UFC 126 Odds With Predictions and Betting Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 2/4/2011
Some UFC cards are much better than others. UFC 126, which takes place the night before the Super Bowl at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, is one of the better ones we have seen lately. All five fights on the main card give us a reason to be excited, and two in particular have massive potential. Here’s a look at how the main card plays out with my UFC 126 predictions and betting picks (all odds are from Sports Interaction): At the end of this article I will offer my recommended bets for a $500 bankroll.
Middleweight Championship - Champion Anderson Silva (-263) vs. Vitor Belfort (+180)
This is a match that has been a long time in the making. Belfort, a former light heavyweight champion, was originally supposed to meet Silva back at UFC 108 over a year ago, but an injury to Silva saw the fight moved to UFC 109 and then UFC 112 before it was cancelled.
Silva has fought twice since -- including against Demian Maia on the UFC 112 card -- while Belfort has not fought since September of 2009. Silva comes into this fight with two impressive streaks -- the longest UFC winning streak of all time (12 fights) and the most title defenses (seven). His last fight against Chael Sonnen was ugly, though -- Silva needed a miracle comeback to scratch out the win. His intensity has long been an issue, and that was never more evident.
Hopefully that last fight served as a wakeup call for him, because this is a tough match. Belfort lacks consistency, but he’s riding a five-fight winning streak now featuring four knockouts -- including a dominating win over Rich Franklin last time out in his return to the UFC. Belfort is very talented and matches up reasonably well, but Silva is just too dangerous with too many weapons. Silva can beat Silva, but if that doesn’t happen then Belfort can’t do it by himself.
Pick: Anderson Silva
Light Heavyweight - Rich Franklin (-172) vs. Forrest Griffin (+123)
Both of these guys are former UFC champs who are trying to fight their way back into contention. Both of them are getting older, so if they lose here it could be tough to find other chances. That means that the stakes are high.
Besides that, these guys are well matched because they are both very fit fighters who definitely aren’t wrestlers. This fight will be won or lost standing up.
In my eyes there isn’t much to separate these two fighters -- certainly not as much as the price here indicates. That means that there is real value in the underdog here.
Pick: Forrest Griffin
Light Heavyweight - Jon Jones (-385) vs. Ryan Bader (+250)
As good as the two fights we talked about before this one are, this could be the one to really keep an eye on. Jones is the most hyped young fighter in his weight class and perhaps the whole organization -- the next big thing. The 23 year old has an 11-1 record, but that loss has an asterisk beside it -- he was disqualified for illegal elbows in a fight he was dominating.
Bader is the undefeated winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 8,” and his last two wins have come over Keith Jardine and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. He’s no pushover. This is the biggest test yet for both guys, and both have the ability to adapt and change their approach as needed. Jones has a bit more skill and potential, so as much as I would like to take a shot with Bader I can’t quite justify it.
Pick: Jon Jones
Welterweight - Jake Ellenberger (-400) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (+250)
Georges St. Pierre has totally devoured the welterweight division, so the UFC is scrambling to find contenders that can stand up and make the division interesting. These guys both still have some road to travel, but they both have a whole lot of potential.
Rocha is unbeaten in nine fights, but just one has been in the UFC, and he has yet to face competition anywhere close to the caliber of Ellenberger. This is his first pro fight outside of Germany -- that doesn’t mean anything, but it’s interesting.
Ellenberger has much more experience -- 23 wins in 28 fights, including two of three in the UFC. That experience, and the skill edge, should be enough for him to hand Rocha his first loss.
Pick: Jake Ellenberger
Bantamweight - Miguel Torres (-455) vs. Antonio Banuelos (+280)
It is so great to see bantamweights on the UFC landscape -- especially a guy like Torres. Torres is one of the best there is at this weight class, but he’s looking to rebuild his confidence after losing two in a row to Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. His last fight was a win, and he is well positioned to earn another here.
Banuelos isn’t as talented as Torres, but he’s a strong wrestler -- just like Cruz and Faber -- so he is a tough matchup. That could be a problem for Torres, but I don’t expect the former champ to get caught off-guard, and he has plenty of ways to make Banuelos suffer.
Pick: Miguel Torres
For each UFC card we’ll invest a mythical $500 bankroll in the strongest positions we can find. For this card we have two bets:
$250 on Forrest Griffin (+123)
$250 parlay on Silva, Ellenberger, and Torres - to win $276
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