UFC 159: Sonnen vs Jones Early Picks

UFC 159 goes down in under two weeks on Saturday, April 27 at the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey. Overshadowing basically the entire card is the TUF Coach Battle between Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones. We already predicted the outcome of the main event, but there are 7 other fights on this card that we can predict, so let’s get started.

In the co-main event, the number 4 middleweight in the world, Michael Bisping takes on the number 10 middleweight in the world in Alan Belcher. Things have become heated between the two in recent weeks with Belcher saying he will get a tattoo of the British flag on his chest come Sunday after the fights. Bisping was unwilling to play along when Belcher said he has to get a tattoo of Johnny Cash should he lose. Bisping has been in the UFC since winning The Ultimate Fighter 3 and has never lost consecutive fights in his 28 career fights. He’s coming into this fight off a highlight reel head kick TKO loss to Vitor Belfort just 3 months ago. One question mark heading into this is whether 3 months is long enough for Bisping to have recovered and met his training requirements leading up to this fight, considering his medical suspension was 60 days as a result of the knockout. Belcher is also coming off a loss, he lost to Yushin Okami (who has been on quite a tear lately) at UFC 155 in late December. He has only once lost consecutive fights once in his career and that came back in 2005 in his 3rd and 4th fights.

Belcher is able to finish a slightly higher proportion of his fights with 16 of his 18 wins coming by way of submission or knockout. Bisping has finished 18 of 23, but has only lost 5 fights in his career and has a couple more UFC fights under his belt. Our model has Bisping as an extremely heavy favourite and at 1.63 to 1, this bet is definitely worthwhile. We placed a 2 unit bet on Bisping at 1.63 to 1.

Also on the card is a heavyweight showdown between Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo. Both men will be looking to show they deserve to be in the upper echelon of UFC heavyweights as both seem to be floating around the middle of the division. Nelson beats the competition he should (Mitrione, Herman, Filipovic), but also loses when he’s expected to (Werdum, Mir, Dos Santos). Kongo also holds losses to the divisons elite in Mir and Velasquez, but also a TKO loss to Mark Hunt. Hunt just has super powerful strikes which makes him dangerous in this division as even if he is on his back for most of 2 rounds, the third round sees both men on their feet again. Overall, the fight seems like a relatively even contest, but our model has Kongo as the strong favourite to win. Therefore, we placed a 1.5 unit bet on Kongo at 2.95 to 1.

Finally for today’s picks, we have Phil Davis defeating Vinny Magalhaes. Davis is only sitting at 1.35 to 1 and we feel there is not enough value in betting on him to make the risk worthwhile. Another issue specific to this fight is that the statistics available through Fightmetric only account for Magalhaes recent win over Pokrajac and his two losses in 2008 to Ryan Bader and Eliot Marshall. For now, we are going to hold off on placing a bet in this fight even though we have Phil Davis as a strong favourite.

Bets

Bisping over Belcher. 2 units at 1.63 to 1.
Kongo over Nelson. 1.5 units at 2.95 to 1.
Davis over Magalhaes. Too risky to bet with Davis at 1.35 to 1

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