UFC 75: Champion vs. Champion
Saturday, September 8th, 3 PM ET, 9 PM ET/PT via tape delay on Spike TV
O2 Arena, London
Weigh-in: Friday, September 7th, 10:30 AM ET (covered by ESPNEWS and UFC.com)
The favorite run continues in the UFC, as Partick Cote and Randy Couture were the only underdogs to end up victorious at UFC 74. This follows two UFC events completely swept by the favorites, reversing the early summer trend of underdog-friendly betting cards.
While this installment of the Ultimate Fighting Championship will be aired for free on SpikeTV, it will be tape-delayed for North American viewers, as it is part of UFC's recent push to go international, this time in London.
Here's a preview of Saturday night's fights, with current odds from Bookmaker.com.
Anthony "The Crush" Torres(5-0-0) vs. Jess "The Joker" Liaudin(11-8-0)
Current Odds: Liaudin -115; Torres -115
Liaudin submitted Dennis Siver back in UFC 70, but has an unaccomplished career otherwise. Torres is undefeated but untested, last having beaten Pat Healy at Fight Night 6. I am inclined to go with Torres, though the long layoff and lack of competition make this a lean only.
Naoyuki Kotani (17-6-5)vs. Dennis Siver (10-4-0)
Current Odds: Kotani -175; Siver +145
Siver was submitted by Jess Liaudin in his debut at UFC 70. Kotani also lost his UFC debut, being decisioned by Thiago Tavares in UFC Fight Night 9. Neither has much experience or has shown anything particularly noteworthy, so this fight is a pass for me, with a lean towards Kotani. Prediction: Kotani, 3rd round submission.
Tomasz Drwal (14-1-0) vs. Thiago Silva (10-0-0)
Current Odds: Silva -325; Drwal +265
Drwal is out of Polish MMA, debuting in the UFC after fighting in very small promotions against unknowns. Silva is out of the Brazilian Chute Box camp, and won his debut in UFC 71. While Silva is the likely winner, I can't recommend laying money against a young and relatively unknown fighter like Drwal at these odds. Prediction: Silva, 1st round TKO.
Gleison Tibau (14-4-0) vs. Terry Etim (10-0-0)
Current Odds: Tibau -175; Etim +145
This bout features two submission specialists. 9 of Etim's 10 wins have ended by submission. Tibau is better-rounded, and has a significant edge in experience. I lean towards Etim, although he hasn't really been tested yet and could be due for a letdown. Prediction: Etim by decision.
Houston "The Assassin" Alexander (7-1-0) vs. Alessio "Legionarius" Sakara (11-5-0)
Current Odds: Alexander -165; Sakara +135
Sakara's last 3 UFC fights have all ended in the first round - unfortunately, 2 of them were losses for "Legionarius". Alexander is coming off a 1st round TKO of Keith Jardine in his UFC debut back in May. Alexander won't have to worry about launching his hip-hop career when he beats Sakara convincingly on Saturday night. Prediction: Alexander, 1st round TKO.
Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis (12-3-0) vs. Paul "Relentless" Taylor (8-1-1)
Current Odds: Davis -200; Taylor +160
British Paul Taylor will be receiving the hometown support here, but that might not be enough to overcome Davis, a talented striker who has won nine straight since the TUF 2 finale. Taylor debuted in the UFC the last time it was held across the pond (UFC 70 in April), winning in a 3rd round TKO. Home field advantage won't be enough here, and I see Davis winning by strikes. Prediction: Davis, 2nd round TKO.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (22-5-2) vs. Cheick Kongo (10-3-1)
Current Odds: Filipovic -420; Kongo +320
Cro Cop was supposed rise straight to the top upon entering UFC; Gabriel Gonzaga had different plans. Kongo holds a decent advantage in size, 2" in height and 20 pounds, and has been moving up the UFC ranks quickly. Unfortunately, he has the misfortune of facing Filipovic, who should bounce back strongly after his fluke loss to Gonzaga. Cro Cop is still an elite fighter, and laying 4-to-1 with this caliber fighter against a much less experience opponent is quite reasonable.
Matt "The Hammer" Hamill (3-0-0) vs. Michael "The Count" Bisping (13-0-0)
Current Odds: Hamill +200; Bisping -250
This bout features two TUF 3 alumni who were highly regarded during their reality TV stints. Hamill has the edge in power and wrestling, but Bisping's experience and all-around talent should give him a substantial edge. While both looked competitive in the early going, Bisping has proven to be the much better fighter during his time in the UFC, and Hamill has shown plenty of weak spots that can be exploited. Prediction: Bisping, 1st round TKO.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (27-6-0) vs. Dan Henderson (22-5-0)
Current Odds: Jackson -135; Henderson +105
This main event marks the true assimilation of PRIDE into the UFC. Henderson is the PRIDE middleweight and welterweight champion, the first person to hold both titles simultaneously. He will look to add UFC Lightweight champion to those accolades, a title Jackson took from Chuck Liddell back in May. Jackson has only lost 3 fights since 2001, falling to Mauricio Rua and twice to Wanderlai Silva. Coincidentally, Henderson's last fight was a win against Silva. This is a battle of two great fighters that is too close to call. I'll lean towards Henderson, with his great wrestling skills, at the plus-money. Prediction: Henderson, 3rd round TKO.
Picks (14-14 -2.55 units; Best Bets: 3-3, -0.60 units)
Houston Alexander -165
Marcus Davis -200
Mirko Filipovic -420
Michael Bisping -250 (Best Bet)
Opinions (17-18 -4.35 units)
Anthony Torres -115
Naoyuki Kotani -175
Thiago Silva -325
Terry Etim +145
Dan Henderson +105
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