UFC 141 Underdogs on the Main Card
Earlier this month, UFC 140 saw the main card open with a shocking underdog win, and in 7 seconds no less. Picking the underdog is never easy, and the odds are stacked against you, literally. Although the favorites are usually the favorites for good reason, at a UFC show there are normally three to five fights won by the underdog. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to successfully pick the one or two fights on the main card that can win some plus money.
Brock Lesnar +127 over Alistair Overeem
Anything is possible with two massive heavyweights firing piston-like fists at each other with only four-ounce gloves on. When one of the two heavyweights can wrestle, it is even harder for the non-wrestler to stay on his feet and kickbox. Overeem is the man on the feet, and the question of the month is how long will he stay on his feet? Overeem has never fought a wrestler like Lesnar before. Look for Lesnar to spend the first two minutes testing the range and gathering intel on Overeem's timing, before he shoots in for a takedown. Rinse and repeat for a few more rounds and Lesnar should have pound out an exciting comeback win.
The pick: Brock Lesnar by TKO in Round 4
Nate Diaz +241 over Donald Cerrone
Donald Cerrone is for real! Or is he? With four UFC wins in 2011, Cerrone is on a tear and he has even won his last two fights inside the first round. Nate Diaz will not be so easy to put down. For Cerrone, thirteen of his seventeen wins are by submission, and there is 0% chance that the 2011 Nate Diaz will tapped out. The fight will stay standing and both guys are aggressive and have long frames for the lightweight division. Even in defeat, Diaz will mark up Cerrone's face, and, in victory Nate Diaz will transmogrify Donald's noggin into a bloody canvas. Diaz is hungry for a win here. He is 1-2 this year and can ill afford a third UFC loss in his last four fights here. A win here for Cerrone puts him on track for a 2012 title shot, but there's a funny thing about guys one fight away from a title fight-they tend to lose and never get that title shot. These guys are almost a mirror image in terms of build and fighting style. While the "Cowboy" mixes in more kicks with his attack, Diaz will throw about 120 punches per round. Win or lose this is likely the "Fight of the Night."
The toss-up pick: Nate Diaz by decision.
Vladimir Matyushenko +299 over Alexander Gustafsson
Vladimir Matyushenko (VMAT) is a wily veteran at light heavyweight that is on a bit of a roll lately with two straight first round knockout wins inside the Octagon. He's never going to challenge for the title, especially after Jon Jones elbow-smashed him inside a round, yet he still has the tools to provide an exciting prospect like Gustafsson a setback loss. Gustafsson is a tall, lanky fighter who likes to stay on the outside, much like Jon Jones. The wrestling capabilities of each fighter should cancel out, keeping this fight on the feet. VMAT will absorb kicks and punching combinations as "the Mauler" circles the cage, and VMAT may get put down like in his 2009 loss to Rogerio Nogueira at the Afflicition show. Although I strongly favor Gustafsson to take care of business, I will not be too surprised to see "the Janitor" upset the young Swede after some short power punches turn the tide.
The pick if you dare: Vladimir Matyushenko by TKO in Round 1.
More underdog action after the jump...
Johny Hendricks +201 over Jon Fitch
Your UFC 141 viewing experience would not be complete without a shocking upset, and Johny Hendricks getting a win on Friday over Jon Fitch, widely regarded as the #2 welterweight after George St. Pierre, would be the upset of the night. Jon Fitch is like the mini-boss Goro of the UFC's welterweight division. Fitch is the fight before the final boss and he has a smothering, grinding fighting style that seems like he is holding down his opponents with four arms. Even the mighty Goro falls, and so to shall Jon Fitch.
Here are three compelling reasons why Johny Hendricks can be the man to beat Jon Fitch this Friday. Hendricks has the knockout power in his hands (three UFC KO wins), the wrestling chops (two-time NCAA champ and four-time All American) to counter Fitch's grinding style, and he has two consecutive wins in 2011. The last time Fitch fought a fighter with tools like Hendricks was when Fitch dueled Mike Pierce at UFC 107, which saw Pierce rock Fitch on the feet and nearly finish the staggered contender in round three. Johny is coming off a win over Pierce in his last fight, plus he is only a 2 to 1 underdog, so mathematically speaking he should win 33% of the time.
When he's not fighting GSP, Fitch has been unbeatable in the UFC. Although he holds a UFC record of 13-1-1, Fitch is having his first fight since shoulder surgery forced a withdrawal from July's UFC 132 event. The last AKA fighter to return from a shoulder surgery got knocked out in the first round. If you doubt the underdog pick, go with Fitch by decision. Fitch's last 9 fights in the UFC have gone to decision.
The pick for the bold: Johny Hendricks by a TKO in round 2.
Jim Hettes +197 over Nam Phan
Hettes is primarily a grappler and he faces a very beatable opponent in Nam Phan. Phan was manhandled by Mike Brown on the ground earlier this year, so Hettes' path to victory is a proven weakness for Phan. The one thing going for Hettes is that we don't quite know how good he is yet. He could be the second coming of BJ Penn on the ground, or he could be a guy who goes 1-2 in the UFC and never makes the big leagues again. Hettes will need to get Phan's back or a dominant position in round one before the fighters get sweaty. The later the fight goes the less likely Hettes is to win.
The pick: Jim Hettes by submission in round 1.