UFC 171 is still about a month away, but there’s a play we want to make so we wanted to get it documented ASAP. The main and co-main event odds are out now so there’s no reason to hold off for the full main card odds. The event goes down from the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas and the main card will be available on Pay-per-view. If you haven’t checked out Reed Kuhn’s Fightnomics it is packed with ridiculous amounts of MMA stats and is just $10 or so if you buy the Kindle version on Amazon.
In the main event, Johny “Big Rig” Hendricks and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler will compete for Georges St-Pierre’s vacated welterweight title. It’s kind of surprising that Lawler gets this title shot with so many killers in the UFC’s welterweight division. Sure, he’s on a 3 fight win streak, but one of those wins came against the lowly Bobby Voelker and another came against Josh Koscheck who has not looked good as of late. His win against Rory MacDonald is obviously what vaulted him into title contention, but as a guy who was 3-5 in Strikeforce, its hard to believe he’s now at the top of the UFC’s welterweight division. Obviously, the scariest part of Lawler’s game is his knockout power. 18 of his 22 wins have come by way of TKO or KO and 2 of his last 3 wins have come that way as well. The game plan to beat Lawler should include planting him on his back and keeping him there for 25 minutes. Alternatively, Hendricks could employ the strategy he used against GSP where he pushed him against the cage for much of their 25 minute battle. Hendricks has looked incredible in his UFC career going 10-2 with his only losses coming to Rick Story and the debatable loss to St-Pierre in his last fight. Like Lawler, he possesses massive power with 8 of his 15 wins coming by way of TKO or KO. When Hendricks knocks someone out it’s usually in devastating fashion, his 12 second knockout of Jon Fitch jumps to mind. Assuming Hendricks can control Lawler and close the distance to clinch, he should easily come away with the win. If he chooses to stand and trade, the result will be more uncertain, but we still expect Hendricks would get the better of the exchanges. Our model has Hendricks as a decently heavy favourite to win the UFC welterweight title he felt he deserved after UFC 167. At 1.29 to 1 and with the threat of Lawler’s knockout power, we will hold off on placing a bet, but we will likely consider adding Hendricks to a parlay leading up to the fight. We did bet under 3.5 rounds on this fight when it was up at 1.91 to 1, but unfortunately didn’t post it for our followers so we can’t count it. Now that it has fallen to 1.67 to 1, there may be some value, but it’s not a line we will recommend.
The co-main event features the heavy handed Tyrone Woodley taking on long time top welterweight Carlos Condit. Surprisingly to many, Woodley began his career with 5 straight submissions, but has lately preferred to trade with 2 or his last 3 wins coming by TKO or KO. He enters the fight riding a 2-2 streak which included impressive wins over Jay Hieron and Josh Koscheck. He lost a debatable decision to Jake Shields in a fight that saw limited action overall (always a dangerous factor in decisions) and got KO’d by Nate Marquardt who seems to have regressed significantly since then. Interestingly, in the Woodley vs Shields fight, Shields attempted a total of 18 takedowns, every one of which was stuffed by Woodley. Condit also enters the fight riding a 2-2 streak, but his 2 losses came against better opponents than Woodley’s. He lost to Georges St-Pierre when challenging for the welterweight strap and to Johny Hendricks via unanimous decision in a fight that actually started to go his way towards the end as Hendricks tired. Condit is a fearsome striker, landing 100 significant strikes in his last fight against Martin Kampmann which took him 4 rounds to finish, but he does have holes in his takedown defense. The Danish muay thai fighter, Kampmann was able to take Condit down an incredible 6 times over 4 rounds. Amazingly, over his last 3 fights, Condit has been taken down successfully 25 times. Sure, two of those were against very solid wrestlers, but still 25 times is an astronomical number. We expect Woodley will have studied tape religously and will know what area of Condit’s game he can exploit. Like Hendricks’ game plan vs Lawler, if plan A doesn’t work, plan B is striking and it’s not like Woodley will be a fish out of water. Our model gives Woodley a slight edge to take the victory and with him as a decent underdog, we feel there’s good value to placing a bet. We placed a 3 unit bet on Woodley at 2.58 to 1. We actually Tweeted this pick out last night in case we weren’t able to do the full write up and the line moved.
We’ll be back in the next few days with our full predictions and bets article for UFC 170 which features Ronda Rousey defending her women’s bantamweight title against fellow former Olympian Sara McMann in the main event.
Woodley over Condit. 3 units at 2.58 to 1