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: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson opened as a small underdog against Daniel Cormier for their light heavyweight title fight at UFC 187. Are oddsmakers underestimating the No. 1 contender at 205 pounds in Johnson, who was training for champion Jon Jones before he was suspended indefinitely? Anik: Well, I have to admit to being a little bit surprised that Johnson not only opened as the underdog but has stayed here up until this point. I think overall these guys are fairly evenly matched. But because he was the guy preparing for a fight on May 23rd and Daniel Cormier had to push up his training camp because he was supposed to fight on June 6th, I think that is some sort of advantage to Anthony Johnson. Of course Kenny Florian who I do a podcast with, he believes that the abbreviated training camp – because Cormier had an extended training camp for Jon Jones – could work to his favor here. I’m surprised that Anthony Johnson is the underdog. And even though I think it’s essentially a Pick’em fight and I wouldn’t be rushing to the window for either guy, I do believe at plus-money there is value on Anthony Johnson. I will never forget, I was in his locker room in Brazil – January 14th, 2012 – right after he lost to Vitor Belfort. He ended up missing weight by 11 pounds, he weighed in at 197 pounds. It was as low as he’s ever been in his MMA career, and yet already in the locker room you could tell that he was sort of starting to turn the page forward and knew mentally that it couldn’t get any lower than that. Now you fast forward three-and-a-half years, it’s all been building to this moment. He hasn’t lost since, he’s won nine in a row, six of them by knockout. Not only is he the biggest power threat in the light heavyweight division, I think you can make an argument that he is the biggest power puncher in all of MMA. Daniel Cormier is undefeated as a heavyweight, and he has never faced a power puncher like Anthony Johnson. And that doesn’t even get into how aggressive and powerful AJ is with his kicks. I don’t know that there’s a more aggressive puncher and kicker in the game right now than Anthony Johnson. I think people aren’t giving him enough credit for what he can do with his feet in addition to his hands. If you’re looking to bet straight wagers, I think this is one fight that you really do have to look at. Because if you can pick a side, the price isn’t going to kill you either way. I picked Anthony Johnson to win the fight, I think he’ll finish Daniel Cormier. I like AJ at plus-money, I really do. Please note: Since this interview was conducted, Johnson has moved from an underdog to favorite at many sportsbooks. 2nd Round Q: You talked about the training camps for both fighters, so how different and hard was it for Johnson to switch gears and prepare for Cormier stylistically versus Jones less than a month before the bout? Anik: Whenever you’re facing a guy like Jon Jones, there’s some sort of level of intimidation just because of everything he brings to the table, and the body of work is such with all these violent finishes that you just don’t know exactly what he’s going to do in there. I do think Daniel Cormier is a very difficult challenge, but I think to whatever degree, it’s a more manageable one. But I really think they’re really much more focused on AJ and what he’s doing than they are the opponent. His takedown defense is 85 percent, I don’t recall him being taken down at all in this most recent UFC stint. Obviously, I think Daniel Cormier is on a different level in terms of his world-class (wrestling) credentials than a guy like Phil Davis. And I do expect DC to be able to take Rumble down at some point in this fight. But I think Rumble’s got a very good get-up and again great takedown defense. I don’t expect him to be taken down repeatedly. If that’s the way the fight goes and it plays out that way, it doesn’t bode well for Anthony Johnson. I just think he’s so improved mentally, he is so relaxed. I’ve never seen a guy so relaxed as this leading up to the (Alexander) Gustafsson fight and now leading up to this, the biggest fight of his life. And I think it just stems from a confidence within and a confidence in his game. His movement is so good, his footwork’s great, his power’s off the charts. His power is natural but it’s also aided by the angles that he takes. He really has adopted (trainer) Henri Hooft’s style of just being an aggressive power puncher and kicker. So I don’t worry too much about the change of opponent, I think that’s something that Daniel Cormier has to be dealing with as well. He’s facing the biggest power puncher in the sport as opposed to a wrestler-boxer (Ryan Bader) who he believed he was better than in all disciplines. 3rd Round Q: Last year, I recall you were eagerly anticipating a UFC middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and top contender Vitor Belfort, but it obviously didn’t happen. At the time, you had told me you thought Belfort would be the new middleweight champ. However, a lot has obviously changed since then with him out of action for 18 months after failing a random drug test due to elevated levels of testosterone early last year and later withdrawing from UFC 173 with the Nevada State Athletic Commission banning TRT exemptions. What do you think of Belfort’s chances against Weidman now that the fight is finally on? Anik: As you alluded to, if this fight had happened in March of 2014, I might have picked Vitor Belfort to win. But I think in the time that Vitor Belfort has been on the shelf, Chris Weidman has shown me time and time again that this is his division, and he is really one of the best fighters that the sport has ever seen. Obviously, what he did to Anderson Silva, but I think what he did to Lyoto Machida really proves so much to all of us that he really can do it all. He has a devastating submission game, has a tremendous chin, power in both hands, great with transitions. He really is as complete a mixed martial artist as we have in the game today. Maybe if I was to play Vitor Belfort, I would almost exclusively look at a knockout prop. But I just think that Vitor Belfort is such a great unknown right now because he hasn’t competed since 2013. And I just think Weidman is so much more the known quantity, he has so many more ways that he can win. I know you probably expected me to say that there’s value on Vitor, and while I do believe the line is a little bloated and that Vitor’s certainly capable of finishing Chris Weidman, I just don’t see it. I would be looking to throw Chris Weidman in any parlay that I was doing on fight night. 4th Round Q: Even though you admittedly do not believe Belfort has much of a chance here, you still have a strong opinion backing Belfort’s body of work despite the TRT issue. Can you go into more detail about why you do not think he has gotten a fair shake and explain why his recent dominance that includes three straight knockout wins over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson should not be questioned? Anik: I do feel like Vitor has been treated a little bit unfairly by the MMA masses, fans and pundits alike. He has been the poster boy for this whole TRT era, and there just seems to be this overwhelming opinion that all of what he got accomplished in 2013 was because of performance-enhancing drugs. And I just don’t see it that way. A lot of his improvements have been technical, improving his technique and his range and his timing, and working with Henri Hooft, who might be the best striking coach in the game. I think to dismiss that everything he did in 2013 and chalk it up to performance-enhancing drugs is incredibly naïve and ignorant. So as a fight fan, I’m hoping that Vitor’s results in 2013 were more a by-product of his skill development and evolution as a martial artist more so than testosterone replacement therapy or anything else that he was on. I think it’s a closer fight than the line would indicate, but in the time that Vitor has been off, I have just grown to respect Weidman to such a degree that I just can’t advocate a play on Vitor Belfort given the fact that he’s been out for more than a year. 5th Round Q: With such a chalk-heavy UFC 187 card overall that has 11 of 12 fights with favorites of -270 or higher, what’s your best gambling advice for MMA bettors looking to make some money on Saturday night? Anik: I gave you guys a three-fight parlay at UFC 186 that cashed with Randa Markos, Chad Laprise and Olivier Aubin-Mercier, so I would look in that direction on this fight card. I’ve got a four-teamer for ya, I think Joseph Benavidez is the lock of the card so I would throw him in there with John Dodson, Travis Browne and then Colby Covington against Mike Pyle. In that fight, I just think you’ve got two fighters going in opposite directions, Covington is an undefeated guy, very well-rounded, and I think he’s got the pop to finish Mike Pyle, who’s obviously in the twilight of his career. Even though I never like stringing together 33 percent of a fight card necessarily, I just think when you look at this fight card on paper, there are so many big favorites, and I would be absolutely stunned if any of the four guys I just mentioned lost. 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.