With our main and co-main event picks already posted for this weekends UFC 167 and with the oddsmakers releasing full odds for the card earlier this week, its time to dig into where there is value on this awesome card using our mathematical fight prediction algorithm. The fights will be live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and as usual, the main card begins at 10pm ET only on pay-per-view with the Fox Sports 1 prelims beginning at 8pm ET and the Facebook prelims beginning at 6:30pm ET. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing happens between now and Saturday to jeopardize any of the fights on this great card!
Square in the middle of the main card will be a welterweight contest between Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald. Lawler has left noone questioning his power with two straight TKO victories since returning to the UFC in the Strikeforce deal. He has finished perennial top contender Josh Koscheck and little known UFC newcomer Bobby Voelker. Lawler is the 10th ranked UFC welterweight while his opponent, Rory MacDonald sits at number 3. With his only career loss coming to division number 2, MacDonald likely could have had multiple title shots if he and current champ, Georges St Pierre weren’t such close friends and training partners. Our model has MacDonald as the heavy favourite to take the victory in this one. We see him winning just under 80% of the time. At 1.30 to 1 though, there is limited value to betting on MacDonald, especially when fighting someone as powerful as Lawler who can easily change the momentum of the fight with 1 punch. With the over/under 2.5 rounds sitting at around even, there is likely not much value there either. We will stay away from this fight unless there is some dramatic line movement between now and fight time.
In the second fight of the main card, and also in the welterweight division, Josh Koscheck will take on Tyron Woodley. Woodley enters the fight on the heals of a close split decision loss to Jake Shields which followed his dismantling of Jay Hieron in a 36 second TKO performance. Koscheck enters the fight on a 2 fight losing skid with a split decision loss to top contender Johny Hendricks and a TKO loss to Robbie Lawler. Our model has Woodley to leave the octagon victorious 61% of the time. We placed a 3 unit bet on Woodley at 2 to 1. In terms of how we expect it to play out, we expect Woodley to have a striking advantage and to keep the fight standing while he picks apart Koscheck, eventually getting the second round TKO victory.
In a lightweight battle and the main event of the prelims (if that’s such a thing), Evan Dunham and Donald Cerrone will collide. Our model has Cerrone to take the victory about 65% of the time. Both fighters enter the octagon off a loss to Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision. We expect to see Cerrone trying to keep the fight on the feet where we expect him to have the edge over Dos Anjos. We placed a 3 unit bet on Cerrone at 1.95 to 1.
Our last bet of the night is for Ed Herman to pull off the huge upset and defeat Thales Leites. Our model has Herman winning the fight 65% of the time. There is no doubt (in our opinion anyway, there’s probably people out there who doubt this) that Herman is the stronger striker of the two. Leites is a relatively one dimensional fighter and that dimension is his jiu jitsu. IF (and that’s a big if) Herman can keep the fight standing and avoid going to the ground with the jiu jitsu ace, he should take home an easy win. If it does go to the ground, we are confident Herman can do enough (he is a black belt in jiu jitsu as well) to avoid Leites submissions. People need to remember that every fight starts on the feet and that is where Herman will have his best shot to win. We placed a 3 unit bet on Herman at 2.8 to 1.
Our final two picks which don’t have favourable odds are Rick Story to defeat Brian Ebersole (59% of the time) and Erik Perez to defeat Edwin Figueroa (58% of the time). The main intriguing thing in Story’s case is he was brought in to Tri Star to help Georges St Pierre train for Hendricks. With St Pierre, Story and MacDonald all preparing to fight at UFC 167, it could quite possibly boost the chances of all 3 to taste victory on Saturday. For now we will hold off on placing a bet, but a Tri Star parlay may be a worthwhile play on this card and would likely pay off well too.
Sonnen over Evans. 3 units at 2.6 to 1
Woodley over Koscheck. 3 units at 2 to 1
Cerrone over Dunham. 3 units at 1.95 to 1
Herman over Leites. 3 units at 2.8 to 1
St Pierre over Hendricks
MacDonald over Lawler
Perez over Figueroa
Story over Ebersole
Here are the best fight odds for UFC 167: