UFC 116 Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/2/2010
The latest UFC event - the 116th - takes place on Saturday, July 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It’s a card with only one really compelling fight, but that one’s so good it more than makes up for the rest. Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and undefeated interim heavyweight champ Shane Carwin will meet to determine the outright Heavyweight champ. Because Fedor Emelianenko was the victim of a stunning loss last weekend this fight has extra importance - the winner will not only be the UFC champion, but also can rightly be called the best heavyweight there is.
Beyond that stellar main event the card has struggled with injuries and other issues that have forced the organization to shuffle around and postpone several fights. Most significantly, Wanderlei Silva had to withdraw from his co-main event match against Yoshihiro Akiyama less than two weeks before the event because of knee and rib issues. Cheick Kongo, Paul Kelly, and Nate Marquardt are other guys who we were supposed to see on the card but won’t. One name that does show up on the televised preliminary card is interesting in that it shows just how petty and vengeful Dana White can be - after unceremoniously booting Kimbo Slice form the organization they have invited back Seth Petruzelli, the guy who humiliated Slice in just 8 seconds at the last EliteXC event.
Here’s a look at how the main card shapes up and some betting predictions for every fight (all odds are from Bodog):
Brock Lesnar (-145) vs. Shane Carwin (+115) - This really is a dream matchup. Lesnar is the most hyped fighter ever to enter the sport after he was already famous, and Carwin is an impressive fighter who is unbeaten in 12 fights. One of these guys is going to be the face of the very deep and exciting heavyweight division in the UFC.
Adding to what would be a lot of drama just from the matchup is the fact that Lesnar is coming off a year-long layoff because of a serious illness. He needed abdominal surgery to fix a hole in his intestine, and for a while it looked like he might not ever be able to fight again. He’s healthy now, though, and he has poured himself fully into preparing for this fight - including training with Randy Couture. It seems like Lesnar is not only interested in winning here, but also in improving and showing that he’s more than just a big, strong guy. He wants to be an MMA legend. Carwin probably wouldn’t mind, either.
What makes this fight so great is that there is so much we can only guess about. What kind of strength and stamina does Lesnar have after his illness? What happens if Carwin has to go into the second round for the first time in his career? Most significantly - who has come up with a strategy capable of overcoming a freakishly talented heavyweight?
Carwin is a big puncher - that’s obvious given the seven knockouts in 12 fights and the fact he has never gone beyond the first round. In his last win against Frank Mir he also showed a new side - he was able to force Mir into an ugly situation before he knocked him senseless. If Lesnar isn’t sharp then Carwin will absolutely be able to put him in a position to get into some trouble.
The more technical the fight gets, though, the bigger the edge Lesnar has. Rust is a serious concern, but beyond that Lesnar has shown dramatic improvement every time he has entered the ring. He’s a fantastic wrestler, and has far more technique and subtlety to fall back on than Carwin. Lesnar is also a terrifying physical figure, and his motivation never seems to have been higher after his brush with death. The layoff and its effects is cause for concern, but in the end I can’t look past the better athlete and the more skilled fighter.
Pick: Brock Lesnar
Yoshihiro Akiyama (-205) vs. Chris Leben (+165) - Leben is probably going to lose this fight, but the fact that he is willing to step into the ring at all should earn him a medal. He earned the knockout of the night when he last fought - on June 19! With the injury to Wanderlei Silva Leben has stepped in with an impossible and all-but-unprecedented turnaround time of just two weeks. Leben could pull off a second win if he can land a punch on Akiyama. More likely, though, the Japanese fighter will use his speed and skill advantages to find a way to open up the fight, turn it to his advantage and come out on top.
Pick: Yoshihiro Akiyama
Chris Lytle (-215) vs. Matt Brown (+175) - There are two things we can assume about this fight - it will be thrilling, and it won’t be pretty. Lytle has won fight, submission, or knockout-of-the night honors in seven of his last nine fights. Brown doesn’t know the meaning of the word strategy. Both guys just like to stand toe to toe and let it fly. It works well enough for both of them, and it will be fun to watch. In the end, Lytle is just a more talented fighter, and he has a much better chance of coming out on top.
Pick: Chris Lytle
Krzysztof Soszynski (-250) vs. Stephan Bonnar (+190) - This is a rematch of a UFC 110 fight that only the World Cup referees could have liked. Soszynski was given a win by TKO, but the decision was controversial and just plain stupid. Before the fight was prematurely stopped we learned a few things, though. Most significantly, Bonnar can’t match punches with Soszynski, and doesn’t have the strategic ability to avoid them. It’s hard to imagine that that will have changed.
Pick: Krzysztof Soszynski
George Sotiropoulos (-180) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (+150) - This lightweight battle should be a good one. Both guys are in good form - Sotiropoulos has won six straight, while Pellegrino hasn’t lost in four. Both guys are exceptional on the ground - though they have different styles, and Sotiropoulos could have an edge with his jiu-jitsu over Pellegrino’s wrestling. Both guys know what is on the line - the winner could get a title shot. The fighters are reasonably well matched, but I can’t shake the feeling that Sotiropoulos is faster and more skilled. Pellegrino also has a bad habit of making mistakes, and Sotiropoulos is good enough to exploit that when it happens. I hate picking this many favorites, but I don’t see a way around it here.
Pick: George Sotiropoulos
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