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: UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is a large favorite against No. 1 contender Rafael dos Anjos, who looks like a better challenger on paper than the betting line suggests. What are your thoughts on both fighters, and should the odds be favoring Pettis by this much against dos Anjos? Anik: I’m always reluctant to just throw out proposition bets to the readers because those aren’t always easily accessible. But to me, I think that’s the way to go when I look at this. I feel like Rafael dos Anjos doesn’t deserve to have anyone as a 5-to-1 favorite against him in this lightweight division right now. I’ve just really been impressed with his evolution. I remember when he sustained a jaw injury in a fight against Clay Guida, and it was a really down moment for him. And he has just really turned his career around in a division that makes that very difficult to do. Obviously, we know he’s a great athlete. He’s a very durable, physical guy and he hits as hard as anyone in the division. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt is something he’s had for a long time, but it’s his striking that I think a lot of people point to as being the key to this recent run. Really getting his hands going to complement what is already a very nice kicking game. He is a modern day mixed martial artist that can really do it all. He wants to be the first Brazilian lightweight champion in the UFC, and he’s certainly put himself in a position to do so. But I’ve had pro fighters tell me that Anthony Pettis is the most offensively dynamic fighter that we’ve ever had in Mixed Martial Arts, even more so than Anderson Silva. And I think when you account for the fact that he’s done it in this division, which is perennially the UFC’s most ruthless, I think there’s an argument to be made that this might be the most special offensive fighter we’ve ever had in the UFC. What he describes as his instincts for the kill shot are really second to none. We’ve seen a lot of fighters Anderson Silva, Jon Jones when there is a small opening, they capitalize and the fight ends. But I don’t think anybody takes advantage of openings and mistakes in the sport like Anthony Pettis. So for me, even though I think this is a more difficult night for him than some people are forecasting, and it might go into a third or fourth round, I like Anthony Pettis by knockout, and I’d be looking at a prop in that direction. 2nd Round Q: What do you think of UFC women’s strawweight champ Carla Esparza? A lot of people expected her to lose to Rose Namajunas in The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale, and some of the top contenders at 115 right now like Joanna Jedrzejczyk did not even compete on the show. Does Esparza have the potential to have a long championship run in the division even though it is more stacked than the bantamweight division? Anik: I certainly think the strawweight division is deeper than the UFC’s bantamweight division in terms of the Top 15, and I think few would argue that point. So I think it’s going to be more challenging for Carla Esparza to have an extended reign a la Ronda Rousey just because of how many qualified No. 1 contenders I think are going to be stepping up. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is very much a qualified No. 1 contender. She has knockout power, really slick with her stand-up game and a really hard fighter to put away. But I think this line is misplaced. I am a believer in Carla Esparza, and I do believe that she is unquestionably the No. 1 women’s 115-pound fighter in the world. It’s going to take a very special championship performance to dethrone her. I think she should be -250, -260 here. Offensive wrestling I believe to be a big advantage for her in this fight. It’s not that Jedrzejczyk doesn’t have pretty good takedown defense, but Esparza is just relentless. And if the takedown doesn’t materialize early, I still think she’ll stay active with her hands and her feet until eventually the takedown does materialize. And then when it does, she is just a hard person to buck up off you. Then she’s got a nice opportunistic submission game and a very good rear-naked choke to get you out of there. 3rd Round Q: Former UFC welterweight champ Johny Hendricks seemed destined to fight new title holder Robbie Lawler a third time since they split each of their first two championship bouts, and both went the distance. But Rory MacDonald has been waiting in the wings and earned a shot at the title belt. I realize Hendricks wanted to forget about his last performance and move on, but is Matt Brown the right opponent for him to be matched up in this spot considering Brown has turned in more dominant performances lately? Anik: I think that Johny Hendricks’ championship experience has really swelled the line here. I do believe that if it was a five-round fight, the number would be a little bit closer because Matt Brown’s cardio is just insane and his motor is just so unforgiving. I feel like if there were five rounds that Matt Brown would be getting maybe more respect from the oddsmakers. But I sort of