Main card picks:

Cain Velasquez +120 (Bet 100 win 120) BetUS

Martin Kampmann +200 (Bet 100 win 200) Bodog
Diego Sanchez -100 (Bet 100 win 100) BetUS
Matt Hamill -240 (Bet 120 win 50) Bodog
Gabriel Gonzaga -155 5Dimes   
Tom Lawlor +145 (Bet 50 win 72.5) BetUS
Undercard Picks:
 
Court McGee -220  Bodog 
Sam Stout -175  Bodog
Daniel Roberts -145 BetUS
Chris Camozzi +110 5Dimes   
Jon Madsen -200 Bodog

UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar (-135 BetUS) vs. Cain Velasquez (+120 Bodog)
While the Heavyweight division has less depth than any other, they still manage to put on highly-competitive title fights. Coming off a huge come-from-behind win over the formerly undefeated Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar will face another undefeated prospect in the form of Mexican-American phenom Cain Velasquez. Velasquez finds his way into this title fight after a short time in the sport, but dominant wins over top competition forced the UFC's hand in giving him his shot at the title.

Both men are primarily wrestlers, although their respective size has clearly been formative in their styles; Lesnar using unstoppable double legs, while Velasquez is a bit more of a finesse wrestler. This stylistic difference has also crept into their striking arsenals, as Lesnar is a bit more ham-fisted in his approach, while Velasquez has become one of the best technical strikers in the division. The issue of size still looms over the division as a whole though, and if Velasquez can take the title from Lesnar, it will say a lot about small Heavyweight's chances against the monsters at 265lbs.

This is a difficult fight to call, but one that screams for the Velasquez upset. On the feet, this isn't even a competition, as Velasquez has the footwork, head movement, and combination striking to give Lesnar fits, and Lesnar's bulldozer-like double leg may not be enough for a savvy wrestler like Velasquez. Even if Lesnar is able to put Velasquez on his back, he'll have to keep him there and finish the fight, which are both hard tasks, and tasks that will burn up energy. Ultimately, this fight comes down to energy, and this is an area Velasquez will soundly defeat Lesnar. At the pace Velasquez fights, Lesnar can't hope to push his massive frame to keep up for long, and sooner or later, will succumb to either his bulk or Velasquez fists. This one might go late, but I think Velasquez gets the finish in the third round, after two back and forth rounds.

Pick: Cain Velasquez, Bet 100 to win 120

Jake Shields (-220 BetDSI) vs. Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann (+200 Bodog)
One of thetop ranked Welterweight grapplers on the planet, Jake Shields will make his UFC debut, and is already on the fast track to a title shot. While this might seem premature to those unfamiliar with Shields, a quick look at his resume will be an eye-opening experience, with wins over some of the best Welterweight and Middleweight fighters on the planet. His opponent is Martin Kampmann, and while he's a bit of a dark horse in the division, he showed his value in his last bout. Coming into his fight with Paulo Thiago as a heavy underdog, Kampmann showed not only spot-on striking, but a ground game that gave Thiago a huge problem. Having several near submissions and knockouts in the fight, Kampmann took an easy decision win against a tough opponent, and set up his chance for a crack at the champion.

I'd certainly give Kampmann an edge in striking, Shields has shown that his level of grappling doesn't afford fighters the time to use their skills on the feet. Getting involved in the clinch will put Kampmann at the mercy of an All-American wrestler and Cesar Gracie Blackbelt on the mat, which might as well be a death sentence. However, for yet another upset, I'm looking for Martin to get on his bicycle to frustrate Shields and set up his outside striking. This could make for a very boring fight but one with very exciting results in terms of division standings.

Pick: Martin Kampmann, Bet 50 to win 100

Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez (-100 BetUS) vs. Paulo Thiago (-115 BetDSI):
Two gritty fights coming off tough losses will clash in California, as Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez attempts to work his way back into the division, taking on Paulo Thiago. Having left the welterweight division for the deceptively greener pastures of 155lbs, Sanchez had a decent run before a thorough beating at the hands of then Champion BJ Penn. With an unbeatable champion in front of him, Sanchez returned to his former home, but found a very different Welterweight division than he left. His first opponent was the highly-talented John Hathaway, who showed that Sanchez skill set would have to evolve if he hopes to retain his former glory at 170lbs. Having returned to Greg Jackson’s camp, Sanchez will fight Brazilian terror Paulo Thiago. Paulo Thiago made a name for himself by taking on all of the AKA Welterweights, going 2-1 against that hard-nosed crew. Having lost against Martin Kampmann in a fight he was surprisingly outclassed in, he’ll need to score a convincing win here to stay near the top of a turbulent division.

