TUF 18 Finale: Maynard vs. Diaz Betting Odds and Predictions

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterNovember 27, 2013

TUF 18 Finale: Maynard vs. Diaz Betting Odds and Predictions

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    Poster courtesy of Ultimate Fighting Championship
    Poster courtesy of Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipPoster courtesy of Ultimate Fighting Championship

    By the time most of you read this, there's a chance you'll be on your way to a post-Thanksgiving lunch nap filled with thoughts of cranberry sauce and regret. But if you can hold off the trytophan long enough, I might be able to help you make a little bit of cash on The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale

    We don't have betting odds available for the actual TUF Finale fights; I'm writing this on Wednesday morning, before the final episode airs, and oddsmakers likely won't get around to publishing odds for those two fights (and the other fights featuring most of the other women from the Ultimate Fighter 18) until Friday morning. 

    But I've already seen the final episode, and I saw Jessica Rakoczy beat Raquel Pennington to book a place in the tournament final opposite Julianna Pena. So I'll offer quick thoughts and predictions for that fight and the men's tournament final featuring Chris Holdsworth vs. David Grant, but I won't be able to give you any practical betting advice. 

    If I stretch out this introduction too long, I risk losing most of you to what will no doubt be an epic Thanksgiving nap. With that in mind, let's get started.

     

    Betting odds via 5Dimes

Gray Maynard vs. Nate Diaz

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds

    Maynard: -135
    Diaz: +115

    Market Percentage to Win 

    Maynard: 57.45%
    Diaz: 46.51%

    My Percentage to Win

    Maynard: 55%
    Diaz: 45%

    Difference 

    Maynard: -2.45%
    Diaz: -1.51%

    This is an interesting fight, if only to see just how far both men have come since they originally faced off during the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2007 and again in 2010. 

    Both have worked their way to the top of the lightweight division. Both have challenged for the title. And though he was not successful, Maynard came closer to strapping the belt around his waist during his two fights against Frankie Edgar than Diaz did in his fight with Benson Henderson last year.

    The key for Maynard is to avoid getting in prolonged stand-up exchanges with Diaz. Maynard may have more power in his punches, but Diaz can overwhelm power strikers with the sheer volume of punches he throws. Maynard will also want to avoid spending much time wrestling with Diaz on the ground, where the Stockton native is especially dangerous off his back.

    I'd look for Maynard to work a clinch-heavy game, keeping inside Diaz's reach and pushing him against the cage as much as possible. If he can execute that kind of game plan, Maynard will have a slight edge in the fight.

    The Play: My own percentages for the fight hew closely to the public lines, which means I stay away from betting on this one. If you feel Maynard has a 70 percent chance or better of winning the fight, then this would be a worthwhile play. If not, it's better to put your money elsewhere on this card.

Julianna Pena vs. Jessica Rakoczy, Chris Holdsworth vs. David Grant

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    Photo courtesy of UFC.com

    No Odds Available as of Press Time

    With no odds available for either of the Ultimate Fighter Finale bouts (at the time of this writing on Wednesday morning, anyway), I can't offer much in the way of gambling advice. Instead, I'll just point out a few things that you probably already know, anyway.

    Jessica Rakoczy has a significant edge in striking technique over Pena if the fight stays standing. She's a former boxing world champion with a 31-3 record, and to say that she's a better striker than Julianna Pena is an understatement. 

    But Pena makes up for a lack of technique by getting in your face and refusing to give you space to work or breathe. She's relentless in a way few female fighters we've seen in the UFC thus far are.

    But Rakoczy told me on Wednesday morning that she's excited because Pena presents the best kind of matchup for her. Jessica is a counterstriker, and Pena's move-forward style plays right into her hands, where her boxing skills will lead her to a TKO. Rakoczy by TKO.

    David Grant vs. Chris Holdsworth should be a showcase for the Team Alpha Male product. Holdsworth has been the favorite to win the show since the day he showed up for tryouts, and I can't imagine any scenario where Grant is able to stop Holdsworth from putting him on his back and keeping him there as long as he wants. Holdsworth by decision.

