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April-17-2008,
UFC 83: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani

UFC 83: Serra vs. St-Pierre 2
Saturday, April 19th, 10 PM ET
Centre Bell, Montreal
Weigh-in: Friday, April 18th, 4 PM ET, live online

The cancellation of a tentative event in England has left us without a UFC Pay-per-view in 7 weeks, quite a break considering the rapid pace fights have been coming as of late. Perhaps the UFC is trying to make up for the vacuum by jamming 11 fights into this event. This is UFC's first venture into the great frozen north known as Canada, and a number of up-and-coming Canucks will get their big shot in the limelight on Saturday night. The matchmaking on this card leaves something to be desired, as even the smallest favorite for the 5 main fights is still laying nearly 3-to-1.

Here's a preview of Saturday night's fights, with current odds from Bookmaker.com.

Kuniyoshi Hironaka (11-4-0) vs. Jonathan "The Road Warrior" Goulet (21-9-0)
Current Odds: Goulet +190; Hironaka -240

This may be Goulet's first appearance on a UFC pay-per-view, but he has plenty of experience in the Octagon with a 3-3 record in Fight Night and TUF Finale events. He will also have a "home-town" crowd as one of five Canadian fighters on the card. Hironaka graduated from Shooto to amass a 1-2 record in the UFC, with losses to Jon Fitch and, most recently, Thiago Alves. This is a big fight for both and presents a closer match than the line would suggest. Prediction: Goulet by decision.

Brad Morris (8-2-0) vs. Cain Velasquez (2-0-0)
Current Odds: Morris +175; Velasquez -215

Both fighters are barely on the radar, having never appeared in a major event, and both are coming off recent wins in Bodog Fight. Velasquez fights out of American Kickboxing Academy and has represented them well with both of his wins coming by 1st round TKO. Morris seems to be getting sent in as the tomato can here. Prediction: Velasquez, 1st round TKO.

Rich "No Love" Clementi (30-12-1) vs. Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout (13-3-1)
Current Odds: Clementi +145; Stout -175

Stout is another Canadian looking to make a splash in front of a friendly crowd. He has only fought in the Octagon four times, losing to Kenny Florian and Spencer Fisher, and beating Fisher and Per Eklund. Stout would prefer to keep this fight standing up, while Clementi is better-rounded and will have the edge on the mat. Clementi's chin will pose a formidable challenge to the hard-hitting Stout, as he has only one TKO against him, a stoppage due to cuts way back in 2001. Clementi is on a four-fight win streak and looked decent against Melvin Guillard in his last outing, so look for another good showing here. Prediction: Clementi, 3rd round submission.

Ed "Short Fuse" Herman (14-5-0) vs. Demian Maia (6-0-0)
Current Odds: Herman +170; Maia -210

After dropping his first two UFC contests, Herman has bounced back with 3 straight wins. Maia is an elite jiu-jitsu practitioner, but Herman is no slouch either with an aggressive ground-and-pound attack. Herman may have the edge in stand-up, but if he takes it to the mat he may be vulnerable to being submitted. Nonetheless, Herman is worth a shot as a generous underdog. Prediction: Herman, 3rd round TKO.

Jason "Dooms" Day (16-5-0) vs. Alan "The Talent" Belcher (12-4-0)
Current Odds: Day +275; Belcher -345

Belcher is 3-2 since entering the UFC, with losses coming to Yushin Okami and Kendall Grove. Day is a journeyman fighter making his UFC debut as a fill-in for the injured Patrick Cote. While Belcher is deserving of the heavy favorite role, it's always risky betting against a motivated long-shot fighter at these odds. Prediction: Belcher, 1st round submission.

Joe "El Dirte" Doerksen (39-11-0) vs. Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald (19-9-0)
Current Odds: Doerksen +150; MacDonald -180

This match is sure to be a crowd favorite, with two Canadian natives squaring off. Doerksen is coming off a loss to Ed Herman at UFC 77, bringing his record in the Octagon to 1-4. He is well rounded with an excellent submission game and a long resume. MacDonald has lost two of his last three, though against elite opponents in Rich Franklin and Yushin Okami. These two fighters have met before, at "Ultimate Cage Wars" in Manitoba two and a half years ago. MacDonald took the victory in that one via 4th round rear naked choke. Though both are excellent ground fighters, expect more of the same in the rematch as MacDonald bounces back to better form. Prediction: Macdonald, 2nd round TKO.

