UFC Fight Night 116 has been so decimated by injuries that the card now doesn’t even have a Fight Pass component. Still, from top-to-bottom the card is of a higher quality than the average Fox Sports offering.
MMA OddsBreaker’s Brad Taschuk takes a look at each of the 10 remaining fights on the Pittsburgh card, how the odds have moved from the 5Dimes Sportsbook openers, and what value might exist as we head into the event.
Luke Rockhold (-400) vs. Dave Branch (+280): I can understand why Rockhold is now in excess of -500, but I don’t agree with it. Yes, when he’s at his best Rockhold is as dominant as anyone in the middleweight division, with a vicious kicking arsenal, and perhaps the best top game in the entire UFC. However, he’s also injury prone, somewhat chinny, and coming off of a 15-month layoff. His size makes that last point particularly worrisome, as he’s a massive middleweight and his body hasn’t hit 185 pounds since the day before he was knocked out by Michael Bisping. By all accounts, Rockhold should win this fight. However, I think that Branch is going to make things much closer than many expect by forcing Rockhold into the clinch and grappling exchanges with the aim of tiring the former UFC champ. That could prove successful given the circumstances, but I’m still not sure it’s enough to get Branch the win. I do think he survives until the final bell though, and if ‘Not Rockhold Inside the Distance’ was still at the +155 it was at earlier this week, I might take a shot. As things stand now though, I don’t think I’m making a play on the main event.
Mike Perry (-485) vs. Alex Reyes (+350): A lightweight making his UFC debut on days notice, taking a fight against one of the most heavy-handed welterweights in the organization. It seems like there’s no way this should be anything other than Perry winning by TKO quickly. There’s no reason to dispute that, except for the fact that Perry is as much in the dark about Reyes as everyone else. Perhaps that results in him taking a more cautious approach early in this fight, and it going a bit longer than it should. Again, it’s tough to find something to confidently bet here because of the circumstances.
Hector Lombard (-160) vs. Anthony Smith (+120): Any time over the past decade, if you said that Smith would open so close to Lombard, and then end up the favorite, people would call you crazy. But that’s exactly where we are now. And you know what, I think Smith is going to win. With Lombard there’s always the possibility he lands a bomb early and that’s all she wrote, but the increasingly likely possibility is that he tires badly and turns into a punching bag. As long as Smith doesn’t get stopped, he’s going to make Lombard work way harder than he wants to, and I don’t think the former Olympian has anything left in the second round, where Smith will score a stoppage.
Gregor Gillespie (-565) vs. Jason Gonzalez (+375): This opened the widest line on the card, but now there are four fighters favored more highly than Gillespie. When I look at this card, I only see one fighter I’m more confident in than Gillespie. We’ve already seen that Gillespie has power, how deficient Gonzalez’ striking defense can be, and that Gillespie has both a chin, and the cardio to go along with his phenomenal wrestling. I struggle to see where Gonzalez can win a round, let alone this fight, and that makes Gillespie -3.5 (-225) nearly as tempting as the ML (-410). Either works as a parlay piece depending on your tolerance though.
Kamaru Usman (-400) vs. Sergio Moraes (+280): Speaking of the one fighter I like more than Gillespie here he is. Usman is going to strand Moraes on the feet, pressure him, punish him, and physically dominate this fight for however long it lasts. Usman has gone to four straight decisions, but he’s faced extremely durable fighters along that stretch, and I think he gets a stoppage in this one. The price for that got up above +250, and currently sits at +230. I much prefer that to laying the massive price of -750 on the moneyline, or the -3.5 at -360, even though both seem quite certain.
Justin Ledet (-315) vs. Azunna Anyanwu (+235): Ledet has been bet up more than a dollar since this opener, and the only reason to not side with that action is because these are heavyweights. That worry is mitigated by the fact that Ledet has shown a pretty good chin and far superior skills to Anyanwu. Because Ledet seems content to use his boxing technically, and I expect him to control this fight, this seems like an excellent #FGF candidate at -137, and Ledet by decision at +225 might be worth a look as well.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (-175) vs. Tony Martin (+135): This line has tightened to a virtual pick ’em, which seems right, although I’m personally picking Aubin-Mercier to win. At the opening line, I probably would’ve played Martin too, if I had to make a play. He’s the better striker of the two if this should remain on the feet, I just have a hard time trusting him across 15 minutes, and if he gets put in a bad spot. Martin will likely win round one, and then if he has truly fixed his cardio woes could simply build momentum. If he hasn’t, Mercier could take his back at any time and find a sub. I think Mercier in Round 2 (+875) or Round 3 (+1500) offer the best value of the lines here, but neither is worth anything more than round robin consideration.
Anthony Hamilton (-230) vs. Daniel Spitz (+170): Every card needs a fight that signals that it’s time to get pizza, or take the dogs out for a walk, and this undoubtedly fills that slot here. If I was Hamilton, I’d be getting tired of being knocked out, so I would wrestle. If he does that, I think Spitz is capable enough from his back to survive but not do anything else. Just like in the other heavyweight fight, that means I like #FGF (-122) and the guy I think will win (Hamilton) by decision (+225).
Krzysztof Jotko (-230) vs. Uriah Hall (+170): Hall has never dealt well with pressure, and Jotko’s game is all about taking space away from his opponents. That’s a bad recipe for a guy who seems to wilt in fights where things aren’t going how he’d like them. I like Jotko pretty big in this fight (I have him parlayed with Gillespie for -120), and I think the styles align here so that it will be difficult for Hall to win rounds (and if he does, it’s because he ends up hurting/finishing Jotko), so Jotko -3.5 at +175 is very tempting.
Gilbert Burns (-180) vs. Jason Saggo (+140): Skill-wise, everyone agrees that Burns is the better fighter. That hasn’t prevented him from dropping down to just a -135 favorite however. The concern seems to be how he will hold up against Saggo’s pressure, as he’s seemed to tire in previous losses. However, I don’t think Saggo’s skills or physicality can compare to the likes of Michel Prazeres, nor is his striking game as potent as Rashid Magomedov’s. Saggo recently went to a split decision with Leandro Silva, who is a poorer version of Burns in nearly every area (including output), so I think Burns is able to pick up a decision win at the very least, and perhaps even a sub if he really asserts himself.