Yesterday it was revealed by MMAFighting.com that a welterweight matchup between rising contender Matt Brown and returning veteran Thiago Alves will open up the main card of the first-ever UFC on FOX Sports 1 event, which is set for August 17 in Boston, MA. There’s a reason why the fight has been pegged as the opening bout of a card that UFC president Dana White promises to be “the best free television card we’ve ever done,” and that’s because Brown vs. Alves is a great fight between two of the best strikers in the UFC welterweight diviison. Both guys are absolute warriors and always bring it, win, lose, or draw, and the word ‘exciting’ is usually used to described both fighters’ styles. For Brown, it’s been more winning that losing as of late, as the 32-year-old has won five-straight fights in the UFC’s 170-pound division, including a brutal TKO stoppage of Jordan Mein at UFC on FOX 7 in his most recent appearance. Actually, Brown has become one of the UFC’s free TV warriors, as he’s opened up the main card of the last two FOX shows — and has two knockout wins to show for it. It’s another story for Alves, though, as it’s been more losing than winning lately for the former title contender, who has dropped four of his last six fights. The 29-year-old Alves hasn’t fought since a March 2012 submission loss to Martin Kampmann as he was out with injuries, and considering the losing skid he’s on and the UFC’s willingness to cut veterans from their roster, this fight against Brown could be a do-or-die bout for him. Not that he necessarily has to win in order to keep his job, but he has to put on a “Fight of the Night” performance and the UFC certainly believes he will if they’re willing to give him such a huge opportunity to fight a guy like Brown on the new FOX Sports 1 channel. And I fully expect the bout to live up to its promise. So from a stylistic viewpoint, I like the fight. And from a betting perspective, I like the fight too. The opening odds for this fight haven’t yet been released but I would guess when they come out the fight would open as a true Pick ’em, with a slight lean to the surging Brown. However, it’s very possible that the public continues to give no respect to Brown and actually bets on Alves, who they have always really liked, and we get Brown at a good number. If that is indeed the case and we can get Brown at plus money, I believe there is a bet to be made here. This is a competitive fight if it stays standing no question. Alves is one of the most vicious leg kickers in the UFC and he has a very solid chin as well, so there’s no question he can stand and bang with Brown, who is a solid standup fighter in his own right, but not even close to as technical as Alves is. I would definitely give Alves the edge if the fight stays standing, but I’m not sure it will, and that’s because Alves has shown a weak ground game in the past and Brown’s ground game has looked better than ever in his last few outings. If this fight hits the ground, there’s no question in my mind that Brown can finish the fight via submission. It’s hard to predict what exactly will happen when the cage door closes but I’m willing to guess that Brown will stand with Alves for a few minutes before he reverts to his improved wrestling and takes the fight on the floor in search of a submission. If Alves can fend off Brown’s takedowns and keep the fight standing it wouldn’t shock me at all if the tough-as-nails Brown was stopped by strikes for the first time in his career but it’s hard to say if Alves will be able to stop the shot. One thing that Alves does have going for him, though, is the fact he works with many standout wrestlers at American Top Team, a camp that has been exceeding expectations so far in 2013. But I’m worried that Brown will set a pace that’s too much for Alves to keep up with — especially considering the fact he’s coming off a year-plus-long layoff — and that Alves will tire and fatigue and make a mental mistake like he did in the fight against Kampmann at UFC on FX 2. It’s still early and I need to do more research but my initial instinct is to make a bet on Brown at anything plus money. I believe the fight is a true Pick ’em so if we can get Brown at, say, +110, there’s enough value there for me to make a bet on him. But the line will all depend on if the public finally gives Brown his due. Keep checking out MMA Oddsbreaker for the latest in UFC odds.