You’ve got to be good to be lucky or you’ve got to be lucky to be good?
Depending on which side of the UFC 148 main event you’re betting on - Anderson Silva or Chael Sonnen - you subscribe to one of these clichés.
For those wagering on the UFC middleweight champ, you’re a big believer that Silva (-275) wasn’t lucky to escape with a late fifth-round submission win over Sonnen (+215) when the two men did battle at UFC 117 in August 2010.
And, if you’re putting your money down on Sonnen, you’re confident the champ pulled a rabbit out of his trunks after getting pummeled for five rounds, only to steal the win on a slick armbar with just 1:50 remaining in the bout.
Renowned mixed martial arts oddsmaker, Joey Oddessa, is a fan of the former – and of Silva.
“You make your own luck,” Oddessa told Covers. “Twenty-five minutes is a long time to be in there against a guy like Anderson Silva. I call Anderson a ‘heart snatcher' fighter. If you don't get his respect early and keep it, he will find a way to break you.”
Sonnen was able to grab the champ’s respect immediately into their first meeting, exploding out of the gate with a series of strikes that wobbled Silva in the opening round.
Silva, who has looked nearly invisible to opponents at times, had absorbed only 208 blows in the 11 fights leading up to UFC 117, according to CompuStrike. Against Sonnen, the Brazilian was lit up by 289 strikes and was down on the judges’ scorecards before earning the submission.
Oddessa says Sonnen caught Silva off guard in their first meeting and fought a near-perfect bout. The challenger’s right hands landed with consistency and he overpowered the pound-for-pound best MMA athlete in the world, with the help of a rib injury to Silva that was disclosed in the post-fight interview.
“I don't think Sonnen can improve on anything he did in the last bout except avoid the triangle in Round 5,” says Oddessa. “Silva, on the other hand, looked a little flat that night and has had better nights. I think he will take Chael more serious this time and fight a much better and more disciplined fight. Coming in with no injuries can't hurt.”
The two have been at each other’s throats ever since UFC 117, most recently trading barbs on sports talk radio shows. Even Silva, who is usually reserved and steers clear of the trash talk, erupted during a conference call claiming,
“I'm going to make sure that every one of his teeth are broken, that his arms are broken and his legs are broken. He's not going to be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself. I can guarantee that. He will need a plastic surgeon afterward."
While all the smack and posturing are taken with a grain of salt (they’re trying to sell a product, after all), those pre-fight interviews and weigh-in confrontations do have an impact on the betting public, especially in the hours before a card.
“Until Silva started selling the fight and predicting knockouts, the general public looked like it may have all drove Silva’s price to the low -200's,” says Oddessa. “I think the players that made it to the funeral and near missed an overpriced wedding of Anderson Silva will be whistling in the graveyard again.”
“Silva supporters should get a much more reasonable price to lay by fight time.”
UFC 148 leans
Anderson Silva (-275) vs. Chael Sonnen (+215)
Silva’s near loss to Sonnen in 2010 was a wake-up call for the champ, who was getting dangerously complacent atop the MMA world. I don’t expect him to sleep on Sonnen again Saturday.
Forrest Griffin (-355) vs. Tito Ortiz (+260)
This is supposedly Ortiz’s swan song, so he'll go out on his shield. I’ve never been a big fan of Griffin. I think his loyal following makes him overrated and therefore overvalued. Ortiz has just one win in his last eight bouts, but they’ve all come against class fighters.
Cung Le (+185) vs. Patrick Cote (-250)
Both guys seem like they’re fighting for a sandwich here. Le has yet to earn a UFC win while Cote hasn’t been in the promotion’s winner’s circle since 2008 and has been mopping up in the minors since being released by the UFC in 2010. He’s really only here because he had to replace Rich Franklin.
Dong Hyun Kim (-145) vs. Damien Maia (+115)
Maia, one of the most feared submission artists in MMA, makes the drop to welterweight for this matchup. If his cut goes fine, he’s a live dog to win this one on the ground or on the cards.
Chad Mendes (-715) vs. Cody McKenzie (+450)
Mendes took a good knock from José Aldo at UFC 142 but should be fine against an opponent dropping to 145 pounds for the first time. That’s a lot of chalk, though. I'd rather spend the money on chicken wings for fight night.
Ivan Menjivar (-105) vs. Mike Easton (-125)
Replacement fights are always tricky but Menjivar has had enough time to retool for Easton. But there’s a reason Easton is the fave and his power and striking have improved.