UFC 72: Victory Saturday, June 16, 1 PM ET (3 PM PPV start) Odyssey Arena, Northern Ireland
Weigh-in results (Friday, June 15):
Rich Franklin (185) vs Yushin Okami (185) Forrest Griffin (204) vs Hector Ramirez (204) Jason MacDonald (185) vs Rory Singer (186) Tyson Griffin (155) vs Clay Guida (155) Marcus Davis (169) vs Jason Tan (169) Eddie Sanchez (234) vs Colin Robinson (238) Ed Herman (186) vs Scott Smith (185) Dustin Hazelett (169) vs Steve Lynch (170)
Saturday's UFC pay-per-view comes to us from Belfast. For American bettors, this means you're watching in the afternoon, with a start time of 3 PM ET. Tuesday's Ultimate Fight Night on SpikeTV was the start of an exciting run for UFC fans. This weekend's pay-per-view is followed next weekend by The Ultimate Fighter 5 finale featuring the highly anticipated rematch between B.J. Penn and Jens Pulver. Two weeks later comes another pay-per-view with an unusually strong card, including two title bouts.
As has been typical, the last UFC pay-per-view brought us yet another upset in the main event, although Quinton Jackson as an underdog was more influenced by his lack of name recognition than his actual experience. Unfortunately, the linesmakers have become more and more cautious with UFC offerings. For this weekend's pay-per-view, the first lines really only came out on Thursday, and many shops hadn't even opened up the majority of the card as of Friday afternoon. While the Franlin-Okami bout has been widely available for some time, the rest of the bouts have been virtually untouched by oddsmakers. UFC markets fluctutate widely after opening, so it seems as if the linesmakers are trying to save themselves the headache of opening up early. This isn't a good trend for UFC bettors, as they lose the benefits of aggressive line shopping on the early numbers.
Here's a preview of Saturday night's fights, with current odds from Belmont.com:
Dustin Hazelett (8-3-0) vs. Stevie "Smiling Assassin" Lynch (4-0-0) Current Odds: Hazelett -260; Lynch +200
Haezelett is only a college sophomore, but is experienced in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. He was unimpressive in his UFC debut, being submitted in the first round by Tony Desouza. Stevie Lynch is a local talent, fighting out of Northern Ireland, so he can expect strong crowd support. His experience is very limited, but he has a punchers chance of winning this fight, especially as a big underdog. Prediction: Lynch, 2nd round TKO.
Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith (11-3-0) vs. Ed "Short Fuse" Herman (12-5-0) Current Odds: Smith +100, Herman -130.
This is another battle of reality-show stars, with Smith appearing on TUF 4 and Herman losing in the finals of TUF 3. Smith has the advantage in punching and will look to keep this fight in stand-up. Herman received a lot of attention on TUF 3 but hasn't lived up to that expectation, going only 1-2 in the UFC. He is much more comfortable as a submission fighter or in ground-and-pound, and should be dominant on the ground. Herman has the style match up to his advantage, and is likely underrated after his early UFC losses. The line is a lot shorter than expected and worth a wager. Prediction: Herman, 1st round submission.
Eddie "The Manic Hispanic"Sanchez (6-1-0) vs. Colin "Big C" Robinson (8-2-0) Current Odds: Sanchez -185, Robinson +155
We last saw Sanchez being knocked out by Mirko "Crocop" Filipovic back in UFC 67, as one of the biggest underdogs in UFC history. Robinson is another relatively unknown Irish fighter. Both are big punchers, and this fight should be a stand-up brawl. Sanchez is the deserved favorite, but Robinson has a punchers chance. The line looks close enough to keep me from betting this one. Prediction: Sanchez, 1st round KO.
Jason Tan (4-1-0) vs. Marcus "The Celtic Warrior" Davis (11-3-0) Current Odds: Tan +300, Davis, -450
The last of the local talent recruited for this event, Tan fights out of Liverpool, England and has a very thin record in smaller promotions. Marcus Davis comes to us via TUF 2. He is an experienced boxer but has some weaknesses in grappling. Davis, however, should be able to control this fight and cruise to an easy win. Prediction: Davis, 2nd round KO.
Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (21-7-0) vs. Tyson Griffin (8-1-0) Current Odds: Guida +160, Griffin -200
Although Guida is only 1-1 in the UFC, he has a lot of fight experience. Both are highly experienced wrestlers, although Griffin will likely have the edge in stand-up exchanges. This fight is closer than it looks on paper and Guida is worth a shot at the current odds. Prediction: Guida by decision.
Rory "Outburst" Singer (11-6-0) vs. Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald (18-8-0) Singer +190, MacDonald -240
Singer is 2-1 overall in the UFC since being featured on TUF 3, although his wins were against lesser opponents; MacDonald is coming off a loss to Rich Frankin (where I backed him as a Best Bet). MacDonald is being underrated here, and Singer is a big step down in class from Franklin. Both fighters are well rounded, but MacDonald should be able to outlast Singer. Prediction: MacDonald, 3rd round submission.
Hector "Sick Dog" Ramirez (6-2-1) vs. Forrest Griffin (13-4-0) Current Odds: Ramirez +160, Griffin -200.
Ramirez has appeared in UFC only once before, a loss to James Irvin in UFC 65. Griffin was the TUF 1 champion, but he has lost 2 of his last 3 in the UFC (against Keith Jardine and Tito Ortiz), and he will have to bounce back from a TKO that seemed to take a lot out of him mentally in his last fight. Griffin will have the advantage in stand-up, while Ramirez's best chance to win will be to take the fight to the mat. With a decent game plan, Ramirez can win this fight. Prediction: Ramirez, 3rd round submission.
Rich "Ace" Franklin (21-2-0) vs. Yushin Okami (20-3-0) Current Odds: Franklin -205, Okami +165
This should be an excellent match-up with Franklin being superior on his feet and Okami a terrific ground fighter. Both have compiled impressive records, although Franklin has faced far more experienced opponents. If Okami can keep the fight on the ground, he has an opportunity win, although Franklin has shown himself to be a smart and versatile fighter. This line is a little too juicy to pass on Okami. Predcition: Okami, 3rd round TKO.
Picks (YTD: 9-5 -0.25 units; Best Bets: 2-2, -0.25)
Ed Herman -130 (Best Bet)
Clay Guida +160
Jason MacDonald -240
Yushin Okami +165
Opinions (YTD: 12-11 -2.35 units)
Stevie Lynch +200
Eddie Sanchez -185
Marcus Davis -450
Hector Ramirez +160