Desert Dog back again with my picks and bets for UFC 82: “Pride of a Champion” this Saturday, March 1, in Columbus Ohio. There is a lot to choose from in terms of betting options, so focus on the fights that you're most interested in and play it smart.

Desert Dog's UFC 81 Bets and Picks:

ufcMain Card:
Anderson Silva (-145) Bet $100 win $68.97 BetUS
Cheick Kongo (-155) Bet $100 win $64.57 BetUS
John Fitch (-600) No Action
Evan Tanner (+195) Bet $100 win $195 Bookmaker
Chris Leben (-130) Bet $100 win $76.92 BetUS

Under Card:
Andrie Arlovski (-355) Bet $100 win $28.17 Bookmaker
Dustin Hazellett (+365) Bet $100 win $365 Bookmaker
David Bielkheden (+400) Bet $100 win $400 Bookmaker
Luke Cummo (-150) No Action BetUS
Jorge Gurgel (-200) No Action Bodog

I've laid out seven fights that have betting value, so there's plenty to choose from on this card. It's importnat for everyone to realize that the picks and bets I list don't represent my actual bets or amounts wagered. How much you wager on an event is up to you and should be determined by what you're willing to play with.

When I place bets I typically look for one or two anchor bets, ones with the highest probability for success. The wagers on the anchor bets are used to cover my more speculative bets. Here's a simple example using $10 as you're base wager and odds from BetUS:

bet $80 on Arlovski (-400) to win $20
bet $5 on Hazellett (+350) to win $17.50
bet $5 on Bielkheden (+350) to win $17.50

I prefer that my anchor bet has odds a bit closer to -200 but of course the easiest fights to pick will have the heaviest odds. Finding an achor bet you're comfotable with is the key to a successful night. This style of betting improves your chance of building your bank roll over time and gives you a chance to pay for your next trip to Vegas to see the action live.

NOTE: Desert Dog's favorite book is BetUS.com (FREE $75 play with a deposit of $200 or a FREE $175 play with a deposit of $500). However, I always shop for odds and Bodog.com, Sportsbook.com, and Bookmaker.com are my other top sites for comparing odds.

Main Card Bouts:
Anderson Silva (-145 BetUS) vs. Dan Henderson (+135 Bookmaker)
We've all been rumbling about this one for months and the time is finally near. This is a huge test for both fighters and no matter how much I grind over details of their styles, it all comes out the same, these two are set to beat the shit out each other.

Anderson Silva is one of the most impressive fighters I've ever watched. He leaves no question of who won at the end of a fight. He is never looking to dance around and out score someone, he is always looking to destroy them. His wins are almost always jaw dropping highlights.

He has Liddell's ability to end any fight with a punch with the added bonus of some sick Jiu-Jitsu just in case you want to play around on the ground. Silva has only shown one slight chink in his armor and it's been getting taken down and controlled on the ground. It was seen briefly against Lutter (before Lutter tapped out) and somewhat against Okami (before Okami was KO'd by an illegal up kick). The other thing we haven't seen from Silva is his conditioning for a five round fight. He hasn't gone past the second round since 2004.

If there's anyone who can take advantage of Anderson's slight flaws, it's the Greco-wrecking maching, Dan Henderson. Not only does Dan posess the iron chin needed, but he also has the ability to out work Silva in the clinch and and put him in his world on the ground. Henderson's amazing grappling and power will give him a distinct advantage on the ground. Hendo has been submitted by the Nogueiru brothers (who Silva got his black belt from), but in all likelyhood Dan will be able to avoid the submission attempts and do some serious damage on the ground. Henderson has dangerous power on his feet but he needs a fighter that's willing to trade shots for him to be effective. Silva is far to skilled of a counter striker and versed in using distance to his advantage for Hendo to win with straight up striking.

