Unlike tonight's boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, where you know Mayweather will steamroll, the underdogs in the UFC often win. With twelve fights on today's UFC on FOX 3 fight card, expect 3 to 5 underdogs to surprise and make those who picked them quite happy. Let's take a look at the 'dogs in the main card on FOX, and my favorite underdog on the preliminary fights on FUEL TV.
main event staredown video courtesy of the UFC's Youtube channel - www.Youtube.com/UFC
Nate Diaz is an underdog in the main event to Jim Miller, in a fight where I strongly favor Miller. The case for Diaz would be as follows. In his last two fights at lightweight, Nate Diaz has clearly dominated his opponents-the win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 141 set a UFC-record for the most significant strikes landed by landing over 80% of his punches against the "Cowboy" with over 200 blows landing. The five round main event also plays into Diaz's favor, as his volume punching attack will wear down his opponent the longer the fight goes on. In 22 pro fights, Nate Diaz has only been finished once-back in 2006 by Hermes Franca-and if Diaz is still landing those three and four punch combos in rounds 4 and 5, Jim Miller may be on his way to a defeat. Having said all that, Diaz's three UFC losses at lightweight are all to wrestling-based fighters (Gray Maynard, Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida) and Jim Miller can implement that grinding, position-control wrestling attack that will lead to a Diaz loss. Nate Diaz will do his best to make this main event an exciting fight, as he will taunt his opponent and let the punches fly, but against Jim Miller he will also be working to get off the cage and off the ground. Over on Sherdog's Fantasy game, the fight is basically even, with 49% picking Diaz and 51% siding with Miller. I like Miller to win here, but I can't fault anyone who picks Diaz, who has never looked better.
Main event underdog pick is Nate Diaz by Decision in Round 5.
Josh Koscheck is a veteran of 20 UFC fights (15 wins and 5 losses) who finds himself the underdog fighting against the younger, bearded version of himself, Johny Hendricks. This fight is a great matchup between the #4 and #5 welterweights in the world. Since Koscheck has already lost to the champion Georges St. Pierre twice, the UFC really would be best served if Johny Hendricks wins here and establishes himself as a challenger to feed to GSP in 2013. Over on Sherdog's Fantasy game, 41% are picking Koscheck to win. As far as picking this fight, the odds are very close, and though a 15-minute decision is likely, both men have knockout wins in the UFC, so feel free to play both sides and pick a winner by Knockout in Round 3.
The toss up pick is Josh Koscheck by Knockout in round 3.
Alan Belcher (+245) over Rousimar Palhares
Palhares (pronounced Paul Harris) is a solid favorite over the inconsistent-yet-entertaining Alan Belcher in this middleweight tilt. Palhares (7-2 UFC) is a leg-lock specialist who most fans think will rip off Alan Belcher's leg within the first round. Belcher (8-4 UFC) is a well-rounded fighter with solid wins in the UFC and some very suspect losses along the way as well. To win against Palhares, he will need to keep the distance and stay on his feet, and should the fight hit the ground Belcher better hope his legs are sweaty enough to slip out of the inevitable leg lock. Belcher is a good underdog to go with if you like picking against the grain, and I will be picking him to win on Saturday
The bold underdog pick here is Alan Belcher by Knockout in round 3.
Lavar Johnson (+170) over Pat Barry to open the show
Lavar "Big" Johnson is a flawed heavyweight who gets tapped out, and fortunately for him, his opponent on Saturday night is the kickboxing savant Pat Barry, a fellow heavyweight who often loses by submission. This fight is pretty much a tossup, with more people favoring Barry because he also has the kicking element to his game. Still, I am actually picking Lavar Johnson across the board to win by a knockout, he's bigger, hits hard, and in the opening fight of the FOX broadcast, I expect these two heavyweight sluggers to stand and trade until one falls within the first two rounds.
The heavyweight underdog pick is Lavar Johnson by Knockout in round 1 or 2.
Pablo Garza is a surprising underdog here, and over on Sherdog's fantasy game Garza is the pick by 66% of the public. Before even looking at the odds, Pablo Garza was one of my top locks of the night to win. Garza is a finisher, and against the very-hittable Bermudez he gets a showcase opportunity to pick up a healthy bonus check. Bermudez was last seen in the Octagon in December at the Ultimate Fighter 14 (Bisping vs. Mayhem Miller if you're keeping track) and he was in a wildly exciting fight against Diego Brandao. In that fight, both fighters ate big shots, and there were huge swings of momentum. The end result was the same as his previous fights, a Bermudez loss by submission in the first round. Bermudez is probably the favorite because he is primarily a wrestler and is the more well-known fighter thanks to his stint on the Ultimate Fighter.
The pick with confidence is Pablo Garza by Knockout in round 1 (or round 3 to hedge)