UFC Fight Night 40: Main Card Betting Odds and Predictions
Ever wanted a card stacked with fun fights without the dreadfully stale discussion over "title ramifications" and "this guy needs a win"? Then UFC Fight Night 40 is the card for you!
Matt Brown, riding a six-fight winning streak, faces off with Erick Silva, riding a one-fight winning streak (which should have been a no-contest) in the main event. Past that, it's a who's who of mid-tier sluggers like Erik Koch, Soa Palelei, Tim Means and Lorenz Larkin.
So where is the betting value for those who are looking to make things even more interesting?
Those are the stones I'm looking to turn over here in this analysis of UFC Fight Night 40's main card. We will look over who is favored, who is the underdog and how you could work things to your favor if you want to make a bit of scratch.
Let's jump right in!
Matt Brown (+136) vs. Erick Silva (-164)
In one of the most perplexing lines of the last few years, surging veteran Matt Brown finds himself as the underdog to middling nonsensational nonprospect Erick Silva. While Brown opened as a modest underdog at plus136, he has found himself commonly sitting well over plus-200.
He has been with the UFC since 2008, and while he went 5-5 through the first 10 fights of his UFC career, he has since broken off six straight in shockingly lopsided fashion, with five of those wins coming by knockout.
That streak was enough to earn him a possible top contender's bout opposite Carlos Condit at UFC on Fox 9. Unfortunately, he was forced to withdraw from that bout with an injury and got a serious slap in the form of this fight for causing trouble with silly comments made on his podcast.
Erick Silva, meanwhile, owns a humble 4-3 UFC record but has been jammed down the throats of Brazilian fans (because Brazilians don't actually have a bunch of former champions and legends in the sport to root for...or something). He has done solid work lighting up the undersized and underwhelming but was dominated by Jon Fitch and knocked out by Dong-Hyun Kim.
Make no mistake: Both fighters are overrated. The difference is that Brown is overrated in the context of being an elite welterweight, while Silva being pitched as anything other than average is disingenuous.
Watch for Brown to take it to Silva early and potentially take him out shortly afterward.
Brown will go after Silva early with guns blazing. Silva, frankly, doesn't have what it takes to keep up with him in a striking battle and probably doesn't have the veteran savvy to exploit his one weakness (terrible submission defense). Look for Brown to score a knockout relatively early in the fight.
Did I mention that I like Brown in this fight? Bet on him to win (which is as lucrative as plus-200) and bet on him to win by knockout if you're feeling bold (plus-250).
Costas Philippou (+167) vs. Lorenz Larkin (-203)
There was a time not all that long ago that Costas Philippou was a dark horse to earn a title shot against Anderson Silva. MMA is a harsh mistress, though, and he now finds himself possibly fighting for his job opposite fellow former would-be contender Lorenz Larkin.
Both fighters come from a boxing background and have won 14 of their combined 24 victories via knockout. Combined, they have just one knockout loss, when Philippou ate a half-dozen Luke Rockhold body kicks in January.
Traditionally, when two middling strikers come together and neither of them has a glass chin, it results in a fairly straightforward decision. Considering Philippou has the larger body of work and owns wins against superior competition, Larkin is a surprisingly large favorite, sitting at minus-203. This fight, in this writer's opinion, is basically a tossup that will likely go to a decision.
This one will likely be a fairly straightforward, technical bout in the same vein as Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi...except without the elite-level talent and title ramifications. Either Larkin will score points with his striking in the clinch, or Philippou will outland Larkin at striking distance.
Force me into picking one? I'll go with Philippou.
I'm feeling Philippou, and I'm feeling a decision and not coincidentally, I'm feeling a Philippou by decision prop bet. It is sitting as high as plus-305 as of this writing.
Erik Koch (-258) vs. Daron Cruickshank (+202)
The UFC loves setting up certain fighters for success, and Erik Koch might just be one of those guys. He has the fan-friendly, gun-slinging style to become a favorite in the cage and the actual skills to be a force near the top of the division for years to come.
After he had an up-and-down run as a featherweight, the UFC gave him an easy opponent for his 155-pound re-debut in Rafaello Oliveira (1-3 in the UFC at the time), whom Koch knocked out with ease. His next opponent is Daron Cruickshank. The Ultimate Fighter 15 alumnus is a solid fighter but rightly finds himself as a big underdog.
Koch was a featherweight contender back in 2012 and might be even better after the move to lightweight. The top-10 potential is seemingly there with Koch but likely isn't with Cruickshank.
