UFC 159 Preliminary Card Betting Preview

Rustam KhabilovSo close, yet so far from New York is UFC 159, live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. A host of exciting fights are on the card from top to bottom and the prelims are full of solid action, as they have been over the last few UFC events. The night starts out with a late-replacement as Bryan Caraway (17-6) steps in with a week’s notice for injured Erik Perez, vs. surging TUF alum Johnny Bedford (19-9-1). Bedford started his career off nearly at .500, but over the last four years he’s turned a the corner and flipped some sort of switch, going 8-1 and looking great in the Octagon where he’s 2-0. Both fighters are good wrestlers, with Caraway probably being the better wrestler and submission specialist, while Bedford has been submitted eight times in his career. That’s definitely something to keep in mind, but Bedford has also looked like he’s tightened his ground game up in recent years. On the feet, the fight is closely matched, with Bedford possibly eeking out the advantage due to his length and power. This is a close fight, and it will probably end in a violent finish. While many bettors have stated that they would back Caraway with a full camp, the line opened at Several Bookmakers with Bedford a -175 favorite (bet $175 to win $100) and Caraway a +135 (bet $100 to win $135). The line originally moved in Caraway’s favor, but has settled in at -155 for Bedford and +135 for Caraway. The third female MMA fight in UFC history goes down as Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann (6-0) battles Sheila Gaff (10-4-1). McMann is the real deal, and a true woman to watch at bantamweight. Her wrestling is arguably the best in the division but her striking leaves something to be desired. Like any wrestler, she smothers her opponents and outworks them with superior strength and conditioning. She hasn’t finished her last four fights. Sheila Gaff on the other hand, has finished every woman she’s beaten (most famously the ten second KO of Jennifer Maia at Cage Warriors, as Maia tried to touch gloves), so this should be one of those classic clashes of style. If McMann can take down Gaff early and often she shouldn’t have any problem with the 23-year-old firecracker, but if Sheila lands a good shot, she can bring anyone to their knees. The Olympic wrestling of McMann has been too much for oddsmakers and bettors to ignore, as McMann opened as a -535 favorite and has settled at -750, while Gaff started at +355 and is now +525. More Strikeforce transplants are spotted making their debuts in the Octagon, as Gian Villante (10-3) takes on Strikeforce’s next big thing in the light heavyweight contender Ovince St. Preux (12-5). Villante has an up and down Strikeforce career, losing to Chad Griggs in a Heavyweight Grand Prix reserve bout, then later to Lorenz Larking at light heavyweight, but he was able to rally back and win his last three fights once he remembered that he was a hell of an athlete in football and pretty decent wrestler to boot. Ovince St. Preux was a Gegard Mousasi loss away from a shot (maybe) at the vacant Strikeforce light heavyweight title, and has won 8 out of his last 9 fights by thoroughly dominating his opponents with his raw physicality and explosive athleticism. St. Preux opened as a -175 favorite, with the comeback on Villante at +135. This is kind of a fight between two very good college-level football players if you want to look at it like that, but the major difference is Villante’s wrestling, which is something St. Preux has struggled with throughout his career. If this fight turns into a grappling match, OSP will be in trouble, as he’s extremely apt to getting taken down, especially once the fight is in deep waters. On the feet, this could be a fun fight to watch, as both guys are willing to throw down. Villante is more likely to get into a brawl, while OSP will pick his powerful shots. Money came in on St. Preux early, taking him all the way up to -230, but the line has settled closer to the opener with St. Preux -185 and Villante +160. The main event of the FX prelims features suplex machine Rustim Khabilov (14-1), who makes his much anticipated return to the UFC cage to fight promotional newcomer and Strikeforce vet Yancy Medeiros (9-0). This fight can be summed up well with one word: violence. Khabilov made fight fans collectively drop their jaws with his domination of Vinc Pinchel in his debut, and now he looks to ragdoll Medeiros, who has finished 7 out of his 9 wins via strikes or submissions. Khabilov is an International Master of Sports in Sambo, which is a title that could make anyone weary of fighting him, but Medeiros is a huge lightweight, cutting down from middleweight for the first time, and this is his first fight in three years which is worrisome. He can hold his own if he doesn’t let Khabilov get his hands on him, however. But that’s far easier said than done. Ring rust could prove to be the major factor for Medeiros to overcome in this fight. While there are too many unknowns for most to have a solid read on the fight, the line has moved slightly in Khabilov’s favor, due in large part to his phenomenal deubt. As it currently sits, Khabilov is a -320 favorite, and Medeiros is a +260 underdog.

Written by Jason Nawara

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