Q & Anik is an article featured exclusively on MMAOddsBreaker.com which goes five rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik discussing his betting tips and picks on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is already up to -1600 after opening -1400 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, is there any way he loses to Chris Cariaso? What kind of chance does Cariaso have? How would you bet this fight? Anik: I think there’s one strategy, where if you’re a parlay player, you just blindly throw DJ in all your parlays or try to find a prop bet on a DJ finish by knockout or submission. But I’ve said this for a long time to varying degrees of criticism if you’re a +900 underdog in Mixed Martial Arts. If Cariaso believes he can beat Demetrious Johnson seven times out of 10, then fight your fight and go beat the champion. But if you think you’re as up against it as the oddsmakers do, then I feel like you need to make it a dirty fight. You need to do everything in your power to change the complexion of the fight, you get Johnson off of his game, which by all indications overall is a lot better than your game. I’m saying you stop short of committing a foul. I’m not saying you touch gloves and poke the guy in the eye or knee him in the groin. But you’ve got to make this a dirty fight. This can’t be your prototypical Chris Cariaso fight. So I hope he takes that approach and makes it ugly. But Demetrous Johnson, to me, can make a case he’s the best fighter in the world today in any division. There’s not enough good things I can say about him. 2nd Round Q: Eddie Alvarez is making is highly-anticipated UFC debut in a Pick’em fight against Donald Cerrone. Will he live up to the hype, or does Cerrone win? And does the lack of UFC experience matter for Alvarez? Anik: Eddie Alvarez’s UFC debut is about as anticipated as it gets. I’m so excited to see Eddie on this level because he deserves to be here. I think public perception differs as to just how he elite he is, and I think part of that is because he just goes for it. I’ve always said there are different types of fighters, the ones who are willing to get knocked out with regularity in order to get a knockout, and guys who aren’t. He certainly is willing to take damage, and he’s one of the few guys who lists taking damage as a strength. That is the UFC’s type of fighter in every sense, not to mention that he’s fighting somebody who’s very much cut from that same cloth. I love this co-main event. I think you can say (Cerrone’s) certainly been more active over the last couple years. Eddie’s fought just once in 2013, hasn’t fought in 2014. I think that might be more of an advantage than the UFC experience, and the level of competition. Normally, I would say it’s a huge advantage for someone like Cerrone with that type of all-time UFC experience. But Eddie is just this rare type of fighter, I almost want to go as far as to say that UFC jitters just don’t apply. Certainly, he’s going to have nerves, but he has been anticipating this moment for a long time. I just find it hard to believe that we’re not going to get Eddie Alvarez’s best. Maybe Cerrone wins the first round, but I think we’re going to see something special out of Eddie Alvarez. As far as stylistically the matchup goes, I think either guy could finish the other. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a finish on either side. Eddie does leave himself open at times, it’s certainly something that he has shored up. I think he’ll be very mindful of Cerrone’s high kick. And as for Eddie, he just hangs in the pocket, and I do think he’s going to be able to touch Cerrone at times. He’s a finisher in every sense. I think both guys on the ground are very offensively minded. It’s a Pick’em fight for a reason. I would find other fights on this card to bet. I would just sit down, watch and enjoy this one. I can’t see any reason really to play either side. I think there’s a little bit of a variable because it is (Alvarez’s) UFC debut. I guess the one thing that makes me lean a little bit towards Cerrone is that he wants to win UFC title, and of course Eddie Alvarez does too. But for Cerrone, I think this is a must-win if he’s going to fight for the title within 18 months, and he understands the time is now. 3rd Round Q: Conor McGregor has talked quite a bit leading up his fight with Dustin Poirier and is viewed by many as a top featherweight title contender. This is a huge step up in competition though, do you consider Poirier to be a live dog in this fight at +230? Anik: I’m one of the people who does believe Conor McGregor is elite. I think there’s certain matchups in the featherweight division, Chad Mendes, Dennis Bermudez, even a guy like Clay Guida. I think there are some stylistic matchups where people can ground McGregor, whose takedown defense has improved a lot, but they can ground him and make it a different fight. I think stylistically this is a great matchup for Conor McGregor. Dustin