In reality, Koch is being overvalued here based largely on prospective value. He is probably going to win this fight, though.
Koch will find his range early and will start wounding Cruickshank within a few minutes. By the end of the first round or early in the second, he will finish him with strikes or sink in a choke.
Betting on this fight is tough because there are so few ways it could conceivably play out. Koch winning inside the distance is sitting at plus-125, which is something...
Tim Means (-179) vs. Neil Magny (+151)
Tim Means was booted from the UFC last summer but got invited back after scoring two emphatic wins at 170 pounds with Legacy FC. He re-debuts opposite plodding TUF 16 grinder Neil Magny.
This fight, frankly, is a straightforward striker vs. grinder bout (Means is the striker, Magny is the grinder). That makes it somewhat surprising that the lines have moved so much. Depending on the site, the lines are as broad as having Means at minus-280 and Magny at plus-230.
Means has the larger body of work and the more impressive highlight reel. However, there have been dozens upon hundreds of examples of a flashy striker getting pressed to the cage or dragged to the mat for 15 minutes. Magny is no Jon Fitch, but neither is Danny Castillo, and we saw him beat Means less than a year ago.
That isn't to say Magny is a slam dunk to win. This is basically a pick'em in my books, but with one dude offering more than 2-1.
If this fight largely takes place at striking distance, Means wins. If not, Magny wins. I habitually favor the grinder in those situations and, as such, predict Magny to take a 29-28 decision.
Magny, once again, is a very live dog, so a straight bet on him isn't a bad play in this writer's opinion, and it is as pretty as plus-236. A Magny win by decision pads that up to plus-350.
Soa Palelei (-184) vs. Ruan Potts (+156)
Soa Palelei and Ruan Potts are two of the UFC's most intriguing imports. Palelei is a hard-hitting Australian on an impressive 10-fight winning streak, while Potts is one of the UFC's first fighters to come from African MMA. He is making his UFC debut, while Palelei is on a 2-0 run with knockouts over Pat Barry and Nikita Krylov.
While both fighters have some value to the promotion (the UFC is short on Australian star power, and the UFC plans on doing a card in South Africa in the near future), make no mistake: This fight is tailor-made for Palelei.
Potts is a formidable grappler and has won his three most recent fights by submission. However, while Palelei is known for his knockouts, he is a wrestler by trade who nearly competed in the 2000 Olympic Games. He has the grappling chops to control Potts and avoid his sneaky submission attempts and control the fight throughout.
As with any given heavyweight fight between less than technical strikers, there is a high risk of a knockout, and Potts does have as many knockouts as he does submissions. Still, look for Palelei to take this one without too much trouble.
Palelei avoids Potts' judo and softens him up with punches. From there, he takes him down and pounds him out before the fight reaches the third round.
The bets that yours truly would consider in regard to Palelei are all currently sporting a minus sign next to them. That said, my gut loves the plus-350 on the fight going to a decision. While both of these guys are finishers, they are also unproven heavyweights who are capable of getting tired and leaning all over each other after two or three minutes of actual fighting.
If you really want to bet on this fight, that would be the way to go, although I still advise avoiding this one.
Chris Carioso (-104) vs. Louis Smolka (-124)
Chris Cariaso is one of the most underappreciated fighters in the UFC's lower-weight classes, and the numbers show that in this matchup with Louis Smolka.
Cariaso is a veteran player in the UFC and fought as a bantamweight in Strikeforce and EliteXC before settling into the WEC. While he hasn't beaten too many fearsome competitors, he is still a wily, savvy veteran who will likely avoid Smolka's crafty submission game.
The question ultimately comes down to whether or not Smolka has honed his stand-up game to the point where he can beat Cariaso standing. That remains to be seen, but it is possible. Smolka was dominant in his UFC debut against Alptekin Ozkilic, and while Cariaso is a successful veteran, he isn't a world beater.
In the context of the UFC's flyweight division, this is a big fight that could see Smolka vault into the title picture. In the context of your betting, this is one to avoid.
It's a tossup based on how high you are on Smolka. I'm unsure he's good enough to beat Cariaso, but it's plausible. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the established veteran, so I suppose I'll predict a decision win for Cariaso.
Depending on the site, both guys sit between minus-130 and plus-120 with Smolka being the ever-so-slight favorite. If you're looking to plop some money down on this one, though, a prop bet that one or the other will win by decision is the way to go. Smolka winning by decision is at plus-190 right now, while Cariaso winning by decision is at plus-180.