UFC 110 BreakDown, Betting Odds & Predictions

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In the next move on a global UFC expansion, the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia will attempt to hold 20 UFC fighters and 21,000 screaming fans for the organization’s first event in Australia. The card for UFC 110 is one of the strongest in recent memory, including important clashes in the Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, and Middleweight divisions. The main event features a skyrocketing prospect in Cain Velasquez, taking on a fierce veteran in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in what could be an early Fight of the Year candidate. Cain Velasquez has looked unstoppable in his five UFC bouts, but will be taking on an equally imposing figure in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, a fighter who has only been stopped once in thirty-seven fights, and who has faced some of the greatest Heavyweights of all time. It’s the unparalleled wrestling of Velasquez against the technically flawless BJJ of Nogueira, with the winner moving into title contendership. The co-main event will feature England’s favorite son in Michael “The Count” Bisping, taking on one of the most feared fighters on the planet in Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva. This will be Silva’s first fight at Middleweight after a career at 205lbs, and there will be a lot of questions to answer in this bout. Meanwhile, Bisping will be looking to keep the momentum going after his TKO beating of Denis Kang, and will want to run over the aging Silva and straight to the top. Finally, in a Light Heavyweight bout, “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine, will fight TUF 8 Light Heavyweight winner Ryan “Darth” Bader, in a pivotal match for both men. Jardine is coming off a serious loss to Thiago Silva, and can’t afford to slip up here against Bader, who is hungry to continue his unbeaten streak off of TUF. The entire card is stacked with both international and local talents, so let’s take a look at what’s going down in the outback.

On a side note, I’d like to point out that there are two important factors that go into the selections of these predictions and betting odds. Australia is a very remote location, with a climate opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, and this will likely cause issues with some fighters. Most of the fighters will spend over a full day traveling to get to Australia, where they are enjoying their summer months. These factors are just as important as things like home town advantage and altitude when determining a fight outcome, and anyone placing money on these fights should be well-aware of the potential issues this can cause a fighters mindset and conditioning. With that out of the way, let’s check out the fights.

AntonioAntonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez: In a tremendously exciting fight that will shape the upper-tier of the Heavyweight division, young wrestling superstar Cain Velasquez will lock horns with Pride fighting legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Both men are superbly talented fighters in every realm the fight can go to, and I expect this bout to be a whirlwind of action, particularly on the mat. The outcome of this fight has a lot to do with how Velasquez will approach it, as he has the wrestling to dictate a large portion of this match. Unfortunately for Velasquez, he doesn’t have the ability to finish this fight in as many areas as the veteran Nogueira, and this is where he could run into some trouble. Nogueira has built his career off of absorbing inhuman amounts of harm and come-from-behind victories, and has some of the simplest, yet functional BJJ in the Heavyweight division. On the feet, this fight is likely going to be even, but the clinch and grappling game allow Nogueira to have many opportunities to finish the fight, and his ability to sweep from bottom time and again could put Velasquez into unfamiliar territory against Nogueira. Short of a perfect game by Velasquez that allows him to control from top and finish the fight, or take a decision, Nogueira should give as good as he gets and take victory here.

Betting Odds:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira -125
Cain Velasquez -110

This is a razor close fight, but I have to give a razor-thin edge to Nogueira, in that he’s more likely to catch Velasquez in a submission than Velasquez is to catch him with a KO punch. Any bet at a positive number would be a worthy bet here though, as anyone can take a victory home here.

Fantasy Picks: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via 3rd round submission (choke) (split scoring) or decision (straight)

Nogueira is known to pull submissions out of thin air, and narrowing a round down for that is troublesome. I think this fight ends later, rather than sooner, and likely off a transition, such as a takedown from clinch or a sweep. While Velasquez might decide to strike with Nogueira, rather than risk his ground attack, I still feel Nogueira has the cleaner striking skills, harder chin, and doesn’t need to fear Velasquez taking him down, giving him the advantage of being able to press the fight forward, while other fights might not be able to. If Nogueira can’t seal the deal on this fight, I feel the decision is a 50-50 shot for either man, and this could play into fantasy games if people lean far in one fighter’s favor over the other. In a close fight, taking a decision for the lesser favored man could steal you a few points in the long run.

