This edition will be missing any sort of polish. I've been ahhh....let's say busy. The top three fights on this card have a great draw and with this many new fighters checking in there's always a chance to see the next big deal come out of nowhere. No pussyfooting around here's how I see it feel free to give your picks or throw out any points I've missed.

Here are Desert Dog's Smart Bets for UFC 87:(Note: + = Underdog; - = Favorite)

Main card picks:

Georges St Pierre -340 (Bet $340 to win $100) & (Parlay)
Kenny Florian -145 (Bet $100 to win $68.97) & (Parlay)
Brock Lesnar -250 (No Bet)
Demian Maia -300 (No Bet)
Cheick Kongo -500 (No Bet)
Manny Gamburyan -340 (Parlay)

Undercard picks:

Tamdan McCrory +120 (Bet $100 to win $120)
Chris Wilson -330 (Parlay)
Andre Gusmao -210 (No Bet)
Ben Suanders -260 (No Bet)

4-fight parlay (GSP, Wilson, Gamburyan, Florian) +266 (Bet $100 to win $266)

Remember the parlay bet is intended to be used instead of three separate bets. GSP is the most solid bet on the card and I would use it to cover either a parlay or a bet on McCrory. Whatever your bets are for UFC 87, make sure you look at the realistic outcomes and remember you don’t have to bet on them all, just stick to the fighters you know and match ups that give that best probability to make some dough.

Georges St Pierre (-340) vs Jon fitch(+260)
This one is for real fight fans. St Pierre is seen by most as the superior 170 lb fighter in the world but he has yet to face a fighter with a similar combination of skills and size. Jon Fitch has shown he can use a full tool bag to put away a wide array of fighters and now he's facing the ultimate test of his chess match fighting style at UFC 87.

Georges St Pierre is again looking to make his first title defense. GSP continues to train in both Canada and Albuquerque with Greg Jackson. George has looked dominant in every fight since his loss to Hughes in 2004. After that he has not made a significant mistake in a fight and has slowly shifted from using strong wrestling and ground control to more and more stand up using his fast Muy Thia kicks and boxing. Then he ran into a bad night with Matt Serra (a mind boggler really) and has since rejuvenated his wrestling and ground control game. He put Koscheck, Hughes, and Serra soundly on their backs and beat them all with superior power, speed, and technique.

One fight that stands out in my memory was his fight with BJ Penn. BJ was running on a short tank of gas and we didn't get to see the full extent of how the fight would go but; what I did see is that when GSP is facing a well rounded fighter he's much slower to get rolling. He was losing soundly on the feet during the first round and looked to takedowns and control to barely pull out a decision. Now taking down and controlling BJ is pretty fucking amazing but, it showed that when he's challenged in the standup it's straight to the ground. So what happens when he's challenged on the feet and then runs into a wrestler/BJJ black belt with the same physique and hell even the same tattoos?? You get a true show of physical and mental metal.

Fitch continues to train with American Kickboxing Academy out of San Jose with other very talented fighters like Cain Velasquez and Josh Koscheck. Just like GSP, Fitch has never faced this complete of a fighter. He's met very talented fighters both on the ground and in the stand up and has found ways to pull out the wins in every bout since joining AKA. His style is grounded in his wrestling but his time at AKA has resulted in a Gracie black belt as well as a solid stand up game with very good kicks....not as good as GSP's, but still very respectable.

The tale of Fitch's record is that he always finds a way to win but he has fallen short in being able to finish fights against tough opponents. He has pulled out big TKO's like the one against Thiago Alves and a few nice submissions, but in general he just wins.
Match up wise Fitch and St Pierre are very similar in their styles as well as how they shift weapons to fit their opponent. When each element is lined up GSP comes out ahead just a bit...speed, power, takedowns, striking, submissions, and even aggression. It doesn't mean that GSP wins every time but he has the edge in all aspects of this fight...except height I suppose. In the end GSP should win this fight about 65-70% of the time which translates to odds of -190 to -240 being close to true.

The current betting line for GSP is sitting at -265 (SportsBook) which is decent considering his popularity. Jon Fitch's betting line is sitting at +260 (BookMaker) which means the books are giving him about a 28% chance. The lines look pretty reasonable and the return at these odds are the best you will get. If you want to put money on GSP do it now his line will likey be -300 to -375 at all of the books as the fight gets closer.

