UFC 171 is finally here and we will now have a new welterweight champ. Johny Hendricks will get a chance at redemption as he takes on the UFC and Strikeforce vet, Robbie Lawler. This is definitely the best card of the year so far and the card is pretty stacked. The UFC has set this card up to be somewhat of a welterweight tournament, with 5 of the 13 bouts being in the welterweight division. The other welterweight bouts include Condit against Woodley, Lombard against Shields, Story against Gastelum, and Garcia against Spencer. On the main card we also have Myles Jury and Diego Sanchez, while Nikita Krylov against Ovince St. Preux kicks off the PPV. Some up and coming stars like flyweight Justin Scoggins and welterweight Alex Garcia are featured and there is one female bout as Raquel Pennington takes on Jessica Andrade. With the absence of GSP, the welterweight picture is about to get reshuffled and upon the conclusion of the event, we should get a better understanding of welterweight division. We're in for a great night of fights and i'm most looking forward to the co-main event with Condit versus Woodley and I can't wait to see if Hector Lombard can knock Jake Shields out. I break down every single fight on the card and give you my predictions and best bets.
Johny "Bigg Rigg" Hendricks (15-2 MMA 10-2 UFC) Vs. "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler (22-9 MMA 7-3 UFC)
Welterweight (170) bout for the vacant welterweight title that GSP has given up. Hendricks looks to prove to the world that he is the best welterweight, even though a lot of people believed that he beat GSP in his last fight. As for Lawler, he has quietly amassed a 3-0 record since returning back to the UFC for his second stint. Hendricks comes in the favourite at -320 and Lawler the underdog at +260, Hendricks originally opened at -400 and has dropped, i'm assuming that it's because of his trouble making weight for the weigh-ins. Even at -320, the line is too high and unplayable to lay it on Hendricks straight up, but there is some value in Lawler at +260 and is worthy of a small play straight up. The two fighters match up well and with both guys being excellent wrestlers, that should cancel each other out and we should be in for a stand up war. This isn't a strong play both worthy of a small flyer.
Robbie Lawler +260
Carlos "The Natural Born Killer" Condit (29-7 MMA 6-3 UFC) Vs. Tyron "The Chosen One" Woodley (12-2 MMA 2-1 UFC)
Welterweight (170) bout to determine who will be the next contender of the belt, an impressive win for either fighter will most likely earn them the next title shot. Since consecutive losses to GSP and Johny Hendricks, Condit has since revenged a loss to Martin Kampmann by ending the fight in the fourth round via TKO. Woodley on the other hand is comping off an impressive knockout victory over Josh Koscheck, and out of his 3 UFC bouts 2 were won via 1st round KO and one loss to Jake Shields in a 3 round decision. Carlos Condit comes in the favourite at -160 and Woodley the underdog at +140, this fight is very close and can easily go either way, to me this fight is more of a pick'em and there is definitely value in Woodley at +140, Woodley has knockout power but Condit has never been knocked out in his entire MMA career. This fight has performance of the night bonus all over it and you can catch a juicy prop bet before the card starts, Condit/Woodley award winner at +425. Some other juicy ones are Woodley wins by 3 round decision at +700, or Woodley wins inside distance at +750. Condit winning inside the distance is +153 and Condit winning by 3 round decision is at +329. This is a very interesting matchup and while I was originally leaning towards Condit via decision i'm starting to see more value in Woodley, especially with those prop bet numbers. I could see this fight going back and forth and going to a decision with over 2.5 rounds set at -150, that might be a safer bet.
Over 2.5 rounds -150
Myles "Fury" Jury (13-0 MMA 4-0 UFC) Vs. Diego "The Dream" Sanchez (24-6 MMA 13-6 UFC)
Lightweight (155) bout between TUF 1 winner Diego Sanchez and TUF 15 standout Myles Jury. This will be Jury's biggest fight in his career and his unblemished record is on the line against one of the toughest guys in the lightweight division. Sanchez is coming off one of his most entertaining bouts of his career against Gilbert Melendez, although Sanchez lost that fight, the way he came back in the third round makes it feel like he didn't even lose. Jury comes in the favourite at -170 and Sanchez the underdog at +150, I think Jury will win but there is definitely value in Sanchez at +150. I could see Jury outpointing Sanchez throughout the fight and winning via decision. You could find a nice prop bet on 5dimes where you get Jury via 3 round decision at +152, might be worth a small flyer.
