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UFC Betting Notebook

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-- Georges ‘Rush’ St. Pierre will defend his welterweight strap at UFC 158 against Nick Diaz. This is the third time these bitter rivals have been scheduled to meet. Diaz was yanked from the fight the first time around after failing to show up for two promotional events. The second fight was scratched when GSP tore his ACL. They will collide in the Octagon at the Bell Centre in Montreal on March 16.

-- I have two picks on the UFC 155 card that I’m endorsing. First, I love Melvin Guillard at a minus-125 price vs. Jamie Varner! Also, I like Alan Belcher at even money against Yushin Okami in the 185-pound loop.

-- The long-awaited return of Chris ‘The Crippler’ Leben from a one-year suspension is coming right around the corner. However, Leben won’t be facing Karlos Vemola, who had to pull out with an injury. Instead, former Strikeforce middleweight Derek Brunson will face Leben, a fan favorite who always brings it.

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-- Leonard Garcia’s replacement opponent at UFC 155 is Max Holloway, who will fill in for the injured Cody McKenzie.

-- Gray Maynard was forced to withdraw from his UFC 155 fight against Joe Lauzon due to a knee injury. With Maynard out, Jim Miller has taken his place in this lightweight showdown. Most books are listing Miller as a minus-240 favorite with Lauzon available for a plus-190 payout (risk $100 to win $190). This is a strong candidate for Fight of the Night honors.

-- Brendan ‘The Hybrid’ Schaub will take on Lavar ‘Big’ Johnson at UFC 157. These two were scheduled to meet at UFC on Fox 6 in the highlight matchup of the undercard on FX, but Johnson withdrew due to a groin injury.

-- On Jan. 19, Ben Rothwell and Gabriel Gonzaga will square off in a heavyweight bout at UFC on FX 7. 5Dimes has Gonzaga as a minus-160 ‘chalk’ with Rothwell listed as a plus-120 underdog (risk $100 to win $120).

-- The rematch that welterweight contender Rory MacDonald has been starving for is now a reality. MacDonald and former 170-pound interim champion, Carlos ‘The Natural Born Killer’ Condit, will meet again at UFC 158. Condit gave MacDonald his only career loss with a third-round knockout with only seven seconds remaining in the third and final round.

-- The welterweight division will be heavily features at UFC 158. With Diaz getting the shot at GSP rather than Johny Hendricks, ‘Bigg Rigg’ will now face Jake Ellenberger in what promised to be an entertaining stand-up war. Hendricks is not happy with GSP and understandably so. The wrestler from Texas was clearly in line for a title shot, but GSP begged Dana White for the matchup against Diaz to ‘settle unfinished business.’ Hendricks said earlier this week that Ellenberger is ‘more dangerous’ than GSP. I’m starting to think that Hendricks is going to be the man to bring GSP’s dynastic rein in the welterweight division to an end at some point in 2013.

-- Here’s a hat tip to heavyweight Pat Barry, one of the UFC’s most exciting fighters. Barry scored a second-round KO of Shane del Rosario as a plus-210 underdog this past weekend at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in Las Vegas. Barry escaped submission attempts in the first stanza and then finished the fight just 26 second into Round 2. Barry’s onslaught began with a thunderous left that staggered Del Rosario, who was done moments later after eating a massive right hook. In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Barry offered some moving words to the crowd, "If you got kids, go hug them like it's your last day."

-- 5Dimes.com has Ronda Rousey installed as an enormous minus-1200 ‘chalk’ for her UFC debut vs. Liz Carmouche in the main event at UFC 157. Carmouche is the plus-600 underdog (risk $100 to win $600).

-- Dan Henderson’s camp has expressed frustration at taking a backseat to Rousey when he’ll face Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida in the co-main event at UFC 157. Machida is a minus-220 favorite, while Henderson is an underdog in the plus-175 range.

-- According to a report from the Orange County Register, Robbie Lawler will return to the UFC to face Josh Koscheck at UFC 157. Lawler, who fought in the UFC from 2002-2004, lost five of eight fights under the Strikeforce banner in recent years. Nevertheless, he packs a big punch and the southpaw will make for an excellent matchup with the hard-hitting Koscheck. I could see KO of the Night coming from this welterweight match.

  
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