Prediction: Georges St Pierre via TKO

Kenny Florian (-550) vs Roger Huerta (+425)
This is a classic match up that has potential for fight of the night. Both fighters are very aggressive, comfortable on the ground or feet, and work relentlessly for the finish. Technical vs Tenacious...I see a big finish in the making.

Kenny Florian has been a great example of fighter evolution. So much about his game and even his physical condition has changed since he first showed up on Ultimate Fighter 1. The first obvious move was to head to the lightweight division, the other and maybe most important was training with Mark DellaGrotte. With DellaGrotte he's developed an effective Muay Thai style that utilizes his precision sniper style. Prior to picking up Muay Thai, in 2003 Kenny earned a BJJ black belt and has translated those skills very well in to MMA.

What he is lacking in raw power he has made up for in precision. This technical precision has been apparent in his success attacking openings on the ground or standing. He's also shown he has the conditioning to go for 3 or even 5 solid rounds.

Roger Huerta comes from a greco wrestling background and has developed an aggressive stand up featuring his favorite front kicks and head kicks. His wrestling skills are mostly used to either move to dominant position for GnP or to to defend on the ground creating scrambles and often reversals. Many of his UFC fights have featured opponents with serious ground skills in terms of either submissions or wrestling and he has always shown an uncanny ability to scramble and reverse. Outside of his tanacity his endurance may be his other biggest asset.

Roger's fight with Guida was a classic example of a never say die style. Over all in that fight he was being dominated with Guida striking well, changing levels, taking him down and just dictating how the fight would go. A determined and surprisingly energetic Huerta left it all on the table and in round three caught Clay with a great knee and moved in for the finish with the rear naked choke.

For the first two rounds of this fight we should get to see how good Florians chin is and how crafty and athletic Huerta is while avoiding several near finishes. Roger's wide open style is more likely to leave an opening for Florian to catch him in a submission. Both have the ability to get a TKO but in this match up the odds are Huerta will leave an opening late in the fight and probably find himself in an armbar or triangle.

With both fighters having good public backing the odds have stayed fairly tight with Florian only being a slight favorite. I'd say a bet on either side has value depending on your perception of the bout.

Prediction: Kenny Florian via Submission.

Brock Lesnar (-250) vs Heath Herring (+200)
Prove it....Brock Lesnar is a beast, a monster, hell on wheels, and bound to be the top heavy weight in the UFC...Prove it!

No one will deny Lesnar his wrestiling history or is physical stature, but in terms of being a 2 to 1 favorite against any seasoned UFC fighter, there's no ryhme or reason. He's very new to the sport and with his first fight ending so quickly he's really untested. What does he offer right now that a 40+ fight vetran like Herring hasn't dealt with before? Nothing. So what does he offer that Herring has problems with. Wrestling! It's a little do or die for both fighters which could mean serious fireworks.

Each fighter will be looking to test the others percieved areas of weakness. Herring will look to absorb Lesnar's early rush by avoiding damage while he's on the ground and then create scrambles from which he will look for submission opportunities and then in the later two rounds he will look to impose his stand up game with emphasis on his kicks. Herring is going to have to be a bit elusive to get Lesnar frustrated and more willing to extend himself, if he succeeds, he will have an excellent chance of putting Brock away. Don't forget, every UFC opponent Herring has faced has been knocked down with solid shots...he just hasn't finished them.

Lesnar's game plan will be just what you would expect takedown, control, and then strike like a spaz who forgot his Ritalin. Brock's just so damn excited he really gets to hit people he gets a little out of control. He'll have to maintain control and deliver damage each round. Securing takedown after takedown won't be enough to win a decsion if Herring can control the standup and deliver damage there. All things even between control on the ground and control in the standup and the judges will side with the stand up almost every time.

I like this match up and put the odds close to even, with a slight edge to Lesnar due to his power and agression, but even with that edge the odds dictate backing Herring or no bet. There's no value in betting on Lesanr as a 2 to 1 favorite. Most books have Heath Herring at about +200 with the best odds being + 215 at SportsBook.com.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar via TKO.