Myles Jury -170
Hector "Lightning" Lombard (33-4-1 MMA 2-2 UFC) Vs. Jake Shields (29-6-1 MMA 4-2-1 UFC)
Welterweight (170) bout between two fighters looking to get closer to a title shot with an impressive win. Lombard's last fight was his welterweight debut back in October, where he scored a first round knockout over Nate Marquardt. Meanwhile, Strikeforce vet Jake Shields has 3 wins and 1 no contest in his last four fights, the 1 no contest comes against Ed Herman, a middleweight bout in which Shields tested positive for a banned substance. Lombard comes in the favourite at -185 and Shields the underdog at +160, the line has jumped up and down, Lombard started at -170 and jumped up as high as -220. In the four fights Lombard has in the UFC, 2 are decision losses and 2 are first round knockout victories, so i'm not sure which Lombard shows up. Shields is also the type of fighter that just lays on you and wrestles you to a decision, so that bothers me as well. Lombard's best chances on winning this is if he can land a big shot on Shield's chin and finish him from there, as long as the fight stays standing i'll favour Lombard. There are some juicy prop bet numbers like Lombard within the distance at +161, Lombard in the 1st round at +250, and Lombard wins via TKO/KO at +168.
Hector Lombard -185
Ovince St. Preux (14-5 MMA 2-0 UFC) Vs. Nikita "Al Capone" Krylov (16-3 MMA 1-1 UFC)
Light Heavyweight (205) bout between Strikeforce vet OSP and the young Ukrainian Nikita Krylov. OSP looks to stay undefeated in the UFC and since 2010 he has only one loss and it comes to Gegard Mousasi. Krylov is a replacement for Thiago Silva who was to be OSP's original opponent but was released by the UFC after his recent brush with the law. OSP comes in the favourite at -380 and Krylov the underdog at +315, I like OSP in this matchup but the number is too high to go straight up. OSP is worthy of being but in a parlay but I would tread lightly on this one as a fight like this is only put on the main card for a reason. The UFC believes that this fight could end with somebody getting KTFO and I would have to agree.
Ovince St. Preux -380
Kelvin Gastelum (7-0 MMA 2-0 UFC) Vs. Rick "The Horror" Story (16-7 MMA 9-5 UFC)
Welterweight (170) bout between the old guard prospect and the new guard prospect as Kelvin Gastelum looks to stay undefeated, while Rick Story looks to go on a streak and prove that he's still a force to be reckoned with. After losing in his UFC debut, Rick Story went on to win 6 straight, including wins against Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves. Since than Story has gone 3-4 and is looking to make it 2 in a row since beating Brian Ebersole in November. Gastelum has looked great at welterweight and this will be the biggest fight in his young career. Gastelum is the favourite at -160 and Story the underdog at +140, I'm leaning towards Gastelum but I can't rule out Story who's fighting in his 15th UFC bout.
Kelvin Gastelum -160
Jessica "Bate Estaca" Andrade (10-3 MMA 1-1 UFC) Vs. Raquel "Rocky" Pennington (4-3 MMA 0-1 UFC)
Women's Bantamweight (135) bout between two prospects coming off wins and looking to create a winning streak. This will be Andrade's third UFC bout and Pennington's second, Andrade was originally set to face TUF 18 women's winner Julianna Pena, but a devestating injury will have her out of action until 2015. Pennington, who was also on TUF 18 takes Pena's place. Andrade comes in the favourite at -260 and Pennington the underdog at +220, I don't agree with this line and I think this fight is closer to a pick'em. I could see this fight going back and forth with each fighter landing their fair share of strikes, Pennington will have a 5 inch height advantage and a slight reach advantage as well, i'm not sure how much of that advantage will come into play but i'm expecting a slugfest. If Andrade takes this fight to the ground she'll probably have her way and is more of a threat to submit her opponent, but if she can't take Pennington down, I see "Rocky" winning the stand up game. I definitely see a lot of value in Pennington but the fact that she could'nt finish Roxanne Modafferi in her UFC debut worries me. This isn't a strong play but more of a lean, worth a small play but tread lightly.
Raquel Pennington +220
Dennis "The Menace" Bermudez (12-3 MMA 5-1 UFC) Vs. Jimy "The Kid" Hettes (11-1 MMA 3-1 UFC)
Featherweight (145) bout between two prospects who are looking to climb the ladder and make some noise in the featherweight division. Since losing to Diego Brandao in the TUF 14 finale, Bermudez has looked great winning five straight bouts and looking to make it six against Hettes. Bermudez has great wrestling and is extremely strong for a featherweight. Hettes, on the otherhand is very durable and is a major threat on the ground, he is even a threat from the bottom going for sweeps and various submission attacks. Bermudez comes in as the favourite at -250 and Hettes the underdog at +210, I think this fight is going to be close and I see some value on Hettes. Bermudez has more momentum coming into this fight but Hettes is no push-over and is deceivingly strong for a featherweight. Hettes comes in with a slight height and reach advantage and we'll have to see if he can use that to his advantage, if the fight goes to decision I would lean towards Bermudez but Hettes could pull off submissions from anywhere and his best chances at winning this fight would be via submission. I don't consider this a strong play but more of a lean.
