UFC 121 Odds and Picks - Lesnar vs, Velasquez
by Trevor Whenham - 10/23/2010
Simply put, this is the best main event the UFC has given us in several events. The undercard isn’t perfect, but the main event - Brock Lesnar defending his title against Cain Velasquez - has the potential to be one for the ages. UFC 121 takes place on Saturday, October 23 in Anaheim, and will be available on pay-per-view. Here’s how the main card breaks down (all UFC 121 odds are from Bodog):
Heavyweight Championship - Brock Lesnar (-160) vs. Cain Velasquez (+130) - There is no heavyweight fight I would rather see than this one. Lesnar is the champ, and a very deserving one. What’s most impressive about him in my eyes is how much he has improved - he’s not relying just on his size and freakish strength anymore.
After coming back from a year off due to illness, Lesnar was the best he has been in an all-round sense against Shane Carwin. I expect him to be even better this time around. He’ll absolutely have to be better because this is the toughest opponent he has faced.
Velasquez is undefeated in eight career fights, and he absolutely destroyed Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira last time out. What makes this matchup most compelling is that it’s a total contrast is styles. Lesnar is a big, strong man, and he fights like you would expect given that - with brute force. Velasquez is a smaller fighter, and he fights more with precision and technique than raw strength - though his punches certainly pack a full load.
What the two guys have in common is that they are ridiculously tough, and they are both going to be very well prepared. There will be no excuses here - the best man will win. Given how closely matched they are I lean towards the underdog. Lesnar is very athletic, and if he can score a double-leg takedown - something no one does better - then he’ll come out on top. Velasquez is going to be able to stay away from Lesnar better than most heavyweights, though, and that should start to get into Lesnar’s head. He’s also 20 pounds lighter, and that is going to have an impact on stamina if the fight goes long.
I expect the fight to be a classic, but Lesnar’s edge diminishes the longer the fight goes, and I don’t think either fighter will be stopped early.
Pick: Cain Velasquez
Jake Shields (-220) vs. Martin Kampmann (+180) - This one is exciting. Shields is viewed by many as potentially the best welterweight not named Georges. He has built a big reputation outside of the UFC, but now he is making his debut in the organization and it’s time to prove that he is worthy of the hype.
Kampmann is a very good test, and one that will give Shields immediate credibility if he wins. Kampmann is talented all-round fighter who is particularly good on his feet. He doesn’t really have a glaring weakness, and he can catch Shields off guard if the favorite is unprepared. Shields can stand up to Kampmann when they are standing, though - and he can take a punch. He also has a clear edge on the ground. That should be enough to get his UFC career off to a strong start.
Pick: Jake Shields
Paulo Thiago (-125) vs. Diego Sanchez (-105) - This fight is at welterweight, and that is a big problem for Sanchez. He’s one of those fighters that is a tweener - too big to stay a lightweight effectively, but not big enough to match up well against strong welterweights.
What Sanchez lacks in size, though, he more than makes up for with energy - he’s like a hurricane. Thiago is just the opposite - he doesn’t look like he gets his heart rate up no matter what happens in a fight. Thiago is also as good of a grappler as there is, and he’s a technically sound, intelligent fighter.
The fight should be close. I give an edge to the favorite, though, for two reasons - his size advantage, and his ability to relax and wait for opportunities.
Pick: Paulo Thiago
Matt Hamill (-170) vs. Tito Ortiz (+140) - I’ll give this farce of a fight as much attention as it deserves. It is ridiculous that Ortiz is still fighting in the UFC. The fact that guys like him and Couture keep getting shots is one of the bigger flaws of the UFC - name over quality. He’s broken down and worn out, and shouldn’t be a match against a younger fighter.
Pick: Matt Hamill
Gabriel Gonzaga (-160) vs. Brendan Schaub (+130) - Gonzaga is the type of fighter that gives me a headache. He is exceptionally talented, and when he is at his best he can beat a lot of fighters. If Gonzaga shows up then Schaub will be no match for him.
The problem is that you can’t be sure that Gonzaga will show up until the fight starts. I don’t know what motivates him, but it’s not what motivates everyone else.
Taking Gonzaga here, then, is a big gamble. I just can’t justify taking the underdog, though.
Pick: Gabriel Gonzaga
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