UFC 138 Odds and Betting Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 11/3/2011
I don’t ever remember a UFC event that has been lower-profile than this one. Coming just a week after UFC 137, this event takes place in Birmingham, England. It will be shown live on free TV in Canada, and on delayed broadcast in the U.S.
While the lineup is far from the most interesting, it does have an interesting distinction — Chris Leben and Mark Munoz will fight in the first five round non-title fight in UFC history.
That might not seem like a thrilling main event on the surface, but it features a strange note — this is the second time in a row that Leben had been in the main event of a card held in Birmingham.
Here’s how the main card plays out with my UFC betting picks (all UFC 138 odds are from Bodog):
Mark Munoz (-260) vs. Chris Leben (+200)
Leben is the king of the knockout, and he certainly proved that last time out when he knocked Wanderlei Silva out in just 27 seconds at UFC 132. It was that effort that lifted him back to the top of a card, and which gives him a good look at Anderson Silva with a win here.
Leben has a simple strategy to his fights — he believes he can take punches better than his opponent, and he aggressively sets out to prove it. Not complicated, but often effective.
Munoz has a more complex and more adaptable style. He’s a former NCAA wrestling champion, so he is obviously strong on the mat, and he is a top-level takedown artist. If he can avoid Leben’s early punching power — especially in the first round — then the length of this fight should give him a big advantage.
The longer it goes, the less frightening Leben’s strength will be, and the more likely Munoz can assert his advantage. If Leben doesn’t end this one early then he is in trouble, and I think Munoz is strategic enough to stay alive.
That means that he, and not Leben, will be the one who emerges with a likely shot at Silva on the horizon.
Pick: Mark Munoz
Renan Barao (-135) vs. Brad Pickett (+105)
Barao has a very impressive 26-1 career record, and the Brazilian is on his way to serious contention in the bantamweight division if he wins another couple of fights.
Pickett will be a tough challenge, though. He’s an interesting blend — he’s an old-school brawler, but one with surprisingly effective takedown and ground skills.
Barao is the better technical fighter, and he’ll be more precise in this fight. However, I suspect that Pickett will be able to wear him down and win a tough decision.
Pick: Brad Pickett
Thiago Alves (-300) vs. Papy Abedi (+230)
Alves is a very talented guy who was close to the top of the world a while back. He has lost three of four fights, though, and really needs to get back on track before his career runs away from him.
He faces a potentially big challenge here in Abedi if he isn’t on his game, though. Abedi is 8-0 in his career, and is making his UFC debut. Though he has shown a big left hand and has a very nice physique he has really not fought anyone.
I never like to take a guy who is making his UFC debut, never mind one debuting against a guy like Alves.
Pick: Thiago Alves
Terry Etim (-600) vs. Eddie Faaloloto (+400)
This one isn’t even as close as the odds suggest. Etim is the British boy put on the card to thrill the home crowd and create some energy. Faaloloto is the hopelessly outclassed little lamb being led to slaughter.
Etim isn’t great on his feet, but he can take opponents down effectively, and he has a number of ways to force a submission in his toolbox once it gets there.
Faaloloto has fought once in the UFC and once in the WEC, and has lost both convincingly. It’s hard to believe that he can compete at this level, and he is taking a step up in class with Etim.
Etim only loses if he beats himself.
Pick: Terry Etim
Each card I make a mythical $500 bet on my UFC picks. Most of the time it’s a parlay because that’s often the easiest way to deal with big favorites, and the UFC has more than its share of big favorites.
$500 parlay — Etim, Alves and Munoz. Potential profit of $576.92.
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