UFC 97 Betting Odds and Predictions

By Paul Friday, April 17, 2009
Desert Dog back tips and “Smart Bets” for UFC97: “Redemption” this Saturday, April 18, at the The Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

It's a great card and the stadium will be packed with tens of thousnads of jacked up Canooks. These guys are awesome fans and know how to keep the energy levels up up up. There are several promising betting opportunities and some matchups I've been wanting to see for a long time.

Here are the “Smart Bets” for UFC 97:
(Note: + = Underdog; - = Favorite)

Main card picks:

Anderson Silva -600 (Bet $1200 to win $200) BetUS
Shogun Rua +160 (Bet $100 to win $160) Bodog
Cheick Kongo -300 (No Bet) BetUS
Luiz Cane -275 (No Bet) BetUS
Krzysztof Soszynski -150 (Bet $150 to win $100) SportsBook

Undercard Picks:
Xavier Foupa-Pokam +250 (Bet $50 to win $125) Bodog
David Loiseau -125 (Bet $125 to win $80) BetUS

Anderson Silva (-600 BetUS) vs. Thales Leites (+500 SportsBook)
Middleweight titleholder Anderson "The Spider" Silva (23-4 MMA, 8-0 UFC) looks to defend his crown for the fifth straight time when he takes on Brazilian Thales Leites (14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC

Silva needs little introduction; he's perhaps the most dominant UFC fighter of the modern era, a Muay Thai specialist holder of a little jiu-jitsu black belt under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. His opponent is primarily a grappler, holding a BJJ black belt himself under Welton Ribeiro.

Well I suppose if you just took a quick glance at this fight on paper and saw Leites sitting at +500 you might same damn that looks worth the risk! If you say that you'll be dead money. Silva has value up to -800.

Although the one nick in Silva's armor has been strong grapplers taking him down and controlling him on the ground (it's yet to last more than one round), Leites is not the one to do it. He's out classed in strength, leverage, and on even ground in terms of BJJ. If Hendo and Marquart couldn't maintain control on the ground, Thales even less likely. Anywhere else this fight goes Leites will be on the losing end it.

Prediction: Silva TKO
Bet: 16 units to win 2

Chuck Liddell (-185 SportsBook) vs. Mauricio Rua (+160 Bodog)
39-year-old Chuck Liddell (21-6 MMA, 17-5 UFC) is now 1-3 in his past four fights. The down turn has been hard for everyone to watch and has left questions in everyones mind. This fight has to answer that question. Although Rua's age and is different, his current status as a top level fighter now trying to avoid the end of this career is the same. Once regarded a top light heavyweight in the world, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (17-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has a lot to prove after two knee surgeries, and poor performances agianst Forrest Griffin and Mark Coleman.

Matchup wise it's the classic chute-boxing agrressive style of Shogun vs the powerful counter punching of the Ice Man. Typically, this is a great setup for Liddell, but if his speed is dropping off he may be focusing more on being an attacking fighter. This won't be a comfortable style for Chuck and could leave him very vunerable to Rua's speed and clinch work. A full training session for Rua should allow him to show up and display his true talent and athletasism. Unfortunately a full training camp for Liddell has likely left him questioning his natural style and won't bring back his fading speed.

Liddell is always dangerous, but at this point in the careers of these two Rua is the one most likely to move forward in the ranks. Sorry Chuck, I hope you prove me wrong, but my money is on the slight dog Shogun.

Prediction: Shogun Rua via Decision
Bet: 1 unit to win 1.6

Cheick Kongo (-300 BetUS) vs. Antoni Hardonk (+275 Bodog)
French fighter Cheick Kongo (13-4-1 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Dutch fighter Antoni Hardonk (8-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) are two of the most explosive kickboxers in the division and if we get treated to a kickboxing match it should be fight of the night. However, this is not K1. and Hardonk has shown he's a complete turd on the ground despite holding a BJJ blue belt. Kongo is no wiz on the ground either but he can successfully take the fight to the mat and keep opponents there and punish them.

The current odds don't offer a great deal for this fight so this ones not making it onto my betting card. I do think it could be an exciting addition to the show.

Prediction: Kongo via decision
Bet: None

Steve Cantwell (+260 Bodog) vs. Luiz Cane (-275 BetUS)
Steve Cantwell (7-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is a veteran of the WEC and formerly held the organization's light-heavyweight title. Cantwell holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu under Sergio Pehna and has a background in amateur kickboxing.Luiz "Banha" Cane (9-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is a prototypical Brazilian fighter with a background in Muay Thai and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Cane should hold the edge in physical strength and in toughness. He is primarily a brawler who is happy to take punishment in order to give it. Cantwell is a well-rounded fighter but has not demonstrated an ability to handle fighters that press the pace effectively. Cane traditionally does exactly that; look for a rugged brawl here with a lot of back and forth early before Cane's ability to absorb and dish overwhelms Cantwell in the second round.

Prediction: Cane via TKO

Krzysztof Soszynski (-150 SportsBook) vs. Brian Stann (+125 Bodog)
Krzysztof Soszynski (16-8-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) fights out of Team Quest is a veteran of the IFL. who is currently riding a four-fight win streak, which was capped off by a submission victory over Shane Primm in his UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale. Soszynski was a contestant on the eighth season of "The Ultimate Fighter," where he lost in the semifinals to eventual show runner-up Vinicius Magalhaes.

Brian Stann (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is a former WEC fighter – and former WEC champion – who is making his UFC debut. Stann won his first five fights in the WEC, all by TKO or KO, before being badly exposed by Steve Cantwell at WEC 35.

Both these guys are wild, undisciplined strikers and if they decide to stand toe to toe it will be very entertaining. However, if Soszynski listens to his coaches and takes Stann to the ground this fight will be over in round one by submission.

Prediction: Soszynski via submission
Bet: 1.55 units to win 1

Denis Kang (-325 Bodog) vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam (+250 Bodog)
Denis is great athelete and very talented but he's coming in against a larger, faster, and more athletic striker in Pokam. Kang is the favorite for a reason, but Xavier is very undervalued in this fight and worth a small dog bet. Let's hope this one ends up on the show.

Prediction: Foupa-Pokam via KO
Bet: .5 units to win 1.25

Jason MacDonald (-110 BetUS) vs. Nate Quarry (-105 Bodog)
A solid tight matchup, Quarry's strength and grappling should keep him out of trouble on the ground and MacDonalds subpar standup will likely be the deciding factor in this fight.

Prediction: Quarry via decision
Bet: None

David Loiseau (-125 BetUS) vs. Ed Herman (+110 Sportsbook)
The Crow returns to the UFC in a matchup that's a little reminicent of his fight with McCarthy. Again the fighter with the strength and standup edge and solid defensive ground skills should find his hand raised. Spinning back kicks are back.

Predictions: Loiseau via TKO
Bet: 1 unit to win .77

Well those are the fights I'm going to cover, the others are aren't really pulling much of my interest. Have a great fight night and keep it fun.

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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