Profile:Werdum (15-5-1) is probably best known as the man who ended a 28-fight unbeaten streak by MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko, but he has seen mixed results since that career-defining submission that capped off their headlining Strikeforce event in June of 2010. Werdum’s foray into the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix nearly a year later met a quick end at the hands of Alistair Overeem via unanimous decision in the quarterfinals. He then bounced back in his UFC debut against Roy Nelson, who he brutally defeated in a one-sided decision at UFC 143. Werdum remains one of the most decorated Jiu-Jitsu fighters in all of MMA, and by far the most accomplished in the heavyweight division. The 34-year-old Brazilian has represented his country well, earning multiple gold and silver medals in ADCC grappling championships while holding black belts in Judo, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Profile: With his lone loss coming from a Sergei Kharitonov armbar at Pride 33 in 2007, Russow (15-1-1) has been on a tear through MMA’s heavyweight division. After signing with the UFC in 2009, Russow was on the right side of a unanimous decision against Justin McCully at UFC 102 in his debut and then followed that up with his famous comeback knockout victory against Todd Duffee at UFC 114. He got a doctor’s stoppage TKO win over Jon Madsen in his next bout and recently earned a dominant unanimous decision win over John Olav-Einamo in front of his hometown crowd in Chicago back in January. The 35-year-old is riding an 11-fight winning streak that includes a perfect 4-0 mark in the UFC.
Opening MMA Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas has installed Werdum as the heavy -500 favorite (bet $500 to win $100) while Russow opened as a big +350 underdog (bet $100 to win $350) according to the MMA odds. Werdum and Russow are both among the Top 15 heavyweights in the MMAOB MMA Fighter Rankings and could be in line for a title shot against the winner between UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez following their rematch. Werdum also could be matched up with Alistair Overeem when he returns to action from his suspension, but he should not take Russow lightly either. Russow has not fought a top-level heavyweight yet in the UFC, and he could immediately jump into the Top 5 with a victory here. Both he and Nelson are built similarly, and Werdum handled “Big Country” fairly easily in earning a dominant decision. Russow has gone the distance only three times in his career, so his endurance could be the deciding factor unless he can somehow find a way to finish Werdum, which happened just once against dos Santos.
In 2004, Nick Kalikas used his MMA betting success and MMA industry contacts to focus on the creation of opening odds for all MMA events. Today, Nick Kalikas’ opening MMA lines are used by the majority of the world’s top sportsbooks, including Las Vegas, Offshore & Europe.