Cheick Kongo (-500) vs Dan Evensen (+350)
Cheick has seeming been handed a can to kick around the ring for a couple of rounds. Whether Evensen is a can or not a bet on Kongo has no value. Cheick has really made some impressive improvement in his wrestling and ground work and even though he dropped a tough decision to Herring it seems he should still be more in the mix with higher ranked heavyweights.

Evensen (10-2) isn’t a can by any means but he has not shown he’s ready for a fighter of Kongo’s caliber. Dan comes in on a four fight win streak with three of those coming in the Bodog Fight promotion. Dan is primarily a stand up fighter and will be very outclassed trading shots with Chieck. Not much to do with this fight but watch it….Enjoy.

Prediction: Cheick Kongo via TKO

Chris Wilson (-330) vs Steve Bruno (+260)
Team Quest trained Chris Wilson impressed everyone including Jon Fitch during his 3 round decision loss at his UFC debut. He showed a well developed game and showed a great deal of composure on the big stage. In interviews with Bruno and Wilson is seems apparent that both fighters agree that Wilson is more experienced and skilled, but Bruno of course believes he will find an opening to take out Wilson.

The match up from might point of view is pretty straight forward, Wilson’s measured aggression, reach and technical skill can counter all of Bruno’s weapons. Wilson should win this fight 70% of the time, his current odds would have value if he was likely to win more than 76% of the time. Picking hairs a little bit, but I don’t like the value for a straight bet, so I’m tacking it onto a four-bet parlay.

Prediction: Chris Wilson via Decision.

Luke Cummo (-150) vs Tamdan McCrory (+120)
So who’s more likely to get laid if they win this fight?? The geek joke makers will have a hay day with this one but it really should be an entertaining fight.

Luke Cummo has put some odd training techniques to use over the last year or so including fasting (uh maybe not so good) leading up to his fight. Physically, Cummo is a natural welterweight, cutting little before a fight. Against decent competition, skill and technique can fill the physical gap, but as skill levels even out physical advantages turn the tide. If Cummo is going to progress beyond quiet middle rung he needs either size or a cut to lightweight.

Tamden may not be a huge 170 pounder but his height (6’4”) and reach will present a new challenge to Cummo on the feet as well as on the ground. Tamden has shown in his other fights where ever it goes he makes good use of his reach and is surprisingly powerful for a lanky kid. Tamden should be able to control the direction of this fight, working his way toward an eventual TKO.

The books have this as basically a coin flip, I believe Tamdan actually holds a slight advantage in this fight and that means I see a dog with legs. This is a good dog bet but I’ll likely cover it with a GSP bet.

Prediction: Tamden McCrory via TKO.

Manny Gamburyan (-340) vs Rob Emerson (+240)
What is there to say about Emerson? He did pull out a decision in his last fight bringing his record back above the 500 mark. Speaking of decisions, ten of his thirteen fights have gone to decision and not typically in his favor. His standup is respectable but he has stated he has more ways to finish this fight than Manny, tell me Rob, what are those ways again??

Gamburyan won’t have to show much other than his Judo and grappling skills next Saturday. His ability to move inside will put him in control in this fight within the first round and provide several opportunities for a finish. Pick your poison Emerson…how about an arm triangle just to be different. Emerson’s only chance to win is to outpoint Manny and the chance of that happening is around 15-20%. In terms of the odds there is value in a straight bet, but I feel there is better value putting that money into GSP and instead have elected to add Manny to a four fight parlay.

Prediction: Manny Gamburyan via Submission.

Demian Maia (-260) vs Jason McDonald (+220) The odds are pretty heavy for Johnson still and with Kevin being such an unknown I doubt they will change much. Overall, I think Johnson will win this fight but the odds don’t offer a good return. I prefer to add this one to a three fight parlay. Prediction: Demian Maia via submission.

Andre Gusmao (-210) vs Jon Jones (+170) Jon Jones is coming in on short notice but he has inked a four fight contract that should help take the edge off his UFC debut. Not enough information on Jones for me to make a bet reccomendation. Prediction: Andre Gusmao

Ben Saunders (-260) vs Ryan Thomas (+200) 12-day notice for Ryan Thomas, Saunders has size and octagon experience. Saunders well rounded game should at least get a decision. Info is limited on Ryan. Prediction: Ben Saunders via decision.

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!

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