I see the first two rounds as survial rounds for Henderson who will be pushing hard but likely feeling the sting of Anderson's Muay Thai. It is very possible though, if the fight makes it past round two Anderson's will begin losing confidence and steam. Henderson's style lends itself to grinding opponents down and his power could finish anyone on the ground. But, something tells me if it goes to a final round it will be all out mayhem. These two have the inner fire every fighter should aspire toward and if they both see it's down to a single round they aren't leaving it to the judges.

I can only go with my gut on this one. Anderson Silva hasn't shown me any reason to bet against him so I won't start now. I think every iron chin can succomb to the likes of Silva and at some point he will be able to put together a combination that even Henderson can't withstand.
Prediction: Silva via TKO

Cheick Kongo (-150 BetUS) vs Heath Herring (+155 Sportsbook)
Kongo has been training with Juanito Ibarra which is great for working his overall game, attitude and standup, but I sure hope he has some serious BJJ training as well. Kongo's five UFC fights have shown both his strength on his feet as well as his weakness on the ground. In his last fight with Cro Cop he looked more comfortable on the ground, but that could just be him feeling Mirko was not a threat there.

Cheick still only has two ways to beat Herring, outwork or knockout .

Herring is definitely a veteran with 40 fights behind him in nearly eleven years. Recently he's struggled in the UFC facing some very tough match ups. Of course, we all remember his last fight where he dropped his biggest potential win yet to Noguira. Herring is able to withstand a great deal of punishment and his power makes him dangerous at any time. His biggest flaws have been fading after the half way point of a fight and not sticking to his game plans.

Herring has stated he has new management and feels his training and mind set are refocused and he will be the aggressive bastard of old. A solid game plan and an iron will are what Heath is going to need to pull out a win in this match up. Cheick's stand up is plain and simple superior to Herring's, Heath knows this and should be focusing on the weakness we've all seen in Kongo. The game plan for Herring will be to engage on the feet, drive to the clinch, take down and control. Heath's submissions aren't great but if he keeps Kongo's legs in mind, there will be opportunities for a submission.

The question is can Heath get past just engaging in a standup battle? If Herring chooses to stay on his feet the odds of him coming out on the winning side are very poor. I'm betting that his training has focused on taking advantage of Congo's apparent weakness on the ground. Whether or not it is still a weakness and if Herring will test it will be seen next Saturday.

The betting line for this fight is fairly tight and only slightly off of the "real" odds. There is slight value in a bet on Herring at +140 or better. Myself I can't quite give Heath the call. I think he's got a real shot, but in the end I'm afraid he'll revert to his standup and get out worked.
Prediction: Cheick Congo via Decision.

Jon Fitch (-600 BetUS) vs. Chris Wilson (+600 Bookmaker)
Jon fitch is one of the top five welterweights in the world, is on a fourteen fight win streak, and appearently is set to fight his little brother. Chris Wilson was selected as the replacement for an injured Gono. No disrepect to Wilson, he is well trained at Team Quest and is building a solid record; but making your UFC debut against someone with Fitch's record and current standing doesn't make any sense.

I don't bet against Fitch so the odds leave me no reason to discuss this fight in any detail. Wilson's height and reach will make for some interesting challenges for Fitch. Look for Fitch to control this fight on the ground and finish it there before the end of round two. Hopefully Chris takes full advantage of this opportunity and gets a chance to come back to the octogon.
Prediction: Fitch via submission

Yushin Okami (-180 BetUS) vs. Evan Tanner (+190 Bookmaker)
A comeback in the fight game is never easy, but stepping in against a fighter like Yushin should get the old juices flowing for one of my favorite nutballs, Evan Tanner - I mean that in the best possible way - Tanner is not the prototypical MMA fighter obsessed with being the best or tracking where he fit's into the mix.

Tanner has been training at Hard Knocks Muay Thai and the Xyience Training Center in Vegas and at Absolute MMA in Salt Lake City with Josh Burkman. Physically, he looks to be coming back well. Mentally, he appears to have the drinking demons behind him and is back to focusing on his very simple lifestyle and his joy of the battle. for a closer look at his daily prep for this come back check out the Evan Tanner Online Journal.

