LAS VEGAS — Fight week is here again, which means another week spent in the sweltering Las Vegas sun. Not to worry, though—the ludicrously high temperatures outside won't keep the Bleacher Report team from bringing you all of the latest and greatest surrounding the UFC Fan Expo and the world of Silva vs. Weidman.
But before we start focusing on all the hoopla surrounding fight week, it's time to take a look at the reason we're all here in the first place: Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman and the rest of the UFC 162 main card fights.
Lots of fighters, media and fans are on the Weidman hype train. I've been there, too. But recently, I've come to believe that I might have been wrong in my initial assessment of his title challenge against Silva.
I won't spoil the fun here and give you my pick before making you read my analysis, so let's move on to the first slide and decide whether or not we believe Silva has a chance of being dethroned and whether or not any good gambling advantages are to be found on UFC 162.
All of the media hype leading up to this fight has pitched Chris Weidman as "the perfect fighter," one tailor-made to beat Anderson Silva.
Cast aside the idea that we've heard all of this before.
Chael Sonnen was the perfect fighter to beat Silva, and we saw how that one turned out. In fact, I wonder if the same Joe Rogan sound bite used to pitch Sonnen as a legitimate contender was recycled for Weidman. That wouldn't shock me.
Here's the thing: Weidman does have the game that might be able to topple Silva. But he's not the perfect fighter. Silva is the perfect fighter, and he's established that perfection through many years of greatness.
And that's ultimately what this comes down to: established greatness vs. potential. Weidman may eventually become the middleweight champion. For all I know, he's going to be a contender for years to come.
But those years aren't starting right now. Not on Saturday night.
This is Silva's time until proved otherwise. He may suddenly feel all of his 38 years in the near future but not now. Not when he has a chance to dispatch another challenger and add to his legacy.
Watch the lines for this one carefully. If late money comes in on Weidman, make your own play on Silva. You won't regret it.
Hey, don't look now, but Frankie Edgar is in a nontitle fight against an opponent whom he is expected to beat.
We haven't seen that in years. I can't remember the last time that Edgar went into a fight as a favorite—even while reigning as lightweight champion—or as an even betting option with his counterpart.
Make no mistake about it: This is a fight that Edgar should, and will, win. Oliveira has a world of talent, but mental issues in the cage and in training have prevented him from reaching his potential. He has the tools to beat Edgar, but it would take a monumental performance with stunning mental edge on his part, and that's not happening.
Take Edgar and laugh all the way to the bank.
It's a little bit more than surprising to me that Tim Kennedy isn't a bigger favorite over Roger Gracie. Their fight marks the UFC debut for both men after the closure of Strikeforce.
At the time of publication, the Mandalay Bay Sports Book has Kennedy at -150 with Gracie on the other side at +130. If you're the gambling type, that might be good value for your buck.
Kennedy is the far more complete fighter. Gracie only holds an advantage in the submissions department. Even then, Kennedy is the better wrestler who can maintain positional control even if the fight goes to the ground.
If Gracie can't get this fight down and put himself in an advantageous position, he will lose. Kennedy should be able to win this one anyway he wants to, and if you're a betting man (or woman), Kennedy presents outstanding value up to -225 or so.
So much of Mark Munoz courses through UFC 162.
This is what I mean: A year ago, Munoz was expected to challenge Silva for the middleweight title. It was a little weird, in fact, because Munoz and Silva were friends. Silva even seemed insulted by Munoz's desire to fight for the title.
What we know now is that Weidman ended Munoz's title hopes, at least for the time being. We also know that Weidman has not competed since finishing Munoz in dramatic fashion, and we know that Munoz may not have been completely healthy when he fought Weidman.
What we don't know is whether or not Munoz is back to 100 percent now. Fighters always say they're healthy going into a fight and then almost always admit that they were unhealthy when the fight is over. And going into his fight with Tim Boetsch, Munoz better hope that he is healthy or at least the best approximation he can muster.
Munoz is the betting favorite here, but thorough statistical analysis reveals that Boetsch has an edge in just about every department not named wrestling. Which means that if you're looking for a gambling edge to exploit, this is one worth exploring.
In fact, I'm going with the upset pick here. Boetsch gets back on the horse with a win over Munoz.
Quick, get it it of your system: Yes, Cub Swanson lost to Jose Aldo by a double flying knee to the face. In eight seconds.
That knockout inspired years of jokes, but Swanson has done his best to wipe the smiles off his detractors' faces. Four consecutive wins over top competition have him on the verge of scoring another featherweight title shot.
While Swanson is the favorite against Dennis Siver, he must be aware that this will be his toughest test since he faced Aldo in 2009.
The cool thing about this fight is that no matter who wins, it's likely to be a crowd-pleaser. Both fighters are apt to stand and trade strikes, and the chances of this fight involving any grappling are slim to none.
From a gambling perspective, Swanson at -230 seems about right, so if you're looking for value in this fight, it's probably best to throw a few bones on a prop for this one being Fight of the Night.