UFC 180 Picks
When: Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 9:00PM EST
Where: Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
by Scott of Predictem.com
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So maybe UFC 180 lost much of its luster with the the mind-bending amount of fighter pull-outs. Still, as they head into Mexico City, this is a historic card–in a country that is crazy over fighting. The main event, between UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum was cancelled with another injury suffered by the largely-inactive champion. But one mans misfortune has created an opportunity for a fan-favorite in Mark Hunt, who will now battle Werdum for the interim crown. The undercard features some bouts of interest, namely the high-stakes welterweight matchup between Jake Ellenberger and Kelvin Gastelum.
Fabricio Werdum, (-510), 18-5-1 (5 KOs, 9 Submissions) vs. Mark Hunt, (+350), 10-8-1 (7 KOs)
Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt will battle it out for the interim UFC Heavyweight Title. The 37-year old Werdum is a well-decorated fighter and clearly deserving of top contender status. A decision loss to Alistair Overeem in 2011 is his only loss in his last 8 fights and he has won 4 in a row. Among his more recent victims are the illustrious group of Antonio Silva, Fedor Emilianenko, Roy Nelson, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and a title-elimination win over streaking striker Travis Browne.
With Mark Hunt, you have to be willing to look past some of the things you would tend to hold against a fighter. The guy is 40 years old. Hes 510 and thats if hes wearing Timberlands. Hes built like a beer keg with a lot of wiggle and jiggle, but he still has to cut all kinds of weight to get down to 265. And his record of 10-8-1 is not very good. If youre going to judge Hunt based on those factoids, you will almost certainly be missing the boat.
Hunt is a real fighter, first succeeding in kickboxing beginning in the late-90s. His MMA career began with a learning curve he had trouble with, but hes lost only once in his last 7 fights–to top entity Junior dos Santos. His knockouts of Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson showed his power and grit. Hes a prideful fighter, more athletic than his physique would suggest, and he can bring an apartment building down with his cataclysmic power shots, namely his left hook.
In a career spanning over a dozen years, Werdum has been knocked out only once–to the aforementioned dos Santos. His other four losses were by decision, making one wonder if Hunt be able to knock him out or if will have the stamina to last 5 rounds against Werdum if it were to come down to that. Hunt has gone five rounds before, but that was to Antonio Silva, where he was able to fight at a slower pace. That might not be so easy against Werdum.
Hunt was forced to take this fight on relatively short notice. And in between fights, he can balloon up in weight. Will he be able to make a safe weight cut in time for this fight? Despite some amazing knockouts, is Hunt really a top-flight heavyweight capable of beating premier fighters like Werdum. Or is this level a bit outside of his reach? The odds seem to suggest a class difference in Werdums favor.
You can never count out Hunt. Not with that true power. He can turn any fighters legs to jelly with one shot and has the heaviest hands in the sport. And yes, Werdum is an exceptional talent–a versatile master of submissions and a guy who can crack in the striking department, as well. The idea of Mark Hunt being a champion, even on an interim basis, is somewhat far-fetched. But what other move can you make in this fight?
Werdum is a tough customer and should win this fight. But his odds of -510 make a position on him a most undesirable proposition. I think the only move here is to take a small stance on Hunt at +350 odds or better and hope his enormous power can surface at some point in the fight. Again, its difficult to pick him to win in a straight-up sense, but at +350 or better, hes not a bad pick against Werdum, a very good fighter, but one who falls just short of greatness.
My Prediction to Win: Mark Hunt at +350 or better. Its hard to pass on a big underdog price with the heaviest-handed fighter in the UFC.
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PROP BETS AND MOST FIGHT WAGERING OPTIONS CAN BE FOUND AT 5DIMES
Jake Ellenberger, (+160), 29-8 (18 KOs, 5 Submissions) vs. Kelvin Gastelum, (-200), 9-0 (3 KOs, 3 Submissions)
On the undercard, Jake Ellenberger and Kelvin Gastelum will duke it out over 3 rounds in a welterweight battle. Ellenberger, 29, is a veteran of 12 UFC fights, where he has gone 8-4, including 2 straight losses. Gastelum, 23, won The Ultimate Fighter, and has won his 3 subsequent fights with the organization. He is unbeaten as a pro in 9 fights.
For the young Gastelum, this represents a jump in class where he will see if he can thrive against a veteran like Ellenberger, who while not considered elite, is at a level just beneath that. In his last two losses, he didnt lose to just anybody, falling to Robbie Lawler and losing a decision to top contender Rory MacDonald. Gastelum has a good win over Uriah Hall in the TUF season finale and recent wins over Rick Story and Nico Musoke. He missed making weight against Musoke, making you wonder if hes able to keep making weight cuts to 170 pounds.
Gastelum is the rising fighter and has a certain understated competence and durability, as well as a robust fighting spirit. And he has a knack of winning–an undervalued trait for MMA fighters. He just knows how to manufacture victories. But lets not sell Ellenberger short. He can knock a guy out or grind his way through a tough back-and-forth fight. Hes lost to some top 170-pounders, but also has wins over guys like Jake Shields, Diego Sanchez, and Nate Marquardt–fighters who were contenders. We know he can do it. With Gastelum, we can only assume.
Ellenberger is desperate for a win. Combine that with the fact that hes succeeded at a higher level, and I believe he represents a high-value underdog in this spot. After pitting himself against Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald, Ellenberger should find the going a bit easier in this bout. I see him grinding hard for a close 3-round decision.
My Prediction to Win: Jake Ellenberger. Too much experience, chomping at the bit for a win, and getting a good price against an unproven fighter in Gastelum.