UFC history will be made this Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim when the very first female bout takes center stage as the main event for UFC 157.
Former Strikeforce bantamweight champion and current UFC titlist Rhonda Rousey (6-0) will put her newly acquired strap on the line against Strikeforce alum and former title challenger Liz Caramouch (7-2). No surprise, odds makers have installed Rousey, the newly crowned “face of women’s MMA” as the betting favorite, but fight fans may marvel at the heavy price tag attached.
At the moment, bookmakers are asking that bettors lay -1200 to back the champ for the opportunity to win $100. Supporters of the challenger can take back +800 for their $100 wager if Caramouche can put a blemish on Rousey’s perfect ledger.
Granted this will be no easy task but the current betting line being offered by sports books reflects that Rousey would have to have a 92.3% win probability just to break even. To justify laying that much chalk, one would need to conclude her chances are even greater.
Some, including Rousey, may claim she has yet to earn the UFC title since president Dana White wrapped the gold strap around her waist without ever having stepped inside the octagon. I disagree. Both former WEC champions Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo were awarded their inaugural UFC title belts when two newly formed divisions were introduced.
Couple the fact Rousey was the Strikeforce title holder when the promotion was dissolved, with an unquestionable resume, and I believe it was fitting.
Rousey has proven to be much more than simply a marketable fighter. She has a pedigree any MMA practitioner would be proud of and has proved her worth as a world class athlete long before joining the ranks of pro fighting.
Caramouche’s greatest asset for this bout will be her toughness and well-rounded game. She’s very busy on her feet, landing over 4.5 strikes per minute and has no problems taking a fight to the mat, attempting nearly 2.5 take-downs per 15 minutes. Caroumouche has competed for a title and her experience as a former Marine tells me intimidation won’t be a factor.
The challenger has proven to be extremely durable but at times absorbs more punishment than she should due to a bit of inefficiency on the defensive end. She avoids only 54% of strikes and against the powerful Rousey that may prove to be the greatest concern since Caramouche most likely will want to keep the fight upright.
The reason is simple, besides the fact Caramouche is strictly a ground and pound fighter, and not one that will look to lock on a submission, Rousey is one of the most dangerous fighters, both male and female when it comes to taking opponents to the mat.
The champion attempts over 11.5 take-downs per 15 minutes and the exact amount of submissions when successful. She’s very accurate, completing over 63% of take-down attempts and that should come as no surprise, having been the first female U.S. Olympian to win a medal in judo. Rousey’s acutely difficult to hit, avoiding 66% of strikes and absorbing almost 2 strikes less per minute than the challenger.
Finally, when you look at the level of training between the two, it’s almost incomparable. Besides being the first womens UFC champion and Olympic medalist in judo, Rousey is also the very first MMA fighter, male or female to ever be allowed to train at famed Big Bear, Ca.
Boxing’s biggest names have gone to Big Bear for the purpose of preparing for some of the most historic fights for decades. Rousey is currently being trained by the sport’s most sought after teachers in all aspects of mixed martial arts and also by some highly regarded in boxing. Simply put, she’s surrounded herself with the type of team and sparring partners one would expect of the world’s top female MMA fighter.
On the flip side, it’s obvious Caramouche has not had the same opportunities and her resources are limited in comparison. I expect Rousey to show us an even more improved version than we saw the last time out, which was one of her best.
Bottom line: I don’t think Rousey loses this bout and I’m not even tempted to take some of that generous “plus money” on Caramouche. Unfortunately there’s no value in laying the price to back the champ and it may not even make much sense to tie her into some parlays because the return is so minimal.
Therefore, I’ll almost certainly pass on betting this one and instead enjoy it as a fan. We’ll see how long it takes before Rousey locks in an arm-bar and closes out the show.
Bonus Bet: Lyoto Machida -200 over Dan Henderson.
Now this is one bet that I am definitely making. I expect the “cage rust” to be too much for Hendo to overcome, having been out since November 2011. Machida will also have the advantage wherever this fight takes place and has more than enough to negate the wrestling advantage of Henderson.
Fight record since 2010 at Pregame.com: 93-49 (65%) Current streak: 27-11 (71%)
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].