think it’s interesting that Johny Hendricks took this fight, and I think it really speaks to how he felt, so disappointed with that fifth round against Robbie Lawler. And not unlike the Georges St-Pierre/Johny Hendricks fight, it seemed like he had a championship won and then in the fifth and final round, he just did nothing. So I felt like for Johny Hendricks, it was more just about getting back in the Octagon no matter who it was against or where the fight was taking place or what was going to be on the line. Just to get back in there and prove something to himself. If you follow him on Twitter or Instagram, you see he’s in tremendous shape, all indications are the weight cut is not going to be an issue. And again, this is a guy who three straight fights now has gone 25 minutes. Both of these guys are looked at as legitimate knockout artists. But if you look at the current form granted you can say what you want about the level of competition five of Johny Hendricks’ last six fights have gone the distance. Whereas for Matt Brown, that seven-fight winning streak (which ended with a unanimous decision loss to Lawler), he knocked out six of the seven guys. So in current form, Matt Brown I think is more of the knockout threat. If I’m picking one of these guys to get the knockout, I think it’s probably going to be Matt Brown. So to me, I see a ton of value on (Brown). He’s had almost eight months to prepare for this one. This is his first fight since going 25 minutes with Robbie Lawler. This will be Matt Brown’s 32nd pro fight, so it’s not like he’s on the wrong end of the experience equation. Yes, Johny Hendricks has that championship experience in the UFC. But Brown is battle-tested as well. To me, this fight just jumps off the card. I’m excited we get two title fights after it, but the people’s main event is Matt Brown and Johny Hendricks. 4th Round Q: The heavyweight matchup between Roy Nelson and Alistair Overeem is interesting mainly because both guys are essentially fighting for their jobs. Is that safe to say here, and who has the edge? Anik: This is a huge fight for both guys. I’m always reluctant to bet against Roy Nelson because, not unlike Johny Hendricks, he touches you once, and it’s good night. But here, having lost three of four, he is potentially fighting for his job. I think these guys are in the right division in which to make a run even though they’re at the bottom half of that Top 10. At heavyweight, you’re one knockout away from being relevant again. Just ask Frank Mir. So I think it’s a big spot for Roy Nelson, but maybe even a bigger fight for Alistair Overeem. Now trying to win three out of four, he’s 3-3 in the UFC, and it seems like if he could sustain some success here, potentially he’d get pushed into a title fight. I would lean toward Alistair Overeem here, I just think he has more ways to win. I also feel like at this stage of his career, maybe he’s the more motivated party, and maybe that’s just speculation. But I feel like Overeem over a 15-minute fight could be the fresher guy, and I like him to win. The loser of this fight is never contending again. 5th Round Q: Flyweight contender Chris Cariaso just fought champ Demetrious Johnson for the title, and now he is again a massive underdog facing unbeaten prospect Henry Cejudo to open the Pay-Per-View card. Do you think Cejudo is overpriced at -600 considering he will be fighting at flyweight for the first time in his career and has more of a wrestling background? Is Cariaso worth wagering on in your opinion since he has a ton more MMA experience, and/or are they any other bets on the UFC 185 card that you really like? Anik: (Cejudo) won an Olympic gold medal (in wrestling), and he’s 7-0 as an MMA prospect. Obviously, he has the pedigree, and he is a guy who a lot of people have forecasted to have a lot of success. But he’s never made 125 pounds, he was a bantamweight for his UFC debut. But tons of value with Chris Cariaso, couldn’t agree with you more. Here’s a guy who now has that championship experience of fighting on that stage against Demetrious Johnson. He’s also a guy who’s just long on experience, very talented Muay Thai practitioner, pretty good submission game as well. Pistol to my temple, I’m certainly picking Henry Cejudo to win the fight, to out-point Chris Cariaso. But that line certainly jumped out at me as being out of whack. I feel like Cejudo will take him down, just neutralize everything that Cariaso does. But to me, maybe -300, -350. Not -550 (or higher). One play that I think that makes some sense on a pretty good betting card overall, a two-leg parlay on Elias Theodorou and Ross Pearson. Theodorou, undefeated, fighting in the US in the UFC for the first time against Roger Narvaez. Theodorou I think is really primed to break out on Saturday night. Pearson is certainly smarting after what happened in Australia against Al Iaquinta. I just think Ross Pearson (against Sam Stout) and Elias Theodorou, both in that -300 range, you throw them together in a little safe two-teamer at the bottom of the FOX Sports 1 prelims. I think that will cash. 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.