Over the past few weekends it’s been MMA, most notably the UFC that’s taken center stage as far as quality cards. Saturday night will be no different when the UFC makes its way to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for UFC 153, and its main event which features the top pound-for-pound MMAer Anderson Silva (32-4) against Stephan Bonner (14-7).
The bout takes place at 205 lbs. therefore Silva’s middleweight strap will not be up for grabs, but rest assured both men have plenty to gain or lose.
For Silva, it’s another opportunity to showcase his dominance again stepping out of his comfort zone and illustrate why he is considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport at the moment, if not all-time.
For Bonner, who has come out of retirement for the chance to face an MMA legend, a win would exemplify the biggest upset in the sport’s history. At least based on what the oddsmakers say.
Currently, the betting line on this light heavyweight bout lists Silva as high as a -1350 favorite, making Bonner the largest underdog for a UFC main event at +800. On the surface it appears the result is all but a mere formality.
Besides the physical obstacles both men face, we can’t overlook the lack of game planning for an opponent. Granted, both men have to deal with that issue same issue but Bonner needs less of a blueprint since his strategy has to surround the “leave it all in the cage” approach, rather than a tactical approach.
In the fight game, MMA is most dangerous because of the numerous ways to win a bout. For there to be any real value on Silva one would have to conclude his chances for victory exceed 93% just to make it a break-even proposition at -1300. On the flip side, Bonner would need slightly better than an 11% shot to pull the upset to reflect a positive expected value bet.
It’s the welcome return of some marquee boxing matchups. HBO Boxing After Dark has put together a non pay-per-view card that truly features two main events. The Home Depot Center in Carson, California is where it all goes down and there is very little doubt that both bouts will prove to be action packed from start to finish.
The co-main event Saturday is being billed as a “title eliminator” in the junior welterweight division, between Mike Alvarado (33-0, 23 KO’s) and Brandon Rios (30-0-1, 22 KO’s). Thus far a betting line has not hit the board but it’s expected to be up early in the week with the more well recognized Rios being offered as the favorite.
Alvarado is by no means a technician in the ring but he has that X-factor which many refer to as “heart” and an amazing will to win. His style tends to put him behind early on the scorecards as he gets out-boxed but he seems to find a way to cut the ring off and force his opponents to stand and trade, eventually utilizing his greatest asset, punching power.
For Rios, this will be an opportunity to redeem himself after falling from the public’s adoration after a few less than stellar showings. This will also be his first fight at 140. Though he had astounding power in the lower weight classes, it remains to be seen if he’s been able to carry it up to junior welterweight where he won’t be the biggest man every time he fights.
Rios had an impressive amateur career where he was crowned the U.S. Amateur Champion and also served as an alternate on the Olympic team before turning pro eight years ago. Since then, Rios has faced some top level opposition as he made his way to becoming the WBA Lightweight champion in 2011.
Although considered a “banger” with a very aggressive style of fighting, it’s his boxing skills that truly make him a special fighter. He can throw all of the punches and uses his combinations extremely well in an attempt to overwhelm opponents. With that he appears to have that killer instinct that drives him to finish fights by landing the hard shots.
The knock on Rios is his lack of defense and he almost seems to invite opponents to go toe to toe with him in a contest of chins and who hit’s the hardest. That should allow Alvarado to have plenty of success especially in the first half of the fight before Rios is able to wear him down and bully him.
In the main-event we have Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KO’s) and Nonito Donaire (29-1, 18 KO’s) battling for the vacant Ring Magazine and WBC Diamond Super Bantamweight titles, plus Donaire’s IBF/WBO straps and Nishioka‘s WBC gold.
Currently the Donaire is being offered as a -220 betting favorite with the take-back on Nishioka +180. The over/under for total rounds is listed at 9½ with the over a heavy -240 favorite, meaning the odds makers expect the fight to reach the final bell.
Nishioka has not tasted defeat since 2004, making eight straight successful defenses of his title. All of his losses prior were decisions that could have gone either way. He’s already beaten the likes of Rafael Marquez in Las Vegas and current featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez, who he finished off in only three rounds.
The Japanese boxer uses an aggressive style and a powerful straight left hand that’s served him well for over a decade. He’s been out of the ring for over a year and at 36, it’ll be interesting to see just how polished he can become fight night.
Donaire, No. 5 in Ring Magazine’s top pound-for-pound list, fights out of the orthodox stance. He’s seven years younger and has already won titles in four different weight classes. Donaire’s ability to also fight southpaw and switch stances makes it tough for opponents to prepare for and adapt to inside the ring.
Donaire is a busy fighter and like Nishioka, prefers to be on the offensive and since both men like to mix it up, I expect we’ll see plenty of shots hit their mark. The biggest difference is that Donaire is in his prime while Nishioka may have surpassed his.
Record: 80-48 (63%)
Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Fridays and Sundays from 11 pm to midnight when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected]