Each MMA event is loaded with heavy underdogs and UFC 181 is no different but the trick is finding the right undervalued fighters that are worthy of your UFC picks. In this analysis we zero in on two tantalizing opportunities based on their UFC odds.
Gilbert Melendez (+180) over Anthony Pettis
It was only a few months ago that a bona fide superstar from another upper echelon MMA organization entered the UFC poised for a quick climb up the ladder which would presumably culminate in a title shot for the UFC Lightweight crown. The man in question was Eddie Alvarez, who shed his Bellator ties and his title to step up into the big leagues of MMA. His first stop was Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and he was promptly reminded that Bellator ain’t the UFC.
And so we have another refugee lightweight in Gilbert Melendez who was given the red carpet treatment by Dana White and allowed the former WEC and Strikeforce king an immediate shot at the UFC Lightweight strap when he tangled with then champion Benson Henderson. Melendez dropped an agonizingly close split decision as a +280 underdog on the odds boards. Of course a losing ticket is a losing ticket but here again we have a supreme fighter with impeccable pedigree being cast as nearly a 2-1 underdog.
One could of course make the logical leap that if Melendez couldn’t beat a guy who lost to the fighter he is facing on December 6th then perhaps the odds should be even higher? However, that rationale does not factor into the equation that Melendez has now gotten his feet wet in the UFC and rebounded with a unanimous decision victory and Fight of the Night effort over Diego Sanchez in his subsequent match. While there is no question Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is a talented and dangerous adversary who has reeled off three consecutive first-round finishes, he did lose to lightweight division gatekeeper Clay Guida in his UFC debut three years ago.
While Pettis is certainly deserving of favorite status in this title tilt, the -205 UFC odds are a bit skewed towards the chalk eating public. As the old saying goes there is no value in losing but if you’re not going to bet with El Nino then don’t bet against him.
UFC Picks: Melendez +180 at Pinnacle.com.
Francisco Rivera (+325) vs. Urijah Faber
Urijah Faber is currently a top notch bantamweight and was the featherweight champ in the now defunct WEC organization. Since entering the UFC Faber has beaten all comers except those holding the title. In his championship matches he has lost to Dominick Cruz and twice to the recently dethroned Renan Barao. Current UFC Featherweight champ Jose Aldo also defeated Faber when the two plied their trade in the WEC for that orgainization’s featherweight strap. But when the title is not on the line Faber has been money in the bank for those who have backed him with their UFC picks. That being said the “California Kid” is no kid anymore and he was rendered unconscious for only the third time in his career by Barao in their title clash back in February. Francisco Rivera possesses the same devastating power that could yield similar results.
Rivera is not fancy but he is dangerous. He has a stinging brand of Muay Thai in his arsenal and the ability to summon the Sandman in a moment’s notice. He is not on the same plane as Faber when the fight hits the mat but if he can touch the former WEC champ he could provide plenty of fireworks and a stunning return given the current UFC odds offerings.
UFC Picks: Francisco Rivera +325 at 5Dimes.com.