Once again, there’s a big fight this weekend. I can guarantee that it’ll be pretty exciting to watch Lyoto Machida and Shogun Rua battle for the light heavyweight belt. But you know how to make it even more exciting? Gambling on the card. Sure, you might have an emotional investment in a victory for, say, Machida, having followed his career closely since he finished Rich Franklin in only his third fight. Now imagine if your ability to eat next month was contingent on a victory for “The Dragon.” Sounds pretty goddamn exciting, right?
Anyway, here are the betting lines for UFC 104 according to Betus.com, the best sportsbook around, with half-assed analysis after the jump.
Lyoto Machida -450 vs. Shogun Rua +325
Cain Velasquez -300 vs. Ben Rothwell+220
Joe Stevenson -260 vs. Spencer Fisher +200
Anthony Johnson -350 vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida +250
Yushin Okami -250 vs. Chael Sonnen +185
Ryan Bader -450 vs. Eric Schafer +325
Antoni Hardonk -125 vs. Pat Barry -105
Underdog with the best chances: Ben Rothwell
Don’t get me wrong: Cain Velasquez is the rightful favorite here, no doubt about it. At the same time, Ben Rothwell is easily the most complete fighter Velasquez has been in the cage with at this point in his career. Does he have the kickboxing background of Cheick Kongo or the wrestling credentials of Jake O’Brien? No. But this is mixed martial arts, not kickboxing or wrestling. The fact is that Rothwell hits hard and is dangerous on the ground. He’s a crafty veteran whose fought his way out of spots that Velasquez has never even been in. As a +220 underdog, that’s the type of guy you want to put some cash on if you’re feeling a bit risky.
Safe investment: Joe Stevenson
I want Spencer Fisher to win this fight. He’s the type of guy that goes out there every single time and puts on a show, yet can’t seem to pull out the W when it really matters. A fight for Fisher against TUF winner and former title challenger Joe Stevenson is the type of fight that really matters. Despite that, smart money is on Stevenson from a stylistic perspective. “Joe Daddy” has come far enough in the stand-up department to at least hang with Fisher and should be able to take the fight to the ground whenever he wants with his quick takedowns.
Too close to call: Johnson vs. Yoshida
A lot of people have been underestimating Yoshida in this one and that’s probably because the Koscheck fight is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Johnson is stronger and hits harder than Yoshida, no doubt about it. But don’t underestimate Yoshida. His judo is absolutely sick, he’s very quick, and he’s easily the best fighter “Rumble” has ever been in the cage with. In addition, this is the biggest fight in the careers of both of these guys as the winner of this fight will be knocking on the door of contendership. That’s the type of outside factor that could elevate performances. If I was picking, I would go with Johnson via 2nd round KO, but this one can really go either way. Yeah, scumbag, I know every fight can go either way, but since I’m the one picking here, this is the closest fight on the card.