With the exception of Chael Sonnen, nobody has come remotely close to taking the UFC’s middleweight belt from Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva. On Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Chris Weidman will get his shot at Silva’s strap in the main event of an 11-fight card at UFC 162.
Most books have Silva installed as a -245 favorite, while Weidman is available at +195 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $195). The total for ‘over/under’ bets is 2.5 rounds (-130 for ‘under’ plays, +110 for the ‘over’).
This is the cheapest price we’ve seen for Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC) since March 1 of 2008 when he beat Dan Henderson by second-round submission as a -140 ‘chalk’ at UFC 82.
The middleweight kingpin has accomplished more in the Octagon than any fighter in UFC history. He has 11 knockouts and 12 Fight Night bonuses, including seven KO of the Night awards. His 11 title defenses are a UFC record.
Silva last fought on Oct. 13 when he and Stephan Bonnar stepped into the main event on short notice at UFC 153 in Brazil. Fighting at 205 for the third time in his UFC career, Silva destroyed Bonnar by first-round KO. Silva handed Bonnar his first career KO defeat by flooring him with a vicious knee to the body before following up with several punches before the referee intervened.
Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is coming off the most significant win of his career at UFC on FUEL TV 4. The former All-American wrestler ended Mark Munoz’s four-fight winning streak and broke his jaw with a ruthless second-round KO as a -140 favorite.
As Munoz launched an overhand right, Weidman countered with an elbow that caught Munoz flush and sent him to the deck. Weidman pounced on his opponent and finished him with a wild flurry before the ref belatedly stopped the fight.
Weidman now owns wins over Alessio Sakara, Jesse Bongfeldt, Tom Lawlor, Demian Maia and Munoz. The victory over Maia was especially impressive because he took the fight on short notice and had to endure an extremely difficult weight cut while also coping with the sudden death of his Uncle.
Weidman is in the underdog role for the first time in his UFC career. He opened as a short ‘dog against Sakara but closed at a -220 price.
For those looking at a wager on the total, keep in mind that 12 of Silva’s 16 UFC appearances have ended in Round 1 or Round 2. As for Weidman, he has a pair of first-round finishes, one second-round win and two victories by decision.
Prediction: When will Father Time catch up to the 38-year-old Silva? It has to at some point, doesn’t it? Sure it does, but it won’t necessarily happen this weekend. Weidman appears to have all the tools – powerful wrestling and a well-rounded ground game – needed to pull the upset. He has the demeanor, too. It’s crystal clear that he has no fear of Silva whatsoever. Even though it’s a cheap price by Silva’s standards, anything north of -200 is too ‘chalky’ for me. I certainly give Weidman a good chance, but I’m scared to go against the ‘Spider.’ Instead, I prefer to make a small play on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds as long as it doesn’t cost more than a -130 price.
In Saturday’s co-main event, former lightweight champ Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar (15-4-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC) will take on Charles Oliveira in a featherweight scrap. Most spots have Edgar listed as an enormous -600 favorite. The total is 2.5 rounds (-125 for the ‘over,’ -105 to the ‘under’).
Edgar is trying to avoid a four-fight losing streak after dropping three straight decisions in five-round title fights. In his last outing, Edgar lost to Jose Aldo at UFC 156. It was his first fight in the featherweight division, which currently has him ranked third.
This is Edgar’s first three-round fight since 2009. Therefore, he will look to push the pace even more than he usually does.
Oliveira (16-3-0-1 MMA, 4-3-0-1 UFC) is unranked and facing the most accomplished opponent of his career. He is coming off a first-round KO loss to Cub Swanson in a fight in which he missed weight.
The 23-year-old Oliveira has posted all four of his UFC wins by submission, winning three Submission of the Night bonuses. Another submission win over Nik Lentz was overturned to a no-contest due to an illegal knee.
Prediction: I think Edgar gets the victory but the price is way too expensive.
In a middleweight scrap featuring a pair of UFC newcomers, Tim Kennedy (15-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will take on Roger Gracie. Most books have Kennedy as the -150 ‘chalk’ with Gracie as the +120 underdog. The total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -190, ‘under +150).
Kennedy fought for the Strikeforce middleweight title twice, losing both times to Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza. He owns notable victories over Robbie Lawler, Trevor Pangley and Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller.
Gracie (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) hails from mixed martial arts’ First Family of Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialists. He has wins over Keith Jardine, Pangley and Kevin Randleman, while his only defeat came at the hands of Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal.
Prediction: No clue, I’ll pass.
Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch are set to collide in a middleweight showdown. Most books have Munoz (12-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) installed as a -125 favorite with a total of 2.5 rounds (‘over’ is -140, ‘under’ +110).
