UFC 139 will happen just about 36 hours from now (or less, depending on when you're reading) at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The main event, as you likely know, pits former champions Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua against each other.
But the intrigue doesn't stop there. Can Chris Weidman remain undefeated, or will the upset alarms ring? Will Michael McDonald retain his phenom status and in the process continue to differentiate himself from the white-bearded soft rock crooner of yesteryear? Is Wanderlei Silva the Heidi Montag of MMA?
So many questions to ponder. Luckily, we're here to help. Contained herein are the betting odds and predictions for the winners of the fights and the ever-popular postfight event bonuses (both real and made-up).
Odds courtesy of Bodog.com.
Odds: Castillo -300
TUF veteran Bailey, a wrestler, has so far proven himself fairly one-dimensional in a decidedly three-dimensional environment. Has he expanded his repertoire? Maybe, but not enough to defeat a well-rounded journeyman in Castillo.
Prediction: Castillo, TKO, Rd. 2
Odds: Brown -145
Not long ago, Brown was teetering on the brink of UFC excommunication. Baczynski has already tasted that bitter fruit once, and is fighting for the second time after returning from the MMA hinterlands.
Baczynski's knockout power is above reproach; he loves to land the big shot and then finish with the choke, as he did in his last fight against Clay Harvison. But Brown has the kickboxing and ground skills to turn back Baczynski's attack.
Prediction: Brown by unanimous decision
Odds: Torres -340
Torres has lost three of five, most recently a controversial decision to Demetrious Johnson. Pace is a good fighter, but the rangy Torres and his superior jiu-jitsu should carry the day.
Prediction: Torres by unanimous decision
Odds: Tibau -170
Tibau is fresh from a Submission of the Night-winning victory, and the big lightweight will doubtless try to make it two in a row against dos Anjos.
But on the other hand, my Spidey Sense is tingling a little bit here. What could it be trying to tell me? Could it be trying to tell me that the very well-rounded (and, in my mind, very underrated) dos Anjos has the jiu-jitsu chops to hold his own with Tibau on the ground? Could dos Anjos possibly even neutralize the ground game altogether and turn this into a striking war, in which he used his Muay Thai and one-punch knockout power to overwhelm the larger fighter?
In a nutshell, I think my Spidey Sense is trying to say "sound the upset alarms."
Prediction: dos Anjos, TKO, Rd. 2
Odds: Weidman -350
The 6-0 Weidman seems ideally positioned for success in today's MMA environment. A decorated college wrestler with heavy hands and respectable submission skills: what more do you really need?
No wonder Weidman is a fairly serious favorite against Lawlor, known to this point mainly for his lack of seriousness.
So why, then, am I sounding the alarms for The Filthy Maulor?
Lawlor is the classic fighter who is decent at everything but great at nothing. His base is wrestling, but he'll be at a disadvantage there against Weidman.
Where the happy-go-lucky Lawlor does have the edge is between the ears: he is more experienced (five fights in the UFC to only two for Weidman), and enters this fight under far less pressure than Weidman, especially after capturing a breathing-room win in his last engagement.
I see Lawlor landing a big shot early—which he is certainly capable of doing—to shock the crowd and claim a defining victory.
Prediction: Lawlor, TKO, Rd. 1. Bonus: Postfight Interview of the Night
Odds: McDonald -450
After Lawlor's big upset, it's back to business as usual when the young and dynamic Michael McDonald continues his tear through the lower ranks of the bantamweight division. He'll do so against Alex Soto, a game (and undefeated) fighter who deserves credit for accepting this match on very short notice, but doesn't have the chops to hang with Mayday.
Will someone get this guy a contender already? Renan Barao, anyone?
Prediction: McDonald, TKO, Rd. 2
Odds: Bader -380
I wonder how many times Ryan Bader has had to talk about his loss to Tito Ortiz in the past four months. My guess is: a lot.
