Q & Anik is an article featured exclusively at MMAOddsBreaker.com that goes five rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik offering his betting tips and picks on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: I believe this is the first main event in UFC history between two fighters who are both on losing streaks. Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz are also each coming off long layoffs. Silva had the terrible injury in the middleweight title rematch with champion Chris Weidman as well while Diaz has not fought in nearly two years. Who has the edge, and does Silva deserve to be such a big favorite under these circumstances? Anik: I guess I sort of expected the line to move in Anderson Silva’s direction because everybody in the fight game that I talk to has two things in common. They love Nick Diaz, and they all just think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him. It’s almost like the perfect storm for Anderson Silva to come back. They just think it’s a custom-made matchup for Anderson Silva given the way he likes to strike, given his accuracy, given his athleticism. I think it’s the intangibles when it comes to this fight that make it interesting. The layoffs on both sides, Anderson Silva’s mentality after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of pro sports. So how does Anderson Silva handle the early parts of the fight? I think it’s going to be interesting to see if there’s more of a feeling-out process than there otherwise would be. Not that Anderson Silva rushes his opponent necessarily right out of the shoot, but will he have a little bit of pause? I really don’t think he will. I think that he, like a lot of these fighters, immediately they start to get into rehab “how can I get back” mode. And I think that’s what’s amazing about these guys and why they’re athletes. As soon as that injury happened, I feel like Anderson Silva had made his mind up 24, 48 hours after the surgery. It was just going to be a matter of how do I convince my family that at 39 years old with nothing to prove that I still want to go out and prove that I can hang with the best in the sport. Technically, Nick Diaz I think brings a lot to the table. Obviously, he’s more of a volume guy and goes after the head. He relishes the spotlight, he loves these big fights, he doesn’t care if the odds are stacked against him. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how he wears this weight. When I saw him in November at the press conference, he seemed to be in outstanding shape and seemed to have added some muscle mass. Maybe we’re going to see a thicker Nick Diaz. I just feel like long term, he can have a lot of success fighting against the Top 10 in the welterweight division. But he’s big-game hunting as usual, and we’ll see if he can come through. In terms of the betting line, I think it’s properly placed and wouldn’t be surprised to see money come in on Silva. If it were to ever go above -600, then I think you might just look at Nick Diaz. To me, if Nick Diaz gets north of +400, then maybe that would change the whole way I look at this betting line. But it still gives me pause betting on Diaz given the weight class and the matchup. 2nd Round Q: Silva is still the No. 1 middleweight contender according to the UFC rankings. So does he get an immediate title shot against the Weidman-Vitor Belfort winner from UFC 184 if he beats Diaz? Also, how do you justify that at this point when he was already finished twice by Weidman? (Please note: Weidman has since pulled out of UFC 184 with a rib injury) Anik: I think this fight serves a lot of masters. It got Nick Diaz back to the table because he wants the big name and the big fights, so it accomplished that goal. Because whatever you feel about Nick Diaz, he belongs in the Octagon, hopefully regularly. It got Anderson Silva back to the table because I think it’s a good matchup coming back from injury. He’s not facing some massive middleweight wrestling beast like Chris Weidman. So I think matchup-wise, it was a good return fight for Anderson Silva. As far as both fighters are concerned, it’s the right matchup for them to return and certainly can headline a Pay-Per-View. We know Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz both move the needle. But in terms of the depth at 185, I really think there are three or four worthy No. 1 contenders right now. Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida are obviously going to fight (at UFC on FOX 15 on April 18). Luke Rockhold in my mind, has done enough to earn a title shot. Jacare Souza in my mind, has done enough to earn a title shot. So the most interesting fights to me for Chris Weidman are certainly Luke Rockhold one, Jacare Souza two and Lyoto Machida maybe three. And Anderson Silva, I would probably say four. I really think they will see how this fight plays out and see this result and then proceed accordingly. But of course Weidman’s got Belfort. I just feel like so much changes in this sport that if the stakes are for Anderson Silva that he’s fighting for a middleweight title shot, great. He’s not all that urgent for it. So I think just so much can happen between now and February 28 and then in the three months thereafter. It will be interesting to see how they proceed, but I think for all of us, we want to see Anderson Silva get through this first test and do it the way a -550 favorite should on paper. I think Silva needs something spectacular to make people want to see Silva-Weidman 3 if Weidman takes care of Belfort. 