i.cfc2Michael “The Count” Bisping vs. Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva: In one of the more interesting bouts on this card, a newly minted Middleweight in Wanderlei Silva will fight TUF 9 coach Michael Bisping, far from either man’s home. There are major variables for both men here, and this fight will plot the career of each man based on how they handle themselves here. Wanderlei Silva has spent his entire career at Light Heavyweight, and looked shaky in his drop to 195lbs. This is the big plunge here, and if his cardio can’t handle the pace Bisping will set, he’s in a for a very hard road at Middleweight. Conversely, Bisping’s big obstacle here is his confidence in fighting a heavy-handed opponent after being dealt a horrendous knockout by Dan Henderson, and being dropped by Denis Kang. While he was able to rally against Kang, Kang doesn’t move forward with the relentless punching volleys that Silva employs. If he isn’t able to pick his spots and make Silva miss, he’s going to spend the entire fight on his heels, and he can’t win a decision or score a takedown backing up the entire fight. This is a fight where the climate and distance might aid one fight over the other, as Wanderlei spends his time in Las Vegas and has grown up in steamy climates like Brazil, whereas Bisping is coming from the other side of the world from the cold of England in wintertime. Bisping’s best chance in this fight is outworking Silva early, and he’ll have enough trouble doing so when having to avoid Silva’s brutal punching power. If he’s sluggish from the warm, moist climate and long trip, this could be all the opening Silva needs to land on Bisping early and put him away before he can implement a game plan.

Betting Odds:

Wanderlei Silva -150
Michael Bisping +120

Bisping’s only real chance here comes from outworking his opponents and using his ferocious ground and pound to wear down and put fighters away. This is a major difficulty though, considering Silva has one punch KO power and doesn’t have reason to be afraid of Bisping standing. Unless Bisping can pick his shots with impeccable timing, he’s going to have a hard fight head of him here, and I can’t see him being a favorite to pull this off under any circumstances. At these odds, Silva should be a solid singles bet at a good profit, and part of a small conservative parlay.

Fantasy Picks: Wanderlei Silva via 1st round TKO.

Anyone who’s seen a Wanderlei Silva fight knows exactly what they’re in store for, especially against someone who doesn’t have real knockout power. Silva will move forward and trade with Bisping, and unless Bisping can control range and work a conservative striking game or land a takedown, Silva will eventually land on him and put him out. Considering the size of Silva and his fight experience, I don’t see Bisping being able to stay awake in this one beyond the first round unless he’s doing a Kalib Starnes impression.

i.cfckRyan “Darth” Bader vs. “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine: Both men here have been struggling to establish their place in the division, and with Bader netting a win and Jardine a loss, they’re ready to meet in the cage. Bader came into the UFC off of TUF 8, where he was a force to be reckoned with, but in his two fights since, has shown little improvement in his overall game, recently winning a close decision over Eric Schafer in a fight he should have easily hand. Jardine, on the other hand, has had many set-backs in the cage, but only against the top talent in the division. Putting these two into the cage seems like a bit of a misstep in the matchmaking department, as I don’t see Bader having the tools he’ll need to take Jardine out. While Bader’s wrestling is strong, he doesn’t finish from the top, and Jardine trains with one of the best wrestlers in the division in the form of Rashad Evans. Also, while Jardine’s Achilles heel has been powerful strikers, aside from landing a hard shot on the suspect chin of Vinny Magalhaes, Bader’s striking power is largely spent on wild, looping punches that rarely land. This fight might have made sense a year from now, where Bader would have more experience and time to hone his craft, but at this juncture, I see this as a fairly easy fight for Jardine. As long as he doesn’t get clipped and can stuff takedowns, Jardine should be able to outwork Bader striking, use his chopping leg kicks to slow Bader’s shot, and either knock him out late in the fight, or grab a convincing decision win.