After his crushing loss to Weidman, Munoz battled depression and his weight ballooned up to 261 pounds. But he eventually got over it and looked absolutely shredded when he stepped on the scales at the weigh-in yesterday.
Munoz lost his UFC debut to Matt Hamill at UFC 96 and then decided to drop down to middleweight. The former Oklahoma St. wrestler has won seven of his nine fights at 185. The only defeats came to Weidman and Yushin Okami by split decision.
Like Munoz, Boetsch (16-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC) was on a four-fight winning streak before losing his last match against Costa Philippou by third-round KO at UFC 155. He has won four of his five fights in this division, including scalps of Hector Lombard (split decision as a +285 underdog!), Okami (+380 ‘dog!), Nick Ring and Kendall Grove.
Prediction: I was leaning Munoz before the weigh-ins. Then when I saw how ripped he was, this became my top play for tonight. I think Munoz will enjoy a speed advantage and he looked fired up and ready to go yesterday.
In another featherweight matchup that’ll open up the pay-per-view portion of the card, fifth-ranked Cub Swanson (19-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC) will scrap with German kickboxer Dennis Siver, who is ranked sixth in the 145-pound loop. Most spots have Swanson as a -230 favorite with Siver as the generous +180 underdog. The total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -165, ‘under’ +135).
Siver (21-8 MMA, 10-5 UFC) has won both of his fights since dropping down to the 145-pound loop. ‘The Menace’ has captured back-to-back unanimous decisions over Diego Nunes and Nam Phan.
Siver had won four consecutive fights and seven of his last eight going into a UFC 137 showdown against Donald Cerrone. After losing to ‘Cowboy’ by rear-naked choke in the first round, Siver decided to drop to 145.
Prediction: This one is real tough to call so I would say you go Siver as the underdog or pass. I prefer ‘under’ 2.5 rounds for plus money because both of these guys have finishing power.
On the FX portion of the card, Chris Leben (22-9 MMA, 12-8 UFC) will make his 21st career Octagon appearance hoping it won’t be his last. After losing three of four fights, Leben is probably looking at getting cut unless he can get his hand raised against Andrew Craig.
Most books opened Leben as a -125 favorite, but those odds have significantly shifted. Craig (8-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is now the -160 ‘chalk’ and bettors can take Leben for a +130 return. The total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -150, ‘under’ +120).
Leben was clearly suffering from cage rust when he returned from a one-year suspension (tested positive for oxycontin) and lost to Derek Brunson by unanimous decision at UFC 155. Craig won his first two UFC bouts before dropping a unanimous decision to Ronny Markes.
Prediction: Leben is always at his best when the odds are stacked against him. This bring out the best in Leben, who has as much heart is any fighter in the promotion. Want proof that Leben thrives as an underdog? Check out these victories on his resume with monster payouts for his backers: Yoshihiro Akiyama (+190), Wanderlei Silva (+185), Terry Martin (+200) and Aaron Simpson (+255). I like Leben to win by second-round KO.
--UFC President Dana White told the media Monday that Silva will have the option of a rematch if he loses to Weidman. If he wins, a superfight against Jon Jones could happen early in 2014. When asked about the possible superfight, Silva said, “If I’m going to fight Jon Jones, I’m don’t think I’m going to win.” Jones responded on twitter that he was ‘honored’ that Silva would speak of the possibility of facing him.
--Dana White confirmed Friday that he is flying Roy Jones Jr. out to UFC 162 and will ‘talk’ to him about a possible matchup with Silva. This is a ridiculous notion. I just don’t see it happening, especially after the James Toney Disaster in 2010 when the boxer got schooled by Randy Couture. There’s also the fact that Jones has been washed up for years.
--With Nick Ring forced to pull out of his UFC on Fox Sports 1 1 showdown versus Uriah Hall, Josh Samman has agreed to replace Ring and face fellow TUF 16 competitor Hall in a middleweight clash.
--5Dimes has Ronda Rousey listed as a -1050 favorite for her UFC 168 title defense against former Strikeforce champ Miesha Tate, who will be appearing nude in ESPN the Magazine’s ‘Body Issue.’
--Heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez has been installed as a -215 favorite for his next title defense against former champ Junior dos Santos, who is a +170 underdog. (risk $100 to win $170). This UFC 166 clash will go down at Toyota Center in Houston on Oct. 19.
--I see three plays on looming fights that I really like: Josh Koscheck +190 vs. Demian Maia at UFC 163, Brendan Schaub +100 vs. Matt Mitrione and UFC on Fox 8 and Melvin Guillard -105 vs. Mac Danzig at UFC on Fox 8.