UFC 160 Preliminary Card Betting Preview

Mike Pyle 2The MGM Grand Garden Arena plays host to UFC 160 this Memorial Day weekend, and just like every Memorial Day show, it’s stacked from top to bottom. On FX, four fights are featured, with the FX ‘main event’ coming in the form of a welterweight battle that may let the winner crack the ridiculously deep division’s top ten. On one side of the cage is the resurgent Mike Pyle (24-8-1), winner of 6 of his last 8 fights with the only losses coming to welterweight contenders Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger. His opponent is Rick Story (15-6) who was once considered the next big thing in the welterweight division before Charlie Brenneman derailed his train in June 2011. Since then, Story has gone 2-3 with wins over Quinn Mulhern and Brock Jardine, but losses to Martin Kampmann and Demian Maia. The latter loss was via an incredible neck crank by Maia that memorably shot blood out the nose of Story. Story opened as a -210 favorite (bet $210 to win $100), while Pyle was a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160) at Several Bookmakers. Since then the public has come in heavily on the underdog Pyle, and the line on him is now only +125 while Story has dropped to -145. Pyle is a long time vet and has faced just about everyone at every weight class, including Rampage Jackson at heavyweight. Pyle has great submissions but recently has developed knockout power after training at Xtreme Couture for the last few years, yielding three first round knockouts after he lost to Rory MacDonald in 2011. Story’s bread and butter is his wrestling control and strong chin, which doesn’t bode well for Pyle. Story isn’t the most fantastic finisher out there, but he does have a deep gas tank and also has the intangibles in his favor, like nine less years of fighting under his belt. If Story can pressure Pyle and stay away from his big counters, this could be a very close fight. Next up in the featherweight division, Dennis Bermudez (10-3) takes on Max Holloway (7-1). Bermudez is a scrapper, as evidenced in his fight of the night against Matt Grice at UFC 157. He has a great chin and decent submission skills to complement his hands. Holloway is the UFC’s youngest fighter, but you wouldn’t know that from watching him fight. The 21-year-old Holloway is part of the new breed of fighter you keep hearing about; the athlete who grows up training in every discipline. Holloway made Black House’s Justin Lawrence look bad on the feet, which is saying something. The Hawaiian’s lone loss come at the hands of Dustin Poirier at UFC 143, where he was submitted via triangle armbar. Since then, Holloway has won three in a row inside the Octagon, with a split-decision win over the notoriously hard to finish Leonard Garcia his latest victory at UFC 155. This fight is great, mid-level matchmaking and could very well be a sleeper for fight of the night if Holloway can take advantage of his five inch size advantage over Dennis Bermudez. Bermudez will look to use his wrestling early and often. The lines opened with Bermudez a -210 favorite, and he has climbed all the way up to -300, while Holloway has gone from +160 to +250. At welterweight, TUF: The Smashes winner, Robert Whittaker (10-2) takes on TUF 16 winner Colton Smith (3-1). In the TUF 16 finale, the 25-year-old active US Army member was able to use his Jackson/Winklejohn gameplan and strong wrestling skills to nullify everything Mike Ricci threw at him. He’ll need to do the same to 22-year-old Robert Whittaker who is able to finish from anywhere the fight goes. Whitaker has five submissions and four knockouts, but still may struggle if Smith can put him on his back and work him over like his TUF 16 opponents. This will be the story of Whittaker’s takedown defense and Smith’s ridiculous tenacity. If you want to see how Smith fights, look at his mentor, Tim Kennedy, then put more of an emphasis on wrestling. Whittaker will be a tough test for the 2-year veteran of MMA, but he still has little experience against a strong double leg. This line opened with Smith a -130 favorite and Whittaker a -110 underdog, but most of the money has come in on the American where he is now a -225 favorite, while the Aussie is +185. Kicking off the FX broadcast and proving how stacked this card is, we begin with a lightweight battle. Khabib Nurmagomedov (19-0) brings his Russian flag into the Octagon for the fourth time against the Blackzilian’s Abel Trujillo (10-4) who is riding high on a five fight winning streak. Khabib no doubt scoffs at that and points to his 19 straight wins, though. Nurmagomedov is naturally a Sambo ace, but also happens to be a Combat Sambo champion, which is basically Sambo MMA with judo tops. Nurmagomedov has been impressive thus far in the UFC, going 3-0 while displaying a vast array of skills and power. These skills combined with his record had Nurmagomedov open as a large -350 favorite, with the comeback on Trujillo +250. Trujillo made his Octagon debut at UFC on FOX: Henderson vs. Diaz, where he showed superlative takedown defense in his bout against Marcus LeVesseur, in which he finished his opponent with brutal knees to the body. Trujillo will have to use everything in his bag of tricks to stop the pure ball of aggression that is Nurmagomedov. This could turn into a wild brawl if Trujillo can stuff Khabib’s first few takedowns, but ultimately, the Russian is far too well-rounded to not hurt Trujillo in one way or another. This is a quality fight. The line has gotten slightly tighter since the opener, with Nurmagomedov now -270 and Trujillo +230.

Written by Jason Nawara

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