Both men are tremendously talented fighters anywhere this bout goes, with world-class conditioning, grappling skills and KO power. Both men also have their flaws, and unfortunately for Thiago, his flaw plays right into Sanchez’s hands. Sanchez main flaw, which cost him dearly against BJ Penn, is that his variety of standing offense is lacking. While he does have an arsenal standing, he tends to favor rushing punching combinations over any real finesse, which has cost him against superior boxers like Penn, and men with huge reach like Hathaway. While Thiago is a boxer, he has a terrible habit of turning his wrists out and his chin back in exchanges. His iron jaw and KO power in the pocket have saved him from being knocked out, but he’s had several close calls thus far in his career. When you combine these two issues, you’ll see where I’m going with this. Sanchez will attack Thiago straight on with fierce combinations, while Thiago will give ground and set himself up for the knockout in every exchange. This isn’t to say that Thiago can’t land a crippling shot, but Sanchez has a better chance of landing the better shots with this set-up, leading to a late KO stoppage.

Pick: Diego Sanchez, Bet 100 to win 100
Tito Ortiz (+155 5Dimes) vs. Matt "The Hammer" Hamill (-165 BetUS):
In the first TUF coach vs. TUF student fight in UFC history, Tito Ortiz will make his return to the cage, taking on his number one pick in Matt “The Hammer” Hamill. A lot can be said about Tito Ortiz, but if I had to pick one phrase to describe his career, it wouldn’t be “celebrated champion” or “brutal ground and pounder”, but “injury prone”. Having given his last several years in combat sports to the hospital bed, Ortiz is fighting against himself as well as his opponents in the cage, and that’s not often a recipe for success, having gone 0-3-1 in the last four years. While Hamill is outside the top of the division, he has held his own against some of the best at 205lbs, and comes into this fight as a stiff test against a constantly ailing Ortiz.

This fight is honestly one of the worst match-ups for Ortiz at this stage, as his wrestling and ground and pound have gone from unstoppable to unremarkable in the last several years. While Hamill is hardly the greatest striker or wrestler in the division, his sprawl and size will leave Ortiz wishing for a better striking game. Hamill has the talent standing to easily bash Ortiz in a forced brawl, and short of a bottom game submission, Hamill will walk away with a late stoppage or decision win against his former coach.

Pick: Matt Hamill, Bet None
Brendan "The Hybrid" Schaub (+145 Bodog) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (-155 5Dimes)
Runner-up for TUF 10, Brendan Schaub has really put it together in the cage as of late. Having suffered a disappointing KO loss to the deceptively dangerous Roy Nelson in his bid for the TUF 10 contract, Schaub returned to his training with a vengeance and put together some of the most under-rated hands in the division. Having scored two TKO wins in a combined two minutes in the cage, Schaub will take a step up in competition, taking on former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga.

Gonzaga’s career is a story of ups and downs, as one of the most well-rounded fighters with some of the worst executing in the game. Having world-champion level BJJ and KO power in everything he throws, Gonzaga has recorded an unimpressive 7-4 record in the UFC, with all four losses via TKO. With a kill-or-be-killed style, Gonzaga will need to pull the trigger in this bout or risk being swept under the carpet in this division.

Pick: Gabriel Gonzaga, Bet none
Court McGee ( -220 Bodog) vs. Ryan Jensen (+200 BetUS)
A dark horse in the injury-plauged TUF 11, Court McGee managed to come back from a loss to season favorite Nick Ring, and took his second chance right to the bank, scoring a decisive win over Kris McCray. In his first fight as a TUF winner, he’ll face Ryan Jensen in a potential grappler’s delight. Jensen comes into this bout with an unimpressive 2-4 record in the UFC cage, but has a fairly unique style of submission grappling that has made him a tough fight for just about everyone he’s faced thus far. The fighter who can dictate a pace and work from top position should be able to set themselves up with a strong win here.

This fight could be close if Jensen can get his wrestling to work for him here, but I wouldn’t count on it. McGee comes into this bout with a decisive advantage on the feet, with heavy and relentless striking that should cause all kinds of problems for Jensen here. Combine this with McGee’s similar style in the grappling department, but superior strength and submission defense, and we have a recipe for success for the TUF winner. Look for an early stoppage, as McGee never lets Jensen get going here and puts him away with strikes on the mat.

Pick: Court McGee, bet none


Patrick "The Predator" Cote  (-160 5Dimes) vs. "Filthy" Tom Lawlor (+145 BetUS)
Two men who met with defeat at UFC 113 will look for redemption at UFC 121, as Patrick “The Predator” Cote takes on “Filthy” Tom Lawlor in a potential FOTN. Cote spent the entirety of 2009 on the shelf due to a serious knee injury, and wasn’t cut any slack in his return, taking on veteran striker Alan Belcher. In a fight where he was out-struck from the outside and subsequently submitted, Cote had a chance to at least shake off the ring rust, and will look for a strong showing against TUF 8 cast-member Tom Lawlor.

Sometimes better known for his outrageous entrances and tributes to old-school UFC fighters, one must not forget that Lawlor is a very capable fighter. Having incredibly accurate hands, as well as a serviceable double leg takedown, Lawlor has had trouble putting opponents away in his career, which has cost him two fights that he likely should have won. Now sitting on the brink at 2-2, Lawlor will need to dig deep and find a way to put Cote away before the rugged Canadian finds the mark with his fists.

Pick: Tom Lawlor, Bet 50 to win 72.5
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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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