500).

According to multiple reports this week, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos are expected to meet for the third time at UFC 166 in Houston at some point in October.

According to a report from MMAJunkie, Diego Sanchez and Gilbert Melendez will square off at an event this fall.

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