UFC Fight Week takes over Las Vegas; Pacquiao-Horn no robbery

UFC Fight Week takes over Las Vegas; Pacquiao-Horn no robbery

July 04, 2017 3:02 AM


Somehow in the doldrums of summer sports, it’s actually about to get busy.

First up is UFC International Fight Week, a yearly gathering here in Vegas that runs this year July 5-8, ending with UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Here’s a rundown of the events (all at Park Theater, unless stated otherwise):

Wednesday: Live Taping of FS1’s UFC Tonight (Noon PT); UFC213, Ultimate Fighter Finale Open Workouts (1 p.m.); Women of UFC Panel (3:30 p.m.); Live Taping of FS1’s TUF Talk (7:30 p.m.).

Thursday: UFC Legends Panel (3 p.m.); The Ultimate Fighter Finale Weigh-In (4 p.m.); UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (7:30  p.m.).

Friday: Autograph Sessions at T-Mobile Arena Lobby (9-11 a.m.); UFC Fan Experience at Toshiba Plaza (11 a.m.-4 p.m.); UFC 213 Weigh-In (2 p.m.); The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena (3 p.m.).

Saturday: Autograph Sessions at T-Mobile Arena Lobby (9 a.m.-Noon); UFC Fan Experience at Toshiba Plaza (Noon-5 p.m.); UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena (3:30 p.m.); Official UFC 213 After Party at Hakkasan (10 p.m.).

Now for the gamblers in the room, we have a ton of fights to bet on, whether it is the traditional sportsbook or with USFantasy. First off, lines were not out at press time for the Ultimate Fighter Finale (live on FS1) so unfortunately no plays for that, however the books should release stuff closer to fight time. Be sure to check this one out with an intriguing main event between undefeated former World Series of Fighting Champion Justin Gaethje and No. 5 ranked Michael Johnson. Lots of bad blood between them.

UFC 213 features Amanda Nunes making her second title defense, this time against Valentina Shevchenko. The pair had an entertaining battle back at UFC 196, which saw Nunes win the first two rounds with Shevchenko coming on strong winning the third. With it being a title match this is now a five round fight, many feel this is a big advantage for Shevchenko, a -115 favorite at Westgate, while the champ Nunes is -105. Looking around some other books, it’s -110 on both ladies.

I think Nunes has improved a great deal since that fight and I expect her pressure to get to Shevchenko again. I do agree with others, if Valentina makes it through to the third, the fight swings in her favor and she can finish Nunes. It’s too competitive in my mind to lay the price on either girl, but let’s look at USFantasy.

Currently Nunes is 17-1 and 14-1 in the opening two rounds, respectively, that’s a great number and if you can get anything over 6-1 that’s a real gift and worth betting. Shevchenko in Round 3 is 35-1, while the final two rounds are 11-1. I think you have to take her in Round 3 at that price, and if you think she’s going to win, double digits on the final two rounds is fantastic. I do expect a finish in this fight.

My favorite bet of the weekend is Yoel Romero to beat Robert Whittaker. While Whittaker’s impressive victory over Ronaldo Souza was shocking, I don’t think he does it two times in a row. Find Romero +115 at William Hill, while most have +110. Romero’s prices on USFantasy are way too high right now due to a couple bets on Whitaker; if any of them are over 10-1 it’s worth the risk.

World Series of Poker betting: USFantasy has also opened a unique wager for all the poker fans out there. For the World Series of Poker Main Event, they have odds for best finish of 23 poker players in the top 1,000. Names like Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan, Jason Mercier to name a few. With so many options there should be some nice prices to be had.

This prop is available at all Caesars properties, all Station properties, South Point, Stratosphere, Westgate, Arizona Charlies, and Aquarius in Laughlin.

Robbery vs. Close: ESPN showed the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn fight live, which drew 2.8 million views, the most-watched boxing match on ESPN since 1995, most on cable since 2006.

While the fight was entertaining, I feel like there is a big black eye from it, which shouldn’t be the case. In has become a regular occurance that rears its ugly head in boxing and UFC: “That was a robbery!” “Fighter X was robbed, this fight was fixed.” “Another bad decision by boxing/UFC.” “What are these judges watching?”

Pacquiao-Horn was no robbery. Did Horn win? I don’t think he did. I had Manny by 116-112 or 115-113. In other words, a close fight. I could have maybe given another round to Horn getting it to 114-114, a draw. Now with that said, two scorecards of 115-113 Horn is not a robbery. That’s a difference of one to at most three rounds. The 117-111 Horn card was awful, yes, but two of the judges had reasonable scores.

Horn was the aggressive fighter and put Manny through the ringer, roughing him up early and showing him little respect. The argument in favor of Pac Man was he landed more punches and threw less. Well, it’s easier to land a higher percentage of punches when you are letting the fight come to you. Horn’s activity was probably the difference in a few of the close rounds. Manny’s punches were rarely flush and accurate. Even the ones that scored seemed to lack pop, which was part Horn’s defense avoiding most of the impact and part Pacquiao’s aging hand speed.

The thing to keep in mind is this:  boxing needs to give more love to fighters who move forward and initiate the action. This was a fight where we saw that in action. The rounds Pac Man clearly out-landed Horn were easy to score. But rounds where Manny landed an extra 5-7 punches didn’t stand out and left the scoring open to the busier Horn.

The point is save the word robbery for fights like Lewis-Holyfield 1, where Lennox won 11 of 12 rounds and ended up with a draw (including a judge that had him losing!).

Twitter: @vegasberserker