The main event of UFC 167 is a long-awaited, five-round title bout between UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook sees St-Pierre as a -260 betting favorite (bet $260 to win $100), while Hendricks is a +220 dog (bet $100 to win $220). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up St-Pierre at -260 and Hendricks at +180, meaning the line has stayed steady and the books have given Hendricks better odds in an effort to keep more of the public off of St-Pierre. I’m not surprised that the betting line has remained steady as St-Pierre has been nothing but a money train during his UFC tenure and many bettors are scared of betting against him. Personally, though, I think is the fight where St-Pierre finally loses his belt, and I’m taking Hendricks at +220 for the upset. Here’s why. Although St-Pierre has been nothing short of dominant during his streak of eight consecutive welterweight title defences, the few weaknesses he has shown play into Hendricks’ strengths. Namely, his chin. Although St-Pierre has exceptional striking defence and is one of the hardest fighters to hit, the few times he has been hit hard, by Matt Serra and Carlos Condit, don’t inspire any confidence in me that he can survive one of Hendricks’ patented left hands. Hendricks has the most powerful one-punch knockout power in the entire welterweight division, and if he can connect flush on St-Pierre’s chin early in the fight, that will probably be enough to win him the title as I can’t see St-Pierre surviving a punch to the chin if Hendricks hits him on the button. Yes, St-Pierre did show in the Condit bout that his recovery skills have improved over the years, as instead of getting TKOed by Serra he was able to withstand Condit’s third round head kick and end up winning a decision on the scorecards. But that kick was to St-Pierre’s temple, not his chin. If Hendricks hits St-Pierre’s chin, like Serra did at UFC 69, I just can’t see him being able to regain his composure like he did at UFC 154 against Condit. Now, obviously, this is assuming that Hendricks can hit him. And there’s no absolute guarantee he will, as I expect St-Pierre to shoot in for a takedown from the opening bell and try to get Hendricks to the mat. Yes, St-Pierre has an excellent jab and excellent standup in general, but standing for any length of time with a knockout artist like Hendricks seems like a terrible idea, particularly early on in the fight when Hendricks is at his best. If GSP can’t get the takedown in round one, he’s going to be at a huge risk of getting taken out be Hendricks. And considering Hendricks’ impeccable wrestling background, there is absolutely no reason to think the takedowns are going to come easy for St-Pierre, especially early on in the fight. Yes, I do expect St-Pierre to get takedowns on Hendricks once “Bigg Rigg” starts to gas in the third round. But the thing is, I don’t see the fight ever getting to the point. Instead, I think Hendricks lands early on in the fight, and I don’t think this match makes it past round two. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Hendricks knocks out St-Pierre in round one to become the new UFC welterweight champion. I hate betting against a winner like St-Pierre, but at +220, I feel the odds on Hendricks are just too good to pass up. I’m not saying he’s a lock or anything, but after years of making money off of GSP, now it’s time to make some money off of betting against him. Reminds me of Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman — and we all know what happened there.
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