Betting Odds:

Keith Jardine -185
Ryan Bader +140

As an avid MMA gambler, I look forward to certain fighters, like Rafael Dos Anjos, Scott Smith, and Anthony Njokuani, as the bookmakers don’t seem to understand the fighter and often undervalue them to almost criminal levels. Keith Jardine might be the king of this phenomenon, as he’s almost always a ridiculous underdog. This fight is no exception, as the early numbers have him as an underdog against Bader, who has no realistic chance of winning here. Jardine is a very difficult fighter to deal with, and theories concerning his chin are often greatly exaggerated. If getting hurt by Thiago Silva and Wanderlei Silva mean you have a glass jaw, apparently 99.9% of the fighting world should consider retiring. Bader has wild, looping, heavy punches, and while I’m sure he could deal someone a serious blow, Jardine is a bit too experienced to go walking into a bomb from the ACS fighter. Jardine is easily the best value on this card as an underdog.

Fantasy Picks: Keith Jardine via 3rd round TKO (split scoring) or 2nd round TKO (straight scoring).

This fight favors Bader less and less at the fight goes on, as Jardine has never been finished outside the first round, and using his war of attrition tactics, usually gains ground as the fight goes on. That, combined with both men’s respective cardio, and Jardine should have this fight sealed in the second round. One complaint I do have about Jardine is that he doesn’t always press the action when he should, and this could allow Bader to move into the third round or to a decision. With Bader’s suspect wind and working off shaky legs, Jardine should be able to capitalize on his opponent’s fatigue and finish the fight in the late second or early third round.

i.cfcbMirko “Cro-cop” Filipovic vs. Ben Rothwell: A little less than a year ago, I wrote a piece on another website about fighters never retiring, and outlined the reasoning behind the situation. As a former fighter myself, the situation is something very close to home, and it allows me to see the situation from the inside. As a writer though, I have to make myself see a situation from the outside as well, in order to convey it to an audience who might have no experience with the feelings involved in combat sports and retirement. It’s a difficult position to balance, because on one hand, I want a fighter to have the freedom to make up his own mind, but on the other hand, I know a fighter never leaves the sport until they’re well and truly incapable of performing. Even then, there are fighters who stick around well past the point of relevancy, and become sad caricatures of themselves; working as stepping stones for other fighters on their way into the same cycle. Mirko Cro-cop is on a downward slope in his career, and has been since his loss to Gonzaga back at UFC 70. There have been times when he’s claimed to consider retirement, or his wounds have been too great to continue competing, but every time, he seems to reconsider and return. After his last crushing defeat to Junior Dos Santos, I partially hoped he would finally bow out, but with a win against Mustapha Al-Turk, he’s set to fight again against Ben Rothwell.

This is one of the toughest fights on the card to call, because of the diminishing returns from Cro-cop and Rothwell’s own short-coming as a fighter. Rothwell is a true heavyweight, and has deal of size over Cro-cop, but the issue is whether or not he can use that size to his advantage. The obvious course of action for Rothwell is to put Cro-cop on the mat and pound him unconscious, but Rothwell has a terrible habit of standing in front of opponents he really shouldn’t, and while Cro-cop might be slowing and not evolved enough for this level of competition, he can certainly still hit. This fight comes down to Rothwell and his ability to implement a smart game plan, or land on Cro-cops chin before Cro-cop can land on his.

Betting Odds:

Mirko Cro-cop -120
Ben Rothwell -120

This is really a pick’em fight, just because we don’t know what Rothwell’s intentions are until he gets in there. He certainly has an ability to absorb a great deal of punishment, and he does pack heavy hands, but the striking game isn’t the place for him to try and win this fight. As much as Cro-cop has diminished, striking power is the last thing to leave a combat sports athlete, and he still has more than enough firepower to hurt Rothwell if he makes himself a target. I wouldn’t jump at a bet on either guy unless you can find something better than +120.

