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UFC on Fox 8
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to Key Arena in Seattle for a 12-fight card this Saturday night at UFC on Fox 8.

Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson will defend his flyweight belt against John Moraga in the main event. Most books are listing Johnson (17-2-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) as a -450 favorite, while Moraga is +300 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $300). The total for ‘over/under’ wagers is 4.5 rounds (‘over’ -225, ‘under’ +175).

Johnson won the 125-pound strap by capturing a split-decision win over Joseph Benavidez as a +225 underdog. He made his first title defense at UFC on Fox 4 and retained his title with a unanimous-decision victory over John Dodson as a -230 favorite.

Moraga (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has been an underdog in his first two UFC fights, hooking up his backers with +125 and +135 payouts in wins over Ulysses Gomez (first-round KO at UFC on Fox 4) and Chris Cariaso (third-round submission at UFC 155), respectively. He is currently the fourth-ranked flyweight in the UFC.

Prediction: I think Johnson wins, but I’ll pass here.

In the co-main event, third-ranked Rory MacDonald will square off against Jake Ellenberger in a critical welterweight showdown. Most spots are listing the 23-year-old MacDonald (14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) as a -245 favorite, while Ellenberger is a +185 underdog (risk $100 to win $185). The total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -125, ‘under’ -105).

MacDonald has won four consecutive fights, beating up B.J. Penn in his last outing at UFC on Fox 5. MacDonald won by unanimous decision (30-26 twice, 30-27) as a -220 ‘chalk.’

Three of MacDonald’s five UFC wins have come by finishes in Round 1 (twice) and Round 2. His lone career loss came to Carlos Condit, who was trailing the entire fight before scoring a KO with seven seconds remaining in the third and final round.

Ellenberger (29-6 MMA, 8-2 UFC) has won eight of his last nine fights since dropping a split decision to Condit in his Octagon debut nearly four years ago in Oklahoma City. He is coming off a first-round KO victory over Nate Marquardt at UFC 158. The win lifted him to fourth in the UFC’s official welterweight rankings.

Ellenberger is an underdog for only the third time in his UFC career. He lost to Condit as a +350 underdog but he beat Jake Shields by first-round KO as a +160 puppy. ‘The Juggernaut’ also has notable wins over the likes of Sean Pierson, Mike Pyle, Diego Sanchez and John Howard.

Ellenberger has incredible one-punch KO power and is a skilled wrestler. With that said, I give MacDonald the edge in the wrestling department.

Prediction: An argument for the underdog can be made here. Ellenberger has better hands and better KO power. He also has more experience and has faced better competition. But MacDonald is the better all-around mixed martial artist. As long as he can avoid taking the big punch, I expect the Canadian to use his superior wrestling to get the upper hand. I’ll call for MacDonald to win by ground and pound in the second stanza, but I’m not risking the ‘chalky’ price. I’ll go with ‘under’ 2.5 rounds at the -105 price. I just don’t think MacDonald is going to get beat by anybody not named GSP anytime soon.

In another welterweight clash, Robbie Lawler (20-9-0-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) will take on Bobby Voelker. Most books are listing Lawler as a -285 favorite, while Voelker is a +225 underdog (risk $100 to win $225). The total is 1.5 rounds (‘over’ -175, ‘under’ +145).

Lawler returned to the UFC for the first time since 2004 on Feb. 23. ‘Ruthless’ had been fighting at 185 with the Strikeforce organization but made the cut to 170 to meet heavily favored Josh Koscheck.

Koscheck got an early takedown and controlled the first 3.5 minutes of the fight with his wrestling. However, Lawler changed the momentum of the fight with a huge knee to the body as Koscheck pressed him against the cage. Then Lawler went for broke and landed several vicious left hands to score the KO at the 3:57 mark of Round 1.

Lawler hooked up his backers as a generous +285 underdog and vaulted into the No. 9 slot of the UFC’s welterweight rankings.

Voelker (24-9 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is the third different opponent for Lawler, who was originally going to face Tarec Saffiedine, who was injured and replaced by Sivar Bahadurzada, who was also injured and forced to pull out.

Voelker lost a unanimous decision to Patrick Cote in his Octagon debut at UFC 158 on March 16. Before the loss to Cote, Voelker had won three in a row and four of five with Strikeforce.

Prediction: Each of Lawler’s last four wins have come by first-round KO. His price is too expensive, so I’m going to recommend ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a nice +145 payout as I see Lawler ending this fight early with a powerful left.

The opener of the main card will feature Liz Carmouche against Jessica Andrade in a women’s bantamweight matchup. Most books have Carmouche (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) as a -600 favorite vs. Andrade, a +400 ‘dog. The total is 2.5 rounds (‘under’ -175, ‘over’ +145).

Carmouche acquitted herself extremely well in her Octagon debut against champion Ronda Rousey. Carmouche had Rousey in all sorts of trouble early in the first round when she took her back and got deep on a neck crank. Rousey was able to finally get out and eventually executed her patented arm bar late in the stanza.

Andrade (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has won eight of her last nine fights and all of her career wins have come by finish (five submissions, four KOs).

Prediction: I think the fifth-ranked Carmouche beats unranked Andrade, but I don’t have a suggestion from a gaming standpoint due to Carmouche’s expensive price.

There are six prelim fights on FX starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Since winning five consecutive fights, Melvin Guillard (30-12-2-1 MMA, 11-8 UFC) has lost four of his last five and probably needs a win over Mac Danzig in order to keep his job. Most books have Guillard installed as a -120 favorite. The total is 1.5 rounds (‘over’ -150, ‘under’ +120).

Danzig (21-10-1 MMA, 5-6 UFC) has lost six of his last nine fights, but he’s taken home Fight of the Night bonuses in his last two defeats, including a split-decision loss to Takanori Gomi in last outing.

Prediction: My favorite play of the night is Guillard as an inexpensive favorite. He has a speed advantage and I’m expecting a spectacular finish. For a smaller amount, I’ll also have a play on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +120 return.

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