The Ultimate Fighting Championship is back in Las Vegas for another action-packed card on Fourth of July Weekend, returning to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night for UFC 148.
The main event is one of the most anticipated bouts in the promotion’s history with Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva taking on Chael Sonnen for the middleweight title. As of Thursday, most betting shops had Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC) installed as a minus-3000 favorite with Sonnen available as a plus-230 underdog (risk $100 to win $230).
For gamblers that think the fight ‘will go’ the distance, a plus-190 payout can be had (risk $100 to win $190), while the price is minus-240 that it ‘won’t go’ to the judges after five rounds.
If you like Silva to win but don’t want to risk the nearly 1/3 price, there are other betting options. Bettors can take the 185-pound kingpin to win by knockout for even money at several offshore websites. Also, a plus-333 payout is available if Silva wins by submission. Finally, Silva is minus-166 to win ‘inside the distance’ (by KO or submission).
We should note that in Sonnen’s last nine fights, six have gone the distance. Also, he’s only been KO’d twice in 39 career fights and those stoppages weren’t your typical KOs (one by his own corner, the other due to a cut).
There are 80/1 odds on the fight to be ruled a draw.
When these bitter rivals met inside the Octagon at UFC 117 in Oakland, Sonnen shocked the world by dominating Silva for 23 minutes. In each and every round, Sonnen was able to use his wresting to record one takedown after another that was followed by ground-and-pound treatment.
However, Sonnen couldn’t finish the champ and you never got the sense that Silva was completely beaten even though he had been badly battered. Working from the bottom, Silva landed a short, sharp elbow in the fourth round that opened up a big cut on Sonnen’s forehead.
The cut didn’t seem to bother Sonnen, but it seemingly gave Silva life. Before the final stanza, Silva raised his arms to encourage the crowd to get louder. But yet again, he was on his back quickly as the victim of another takedown.
With barely two minutes left to pull out a miracle, Silva did just that. From his back, he locked in a triangle choke that forced Sonnen to tap.
Since then, Sonnen (27-11-1 MMA, 6-4 UFC) has won both of his fights over Brian Stann (second-round triangle choke) and Michael Bisping (split decision). Meanwhile, Silva has defended his belt twice more with KO wins over Vitor Belfort (front kick) and Yushin Okami (second-round TKO).
Silva owns nearly every UFC record in the book, including nine consecutive title defenses. Other than Sonnen, only Dan Henderson and Patrick Cote have been competitive against Silva.
We can’t chronicle the bad blood between these middleweights because there’s simply too much ground to cover. In short, they hate each other and have verbally disrespected each other at every opportunity this week and beyond.
Prediction: Sonnen’s confidence is no mirage. There’s no doubt in my mind that he truly believes he’ll win this fight and do it with the same recipe he used that night at Oracle Arena. Many pundits feel like Anderson Silva is more focused than ever and that his uncharacteristic pre-fight trash talk is a sign that he’s really going to take care of business. But I’m not sure about that. The contrarian thought process is that Sonnen is in his head and has Silva off of his game. Whatever the case, we’re in for a thriller. I wouldn’t risk the expensive price on Silva but if you like him, go with the prop bet for him to win by KO for even money. Me? I’ll call for the upset and recommend a small play on Chael. (But don’t risk too much. After all, Silva hasn’t tasted defeat in 6 ½ years and never inside the Octagon.)
In the co-main event, the Hall of Fame career of Tito Ortiz (16-10-1 MMA, 16-10-1 UFC) will come to an end as he competes in the Octagon one final time to wrap up his trilogy with Forrest Griffin. Ortiz won their first meeting by split decision at UFC 59, but Griffin won the rematch via split dec. at UFC 106.
Ortiz made his UFC debut at UFC 13 in Augusta, GA., on May 30 of 1997. He won the light heavyweight title more than 12 years ago by beating Wanderlei Silva via unanimous decision in Tokyo at UFC 25. ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ would defend his belt a division-record five times and didn’t relinquish the title for a span of more than three years.
Ortiz lost the belt to Raundy Couture by unanimous decision at UFC 44. Next, he lost again to future champ Chuck Liddell by second-round KO at UFC 47.
Ortiz would respond, however, with a five-fight winning streak to earn another shot at the belt. Before his rematch with Liddell, Ortiz beat Patrick Cote, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin and Ken Shamrock twice.
But Liddell had his number and won by third-round KO at UFC 66. That defeat for Ortiz was the start of a 0-4-1 stretch that lasted almost five years.
Then at UFC 132 last summer, Ortiz face Ryan Bader with his job on the line. Bader, whose only previous career loss came to current champ Jon Jones, was made an expensive favorite in the minus-600 range.
But Ortiz wasn’t willing to go peacefully into the night. He floored Bader in the first round with a big right and then locked hold of a guillotine choke to force the tap and get his hand raised. The crowd went nuts and Ortiz hooked up underdog backers with an enormous payout in the plus-475 range.
Then when Phil Davis had to pull out of his UFC 133 bout against Rashad Evans, Ortiz took the fight on short notice. Ortiz and Evans had fought to a draw back at UFC 73.
The fight was extremely competitive and early in the second stanza Ortiz appeared to be on the verge of another victory when he locked on another guillotine choke. However, Evans was able to wiggle out and finished the fight later in the round with a huge knee to the solarplexus. The match earned Fight of the Night honors.
Ortiz’s momentum was thwarted in his next bout when Antonio Rogerio Nogueiro beat him by first-round KO. Nevertheless, Dana White and Co. have given Ortiz one more chance to finish his career on a winning note.
Most spots are listing Griffin (18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) as a minus-320 favorite with Ortiz available for a plus-240 return (risk $100 to win $240).
Griffin is coming off a first-round KO loss to Shogun Rua last August. Prior to that, he beat Rich Franklin by unanimous decision.
Prediction: I like Griffin to win by decision for a plus-105 return. Five of Griffin’s last six wins have come via the judges.
In a middleweight clash, 40-year-old kickboxer Cung Le (7-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will collide with Canadian Patrick Cote. Most books are listing Cote as a minus-250 ‘chalk,’ while Le is a plus-190 underdog.
Cote has won four consecutive fights with other promotions since being let go by the UFC. He once fought for the 185-pound title against Silva before blowing out his knee in the fight.
Le made his UFC debut against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 139. The bout earned Fight of the Night honors but Silva won by KO late in the second round.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Like I tweeted the other night when I was watching the Countdown to UFC 148 show, Chael Sonnen: Best Shit Talker Ever.
--After hearing Michael Bisping mention his name (and that of Alan Belcher) as possible opponents in his next fight, Brian Stann told MMAWeekly.com, “Of course I’d like to fight Michael Bisping.” I’m guessing Bisping would be a -190 favorite if that happens, but Belcher is the more likely opponent because there are questions as to whether or not Stann (recent shoulder injury) could be ready for UFC 152.
--For the main event at UFC on Fox 4, 5Dimes is listing Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua as a minus-400 ‘chalk’ vs. Brandon Vera, who is the plus-280 underdog (risk $100 to win $280).
--There are numbers out for two other main-card fights for UFC on Fox 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida is heavily favored (-320 at 5Dimes) against Ryan Bader (+260) in a light heavyweight showdown. Also, Travis Browne is a minus-280 ‘chalk’ versus Ben Rothwell (+215ish).
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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