Fantasy Picks: Ben Rothwell via 3rd round TKO (split scoring) or 2nd round TKO (straight scoring)

While I feel this fight is rather even, the majority of MMA fans are likely to pick Cro-cop, based on their love of the legendary fighter and the poor showing Rothwell had against Velasquez. In a coin toss of a fight, going with the fighter least selected by other players will give you a huge boost in points if he comes through. If your heart is set on taking Cro-cop, I couldn’t blame you, but Rothwell has just as good of a chance here and should be a significant underdog on fantasy games.

i.cfcjGeorge Sotiropoulos vs. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson: In a truly intriguing match-up, TUF 7 fighter George Sotiropoulos, undefeated in his time in the UFC and fighting in his native country, will take on a tough opponent in Joe Stevenson. Sotiropoulos is only now coming off the shelf after several injuries and a drop to Lightweight, but after two victories at Lightweight, draws veteran fighter Joe Stevenson in a fight to make or break him in the division. Both men are skilled in all aspects of the fight game, and Sotiropoulos has some of the best functional BJJ I’ve seen in his weight class, but has also looked amateurish as a fighter in other situations. Joe Stevenson might not be the best fighter in the division, but he’s definitely near the top, and has too much polish on his game to be thrown around by Sotiropoulos. While Sotiropoulos could potentially catch Stevenson sleeping during the match, Stevenson is a very respectful fighter and isn’t going to take this lightly enough to leave the opening.

Betting Odds:

Joe Stevenson -200
George Sotiropoulos +160

While some folks might think Sotiropoulos is a hometown fighter, this is actually a misconception, as he’s lived in various parts of the US for the last three years and will be traveling just as far as Stevenson for this fight. That leaves Sotiropoulos with a narrow margin for victory here, considering how strong Stevenson’s submission defense is, although that’s not to say it’s impossible for Sotiropoulos to sink a choke during a transition. Sotiropoulos works best from top position, and if by some chance he can manage to achieve that, he might have a shot to bait Stevenson into a trap and work one of his slick submission attempts. This would take a major blunder on Stevenson’s part, and with the amount of experience he brings to this bout, I can’t see it being worth the money on Sotiropoulos here. Stevenson should be a good anchor bet at these odds and maybe up to -300 as well.

Fantasy Picks: Joe Stevenson via Decision

While I think Stevenson edges Sotiropoulos in every aspect of the game, this won’t be a walk in the park by any stretch. Sotiropoulos brings some powerful punches, a good killer instinct, and a serious top game that will make Stevenson have to fight a conservative battle at times, or risk getting caught in a bad position. Stevenson’s boxing will keep him safe, as will his high-level submission grappling game, and allow him to control the majority of the fight, leading a decision win.

i.cfcksStephan Bonnar vs. Krzysztof Soszynski: Two long-time veterans of the fight game and TUF contestants will get to prove themselves here in what could be one of the more entertaining bouts of the night. Stephan Bonnar has had some major ups-and-downs in his career as of late, culminating with his decision loss to Mark Coleman at UFC 100. He’s going to be looking to right the ship here, but faces a dangerous fighter in TUF 8 castmember and IFL stand-out Krzysztof Soszynski. Soszynski himself is coming off a decision loss to Brandon Vera, after stepping in on short notice, and has shown steady improvement in every fight since his time on TUF. This is really Soszynski’s fight to lose, as he has a definite size and strength advantage over Bonnar, as well as the clinch wrestling that has proven to be an issue for Bonnar in the past. As long as Soszynski can keep out of Bonnar’s submissions from bottom, he should be in the clear to notch a decision win here.

Betting Odds:

Krzysztof Soszynski -140
Stephan Bonnar +110

Soszynski edges Bonnar everywhere this fight goes, as Bonnar lacks the KO power to put Soszynski in his place, or the wrestling to dictate the fight. What Bonnar does have is an under-rated BJJ game that has come in handy several times in the past, and could do so here. If Soszynski is complacent from inside Bonnar’s guard he could find himself fighting off armlocks, or could find himself being swept while going for his signature kimura lock. Considering Bonnar’s problems with cardio, he has a limited window to make this work for him before Soszynski’s power becomes too much to work past for the win. At long odds, Bonnar might make a live dog, but I wouldn’t count on him pulling through here, and favor Soszynski as an anchor bet.

Fantasy Picks: Krzysztof Soszynski via Decision.

Any way you look at it, Bonnar is a very tough guy to finish, and Soszynski has never shown a great deal of haste in wanting to finish fights. This could be a great, back and forth bout, or it could be a clinch wrestling borefest, but either way, Soszynski should control this fight and walk away with the decision.

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