The UFC has had terrible luck with injuries and underwhelming cards recently. The UFC 148 card, taking place Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, should help erase those memories. The main event pitting challenger Chael Sonnen against top MMA pound-for-pound fighter and seemingly eternal champion Anderson Silva is certainly the most intriguing and anticipated fight of the year.
There is a solid undercard behind them as well. We have a two-card winning streak going with the parlay picks in these previews, so let’s keep that going this weekend. Here’s how the main card breaks down (all odds are from Bovada):
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UFC Middleweight Championship — Anderson Silva (-300) vs. Chael Sonnen (+230)
If you listen to Sonnen there is no point in even having this fight because he has already won it. Of course, he’s also the biggest loudmouth in the sport — by a wide margin.
The other thing he has going for him, though, is that he came much, much closer than anyone else in Silva’s last 15 fights of beating the unbeatable. He had Silva beaten for more than four rounds of their fight in August of 2010 before falling prey to a submission.
Now Sonnen — in a poetic turn of phrase — says that the current Sonnen could kick the crap out of that Sonnen, and that Sonnen beat up on Silva for a long time. That may be true, but it’s also true that Silva looked disinterested and unfocused for much of that first fight, and he’s certain not to let that happen again here.
There are some potential concerns about Silva’s knee, but if that holds up then he should be in good shape here. Sonnen’s problem is that he can’t likely end this fight prematurely, so he’ll have to go the distance. It won’t be as easy for him to get inside and cause trouble as it was last time.
I’d love to pick the upset, but I just can’t do it.
Pick: Anderson Silva
Forrest Griffin (-325) vs. Tito Ortiz (+250)
Ortiz is of the mistaken impression that if he keeps fighting for long enough he’s going to find the fight that will let him go out in a blaze of glory. What he doesn’t understand is that the organization can’t realistically put him up against a fighter bad enough to make him look good at this stage in his career.
He’s 1-6-1 in his last eight, and has dropped his last two. He’s done.
Griffin will win this one, and he’ll make it look easy. Unfortunately, Ortiz probably won’t realize just how much of an embarrassment to himself and his legacy he has become.
Pick: Forrest Griffin
Patrick Cote (-235) vs. Cung Le (+185)
Cote’s career has been a roller coaster the last two years. At UFC 121 in October of 2010 he dropped his third straight fight, and he was booted from the UFC afterwards. He went back to the minor leagues of the sport, won four fights impressively in less than a year, and now is not only back in the UFC but back as a favorite.
Le, on the other hand, has fought only once in the last two years — his UFC debut last November — and he was beat up by Wanderlei Silva. He’s a former Strikeforce champion, but he’s rusty and far removed from his best, and very hard to trust.
Cote has seen what it’s like to fall from grace, and he’ll be hungry not to let it happen again.
Pick: Patrick Cote
Chad Mendes (-600) vs. Cody McKenzie (+400)
Mendes was crushed by Jose Aldo last time out, and he is now in the process of earning another title fight. Aldo is very special, though, so Mendes is far from a slouch.
McKenzie only does one thing well — the guillotine choke. He is very unlikely to get a free look at Mendes’ neck, and he’s not particularly well suited at defending everything Mendes can throw at him.
This one should end early, and it could be ugly.
Pick: Cody Mendes
Dong Hyun Kim (-155) vs. Demian Maia (+125)
Through Maia’s first six UFC fights he was undefeated and looking like he was going to be a force. Since then he has dropped four of eight and looks like he’s drifting aimlessly.
Kim is a tough matchup for him, and I don’t think Maia has the confidence or the game to match up. The chalk fest continues. Sadly.
Pick: Dong Hyun Kim
Mike Easton (-130) vs. Ivan Menjivar (even)
Menjivar is a journeyman who was actually retired from 2006 to 2010 before returning to the sport. Easton is a guy on the rise — a 12-0 career record and 2-0 in the UFC. This is clearly a test of whether he is ready for a bigger push.
Menjivar is a talented guy worthy of respect, but I’m willing to bet that Easton is ready to take the next step forward.
Pick: Mike Easton
On each card I invest a mythical $500 — typically on one or more parlays. This will be no exception:
$200 parlay of Silva, Griffin, Cote, Mendes, Kim — potential profit of $754
$200 parlay of Silva, Griffin, Cote, Mendes, Easton — potential profit of $826
$100 parlay of Sonnen, Griffin, Cote, Mendes — potential profit of $618
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