Rockhold-Weidman adds to stacked UFC 194 card

December 08, 2015 3:04 AM
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UFC 194 just Grand - Conor McGregorIt may sound cliché when we refer to an upcoming fight card as “stacked from top to bottom” or “most highly anticipated,” but when it comes to UFC 194 I believe both are warranted.

This coming Saturday night the MGM Grand Garden Arena will play host to the above mentioned card, which includes two title fights. Either of these championship bouts could headline a sold out UFC event but when you get both on the same card it becomes the hottest ticket in town.

I’ll start off with the main event since it’s the co-main that I’ve already backed my opinion with my cash...

The scrap for featherweight supremacy between Jose Aldo (25-1) and Conor McGregor (18-2) was set to take place back at UFC 189 but an injury suffered by the current champion Aldo forced a postponement.

The challenger McGregor went on to capture a title of his own and solidified his No. 1 contender status by winning the interim strap. So both men will walk into the Octagon as champions on Saturday night but only one will exit as the undisputed king at 145 lbs.

Oddsmakers had installed McGregor as high as a -195 betting favorite but money continues to pour in on Aldo and the current line is now down as low as -125. By the time the bell sounds to signal the start of round one I would not be at all surprised to see the closing odds reflect a coin-flip fight.

Personally I have yet to place a wager on the outcome or the total rounds but I urge bettors to try and filter out all of the noise and hype surrounding this bout and simply look at the facts. Size, styles, physical conditioning, and more are what will ultimately decide who emerges victorious and not the war of words on Twitter.

In the end, if you decide the betting line should be higher or lower based on your handicap, then your conclusion constitutes a bet based on value. And value is the only reason a winning bettor takes a position.

Now in the co-main event between current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman (13-0) and challenger Luke Rockhold (14-2), I’ve determined the betting line is more of a reflection of perception than it is probability. Therefore I’ve already made my way to the betting window and fired.

Bookmakers opened the betting line with the title holder listed as a -170 favorite with the take back on the #1 contender +145. It’s since dropped to as low as -125 but the odds are gradually climbing back up and the current market average has Weidman around -150. I believe the price on the champion has a greater chance of going up than it does lowering due mostly to the resume of the fighters.

The 185 lb champ was the man who beat arguably the greatest mixed martial artist in the history of the sport Anderson Silva, not once but twice. Weidman also handled Lyoto Machida and more importantly finished Vitor Belfort in the very first round. Though Rockhold also got past Machida, he lost via first round knock-out to Belfort. For a while the title holder was extremely undervalued by the betting market due mostly to the simple fact bettors didn’t expect Weidman to be so dominant.

Statistically Weidman is as solid as they come. He averages 3.5 take-downs per 15 mins and has successfully defended 100% of his opponents’ attempts to take him to the mat. While standing, the New Yorker lands 3.4 strikes per minute and avoids 61% of strikes coming his way. Simply put, there aren’t many holes to his game and thus far no opponent has been able to find even one in order to get their hand raised.

Rockhold is the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. The southpaw fights out of American Kickboxing Academy and is almost identical to the champion physically. They are within an inch of each other in height and reach, and both are 31 years of age. The challenger comes into this bout having finished 10 of the 16 opponents faced in the first round. His loss to Belfort should come with an asterisk since it came at a time Vitor was bolstered with TRT. Anyone who faced the Brazilian during that stretch was at a major disadvantage.

Rockhold is one of the most accomplished jiu-jitsu practitioners in the division and he’s shown the abillity to lock in a variety of fight ending submissions. His favorite appear to be chokes but he’s also chalked up plenty of wins by way of strikes. Statistically he’s been hard to land strikes against, being able to defend 64%. The accuracy and volume of strikes are almost identical to the champions and Rockhold’s take-down defense is also impressive as he’s been able to avoid 72% of attempts.

On paper this fight appears to be much closer than the betting line reflects. The opening and current odds make Weidman upwards of a 60% favorite to retain his belt. Then again both games and fights are not won on paper, they are instead determined on a field or in this case inside of a cage. With that said, to try and successfully predict the outcome we must not overlook the data.

My opinion is that the betting line on the co-main event is too high. I believe Rockhold has all the necessary skills to get past Weidman and become the new UFC middleweight champion.

If the fight goes the distance I believe Rockhold will be ahead on the judges’ scorecards and if it doesn’t reach the final bell, it’ll be because he was able to lock in one of his many submissions. Either way, getting “plus money” on a fight that which should be “even” offers too much value to pass up. This is why I’ve already backed this opinion up with my money.

Pick: Rockhold

Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @Greek_Gamblerand at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at VegasRunner@GamingToday.com.

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