Yushin will be an extreme test of Evan's current conditioning. Both fighters are known for their strength and have proven very difficult to put away. Yushin's strengths are actually very similar to Tanner's with Yushin being slightly more dangerous on the ground and Evan having the edge on the feet.

I'm not going to dig deep into this fight, both guys have the tools to win in several possible ways and in the end it will come down to who can impose their will. My sense is Okami's looking past this fight and Tanner has nothing else on his mind.

The current odds have Yushin Okami as a fairly significant favorite over Evan Tanner . The heavy chalk on Okami is due to a mix of current name recognition (yes people forget in just two years), and the fact that this is Tanner's first fight back from oblivion. In reality with both of these guys in shape it's an even match up. For me this is a dog bet I can't leave alone and besides I love to support guys like Tanner.
Prediction: Tanner via TKO.

Chris Leben (-130 BetUS) vs. Alessio Sakara (+135 Bodog)
This is a very tight fight to call both men like to stand both have the power to finish a fight.

Sakara has been through some tough times in the 205 division and gone 3-3 in his UFC career. His last fight with James Lee was an important reminder of his punching prowess, but my question has always been where is the rest of his game. Other than going three rounds with Elvis Sinosic the rest of his UFC fights have ended early in the first round. This makes it tough to determine how he'll respond to anything other than a striking exchange.

Leben looks to be really enjoying his training in Hawaii. His last fight with Terry Martin was a testament to his chin and the old Leben "button". I also saw that his game is well rounded relative Sakara. His kicks, movement and ground work all look to be solid. Chris has been hinting that he wants to take this fight to the ground and work a game plan that's a little different than his full on brawl style. I think it's a smart move and he should be able to find a way to prove he's in a class above Alessio.
Prediction: Leben via hmmmm.

Preliminary Bouts:
Andrei Arlovski (-355 Bookmaker) vs. Jake O'Brien (+300 BetUS)

First off Arlovski should be on the main card fighting Kongo and O'Brien the "Irish Wet Blanket" should be in a homeless shelter keeping someone warm. Unfortunately, this is Arlovski's last fight on his current UFC contract, hopefully a solid win here will give him some solid bargining power and Dana will remember what a huge draw he can be.

The last time I saw O'Brien fight Herring I was actually booing at my television along with the crowd. It was the most painful three rounds of wet blanket I have ever seen and I hoped the UFC would just drop him off at the corner. Now after watching Jake's latest prefight interviews it appears he's planning on more of the same.

As long as Arlovski isn't tentative, he has Jake soundly outclassed in every aspect of this match up. Plain and simple I see this fight ending in the first five minutes with Andrei's hand raised. The odds are putting Arlovski at about a 78% probability of winning which is actually a bit of an underestimate in my books and although I don't like betting with odds this large I like the value.
Prediction: Arlovski via TKO.

Josh Koscheck (-445 Bookmaker) vs. Dustin Hazelett (+365 Bookmaker)
Dustin Hazellett is a smart submission specialist who has had his best success against aggressive wrestlers. His skill set on the ground plays into Koscheck's ground game. Hazellett is very proficient at avoiding damage on his back and then laying on the submission. On his feet he's as good as Koshcheck and his slight reach advantage should help him out as well.

Even without the odds, I would actually lean toward Hazellett as my straight pick in this fight. Koscheck is a great athlete and he can use his strength to get out of many bad situations, but in this fight I don't think it will save him. I see Hazellett's skill as the deciding factor.
Prediction: Hazellett via Submission.

Diego Sanchez (-525 Bodog) vs. David Bielkheden (+400 Bookmaker)
David Bielkheden trains with Brazilian Top Team and that alone tells you he comes ready for a war. "The Scandanavian Lion" holds a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, has good takedowns and some very strong ground 'n pound. Watching David's highlight reels you can see how his agressive style, strong standup and strength on the ground could hand Diego his third loss.