Mark Bocek (5-1-0) vs. Mac Danzig (17-4-1)
Current Odds: Bocek +375; Danzig -475

Danzig strung together an impressive run of victories in minor promotions before winning The Ultimate Fighter 6. He is dropping down from middleweight for this fight, which should prove an advantage. Bocek looked unimpressive in a decision win over Douglas Evans at UFC 79 in December. Danzig has a big edge in ability and experience, but Bocek's ground game could pose a problem and this line is a bit high to back Danzig with cash. Prediction: Danzig, 3rd round submission.

Charles "Chainsaw" McCarthy (10-4-0) vs. Michael "The Count" Bisping (14-1-0)
Current Odds: McCarthy +280; Bisping -350

McCarthy is a TUF 4 holdover, whose 1-1 record in the UFC so far has not been impressive. Each of his 10 wins has come by submission, the last 5 all by armbar. Bisping started off with a bang, but has come down to earth in his last two, a decision win over Matt Hamill and a decision loss to Rashad Evans. This is Bisping's first fight at middleweight, and the size advantage should help. Bisping has struggled in his last two against very strong wrestlers, but McCarthy doesn't pose that same problem matchup. Prediction: Bisping, 3rd round TKO.

Nate "Rock" Quarry (9-2-0) vs. Kalib Starnes (8-2-1)
Current Odds: Quarry -285; Starnes +225

Starnes is yet another Canadian, and has been quietly flying under the radar since his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 3 where he was defeated by eventual winner Kendall Grove via verbal submission due to a rib injury. His most recent bout, a loss to Alan Belcher, was stopped due to cuts in the 2nd round. His only other defeat was a 3rd round TKO at the hands of the highly-regarded Yushin Okami. Quarry is a fellow TUF alum, appearing on the first season of the reality show. He's a hard hitter, with all 4 of his UFC wins coming by KO or TKO, while his only loss during his tenure in the Octagon came at the hands of Rich Franklin. His most recent fight came after nearly a two year hiatus since that loss to Franklin and resulted in a KO victory over Pete Sell. This match seems closer than the odds would indicate, particularly if Starnes can turn the style matchup to his favor by keeping it on the ground. Prediction: Starnes, 1st round submission.

Travis "The Serial Killer" Lutter (9-4-0) vs. Rich "Ace" Franklin (22-3-0)
Current Odds: Lutter +270; Franklin -330

Lutter won The Ultimate Fighter 4 before falling to Anderson Silva, a bout that became non-title when Lutter failed to make weight. He has a strong jiu-jitsu game but has only gone 2-3 in the UFC. Franklin is trying to rebound from another beatdown by Anderson Silva, one of only two men in the world to have defeated him. This might be a decent time to jump on the Franklin bandwagon since most bettors seem to have forgotten he is still one of the best in the game. Lutter is simply overmatched. Prediction: Franklin, 2nd round TKO.

Matt "The Terror" Serra (9-4-0) vs. Georges "Rush" St-Pierre (15-2-0)
Current Odds: Serra +400; St-Pierre -500

This is a rematch of one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, a first round TKO win by Matt Serra as nearly a 10-to-1 underdog to claim the welterweight title. Unfortunately for Matt Serra, that fight over a year ago was his last turn in the Octagon, as he had to pull out of his first title defense due to a herniated disc. St-Pierre has notched two more wins on his belt since the first meeting, a decision over Josh Koscheck and a submission victory over Matt Hughes. Serra is consistently underrated, but the question is whether he will show a lot of rust after an extended layoff, and how he has recovered from injury. He may have a psychological edge due to his first win, but that may just fuel a false sense of security. The value seemed to lay with Serra in the first match, but with the much lower odds, St-Pierre is now available at a more reasonable price. Motivation and the greater athleticism will win this for St-Pierre, but I can't advocate laying the chalk given Serra's surprise win last time out. Prediction: St-Pierre, 1st round TKO.

Picks (2008: 8-4 +4.40 units; Best Bets: 4-0, +4.00 units)
Rich Clementi +145
Ed Herman +170
Jason MacDonald -180
Michael Bisping -350
Kalib Starnes +225 (Best Bet)

Opinions (2008: 10-6 +4.95 units)
Jonathan Goulet +190
Cain Velasquez -215
Alan Belcher -345
Mark Bocek +375
Rich Franklin -330
Georges St-Pierre -500

4-17-08
Jay Graziani
MajorWager.com
graziani@majorwager.com

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