If it seems like forever since we last had a major UFC event, that’s because it has been. Earlier this year we were having an event practically every week, but UFC 154 was all the way back on Nov. 17, so our patience has been tested for six weeks. UFC 155 takes place on Saturday, Dec. 29 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. There have been TV events in the meantime, but that’s not the same. This isn’t the best card that the UFC has ever assembled, but it is also far from the worst. The heavyweight championship is up for grabs, and we see a pretty good lightweight fight and tons of action in the middleweight class on the main card as well. Without further ado, our UFC 155 preview (all odds are from Bovada):
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Heavyweight Championship — Junior Dos Santos (-200) vs. Cain Velasquez (+160)
This is a rematch of the Nov. 12, 2011, fight in which Dos Santos first claimed his championship. He won that fight in just 64 seconds thanks to a brutal knockout. It was very impressive, though he somehow suffered a knee injury in the fight and was subsequently on the shelf until May. The odds in that fight were the same as they are here, though that time Velasquez was the favorite. Dos Santos has only fought once since then — another convincing win over Frank Mir at the end of May — so rust could be a factor, but exhaustion certainly won’t be. Of note, though, that long layoff issue isn’t an issue in this one because Velasquez is on exactly the same schedule — after losing to Dos Santos he beat Antonio Silva on May 26.
The question you need to ask more than any other when evaluating this fight is how much Velasquez’ injury impacted the last fight. It was revealed after the fight that he had torn his rotator cuff a week before entering the Octagon. Now both fighters are seemingly completely healthy, and they both should be at their best as a result. On one hand, Velasquez should be much more effective than he was last time. On the other hand, though, he could have had seven healthy shoulders and it wouldn’t have helped him take that brutal shot from the current champ.
You can look at this fight in countless ways, but one thing stands out above all to me. In nine UFC fights Dos Santos has been taken down only three times, and has only been on the ground a total of 20 seconds. He’s potent on his feet, but Velasquez knows that and loves the ground, and he absolutely needs to find a way to get the fight down there. That would knock the champ out of his comfort zone and give the challenger an edge. Will that happen? I’m not optimistic. That leaves me in a tough position. On one hand I don’t think that the title is changing hands. The problem, though, is that the fight is closer than the price, so there is no value in the champ. Still, I can’t pick against him. He won’t win as easily as he did last time, but he’ll win.
Pick: Junior Dos Santos
Lightweight — Jim Miller (-230) vs. Joe Lauzon (+180)
I Like Lauzon a lot, and I would like to see him get a title shot at some point. But can he deliver as a longshot here? His talent is immense, but his biggest issue is that he gets too excited early, and if the fight lasts too long he runs out of gas. Stamina will be a big challenge here because it’s unlikely Miller will lose early. Lauzon needs to relax and save himself. If he does that he can win, and at this price I’ll bet that he will.
Pick: Joe Lauzon
Middleweight — Tim Boetsch (-115) vs. Constantinos Philippou (-115)
The winner of this fight will take a big step up the ladder in his division. From a betting perspective, though, I really couldn’t care less about a fight. The fighters are very evenly-matched, and depending upon the style of the fight that evolves either guy could win. It’s a total coin toss, and betting on a coin toss with these odds is for suckers.
Pick: No pick
Middleweight — Yushin Okami (-115) vs. Alan Belcher (-115)
This is a rematch, but the original fight was almost a lifetime ago. The two men met in their UFC debuts way back at UFC 62 in August of 2006. Okami won by decision then. He has had a rough road recently, though, and I really don’t trust his confidence. He has a big edge on the ground, but I don’t think he’s confident enough to get there as often as he needs to. That gives Belcher a big, and deciding, edge.
Pick: Alan Belcher
Middleweight — Chris Leben (-155) vs. Derek Brunson (+125)
There are reasons I don’t trust Leben — a long layoff thanks to a positive drug test last November, focus issues, and so on. Brunson is coming off a two-fight losing streak, though, and is making his UFC debut. He’s also a late replacement in this fight due to injury. There is no way I can trust him here.
Pick: Chris Leben
For each card I make $500 in recommended bets — typically a parlay or a combination of parlays.
$200 parlay — Take Dos Santos, Lauzon, Belcher and Leben. Potential profit of $2383.62.
$300 parlay — Take Dos Santos, Belcher and Leben. Potential profit of $1084.08.
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