Diego's in a corner right now and of course he's going to come out with a vengance. His loss to Koscheck may have been due to his physical condition, but in his loss to Jon Fitch he was simply beaten by a better fighter for three rounds. Now out of the Jackson camp Diego is at the University of Jiu Jitsu (UNIJJ) under Saulo Ribeiro. I really don't know what his game plan will be for this fight. He's actually out classes on the Jiu-Jitsu side and on the feet I'm not certain how the two stack up. I imagine Sanchez will work with his own strengths and see where the fight goes.

Bielkheden's chances are definitely good enough for a bet, but his losses have been to fighters with slick technical styles and when Diego is on he can definitely stay a step ahead of his opponent. We'll just have to see if Diego is on or not.
Prediction: Bielkheden via TKO

Luke Cummo (-150 BetUS) vs. Luigi Fioravanti (+135 Sportsbook)
An interesting match up between the unassuming Cummo and the up and down Fioravanti.

Luigi has had a real struggle in the UFC getting called up in 2006 to face Leben, a fight which he dropped but his tenacity landed him a contract down the road. After tearing up former UFC middleweight champ Dave Menne people took notice and he was handed Jon Fitch, who has become the common denominator in many fighter loss column. He dropped his last UFC fight to Forrest Petz in a decsion. Luigi continues to train with American Top Team and still favors his powerful striking. Although he hits hard he's going to have to get inside Cummo's slight reach advantage to be successful.

Cummo is drinking his pee and pounding his trianing partners. Joking aside Luke is a very skilled fighter and stepping in against B level fighters like Smurfy Haynes and Crocata showed he's definitely a step above. Now he's faced with someone who has a very accomplished standup game and I think it's unlikely that Cummo will pull off another TKO. I can see him outscoring Luigi on the feet with his speed and reach. If the fight hits the ground cummo could actually have his best chance of finishing his fight from his back.

I think this will be a back and forth battle fought primarily on the feet and Cummo should be able to out work luigi. Although I like Cummo here this is a very tight match up and there are other fights I'll be looking to put my money on.
Prediction: Cummo via Decison

Jorge Gurgel (-200 Bodog ) vs. John Halverson (+190 BetUS)
John got to fight in the Octogon for all of 15 seconds in his fight against Roger Huerta in early 2007. Since that time he returned to the lower ranks to string together three submission victories against some really poor competition. It doesn't mean he sucks it just means he hasn't been tested yet. Unfortunately, his strengths on the submissions side will be easily trumped by Gurgel's.

Jorge is coming off of a sound pummeling and looking to make his own impression this time. prior to his UFC career Jorge submitted everyone he met with one exception. Since fighting in the UFC his gone to decision four times and lost two of those. His weakness has been dropping his game plan and getting into standing exchanges. He has a great opportunity in this fight to finish someone off in impressive fashion and keep his place in the UFC. If Jorge make this "his fight" it should be a short night.
Prediction: Gurgel via submission

You wanna make a bet....
Desert Dog

I have followed the UFC for over 10 years, written as a handicapper, and spent my spare time as an online poker grinder. Unfortunately, I ran out of legal wagering options...Thank god for Daily Fantasy Sports and the much needed addition of MMA drafts. I offer my insight into MMA fight handicapping and fight analysis for the purpose of making some dough at DFS!

6 comments to ''UFC 82 Betting Odds and Predictions"

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  1. Nice picks!

    I hope Tanner comes to fight Okami instead of his personal demons in the Octagon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We all do !
    the Tanner of old is just plain fun to watch, so I hope hope he's still in there

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  3. MixedMatianArts12:57 AM

    Great picks, however I think "KOS" will be too strong for Hazelett.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous8:16 PM

    You just lost $225.94 in UFC 82. Do you need to make another deposit yet?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anon...read the post!

    The bets I line out are where I see value. I don't recommend betting on all of them....I sure as hell don't.

    The "bet $100 to $xxx" doesn't represent my actual bets or amounts. It's up to you to decide how to spread the butter.

    I made 27% on the bets I placed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree with you about these. Well someday Ill create a blog to compete you! lolz.

    ReplyDelete