UFC 171's main event will crown the new king of the welterweight division.
No. 1-ranked Johny Hendricks takes on No. 3-ranked Robbie Lawler for the vacant welterweight title. The two hard-hitting 170-pound fighters will try to fill the void left by Georges St-Pierre.
Hendricks will get his second straight attempt at UFC gold, while Lawler will have his first shot in his long career. This fight is one of the most promising main events in recent memory, and the excitement extends beyond the cage door.
Before the action on Saturday, bettors will take a look at the fight odds to find the right play for their money.
The odds provided are estimates for consideration. The stylistic matchup on display offers some interesting betting odds leading into UFC 171.
Straight Up: Hendricks (-350) against Lawler (+265)
Surprisingly, the odds did not move much following Hendricks' weigh-in drama on Friday. It is not a shock that he remains the favorite, but it is surprising that he's still such a big one over Lawler.
The line has moved down only slightly from Friday when UFC analyst Jon Anik noted the betting odds.
Lawler is not going to lie down for Hendricks, and "Ruthless" can keep a high pace that may adversely affect Hendricks as the fight plays on.
The real money is in the prop bets.
Victory by Decision: Hendricks (+225), Lawler (+600)
Hendricks and Lawler have a lot of power in their striking, but both are also tough to finish. Could this go the full five rounds? Absolutely.
Especially if the weight cut hurts Hendricks' cardio.
As the fight drags on, it will become less likely that either man will finish the other. The pep behind their strikes will be gone, and they'll become sloppier in their attacks. The two wrestlers would likely rely on their base to grind out a win.
There is value here.
Victory via Submission: Hendricks (+1000), Lawler (+2500)
The steep odds for a finish by submission look enticing, and if you are throwing money around, then this prop bet could be worth a few dollars. However, the risk is high.
Hendricks and Lawler have one submission victory apiece in their MMA careers: a 2005 armbar from Lawler and a 2008 D'Arce choke by Hendricks.
Both of their ground games are underrated, but it is more about positioning than their submission acumen.
Hendricks is most likely to be in a better position to finish with a submission than Lawler. That is why he is the smarter play in this instance. His base would not allow Lawler the space to catch him in a submission, and Ruthless has dropped five of his nine losses by way of submission.
If you are going to take the risk, it is better to side with Hendricks here. Remember: position before submission.
Victory by KO/TKO: Hendricks (+100), Lawler (+450)
The heavy artillery of the two top-tier welterweights is what everyone is anticipating, and so are the oddsmakers.
The value isn't quite there for Hendricks, but there is a strong case to be made for his counterpart.
Lawler is more diverse in his striking than Hendricks, and he has showcased knockout ability with punches, knees and kicks. "Bigg Rigg," on the other hand, has put most of his stock into his straight left hand.
Being one-dimensional makes it easier for his opponents to game-plan against him, and there is little doubt that Lawler has been working on nullifying the left hand in training.
The risk in this bet comes in the fact that both men are tough to finish by strikes. They have good chins, but more importantly, they have quality striking defense. Regardless, if the fight ends before the judges render a decision, it is likely that someone will get knocked out.
Lawler has the better value.
The odds for UFC 171 tell an interesting story. Now it's time for these two elite welterweights to decide who will lead the division forward in 2014.