Dennis Bermudez -250
Alex "The Dominican Nightmare" Garcia (11-1 MMA 1-0 UFC) Vs. Sean "Black Magic" Spencer (11-2 MMA 2-1 UFC)
Welterweight (170) bout between two fighters coming off wins and hoping to extend a streak and make some noise in the welterweight division. Alex Garcia fights out of tristar gym in Montreal and comes into this fight with a lot of buzz. Spencer, on the other hand is coming off consecutive victories since dropping his UFC debut against Rafael Natal. Garcia is the second biggest favourite on the card at -400, while Spencer is the underdog at +325. While I agree that Garcia should be the favourite, I think the fight will be a lot closer than the line would have you think. Spencer has been looking pretty good of late and we only have 1 UFC bout to gauge Garcia on. With the number being so high on Garcia I would suggest playing him in a parlay as opposed to laying the number straight up.
Alex Garcia -400
Renee Forte (8-3 MMA 1-2 UFC) Vs. Francisco Trevino (11-0 MMA 0-0 UFC)
Lightweight (155) bout between TUF Brazil 1 member Forte and the undefeated promotional newcomer and Texas native Frank Trevino. Forte is coming off a knockout loss to John Makdessi back in September and looks to get back in to the in column against the unbeaten Trevino. Forte comes in the favourite at -140 and Trevino the underdog at +120, I agree with this line as Forte should be a slight favourite, Forte has gone through the TUF house and has fought three times in the UFC thus far. It's hard to call Trevino a prospect as he is 32 and it looks like the UFC put him on the card because he is a local fighter. I'm still expecting a competitive fight but my lean would be towards Forte via decision.
Renee Forte -140
Will Campuzano (13-5 MMA 0-3 UFC) Vs. Justin "Tank" Scoggins (8-0 MMA 1-0 UFC)
Flyweight (125) bout between WEC veteran Will Campuzano and the undefeated prospect Justin Scoggins. Campuzano was originally slated to take on Darrell Montague but an injury took him out of the bout and Scoggins steps in. This will be Campuzano's first flyweight bout in the UFC, his last fight against Sergio Pettis was at bantamweight. Scoggins is the biggest favourite on the card opening at -485 and currently at -530, while Campuzano, the underdog currently at +418. There's a lot of hype around Scoggins, and rightfully so, he is an exciting fighter and a young prospect in the flyweight division. I believe Scoggins will be too fast and shifty for Campuzano, who won't be able to keep up with his pace. Campuzano does have more experience and comes in a bit taller but I don't think this will really factor in to the fight. I like Scoggins in this matchup and with the number being so high he is better off being played in a parlay rather than straight up.
Justin Scoggins -530
Bubba "The Menace" McDaniel (21-7 MMA 1-1 UFC) Sean "Tarzan" Strickland (13-0 MMA 0-0 UFC)
Middleweight (185) bout between TUF 17 competitor McDaniel and late replacement, undefeated, promotional newcomer Sean Strickland. McDaniel was originally set to face Tor Troeng, another TUF 17 member but had to pull out due to an injury. Strickland now steps in to make his UFC debut on about 2 week notice. Although Strickland is coming in on short notice to make his UFC debut, he is currently the favourite and McDaniel is the underdog, Strickland is at -145 and McDaniel is +125. It seems like nobody has faith in McDaniel, oddsmakers included. I believe that this will be a close match and can definitely go either way. McDaniel has some value at +125, considering he has gone through the TUF house, has 2 UFC bouts under him and had a full training camp before this fight. I also like the over 1.5 rounds which is set at -170, this might be a safer play than McDaniel straight up. I'm just not sure what to expect from Strickland and i'm afraid he might get the jitters in his UFC debut. This isn't a strong play but more of a lean.
Bubba McDaniel +125
Daniel "The Pit" Pineda (18-10 MMA 3-3 UFC) Vs. Robert Whiteford (10-2 MMA 0-1 UFC)
Featherweight (145) bout between two fighters who are coming off losses and are looking to get back in the win column. This will be Pineda's 7th UFC bout and Whiteford's 2nd time in the octagon. Pineda is coming off a decision loss to Diego Brandao and Whiteford was submitted by Jimy Hettes in his debut. Pineda comes in the favourite at -230 and Whiteford the underdog at +190, I agree with this line as the much more experienced Pineda should have an edge. Both fighters are very aggressive and this should make for a very entertaining opening bout. I can see Pineda getting a submission or atleast a unanimous decision, he is worth of being put in a parlay.
Daniel Pineda -230
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