UFC on FOX 7: Benson Henderson vs Gilbert Melendez is live this Saturday from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California (the UFC seems to be in Cali a lot lately, maybe filling the void of Strikeforce). The odds are now out for a few of the main card fights and we have collected all the data so we’re here to share our predicted outcomes and the smart bets that result from those predictions. If you haven’t heard of or seen Gilbert Melendez fight before, do yourself a favour and check out his highlights. He has been a dominant force in the lightweight division of Strikeforce over the last 4 years.
As stated above, the main event features the last Strikeforce lightweight champion in Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez taking on the UFC’s lightweight champ in Benson “Smooth” Henderson. From a straight record perspective, there is not much to choose between these two fighters. Henderson is 18-2, finishing 10 of his 18 wins and sitting on a 6 fight winning streak. Melendez, on the other hand has a record of 21-2 and has finished 12 of his 21 wins and has a nice win streak of his own, currently sitting at 7. Interestingly though, Henderson has just 2 finishes by knockout, while 11 of Melendez’s 12 finishes have come by way of knockout. We have to be careful not to draw conclusions too quickly though. In Henderson’s current win streak, every victory has come by way of decision or split decision. Melendez has 3 knockouts in his current streak, but the caliber of competition he was facing is likely much lower than that of the UFC champ. In general, the stats indicate what we’d expect, Henderson (the former NAIA All American wrestler) goes for and is more successful at takedowns. Melendez attempts and lands more strikes. Our model has Henderson as a heavy favourite to retain his title. We placed a 2 unit bet at 1.41 to 1.
The co-main event also features a top Strikeforce talent debuting in the UFC. That talent is former world championship bronze medalist in freestyle wrestling in Daniel Cormier. In his first test in the octagon, he draws longtime top UFC heavyweight and former champ Frank Mir. Cormier is undefeated so far in his career and holds the title of Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion. (Victories in that tourney include former UFC champ Josh Barnett, current UFC #1 contender Antonio Silva, and cagey vet Jeff Monson) Mir is a stiff test for the UFC newcomer, but is probably at about the right level for Cormier. The winner of this fight will be on the short list to face the winner of Silva vs Velasquez 2 at UFC 160 at the end of May. Our model has Cormier as an extremely heavy favourite to defeat Mir. Cormier’s odds sit at just 1.26 to 1. For now, we will hold off on betting on Cormier to see if the odds become any more favourable as the fight approaches.
The story of this card is how the Strikeforce crossovers can hold up against their UFC equivalents. In our third prediction, we have Josh Thomson defeating Nate Diaz. Diaz is coming off an unsuccessful title bid vs Henderson in the main event of UFC on FOX back in December. (Smart marketing by the UFC by the way, keeping consistent fighters on these UFC on Fox card) Diaz is notorious for throwing hundreds of punches to try to set up his opponent for a submission and always comes out swinging (much like his older brother). Thomson on the other hand holds a couple losses to the other fighter in the main event, Melendez. He goes for slightly more takedowns, and throws strikes slightly less often, but with more accuracy than Diaz. Our model has the underdog, Thomson winning this fight. We placed a 1 unit bet on Thomson at 2.66 to 1.
Henderson over Melendez. 2 unit bet at 1.41 to 1
Cormier over Mir. No bet for now, seeing how odds move.
Thomson over Diaz. 1 unit bet at 2.66 to 1
Here are the latest odds for UFC on Fox: Henderson vs Melendez: