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UFC on Fox Sports 1

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The new Fox Sports 1 network will make its debut Saturday and the Ultimate Fighting Championship will be featured with a 12-fight card in Boston.

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua will meet Chael Sonnen in the main event. Most betting shops are listing Sonnen (27-13-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC) as a -140 favorite. Rua is available at +110 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $110). The total for ‘over/under’ bets is 2.5 rounds (-205 ‘over’, +165 ‘under’).

Sonnen has lost back-to-back fights, but both defeats came against arguably the two greatest fighters to ever grace the Octagon. Anderson Silva beat Sonnen for the middleweight belt at UFC 148, while Jon Jones defended his 205-pound strap against ‘The American Gangster’ at UFC 159.

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Sonnen was 5-1 in his six previous bouts with the lone defeat coming against Silva at UFC 117 when the champ got destroyed for 22-plus minute before scoring a sick submission from his back in Round 5. Sonnen has wins over the likes of Yushin Okami, Michael Bisping, Brian Stann and Nate Marquardt.

Sonnen has only been favored twice in his UFC career, winning in both instances against Bisping (-400) and Stann (-250).

Rua (21-7 MMA, 5-5 UFC) owns a 2-3 record in five career UFC fights as an underdog. He has wins as a ‘dog over Lyoto Machida (+175) and Chuck Liddell (+160).

In four of his last five fights dating back to UFC 129, Rua has absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment. When Jones took the light heavyweight belt from Shogun in March of 2011, ‘Bones’ gave out a ruthless beating that ended late in the third round.

Rua and Dan Henderson waged the Fight of the Year later in 2011. Henderson won a five-round decision, badly hurting Shogun in each of the first three rounds. Although Rua mounted a courageous rally in the final 10 minutes, it wasn’t enough.

Shogun’s win over Brandon Vera by fourth-round KO was another back-and-forth battle. In is last outing, Rua lost a unanimous decision to Alexander Gustafsson.

Prediction: I think this is a toss-up fight. I think it goes the distance, but I’m not -205 confident in that happening. I’ll say Sonnen by split decision, but no result will surprise me.

In the co-main event, Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem will collide in a crucial heavyweight showdown. Most books have installed Overeem as a -220 favorite with a total of 1.5 rounds (‘under’ -140, ‘over’ +110). Browne is a +180 underdog (risk $100 to win $180). When 5Dimes released the number on July 4, Overeem was a -280 ‘chalk.’

Overeem (36-12-0-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) suffered his first loss since 2007 in his last outing. After getting the better of Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva in the first two rounds, Overeem got caught with a headkick and then knocked out following a violent flurry of punches from Silva.

Overeem, the No. 5 ranked heavyweight, destroyed Brock Lesnar by first-round KO in his UFC debut. The Dutch kickboxer has been favored in each of his last seven fights.

Browne (MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) has only been an underdog once in his seven UFC fights. He fought Cheick Kongo to a draw as a +170 ‘dog at UFC 120.

Browne bounced back from the first loss of his career to ‘Bigfoot’ Silva by beating Gabriel Gonzaga via first-round TKO (elbows) in just 71 seconds. Browne is currently ranked eighth in the heavyweight division.

Prediction: I’ll go with ‘under’ 1.5 rounds at the -140 price. I think somebody is getting knocked out in Round 1. I also like the prop for Overeem to win by KO (even money at 5Dimes). That’s the better way to bet Overeem because -220 would be a tough ‘chalk’ sandwich to swallow.

In the bantamweight division, Urijah Faber will take on UFC newcomer Iuri Alcantara. Most spots have Faber (28-6 MMA, 4-2 UFC) listed as a -280 favorite. The total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -165, ‘under’ +135).

Since losing to Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title at UFC 149, Faber has won back-to-back fights over Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen. ‘The California Kid’ is ranked second in the 135-pound loop.

Alcantara (28-4-0-1 MMA, 3-1-0-1 UFC) has only lost once in his last 16 bouts. The 33-year-old Brazilian is coming off a first-round KO win over Iliarde Santos. Alcantara hasn’t been an underdog since beating Ricardo Lamas as a +150 ‘dog at WEC 53.

Prediction: I like Faber to win by unanimous decision, but he’s too expensive to bet in this situation.

Matt Brown brings a five-fight winning streak into his welterweight showdown against Mike Pyle, who has is looking for a fifth consecutive victory. Most books have Brown listed as a -160 favorite with a total of 1.5 rounds (‘under’ -150, ‘over’ +110). 5Dimes opened Brown at -140.

Brown (19-11 MMA, 10-5 UFC) is hoping to climb into the top-10 rankings at 170. ‘The Immortal’ has been an underdog in his last four fights, so this will be his first ‘chalk’ situation since a UFC 143 win over Chris Cope. Brown has only been favored four times in 15 career Octagon appearances, compiling a 3-1 record.

Brown is coming off the best performance of his career in a second-round KO of Jordan Mein. Brown hurt Mein early in the opening round with a flying knee. He swarmed his opponent with strikes galore, but Mein fought back and nearly executed a submission midway through the stanza.

But after escaping, Brown went back to work and closed the round with several big shots. By the time Brown finished the job, Mein was left to walk away from the cage with fractured nasal and orbital bones.

Pyle (25-8-1 MMA 8-3 UFC) has won seven of his last eight fights with the lone loss coming against Rory MacDonald. ‘Quicksand’ is 4-4 in eight fights as an underdog going back to a 2007 loss to Jake Shields.

Prediction: I like Brown to win by second-round knockout.

Uriah Hall (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) hasn’t been in the cage since losing to Kelvin Gastelum in the finals of Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter. The former Ring of Combat middleweight champion is poised to collide with John Howard as a -420 ‘chalk.’ The total is 2.5 rounds (‘under’ -160, ‘over’ +130).

Hall is a dynamic striker but he cost his backers a hefty -330 price in his loss to Gastelum.

Howard (20-8 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is returning to the promotion for a second tour of duty. ‘Doomsday’ won his first four UFC fights before a three-fight losing streak earned him a pink slip after he lost to Matt Brown on June 29 of 2001.

Since then, Howard has won the CES middleweight belt and successfully defended it four times. He is 6-1 in his last seven fights.

Prediction: Howard has heavy hands and I think he’s worth a shot as a +350 underdog.

Joe Lauzon (22-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC) returns to his home state to square off against Michael Johnson in a lightweight matchup. Lauzon trounced fellow TUF alum Gabe Ruediger by first-round submission in his last fight in Boston at UFC 118.

Most spots have installed Lauzon as a -235 favorite. The total is 1.5 rounds (‘under’ -125, ‘over’ -105)

Lauzon owns a 7-1 record in his eight career fights as a favorite. The submission specialist is fighting for the first time since his epic battle against Jim Miller at UFC 155. Miller won by UD in a bloody brawl that earned 2012 Fight of the Year honors.

Johnson (12-8 MMA, 4-4 UFC) has suffered back-to-back defeats from Myles Jury and Reza Maddadi. ‘The Menace’ has posted a 2-1 record in three career fights as underdog. Johnson cashed sweet tickets in wins over Shane Roller (+216) and Tony Ferguson (+230).

Prediction: This is a pass for me but if I had to pick it, I’d say Lauzon by second-round submission. Too pricy to take Lauzon, though.

  
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