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Taking place this Saturday, UFC Fight Night 146 marks the first time that the Octagon hits Wichita, Kansas. The card may be short on star power, but it features a number of competitive, stylistically-intriguing matchups that are sure to whet the appetite of mixed martial arts fans. The sportsbooks are offering odds on all 13 fights on the card, and below are my favorite plays in the UFC Wichita edition of Prime Picks.
Junior dos Santos (-220)The main event is a terrific heavyweight bout between dos Santos and Derrick Lewis. Considering how much thunder both of these big men possess in their limbs, the odds of this fight going the full 25 minutes seems slim. It’s quite likely someone gets brutally knocked out here, and I believe it’s going to be the former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder knocking out “The Black Beast” in highlight-reel fashion. Both guys are great fighters that I enjoy watching, but “Cigano” is a much more solid, complete fighter. He has a more versatile striking attack that includes kicks in addition to his punches, compared to Lewis, who almost exclusively uses his hands to strike. Dos Santos has the superior cardio, having proved numerous times in the past he can go five hard rounds. Both guys have been knocked out three times each, but in general, the Brazilian has the stronger jaw. He also has the grappling advantage if the fight goes there. Of course, it’s heavyweight MMA so there’s always the potential anyone gets knocked out, but more times than not Dos Santos is the one leaving the cage with his consciousness intact, and at -220 odds I like him to get the win here.
Jeff Hughes (-210)Keeping with the heavyweights, I like Hughes to defeat Maurice Greene in his UFC debut. “Lights Out” was the Legacy Fighting Alliance heavyweight champion and earned a UFC contract with a knockout win over Josh Appelt on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He’s just 30, which is young for a big man, and has already racked up a tidy 10-1. During his current four-bout win streak he actually fought Greene in LFA and defeated him in a five-round decision to defend his belt. That fight took place last April, and I don’t see why much has changed since then. Although Greene competed on “The Ultimate Fighter” after that loss and earned a victory in his own UFC debut over Michel Batista, I can’t ignore the fact these two were matched up less than a year ago and Hughes won a wide decision. There’s no reason why he can’t do the same thing again, if not be more dominant this time and get the finish. At -210, there’s value on Hughes to win the rematch.
Beneil Dariush (-190)In lightweight action, I see Dariush getting his hand raised over Drew Dober. Although Dober is on a three-fight win streak and has shown a lot of improvements in his game, I like the stylistic matchup for Dariush quite a bit here. Mainly, he will have a big advantage in the grappling department. The California native has six career wins by submission, including three inside the Octagon. Even in his decision wins, like his last fight against Thiago Moises, he showed off tremendous wrestling skills. Dariush’s chin is a concern, as he’s been knocked out twice in his last four fights. However, his opponent isn’t exactly a knockout artist, with only four TKO wins in his 20 career victories. Dober has holes in his grappling defense, having been submitted twice during his UFC run, and that won’t help him here against a talented ground artist like Dariush. After seeing how he fought against Moises, Dariush will fight smart here and get takedowns to gain control on the mat. A finish is a definite possibility, but he should at least be able to grind out a decision. I like the -190 odds on Dariush to get the win.
Niko Price (+165)For a dog pick, give me Niko Price in his welterweight bout against Tim Means. Those who have followed my work for a long time know how high I have been on “The Dirty Bird” during his entire UFC career. However, at 35, there are signs of him fading and I can’t ignore them. Though he picked up a nice TKO win over Ricky Rainey in his last fight, the back-to-back underwhelming decision losses he suffered to Sergio Moraes and Belal Muhammad before that showed that he’s slowing down a bit. Though “The Hybrid” did get knocked out in brutal fashion by Abdul Razak Alhassan in his last fight, he’s on the rise in the welterweight division. He had that unique knockout over Randy Brown last year and has also finished the likes of Alan Jouban and Alex Morono during his UFC run, showing just how dangerous he can be. Though Means is a tremendous striker in his own right, I think Price can match him on the feet for the most part. He’s only 29, so he’ll have the age advantage here, and I think he’ll have the advantage on the ground if the fight goes there, as well. As much as I generally don’t recommend betting against Means, as he’s been one of the most underrated welterweights in MMA for years, I think there’s value here on Price at +165 underdog odds.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
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