UFC Picks: UFC Fight Night 40

Jason Lake

Friday, May 9, 2014 6:43 PM GMT

Betting on the UFC is always more fun when you’ve got two aggressive opponents lighting up the Octagon. And that’s what we’ve got in store this Saturday in Cincinnati when Matt Brown and Erick Silva go at it.

The UFC Welterweight division is wide-open for the first time in years. Georges St-Pierre was in complete control of the title for nearly six years, defending his undisputed championship nine times and winning all nine fights – including what may be his last fight, the controversial split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks. Now that St-Pierre has stepped away from the Octagon and Hendricks is the new champ, it’s time for some new contenders to bring it

That’s exactly what Matt Brown has in mind for this Saturday. Riding the crest of a six-match winning streak, Brown has the opportunity to move into title contention if he can beat Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 40. But the MMA odds are in Silva’s favor; as we go to press, the talented, yet inconsistent Brazilian is available at a range between –202 and –240 after opening at –195.

Compare the top UFC Fight Night 40 Betting Lines

Big Brown
There was a time when inconsistency was Brown’s trademark. After competing in The Ultimate Fighter 7, and winning four of his first five UFC fights, Brown had trouble dealing with the next level of competition and promptly went into a 1-4 tailspin. All four losses were by submission. But ever since then, Brown has shown steady improvement against increasingly tougher opposition, refining his Muay Thai attacks and earning Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night honors in his last two bouts.

While Brown was building his winning streak, Silva was putting together the MMA betting version of a zigzag pattern. He’s 4-3 since making his UFC debut in 2011, and if the pattern holds, Saturday’s match will result in a loss. But it’s the clash of styles that makes a fight, and the reason Silva is the favorite here is that he’s twice earned Submission of the Night honors in the UFC, and has a long list of tap-out victims from his early matches in Brazil.

From a betting perspective, Saturday’s fight will be a referendum on whether Brown has sufficiently improved his submission defense, and as the MMA lines suggest, the betting public doesn’t think so. However, Brown still has to make the first mistake and leave himself vulnerable. This is where we’ve seen him really improve over the last two years; Brown has become adept at controlling the Octagon and measuring his opponents. As long as Brown doesn’t play to Silva’s strengths and attempt too many takedowns, it’s his match to lose.

MMA Pick: Take Brown +201 at Sportbet

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Costas Tonight
The top match on the undercard is a Middleweight bout between Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin, another pair of fighters looking to break into the Top 10 in their division. Philippou has been there before; he was No. 10 in the rankings and in the main event at UFC Fight Night 35, where he lost by TKO in the first round to Luke Rockhold, courtesy of a liver kick. Larkin, who was 4-0-1 in Strikeforce with a victory over Robbie Lawler, is 1-2 in the Octagon, including a controversial loss to Francis Carmont that Sherdog called the “Robbery of the Year” for 2013.

The MMA betting lines have Larkin as the favorite in this match, ranging from –225 to –250 and continuing in that direction after opening at –195. That might be a little too much chalk for a fight that figures to go the distance, with both men likely to stay on their feet and slug it out. Larkin should have a small edge here with his varied strikes, but Philippou is a former boxer with strong technical skills, and he could very well earn a victory similar to the one Brad Tavares earned over Larkin at UFC Fight Night 35.

MMA Pick: Take Philippou +225 at Looselines

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