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UFC on May 31: Main Card Betting Odds and Predictions

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2014

UFC on May 31: Main Card Betting Odds and Predictions

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    Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    The UFC returns this weekend with two fight cards. The first one will hit Berlin, Germany, and the second comes to you from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    The main event in Berlin will be a middleweight clash between Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz. Both men are coming off losses to Lyoto Machida, and a win will send one of them back toward the top of the middleweight division.

    The Sao Paulo main event will feature heavyweight Stipe Miocic in a matchup against Fabio Maldonado, who replaces Junior Dos Santos.

    These purpose of this preview is purely educational. It will help you make better, more informed decisions.

    Ready to take a look at the five main card fights currently available? Let's do it.

    All odds provided by Best Fight Odds.

Niklas Backstrom (+200) vs. Tom Niinimaki (-260)

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    UFC.com

    Niklas Backstrom enters this bout on just two weeks notice. He is undefeated, but this will be a stiff challenge for him.

    Tom Niinimaki is coming off a win over top grappler Rani Yahya. He was originally scheduled to take on Thiago Tavares in what would have been a significant battle in the division. Instead, it is all risk and little reward for Niinimaki in this bout against a newcomer.

    I love Niinimaki in this fight at just minus-260. I think that's good value for this matchup.

    The grappling will be the difference, and Niinimaki will pick up a finish.

    Prediction: Niinimaki

    The Play: A moderate play on Niinimaki

Luke Barnatt (-190) vs. Sean Strickland (+155)

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    UFC.com

    The odds are ripe for a play on either fighter. It comes down to who you are more comfortable with in the matchup.

    For me, it's Sean Strickland.

    The 14-0 fighter entered the UFC with a lot of hype and proceeded to dominate Bubba McDaniel in his organizational debut. McDaniel was a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter alongside Strickland's opponent, Luke Barnatt.

    Barnatt has looked really sharp since the show ended. He is already 3-0 in the UFC with two finishes. I certainly see the merit in the play if you think he will run his tally to 4-0 on Saturday.

    Prediction: Sean Strickland

    The Play: A small play on Strickland in a tight matchup

C.B. Dollaway (+140) vs. Francis Carmont (-170)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    C.B. Dollaway has looked fantastic in his recent outings and could be on a significant win streak if not for a questionable decision loss against Tim Boetsch. He steps into the cage Saturday for a fight that could finally propel him up the rankings.

    Unfortunately for those seeking to play on Dollaway, I don't think these are the odds you were looking for. His recent performances moved his line way down.

    However, that did help the line for the favorite.

    Carmont showed solid defensive grappling against Jacare Souza, and Dollaway is nowhere near the threat he is on the ground. On the feet, Carmont should be able to stifle Dollaway. It comes down to if Dollaway can grind out a win or if Carmont's stand-up and length will be the difference.

    I like Carmont and his odds.

    Prediction: Carmont

    The Play: A moderate play on the favorite

Gegard Mousasi (-300) vs. Mark Munoz (+230)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Once again, the main event odds are a bit lopsided. Will there be a repeat of UFC 173's upset? I highly doubt it.

    Munoz has never shown the ability to compete with the truly elite. He was stonewalled against Yushin Okami in 2010 and obliterated by Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida in recent outings.

    Mousasi's boxing will most likely put Munoz on the floor at some point in the 25 minutes, and even if it doesn't, his total MMA game will see him coast in each and every round en route to a decision. I believe Mousasi is a safe play, but is it worth it at the odds?

    I think so. He is minus-300, and the longer you wait, the more likely it is that he will drop into the 200s. I think that makes him worth a play in what should be a lopsided affair.

    Prediction: Mousasi

    The Play: A moderate play in what should be a safe fight

Rony Jason (-300) vs. Robbie Peralta (+230)

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    UFC.com

    Rony Jason and Robbie Peralta will open the main card on Fox Sports 1 this Saturday in Brazil, and it should deliver an exciting fight.

    Both men love to exchange leather.

    There is a chance Jason could get caught by Peralta's power, but I don't feel comfortable betting on that to happen at only plus-230. Nor do I like Jason at minus-300. These are not great odds for this particular matchup.

    There are better fights between the two cards to go with on Saturday.

    Prediction: Rony Jason

    The Play: Avoid this fight

Demian Maia (-500) vs. Alexander Yakovlev (+350)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The odds are too lopsided to go with Maia in this case.

    I don't foresee him having any trouble against Yakovlev, and thus a play on the underdog is not feasible.

    This should be a route for Maia. Expect him to dominate this fight and get back in the W column. He is one of the top welterweights in the world, and he will show it against inferior competition.

    Prediction: Maia

    The Play: None

Marcio Alexandre (+175) vs. Warlley Alves (-225)

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    UFC.com

    The first of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finales takes place between Alexandre and Alves. Both men were on Team Sonnen for the season, and their coach will be in attendance to watch them compete.

    Alves is a finisher. From their performances on the show, Alves comes off as the clear choice. However, so much can change from the end of filming to the actual finale. I still side with Alves, and at minus-225 I think there is some value there.

    It isn't worth a big play as there is a bit too much risk, but you can take a small amount here to avoid getting too invested.

    Prediction: Alves

    The Play: Small play on Alves

Vitor Miranda (+140) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (-180)

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    UFC.com

    Miranda and Carlos Junior finished both of their fights en route to the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.

    This is another pick 'em fight, but I am going to go with "Lex Luthor" in this fight. I think his experience will be the difference as Carlos Junior is still growing.

    This should be an even fight, and it will give Wanderlei Silva one win on this lackluster week for the former PRIDE champion. Three of the four TUF finalists are from Team Sonnen, but Miranda could hoist the trophy for Silva's team.

    The odds are ripe for a play on whomever you think wins, but I think a small play on the underdog is the right move in this matchup.

    Prediction: Miranda

    The Play: Small risk on the underdog

Stipe Miocic (-500) vs. Fabio Maldonado (+350)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    This fight was originally scheduled to be Junior Dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic, but an injury to the former champion changed the bout.

    Now, light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado will move up on a short notice to battle with Miocic.

    This fight should not be close. Miocic is bigger, faster and stronger, and he is a better fighter. It is slightly surprising to see him at only minus-500. That may have to do with him being knocked out by Stefan Struve in the past.

    Since that performance against Struve, Miocic has fought a competent boxer in Roy Nelson and a power puncher in Gabriel Gonzaga. In both cases, Miocic was dominant. Maldonado is a better boxer than both, but he doesn't possess that kind of heavyweight power.

    That should quell some of the concerns about this fight.

    If you're concerned about that proverbial "puncher's chance," don't be. You should still avoid this fight, though. The odds just aren't worth it.

    Prediction: Miocic

    The Play: No play with these odds

    Just for fun 12-fight parlay: Magnus Cedenblad, Nick Hein, Tom Niinimaki, Sean Strickland, Francis Carmont, Gegard Mousasi, Ricardo Abreu, Paulo Thiago, Rony Jason, Warlley Alves, Demian Maia, Stipe Miocic

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