UFC Fight Night 35: Main Card Betting Odds and Predictions
The UFC kicked 2014 off with a fight card on its UFC Fight Pass digital network, so UFC Fight Night 35 will serve as the promotion's first U.S. televised event since the calendars turned.
Headlining UFC Fight Night 35 will be Top 10 middleweights Luke Rockhold and Costas Philippou.
Both fighters are coming off of losses; however, a win for either man in Wednesday's main event could return them to title contention.
As the UFC prepares for its trip to Duluth, Ga., here are the latest betting odds on all the main card matchups.
Cole Miller vs. Sam Sicilia
Cole Miller: -185
Sam Sicilia: +150
Coming off of rebound wins, Miller and Sicilia will both be looking to get some momentum going at UFC Fight Night 35.
A former lightweight, Miller has been slow to get started at 145 pounds. The lanky featherweight has not won back-to-back fights since moving weight classes and is without consecutive UFC wins since submitting Ross Pearson in September 2010.
Following a win over Cristiano Marcello in his UFC debut, Sicilia lost two straight fights and found himself battling for his roster spot at UFC Fight Night 32 in November. In stopping Godofredo Pepey, though, Sicilia ensured himself a few more appearances inside the Octagon.
While Miller isn't the best striker, his chin and six-inch reach advantage could frustrate Sicilia. Having a tendency to throw haymakers, Sicilia can be beaten with the jab and could have trouble hurting Miller, who hasn't been knocked out in over four years.
Considering his opponent has 14 submission wins, Sicilia may decide to avoid going to the ground. While he's super dangerous on the canvas, Miller isn't great at taking his foes down. Inside the Octagon, "Magrinho" has only been successful on 29 percent of his takedown attempts.
Still, Miller should be able to avoid Sicilia's power, should he have to stand.
That makes him a worthy favorite in this matchup, and one who can walk away with a decision win without having many opportunities to work his submissions.
Miller defeats Sicilia by decision.
John Moraga vs. Dustin Ortiz
John Moraga: -310
Dustin Ortiz: +240
On Wednesday, Moraga will begin his climb back toward the top of the flyweight division.
In July, the Arizonan was defeated by 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson. At UFC Fight Night 35, he'll attempt to rebound against Ortiz, who is coming off of a knockout win in his first appearance inside the Octagon.
Roufusport's Ortiz stopped Jose Maria Tome in November to pick up a fourth consecutive victory. With only two losses in 14 career bouts, and one of those defeats coming against Ian McCall, Ortiz appears ready to become a contender in the UFC flyweight division.
For a fighter who arguably lost two rounds against Tome, Moraga may be too much of a step up in competition, though.
Ortiz's grappling played a big role in his first UFC win, but Moraga shut down all five takedown attempts he saw against another highly touted ground fighter in Ulysses Gomez. Johnson did take Moraga down multiple times, but "Mighty Mouse" is clearly on another level than Ortiz when it comes to wrestling.
While Moraga has only two knockout wins in his MMA career, his finish of Gomez showed he has the power and aggression needed to become the first to finish Ortiz.
Moraga defeats Ortiz by (T)KO in the first round.
Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson
Strikeforce veterans Yoel Romero and Derek Brunson are quickly rising through the UFC middleweight ranks.
Both 185-pounders picked up wins in their first two Octagon appearances. Romero stopped Ronny Markes and Clifford Starks with his wild striking, while Brunson controlled Chris Leben before submitting Brian Houston following a knockdown.
If this bout is decided by wrestling, Romero should win. The Cuban was an Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling. Look for him to use that wrestling defensively while attempting to put Brunson away with strikes.
Romero and Brunson have both been stopped with strikes, but the former has shown more power, picking up his past three wins with knockouts. He deserves to be the favorite and should remain undefeated inside the Octagon but may not be worth the risk at his current odds.
Romero defeats Brunson by (T)KO in the first round.
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Mike Easton
T.J. Dillashaw: -285
Mike Easton: +225
Despite losing back-to-back fights, Easton finds himself matched up with another Top 10 bantamweight adversary.
Since winning his first three UFC bouts, Easton has hit a wall against top 135-pound competition. Nonetheless, he'll get another chance to prove he's a legitimate title threat against Dillashaw on Wednesday.
After losing to eventual flyweight title contender John Dodson in The Ultimate Fighter 14 finals, Dillashaw rattled off four straight wins to become a contender in the 135-pound division. In October, though, Dillashaw suffered a setback in a meeting with Raphael Assuncao.
The Brazilian is a common opponent for Dillashaw and Easton.
Against Assuncao, Dillashaw looked much more even in the striking department than Easton. Since Easton hasn't had much success offensively with his wrestling, scoring on only 31 percent of his attempts inside the Octagon, he may be forced into a stand-up match with a more dynamic striker.
Having never been taken down in official UFC fights, Dillashaw should use his wrestling in reverse and pick Easton apart while standing.
Dillashaw defeats Easton by decision.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Brad Tavares
Lorenz Larkin: -225
Brad Tavares: +175
Tavares has been chugging along against mid-level UFC 185-pounders, winning six out of seven fights inside the Octagon, but Top 15 middleweight Larkin could hand the Hawaiian his first loss since July 2011 at UFC Fight Night 35.
A talented striker with eight knockout wins, Larkin will be an excellent test for Tavares, who has utilized his reach and stand-up abilities to climb the ranks in the 185-pound division.
While Tavares will look for takedowns, he's not going to dominate this matchup with his wrestling. The 26-year-old has been successful on 38 percent of his takedown attempts inside the Octagon, while Larkin has denied 82 percent of takedown attempts he's faced.
Usually, The Ultimate Fighter 11 alumnus Tavares would be happy to stand. However, against Larkin, who has beaten welterweight contender Robbie Lawler and another TUF 11 contestant, Chris Camozzi, with his striking, Tavares is a rightful underdog.
Larkin defeats Tavares by decision.
Luke Rockhold vs. Costas Philippou
Luke Rockhold: -400
Costas Philippou: +300
Middleweight standouts Rockhold and Philippou will attempt to return to middleweight title shot conversations in the main event at UFC Fight Night 35.
The final 185-pound champion under the Strikeforce banner, Rockhold was given a tough test in his UFC debut and suffered a knockout loss against Vitor Belfort. Now, Belfort is lined up for a title shot, while Rockhold will be looking for his first UFC win on Wednesday.
Philippou, meanwhile, recently had a long winning streak brought to an end by Francis Carmont's grappling. Unable to stay standing, Philippou couldn't unleash his boxing against the French training partner of former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
The former pro boxer may face similar problems against Rockhold. While his striking was key during his Strikeforce title run, Rockhold is also highly skilled on the ground.
With six submission on his record, Rockhold could become the first to force a tap from Philippou. More likely, though, he'll mix things up, utilizing a reach advantage and takedowns en route to a decision victory.
Rockhold defeats Philippou by decision.
Betting odds via Bovada.lv. Statistics via FightMetric.com.