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Laying Chalk And Taking Dogs - A Gamblers Look At UFC 117: Sonnen v. Silva

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As always, I should start out by telling you that this article is not written with the intention of telling you to go out and lay your hard earned money down on this Saturday's fights. But it's always more exciting when you have money riding on it.

UFC 117: Sonnen vs. Silva

Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

Right now the lines sit with Anderson as anywhere from a -400 to -525 favorite with Sonnen as big an underdog as +365. Then again, in his previous seven fights Sonnen has only entered as a favorite once. He has, however, racked up a 5-2 record in those fights. There is something to be said for his ability to ignore the expectations of others and execute the same gameplan fight after fight and pick up wins. But there is probably far more to be said for Anderson Silva and his being light years ahead of Chael in terms of being an all around fighter.

Sonnen has a very bad habit of getting submitted by guys with very good jiu jitsu. This is troubling because he basically can not beat Anderson Silva (who does possess a very good jiu jitsu game) without putting the fight on the ground. Dan Henderson has better submission defense and Silva submitted him, same with Travis Lutter.

The fight likely comes down to if Sonnen can survive for the first three rounds while winning at least one. There are some concerns over Silva's cardio as he was tired in rounds four and five against Demian Maia. If Sonnen can make it a struggle early on and steal one of the first three rounds he can try to steal the fight by taking rounds four and five of this fight.

The odds just aren't in Chael's favor though and he is in a lot of danger anywhere the fight goes. There's not a huge return for betting on Anderson at the current odds, but if things get wacky and money starts moving on Sonnen in the days leading up to the fight I'd make a play on Anderson Silva at anything below -380.

Junior dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson

While I do think that dos Santos will likely win the fight, the issue is we're not doing straight up fight predictions here. Gambling is about finding value in the numbers, not simply picking the guy you think will win. At as high as +310 on some sites, Roy Nelson is a very intriguing play. Both men have big time power in their hands, Junior has the better technical striking and also a good reach advantage.  We hear a lot about Junior's BJJ game but it is a bit untested while Nelson has one of the best technical top games on the ground of anyone in the heavyweight division.

With a line like +310 you need to think that Nelson wins this fight about 25% of the time to have a positive expected value. I can see enough ways for Roy to win that while I think Junior deserves to be the favorite, he should not be that level of a favorite.

I like Nelson at anything better than +260.

Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves

This is basically a pick 'em fight in the odds right now so it really comes down to who you like to win here. The two did fight back in 2006 with Fitch getting the TKO win. Injuries to Alves as well as a brain surgery have postponed this rematch several times over. Fitch is the grinding wrestler, Alves is the explosive striker. It's a lot like the main event but not nearly as one sided and the grinding wrestler is really good and not nearly as flawed in the submission game as Sonnen.

In a very close fight like this I tend to lean toward the guy who won the first match and away from the guy who hasn't fought in over a year. With that in mind Take Jon Fitch at UFC 117.