3rd Round Q: This is not the most exciting UFC Pay-Per-View card overall, especially taking place over Super Bowl weekend. However, nine of the 12 bouts have betting lines of -230 or less, so there appear to be a lot of competitive matchups. Is there an undervalued fighter on the card that you think should be a bigger favorite? Or is there an underdog maybe who should be favored that you really like and is worth betting? Anik: It’s very rare to have a Pay-Per-View event without a championship. There’s just something about the championship stakes. (But) I think it is a great betting card. And that doesn’t mean you don’t do your research. Hopefully if you’re reading this, you’re certainly doing you’re research. There are a lot of guys that are pretty evenly matched. And even if you’re looking at some -190, -200 favorites, that’s a great price range and price point in Mixed Martial Arts to win money. I think Miesha Tate is too big an underdog at +180. We all know about (Sara) McMann’s wrestling prowess and her Olympic medal. But MMA wrestling is a different beast, and Miesha Tate is battle-tested. I don’t necessarily classify either one of them as being the elite of the elite. I still think there are more interesting matchups for Ronda Rousey moving forward than a rematch with either of these ladies. To me, it’s just a more evenly matched fight on paper. At +180, I think there’s some value on Miesha Tate. I like Jordan Mein against Thiago Alves, -140, -150 range. I just think it’s a tale of two guys at different points in their careers. I think Jordan Mein might be primed to make a run here. Obviously, we know Thiago Alves can bang with the best of them, and certainly Mein’s got to be mindful of those leg kicks. But I like his size and his length and just his ability to keep moving forward. And I think that even though his leg might be sore the next day, he’ll keep moving forward, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jordan Mein get a finish. Co-main event is interesting, Tyron Woodley and Kelvin Gastelum. Statistically, there’s a lot to like about Woodley that jumps off the page, whether it’s the knockdowns or the takedown defense. Gastelum is an animal at welterweight. And what I like about Kelvin is that a couple times in the UFC he’s been down a round, and he has made sure that he’s won the last two. So he’s responded to adversity well. But I think in a Pick’em fight, to me I usually would lean underdog, so a lean towards Tyron Woodley there. And then Al Iaquinta-Joe Lauzon is an interesting fight. Everybody knows Joe Lauzon and what he’s done in the UFC. I’m always interested to see how guys move forward after they have children, how that affects things. And clearly with Joe Lauzon against Michael Chiesa, he was able to use his son as a great motivator. But I do think there are only so many hours in the day. I love Al Iaquinta. He’s a guy whose career I’ve followed really from The Ultimate Fighter Live, and even just what he had to do on that show. A lot of people don’t realize in June of 2012 he fights Michael Chiesa in the Final on one leg essentially. Then he doesn’t fight again until August of 2013, so he took a ton of time to heal and get better after those brutal 13 weeks (on the show). Now this will be his seventh fight (since losing to Chiesa). He’s stayed active, he’s finishing guys, he’s also learning lessons in his losses. Mitch Clarke, he got a lot of things done in that fight before ultimately being submitted, and that’s really been his only hiccup in the UFC. I know the price has swelled a little bit, but I see value on Al Iaquinta up to -250. I look for big things out of Al Iaquinta, and I had him -300 when I was doing my lines beforehand. 4th Round Q: Speaking of the Super Bowl, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has a prop up matching the number of completed rounds in the Silva-Diaz fight against the number of combined field goals between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. Field goals are favored at -.5 (-125), so what would you bet? Anik: I’d have to go with the field goals. It’s tricky because I think most people who are predicting Diaz-Silva in any way are forecasting it to go five rounds. But I just feel like with those two kickers, they’re going to make good on their opportunities. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see two very good defenses be stout in the red zone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see (Seahawks kicker Steven) Hauschka kick three and (Patriots kicker Stephen) Gostkowski kick three, and that’s obviously what you would need if the fight went the distance. But I also think that you have a chance for something spectacular to happen in the first or second round with Silva or Diaz, and now all you need are a couple boots. But to me, that’s on Hauschka and Gostkowski. I think you’ve got to go OVER with the field goals. 5th Round Q: Last but least, as a die-hard New England fan, how do you see the big game going Sunday? Are you betting with your heart, or will the Seahawks become the first team since your Pats to win back-to-back? Anik: Well, I’m going to put as much money as will fit in my wallet, and I’m going to fly out to Las Vegas, and I’m going to bet on the Seattle Seahawks and try to purchase a New England Patriots Super Bowl victory. Bill Belichick is my most adored Boston sports figure of all-time, and this is really a big one for his legacy. I get chills even talking about it. It’s really hard for me to separate the fan in this instance. Because if the Patriots win here, I will never ask for another thing out of any Boston sports team as long as I live. That said, I think these are the two best teams. And I think the Patriots are better. I just think they’re better, and that’s why I don’t feel as confident walking to the window. I’m trying to obviously fuck with the outcome a little bit. I feel like even though I will be betting with my heart, I do feel like the Patriots are the better team. I think Gronk’s going to blow up, and I think that defense will surprise you, maybe get a Pick 6 or get a defensive touchdown. I think the Pats are better, so I’m cautiously optimistic. 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.