UFC fans will be treated to five fight card promotions this summer. Before Labor Day arrives, UFC on Versus 4, UFC 132, UFC 133, UFC on Versus 5 and UFC 134 will all play out.
For those of you out there who like to wager on a fighter, whether you're grinding a serious bankroll or just trying to win beverages from buddies at the bar during the fights, these are the top five fighters I think have the most betting value this summer.
If you're not familiar with betting value, this is not a list of the best or worst fighters.
There are lots of fighters in action this summer that have a better chance to win their fights than these guys, but the price on fighters like Anderson Silva require too much of an investment to make a decent return.
This is a list of fighters that are chosen based on the way they've been fighting of late and the hype that may be around them against the betting lines that the sports books are offering.
The German Conqueror is coming off the biggest win of his career after earning a convincing unanimous decision over George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127.
In that fight he showed an improved ability to defend the take-down as well as his usual striking excellence. This summer Siver is set to fight Matt Wiman at UFC 132, and the sports books have him as minus-125 favorite.
That's a good price against Wiman, who has a history of doing poorly against skilled strikers with high intensity like Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher—and that's exactly what Siver brings.
I think Siver should be a bigger favorite against Wiman than the books are offering, so he makes the best bets list in the fifth spot.
It's been a long time since Wanderlei Silva has been on a best-anything list. He's obviously past his prime and can't really beat anyone unless the fighter is willing to stand in the center of the Octagon and brawl with him.
Enter Chris Leben.
Also on the UFC 132 fight card will be the vicious brawl between these two warriors. Sports books have Silva as the favorite, but the price is a very inexpensive minus-165.
Leben will be game to bang with the MMA legend and will likely get knocked out in the first or second round. Anything can happen in a brawl, but name me one fighter that's walked away victorious from a toe-to-toe stand-off more than Wanderlei Silva.
For those of you who are Axe Murder fans, this may be the last chance you'll get to bet on your hero with value this good.
Jim Miller is the fighter that was easiest to add to this list. He's been a wrecking machine for years and has only one loss (to Gray Maynard) in his last 16 fights.
He's going to fight former WEC champ Benson Henderson at UFC on Versus 5 in August, and because Henderson is a former champ the sports books have this one handicapped way off, in my opinion.
Miller comes into the fight as a slight favorite at minus-144 against a Henderson that looks way too soft for top UFC competition. Miller should dominate from start to finish in this one, likely winning a unanimous decision.
Miller would be number one on this list if the price were a little cheaper, but he's still one of the best bets this summer.
Johny Hendricks comes in second place on this list because he's my underdog pick.
The NCAA wrestler will be plus-105 underdog against Mike Pierce at UFC 133. The reason I like Hendricks is because Pierce's strengths are also wrestling, but the better pedigree in that department would have to go to Hendricks.
I don't see Pierce out-muscling him the way Rick Story was able to do, and as boring as this fight will likely be, Hendricks' boxing skills should be enough allow him to dictate this fight wherever it goes.
This is a real close fight, but the extra payoff on the best wrestler in a fight with two wrestlers is too good to pass up.
The upcoming UFC Bantamweight title fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber at UFC 132 reminds me of when Georges St. Pierre fought Matt Hughes at UFC 65.
Despite the fact Hughes had a win over St. Pierre, it was obvious one fighter had evolved more than the other and that the second time they met things would be different.
That's how I feel about Faber and Cruz. Faber is beyond his prime, but his legend still holds weight with the sports books so the lines in this fight are too close.
He hasn't been the same fighter in the Octagon that we saw in the WEC, and I don't believe he has what it takes to beat the best anymore.
Cruz is only a minus-120 favorite to defend his Bantamweight title for the third time and win his ninth fight in a row.
Give me some of Cruz all day long. It's not everyday that one can bet on a dominant champion for near-even odds.