Rani Yahya vs. Tom Niinimaki

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    Rani Yahya
    Rani YahyaJason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds

    Yahya: -130
    Niinimaki: +110

    Market Percentage to Win 

    Yahya: 56.52%
    Niinimaki: 47.62%

    My Percentage to Win

    Yahya: 60%
    Niinimaki: 40%

    Difference

    Yahya: +3.48%
    Niinimaki: -7.62%

    Tom Niinimaki is a virtual unknown to UFC fans, as this is his debut for the promotion. A Finnish martial artist, he has a 20-5 record and an 11-fight winning streak. His last two wins came over Walel Watson and Chase Beebe, so Niinimaki has faced tougher competition than many fighters making the leap from the regional scene to the UFC.

    Rani Yahya is a longtime veteran of the WEC and UFC, and he's riding a three-fight winning streak after losing to Chad Mendes in August 2011. He has an opponent in common with Niinimaki; Yahya lost to Beebeback in 2007.

    Yahya is an excellent grappler, and that should be the story of this fight. Look for Yahya to work relentlessly to get the fight to the ground, where he should be able to dominate the action.

    The Play: Once again, my percentages are close enough to the market odds that I'd recommend staying away from this one. If you think Yahya is a lock for the fight or that Niinimaki has a good chance of pulling the upset, throw some coin down. Otherwise, save your money.

Maximo Blanco vs. Akira Corassani

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    Blanco celebrates his win over Sam Sicilia.
    Blanco celebrates his win over Sam Sicilia.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds

    Blanco: -165
    Corassani: +145

    Market Percentage to Win

    Blanco: 62.26%
    Corassani: 40.82%

    My Percentage to Win

    Blanco: 80%
    Corassani: 20%

    Difference

    Blanco: +17.74%
    Corassani: -20.82%

    There was a time when Maximo Blanco was considered a very good fighter, one of the best prospects in the sport. But after losing to Pat Healy in Strikeforce and then Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut, it's safe to say a bit of the shine is gone from Blanco's reputation. He jumped back on the horse with a strong win over Sam Sicilia in April, but it's anyone guess as to whether or not Blanco can reach the heights many prediction for him early in his career.

    Akira Corassani was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 14, where he was one of the more controversial members of the cast. Since the show's conclusion in 2011, Corassani has only fought twice, winning both fights. Still, the lack of regular action likely leaves him a bit rusty.

    The Play: I like Blanco here, and I like him much more than the market does. Corassani's lack of cage time over the past two years will leave him rusty, and it puts him at a serious disadvantage going into this fight. I typically only recommend bets when my percentage differences are at least 20 percent or higher, but I feel safe in recommending Blanco here.

Jared Rosholt vs. Walter Harris

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    This is actually Jake Rosholt, not Jared. We didn't have a picture of Jared.
    This is actually Jake Rosholt, not Jared. We didn't have a picture of Jared.Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    Odds

    Rosholt: -220
    Harris: +180

    Market Percentage to Win

    Rosholt: 68.75%
    Harris: 35.71%

    My Percentage to Win

    Rosholt: 30%
    Harris: 70%

    Difference

    Rosholt: -38.75%
    Harris: +34.29%

    This one isn't on the main card, but I'm including it as my upset pick of the night.

    Jared Rosholt, the brother of former UFC veteran Jake Rosholt, makes his UFC debut here. He wrestled for Oklahoma State in college, and his 125-27 record on the mat made him the winningest heavyweight in Oklahoma State history. Needless to say, he'll look to use his wrestling in any fight, as it's his strongest asset by a country mile.

    Walter Harris also makes his UFC debut. He's just 4-1 but has an impressive stand-up attack that has led to a few fantastic knockouts. His lone career loss came to an opponent who somehow came in 30 pounds over the heavyweight limit, which is an amazing accomplishment. We won't count that loss against Harris.

    The Play: I like Harris to win, and I like him to win big. With a market difference of plus-34.29, this is one underdog we can put money on in the hopes of scoring a big return.