UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee holds a main card that is chock-full full of fantastic matchups and intriguing betting options. Only one bout holds a supposed no-brainer decision, and anyone who thinks betting for or against Clay Guida is a safe option has clearly never laid a bet on him before.
*all Odds taken from Bovada Odds via BestFightOdds.com
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
In almost any other matchup, Benson Henderson is a pretty strong bet to win as he is the most nail-biting version of consistency around. But he now faces the man who bested him in the WEC, Anthony Pettis, and it is on the challenger's home turf.
Benson is seven-for-seven in the UFC, but has never finished an opponent and has twice won by split decision. Pettis has finished two of his last three victims and has never been finished in his professional MMA career.
It all points to a tough matchup for Henderson, with Pettis pushing him to his limits once again. While oddsmakers have kept Henderson as a slight favorite, Pettis has found his way out of legitimate underdog status as well. The bout may be simply too hard to call for most, but Henderson has been a safe bet thus far despite the close calls along the way.
Odds: Henderson favorite (-130) over Pettis (Even)
Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett
Frank Mir is arguably the best heavyweight grappler in MMA's recent era. However, he is now set to face the ghost of champions past, Josh Barnett, at UFC 164.
Barnett will enjoy a bit of an advantage thanks to a combination of Mir's latest inability to absorb significant damage mixed with Barnett's own consistency in all facets throughout his many years in MMA.
Mir has shown he can be rocked rather easily in his last few outings and has not shown a quality takedown throughout his career. That leaves him open to Barnett's boxing if “Warmaster” chooses to keep the fight standing.
The reason Barnett may not be an overwhelming favorite is his penchant to take the fight to the ground. Mir has a shot at besting “Warmaster” on the canvas. If Barnett lets his hubris take control, he could have a rude awakening when he feels the strength of Mir's ground game.
Still, it is likely the "Warmaster" can avoid overconfidence and take it to Mir in the standing portion.
Odds: Barnett favorite (-165) over Mir (+135)
Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida
A mixture of Clay Guida's lackluster performances and Chad Mendes' strong showings as of late make the mid-card bout one that bookies are certain the latter competitor will win.
Mendes is a comfortable 4- or 5-1 favorite on many books, and he is there for a reason.
Mendes has only one loss in fifteen bouts, and a loss to Jose Aldo is nothing to hang one's head over. More than that, Mendes has bounced back with three knockouts in a row since his loss. The efforts have bolstered his once-abysmal finishing rate to a slightly more respectable 50 percent. The cherry on top: Each knockout was in the first round.
Guida has not exactly struggled over the past three years. He has won five of his last seven. But his last two fights have been split decisions, and he has lost the reckless abandon that made him a fan favorite.
Odds: Mendes heavily favored (-500) over Guida (+350)
Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera
Unlike many of the other bouts, oddsmakers cannot make up their minds on the heavyweight main-card battle. Ben Rothwell has been given odds from everywhere between +100 to -115, while Brandon Vera spans -143 to -109.
The fight is filled with variables that make it perilous for laying a bet. Rothwell looked like a zombie in his last bout with Gabriel Gonzaga, and nagging injuries with the big man are a worrisome reality. Meanwhile, Vera is making his return to the heavyweight division after a tumultuous tenure at light-heavyweight.
Fans should hope only that both put on a great show because both have seemed woeful in their recent battles. As far as prediction, Vera's speed and dynamism will outdo Rothwell's brute strength and raw power.
Odds: Rothwell at (-120), Vera at (-110)
Dustin Poirier vs. Erik Koch
In what could be the sleeper Fight of the Night, no one seems willing to stand firmly behind either Dustin Poirier or Erik Koch because both men are willing and able to take the fight anywhere. The fight could also stop on a dime as both men possess the ability to finish the fight at any moment.
The lines seem to point to oddsmakers believing Koch's TKO loss to Ricardo Lamas in January was a temporary setback due to a long layoff and a game opponent. Meanwhile, the same individuals appear to be placing weight on Poirier's loss to Cub Swanson in February, wherein he dropped a unanimous decision.
Poirier is the only man to take Swanson to a decision in three years. The better loser will likely be the winner come Saturday. Look for a slight upset with Poirier besting Koch in a raucous battle that could see bonuses for both men.
Odds: Koch favorite (155) over Poirier (+125)