The UFC returns to free television this Saturday with UFC Fight Night 26, and we are taking a look at the odds heading into the highly anticipated card.
The event features a light heavyweight fight between contenders Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Chael Sonnen, while the co-main event pits heavyweight contenders Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem against one another.
For those looking to get a bit more involved in the action, the betting lines for the main card fights are in, and we've got all the odds right here.
Find out where the value lies for this card as we handicap all six main card fights.
In advance, best of luck to everyone.
*All odds courtesy of Bovada.
Betting Line: Joe Lauzon (-225) vs. Michael Johnson (+175)
Michael Johnson looks to end a two-fight losing streak this Saturday, while Lauzon looks to recover from a unanimous decision loss to Jim Miller back in December.
Lauzon is 3-2 in his last five fights, with wins over such fighters as Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner. Johnson, meanwhile, has also won three of his last five, including a knockout victory over Danny Castillo. That said, he was submitted by Reza Madadi in his last outing.
Each lightweight looks to get back on track towards contention this Saturday.
This fight takes place in Boston, so Lauzon will literally feel right at home. The line appears to recognize that, as his high emotions have always served him well.
But the fact that he's just a better fighter than Johnson also adds to Lauzon's value.
Johnson has been submitted twice in four losses in the UFC, and Lauzon is probably the best jiu-jitsu ace he's met yet. If someone finishes this fight, it's going to be Lauzon, and even if it goes the distance, he should take home the victory. This line is spot on.
Betting Line: Uriah Hall (-450) vs. John Howard (+325)
Uriah Hall was sensational on the last season of The Ultimate Fighter, but he fell short in the season finale. But his reputation precedes him, and Hall is a massive favorite because of what he did on the reality show.
Howard, meanwhile, looks to make a dynamic return to the UFC after going 6-1 to earn a second stint under the Zuffa banner.
Uriah Hall should certainly be the favorite in this fight, but a 4.5-to-1 favorite? That seems a bit off.
Hall was controlled for the majority of his last fight against Kelvin Gastelum, and went on to lose a decision. Howard has a pretty strong wrestling base, while five of his last six wins have ended by way of knockout.
Hall is the safer pick, and he should win this fight. But the odds are a bit too far in his favor. A -300 booking would've been a bit more acceptable, but at -450, there's not really any reason to make a wager on the TUF vet.
Betting Line: Matt Brown (-160) vs. Mike Pyle (+130)
Brown looks to continue on his improbable journey to the welterweight title, having won five straight fights in a row. Prior to this streak, "The Immortal" had lost four of five fights and appeared to be on the way out of the promotion.
But Pyle has also been on an impressive run in the division. He has won four straight after being inconsistent for some time, and now finds himself as close to the top 10 as he's ever been.
These odds suggest the fight should be close, and it will be.
Neither Brown nor Pyle are dominant welterweights, and I have trouble imagining either fighting for a title. But both guys are hard-nosed and no-quit fighters, and the fight should turn into something of a brawl.
Brown gets the slight edge, and that's appropriate, but these odds are just about perfect.
Betting Line: Urijah Faber (-450) vs. Yuri Alcantara (+325)
Faber, a perennial contender who can compete at the elite level in either the bantamweight or featherweight division, is not too difficult to figure out. If he's fighting a champion, he's going to lose. If he's fighting anybody else, it's very difficult to bet against him.
His last five losses came in title fights, whether they occurred in the WEC or the UFC. Meanwhile, he's rolled through just about everyone else he's met.
Alcantara looks to change that, but he has his work cut out for him. The bantamweight has earned just one win in his last three fights.
Faber simply doesn't lose to any fighter who doesn't have a belt. And every time we believe he may have finally hit a decline, he comes out and walks through a contender.
The betting line is steep, but it ought to be. There's no reason to doubt Faber until he shows some sign of weakness against fighters who aren't the very best. Alcantara is not an elite bantamweight, and Faber will almost certainly take care of business like the line suggests.
Betting Line: Alistair Overeem (-225) vs. Travis Browne (+175)
Overeem is coming off an upset loss to Antonio Silva last February, while Browne lost to "Bigfoot" back in October of 2012.
Since then, however, Browne has picked up a knockout victory over Gabriel Gonzaga, while Overeem has yet to return to the cage. Now, each heavyweight looks to advance deep into contention, while Overeem looks to regain a title shot he once had and Browne looks to earn the biggest win of his young career.
Overeem is more than a 2-to-1 favorite, and he should be. "The Reem" is the best fighter Browne has ever faced, and he's certainly the best striker, considering he's one of the top strikers in the sport.
Browne has been very good on most occasions, but he lacks experience against top guys, while Overeem has been in big fight after big fight in the UFC. Yes, Silva was believed to be a sacrificial lamb when the two met, and Overeem's carelessness in that fight displayed just how little respect he had for the Brazilian. Don't expect "The Reem" to take Browne lightly, and as long as he doesn't, I have no issue with this somewhat lopsided line.
Betting Line: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (+105) vs. Chael Sonnen (-135)
Rua has not won consecutive fights since 2009, but he's also avoided a losing streak throughout the entirety of his career. He's coming off a disappointing (yet mostly expected) loss to Alexander Gustafsson, so history would suggest that he should win his next fight.
Of course, MMA is never that simple, and Sonnen is a legitimate threat to Rua—oddsmakers even have him as the favorite.
He is coming off a loss to Jon Jones from earlier this year, and he lost his fight before that to Anderson Silva.
Sonnen is the slight favorite here, and that somewhat surprises me. But I will agree that this fight should be a pick 'em fight, and it essentially is.
Rua boasts some mean power and a strong chin, while Sonnen's greatest asset is his wrestling base.
But Sonnen's limited experience at light heavyweight makes this line a bit perplexing. Rua has fought only the best over his career at the 205-pound mark, and he's defeated better light heavyweights than Sonnen. For that reason, I believe he should be slightly favored, but that fact he's an underdog gives him very good value.