The UFC invades the Lone Star State on March 15th when the spotlight will shine on several matches with title implications but which fighters should we choose in our UFC picks that will fatten our bankroll?
Carlos Condit (29-7, 14 KO's, 13 Subs) vs. Tyron Woodley (12-2, 3 KO's, 5 Subs)
As regular readers of my UFC columns here at SBR already know I am an unabashed fan of the Natural Born Killer. There isn't an MMA fighter that throws an aesthetically more dazzling kick and utilizes a greater arsenal of spinning roundhouses, crescent kicks and an array of other Bruce Lee/Jackie Chan moves that actually hit their target and do damage. But style points don't matter in the UFC and we must grade this one based on what the fighters can do rather than how elegantly they can do it.
Ironically, this is a fight that deserves to be a five-round affair but since it has been relegated to non-main event status in deference to the Johny Hendricks/Robbie Lawler tilt for the UFC Welterweight title, we will toss cardio right out the window. Both fighters have plenty of gas in the tank to get through three rounds and we know Carlos Condit could go ten if asked. If this were a five-rounder I would lean even more heavily towards Condit as I know how effective he can be late in round five but I am uncertain how Woodley would fare.
Tyron Woodley has that low center of gravity and fire hydrant physique that makes him a natural wrestler. He was an NCAA Division 1 product out of Missouri but he has found much of his success in MMA with a murderous set of fists rather than relying on his highly skilled ground game. But Woodley must have realized early on that the UFC (and Strikeforce from which he came) is loaded with Division 1 wrestlers and world class BJJ tacticians so he was not going to be able to impose his will on the mat as easily as one would suspect. Case in point was his loss to the sublime wrestler that is Jake Shields. Woodley dropped a split decision to Shields primarily because he was so preoccupied with combating Shields' takedowns that he forgot to engage more with his striking. Woodley proved he has a superior takedown defense but can be so consumed with being reactive than he forgets to be proactive.
Carlos Condit will be able to go toe-to-toe with Woodley. He has the reach to keep Woodley at bay and will employ leg kicks from odd angles that will keep Woodley moving and off guard. Unless Woodley can close the distance and fill Condit's face with leather, he will ultimately decide to take the fight to the floor. The problem for Woodley is that Condit is expert at exploiting weaknesses which lead to stunning submissions when the bodies hit the floor. While Woodley is a top notch grappler he is not in the rarified air of the elite wrestlers in the UFC. His ground game will only work on someone as accomplished as Condit if he softens him up when the fight is standing.
Condit is too good and too tall. After perusing the UFC odds in this one I notice that Carlos Condit has slowly edged from a -130 opening favorite to a -150 in most offshore books as of this writing.
In your UFC Picks play Carlos Condit -150 at WilliamHill.com.
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Diego Sanchez (24-6, 6 KO's, 9 Subs) vs. Myles Jury (13-0, 5 KO's, 6 Subs)
To the casual observer Jury's undefeated record and relative youth (25-years-old) versus the miles of road the 32-year-old Diego Sanchez has traveled would seem to tilt the scales in Jury's favor. But when you look at who these fighters have fought and the experience each brings to the table then you know that Diego Sanchez is the winner in this one.
Sanchez has fought the best in the world at both welterweight and lightweight. He has gone to war and prevailed over the likes of Kenny Florian, Nick Diaz, Clay Guida, Martin Kampmann and Takanori Gomi while falling nobly in defeat to Josh Koscheck (when Koscheck was a beast back in '07), B.J. Penn, Jake Ellenberger and most recently to the uber talented Gilbert Melendez in a bout that earned him his seventh Fight of the Night bonus award.
In time Myles Jury will have his day but Sanchez is still at the peak of his prime and will be too much for the talented young gun. As of this writing offshore books are not offering a line in UFC odds on this fight. But when they do make sure you make Diego Sanchez part of your UFC picks at Bet365.com.