We are just a week away from UFC Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs Philippou which will be live on Wednesday, January 15 from the Arena at Gwinnett Centre in Duluth, Georgia. Headlining the card will be middleweights Luke Rockhold and Costa Philippou and the event also features an interesting co-main event match-up in Lorenz Larkin and Brad Tavares. The Fight Pass prelims start at 4pm ET, with the Fox Sports 1 prelim starting at 5pm and the main card starting at 7pm ET. By the way, if you haven’t checked out Reed Kuhn’s Fightnomics it is a must read for any UFC fan, or anyone interested in betting on UFC fights.
Rockhold vs Philippou is primarily a striker vs grappler match-up, except for the fact that Luke Rockhold has shown some decent striking in recent memory. He managed to TKO both Paul Bradley and the heavy handed Keith Jardine while in Strikeforce, but had a disappointing UFC debt against the ageless Vitor Belfort where he was knocked out early in the middle of the first round. In addition to the TKO victories mentioned, he holds decision wins over the #3 middleweight Ronaldo Souza and the #9 middleweight Tim Kennedy. Philippou has historically shown that it is possible to outgrapple him to a decision win. As a former boxer, there have never been questions about Philippou’s striking and it was on display in his TKO victory over Tim Boetsch just over a year ago. The grappling holes in Philippou’s game were really on display in his UFC 165 match-up with Francis Carmont where he was able to land little in the way of offense as Carmont remained in full control for all 3 rounds. Our model has Rockhold as the huge favourite to win this fight and we see the likely path to victory as a decision. We will hold off on placing a bet for now, but could add him to a parlay later in the week.
The co-main event also features middleweights as Lorenz Larkin and Brad Tavares will do battle. Our model has Larkin, the favourite, to win the fight by a small margin. Unfortunately, it is not decisive enough to place a bet at the current line of just under 1.5 to 1. Instead, we placed a bet on the over/under line. The over 2.5 rounds on this fight currently sits at 1.58 to 1. Generally, we would probably stay away from placing a bet on an over line when it is close to 1.5 to 1. We see a lot of value here though, with 2 guys who have never been finished (besides one KO loss for Larkin which was overturned due to a failed drug test) and who haven’t finished anyone since June, 2011. We would be incredibly surprised if a finish happened and we put the likelihood of that somewhere down around 10%. With this in mind, we placed a 3 unit bet at 1.58 to 1 on this fight to go over 2.5 rounds.
In the middle of the main card will be another middleweight bout (the UFC seems to focus on weight classes on a per event basis, which probably makes the scheduling a lot easier) between Yoel Romero and Derek Brunson. Romero enters the fight amid a lot of hype and a TKO victory over Rony Markes, his second straight UFC win via TKO or KO. In that fight though, Romero seemed incredibly gassed in the final round and appeared lucky to be able to finish the game Markes. It was an impressive win nonetheless against a guy who has won 7 straight and 3 straight in the UFC. Brunson on the other hand, comes into this fight riding a quick submission stoppage that was set up with a head kick over highly touted prospect Brian Houston. One thing that makes predicting this fight is that we only have 3 fights worth of data on Romero. He has never been successful in defending a takedown according to Fightmetric, but has only had 3 takedowns attempted against. Our model has Brunson as the big favourite to win this fight. We expect Brunson to go for the takedowns early and often to try and exploit Romero’s potential weakness. At the current line of 3.37 though, we feel the value in Brunson is huge so we placed a 3 unit bet on Brunson.
In the remaining 3 main card bouts, our model is only picking favourites and besides Cole Miller, they are all less than 1.5 to 1. Miller is around 1.6 to 1 to defeat Sam Sicilia, but we will hold off on that bout for now as our model only has Miller as the slight favourite. We will look to possibly add a couple of these fighters to our parlay bets for this card which we will get posted early next week.
Over 2.5 rounds Tavares vs Larkin. 3 units at 1.58 to 1
Brunson over Romero. 3 units at 3.37 to 1
Here are the best odds for UFC Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs Philippou: