For a UFC Fight Night Card, UFC Fight Night 36 has a surprisingly solid main and co-main event. As we alluded to in our end of 2014 champion predictions post, the middleweight division is probably the most stacked UFC division currently and will be one to keep an eye on throughout the year. All four of the middleweights fighting in the main and co-main events could be champion by the end of 2014 should they win a few critical fights. The drop off from co-main event to the rest of the card is relatively heavy though, as should be expected since this is only a fight night card. Regardless, we are here to bring you our predictions and bets for the card! 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, Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi will collide with the winner potentially being next in line to face the champ, Chris Weidman. Machida looked impressive in his middleweight debut, but it is hard to guage how good he really will be from the first round knockout of Mark Munoz. The Fight Metric stats only have Machida throwing 5 strikes total and it almost seemed like Munoz was holding back against Machida. Machida’s style tends to be to sit back and counter punch, so when he is matched up with someone who is unwilling to move forward, it makes for a boring fight. Mousasi comes into the fight riding a 7 fight unbeaten streak, but fighting Machida amounts to a massive jump in competition. While Ovince St Preux is a decent fighter, he is probably the best guy Mousasi beat on his unbeaten streak and he is nowhere near the level of “The Dragon”. Our model has Machida as a big time favourite, but at 1.43 to 1, we felt he better belonged in a parlay than in a straight bet. While we didn’t like the money line on Machida, we did like the prop bet on Machida to win inside the distance. We placed a 1.5 unit bet at 2.90 to 1 on Machida to win inside the distance.
The co-main event features a couple more top middleweights as Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza takes on Francis Carmont. Carmont enters the fight following a dominant performance over Costa Philippou, but the result of that fight was more because Philippou lacks a ground game and good takedown defense than because of Carmont’s skill level. At Fight Night 36, Carmont will be taking on a guy who has made a name for himself with impressive submission grappling throughout his career. Carmont will not be able to hold Souza down for 15 minutes and is likely to have to defend several submission attempts. Souza entered the UFC impressively from Strikeforce with 2 straight first round wins over Chris Camozzi and Yushin Okami. In fact, Souza has just one loss in the last 5 years and that came to Luke Rockhold and was for the Strikeforce middleweight title. Like Machida, our model has Souza as the significant favourite to take the victory. Also like Machida, we don’t feel there is a lot of value in the current money line on Souza which sits at around 1.25 to 1. Instead of the straight bet, we will parlay these two together with a third fighter.
That third fighter is Erick Silva. Silva will be taking on Takenori Sato. Sato boasts an unimpressive 17-8-7 record (draws are more common in Japan with 2 round fights). His recent wins come over the 0-3 Islam Galayev, the 9-7 Shingo Suzuki and the 45-31 Keiichiro Yamamiya. Obviously, Silva, who is 3-3 in his UFC career will be an astronomical step up in competition for Sato. Factor in that Sato will be fighting for the first time in the UFC and that Japanese fighters tend to not cut too much weight and we’re looking at a huge advantage for Silva. The line on Silva opened at 1.083, and has since risen to 1.11. Obviously, you’d have to bet a huge amount to make any money there, so instead we added Silva to our parlay. We placed a 2 unit parlay bet on Silva, Souza and Machida at 1.91 to 1.
That’s all the model picks we have for this card. Viscardi Andrade is a somewhat tempting bet with his quick disposal of Bristol Marunde at UFC 163, but we will hold off on that bet for now to see how the line moves as the fight approaches. Oliveira could make for a great parlay addition (especially with the with a fighter or two from the preliminary card, but again we will bring you that bet in our full predictions and bets post.
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Machida over Mousasi inside the distance. 1.5 units at 2.90 to 1
Silva/Souza/Machida. 2 units at 1.91 to 1