We are now less than two weeks away from the highly anticipated UFC 168, and there’s no better setting for it than New Year’s Eve weekend in Las Vegas, inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The co-main and main events feature two rematches for UFC straps between mixed martial artists who clearly have a respect yet genuine dislike for one and other.
The face of women’s MMA Ronda Rousey (7-0) will put her UFC Bantamweight title on the line once more against Miesha Tate (13-4), who coached opposite her on this season’s TUF. In the first meeting, Rousey was awarded the Strikeforce Women’s Submission of the Year for 2012 after finishing Tate in the very first round with her patented arm-bar.
None of Rousey’s opponents have survived to see Round 2 in her 2-year plus career in MMA. More importantly all seven have fallen victim to that very same arm-bar. Rousey insists she’ll use to beat Tate again and implied that this time she’ll also use it to break her arm.
Oddsmakers have installed Rousey an extremely high -1000 favorite, with the take back on Tate a generous +650. Rest assured Tate has definitely attracted plenty of fan support with her role in this season’s TUF and I believe those fans will be backing her at the betting window as well.
The main event features the return of Anderson Silva (33-5), only this time he’ll enter the Octagon first, as the challenger for the UFC Middleweight crown which currently sits around the waist of Chris Weidman (10-0).
In their first encounter it appeared Silva was on his way to outclassing the less experienced Weidman on his feet when his own arrogance and confidence allowed the challenger to catch him flush and exit the cage with gold at 185 lbs.
Weidman was able to take Silva down as expected in the first round but was unable to do much damage and ultimately “The Spider” got back up and began to showcase his dominant stand-up. But Weidman was not to be denied that night and as Silva began to taunt by keeping his hands down by his side and his chin out, Weidman landed a strike that left a packed Grand Garden Arena stunned.
This time around the challenger opened as low as a -130 favorite to recapture the UFC Middleweight title, and bettors quickly got in line to back Silva, forcing books to adjust to as high as -170, with the take back on the champion Weidman at +145.
I’ll be breaking these fights down for this column the week of the fight and offering my opinions along with any wager I’ll have in my pocket come fight night. But I want to set the stage and add to the prefight buzz that’s sweeping the MMA world at the moment as fans and bettors like await UFC 168.
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 Mondays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].