The once-buzzy light heavyweight has dropped two in a row. But the UFC seems complicit in a Bader comeback when they toss him raw meat like Jason Brilz, who has also lost two in a row but to far lesser competition.
Prediction: Bader by unanimous decision. Bonus: Monkey Removal of the Night
(Photo credit: Ryanbader.com)
Odds: Kingsbury -150
I love Stephan Bonnar. I really do. But how long has he been coasting on Griffin-Bonnar I?
I mean, the guy is 7-5 since that fight. And that includes a three-fight losing streak that bottomed out with what the kids would call an epic fail against 44-year-old Mark Coleman.
I'm not saying he can't fight; he most decidedly can. To be fair, he has won his last two. But he's been stuck in second gear for years now. If he truly wanted to be great, I feel like he could have and would have done it by now.
On the other side, Kingsbury has shown a relentless desire to get better, and it seems to be paying off.
Kingsbury will take another step toward contention, while Bonnar takes another step toward a full-time seat in the broadcaster's both. Neither of those are bad things.
Prediction: Kingsbury by unanimous decision. Bonus: Most Gratuitous Use of the Word "History" By Mike Goldberg Of The Night
(Photo credit: Tapology.com)
Odds: Story -145
Story returns to the Octagon for the first time since Charlie Brenneman stunned him back in June. Was that a fluke, or was Story exposed?
I don't know, but I'm confident Martin Kampmann will help me find out.
Story has a very significant edge in the grappling department, and that includes clinch work. I imagine he'll want to brandish that edge against Kampmann, who is a dynamic and fearless kickboxer but needs room to manuever.
If Story was prone to the KO, I'd say Kampmann had a shot. But Story has never been stopped in his career, and I don't see that starting now. Story grinds out a win and gets back on the horse.
Prediction: Story by unanimous decision. Bonus: Most Boring Fight of the Night
Odds: Faber -250
Faber has proven formidable since dropping to bantamweight. He has gone 2-1 thus far, falling only to champ and rival Dominick Cruz.
Bowles can hit. Bowles can grapple, And yeah, Bowles can win this.
But I'm giving the nod to Faber. He has that combination of speed and physicality that is just really hard to deal with. And with a rubber match with Cruz on the line, I don't see the California Kid letting this one get away.
Prediction: Faber by unanimous decision. Bonus: Fight of the Night AND Deepest Chin Cleft of the Night
Odds: Le -145
I don't mean to pile on Wanderlei, one of the most accomplished and popular fighters in the history of this sport.
But it's time to face the music: the guy's washed up. After Chris Leben knocked him out in two seconds (or thereabouts) in his last fight, the current state of Silva's career morphed from uncertain to sad.
And now he's claiming he has never considered retirement. And he's apparently getting facial procedures done like he wants to be a judge on American Idol. If he's not careful, this could get downright comical.
That could be especially true against Le, a noted striking specialist who seems handpicked to deliver Silva his fifth knockout loss in nine contests. If Leben can do it, Le can, too.
Prediction: Le by KO, Rd. 1 Bonus: Knockout of the Night
Odds: Shogun -140
As is always the case when Rua fights, the main question is which Shogun will show up.
If the Muay Thai destroyer who can damage Henderson every time he tries to shoot in (and can get back to his feet or flash his jiu-jitsu when the inevitable takedown occurs) shows up, Shogun could hand the 41-year-old Hendo his first-ever TKO loss. Just because it's never happened before doesn't mean it can't happen.
If the easily fatigued, wet-noodle Shogun shows up, Dan Henderson will, to use technical parlance, eat his lunch.
Inconsistency is the only real consistency of Rua's career to date. So there's really no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially against a model of consistency like Henderson.
If Henderson can impose his will—get Rua to the ground, and get that bowling ball of a right hand on him—it will likely be his fight to lose. Rua will fight gamely, but until I'm proven wrong, I won't expect to see A-game Shogun Saturday night.
Prediction: Henderson, TKO, Rd. 4