Poirier is acutely aware of his weaknesses, how he gets over-aggressive, how he gets hit. Akira Corassani whacked Dustin Poirier. I mean, he stunned Poirier, and that night Dustin was a massive favorite. But that was his last fight, it wasn’t that long ago. It was a massive learning lesson. Poirier and Corassani had trained together, there was a whole back story there. That was another guy he really did not want to lose to. And he paid in that fight early as a massive favorite. So I think that experience will serve Poirier well in this fight. I just feel like Conor McGregor is a special fighter, I really do. I think when his ground game, particularly his wrestling defense, catches up to his stand-up and allows him to be a Chuck Liddell-type fighter where you can just stuff a couple takedowns and keep the fight standing up, I think he can be a champion. I know it’s not a popular take for guys like Poirier to hear, even a guy like Cub Swanson who doesn’t think McGregor is quite on that level. I just think he’s a special striker, and he’s fighting a guy who in the past has a penchance for being hittable. I think Conor’s time is now, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him prove it. 4th Round Q: Unbeaten Cat Zingano (-270 vs. Amanda Nunes) and Dominick Cruz (-500 vs. Takeya Mizugaki) make their highly-anticipated returns to the Octagon from serious injuries and are both heavily favored. Do either have a chance of losing, and how long until one or both get title shots? Anik: I think we’re all curious to see, in the case of Cat Zingano, how she responds from an extended layoff. She’s also a mother, and that’s always a balancing act and something that I’m always mindful of with respect to my wife and everything that it takes be a mother, and how you balance those careers. I actually like Amanda Nunes, she’s definitely a finisher. She’s a violent Brazilian in a long line of them. But I guess from a betting standpoint, I don’t see much value there. Cat Zingano gives me a little bit of pause, because the last time we did see her against Miesha Tate (April 13, 2013), she got herself into some compromising situations before turning it on. Cat is tough, she can take a beating and certainly dished one out twice as hard. But to me, it screams layoff because of the layoff. Matchup-wise, it’s favorable. As for Dominick Cruz, I think stylistically it is a nice matchup for him, fighting a guy in Takeya Mizugaki who is certainly a qualified striker, but not a guy who really scares you in any capacity. Five straight wins, two of them by split decision, not necessarily a finisher. I just think it’s such a testament to (Cruz’s) work ethic to be able to come back from a three-year layoff like this, taking away his prime and somehow able to maintain some semblance of mental toughness without any prescription drugs. It’s just really special to see him back, and I think he is just such a wild card in this division. Because he can return to form and be even better, or there could have been a little regression. I think it’s a good opportunity for him to try to get some of the ring rust (off), but against a qualified Top 10 guy with an opportunity to make a statement. I think the fight between Raphael Assuncao and Bryan Caraway one week from this Saturday in Halifax will determine the next contender. But who knows, if Dominick Cruz goes out and finishes Takeya Mizugaki, which few people ever do, I think he would certainly have a case to get an immediate title shot. And that would put the onus on Assuncao, who would probably need to finish Caraway. I think if it came down to Caraway and Cruz, Cruz would certainly get the title shot, especially with a finish. But I think we’re all just anxiously awaiting Dominick Cruz getting in that Octagon. Needless to say, I’m very excited for him. 5th Round Q: What’s your best underdog pick(s) on the UFC 178 betting board and why? Anik: I think you would have to take a long look at Tim Kennedy plus (money) against Yoel Romero just on the strength of who he has fought and just given what Tim’s strengths are relative to what Yoel can do. I think certainly if you’re picking one guy to get a finish on the feet, maybe people would lean towards Yoel, but I’m not so sure. Tim has improved a ton on his striking, and I just always see Kennedy as one of the more difficult guys to fight in any division. It just makes for a suffocating bad evening 90 percent of the time. So I think if you can get him at plus, I think there’s value there. And then I would take a look at Jon Tuck. I think Kevin Lee, born in 1992, a very young guy. I think he impressed a lot of people hanging in there with Al Iaquinta, who’s really morphed into a lightweight contender. Jon Tuck is a big lightweight who can do a lot of different things. And he’s just more seasoned I believe than the young man. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His betting tips and picks posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.