The UFC returns to pay-per-view this coming Saturday and brings a card stacked with welterweights to the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. For the first time since the flyweight title was decided back at UFC 152, a vacant belt will find a home as Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler throw down in the main event for the welterweight title. The co-main event could very well decide the first challenger for whoever emerges as champion. Former interim champion and title challenger Carlos Condit — who faced Hendricks in one of the best bouts in 2013 — takes on Tyron Woodley in a bout that is made more intriguing by the fact it is 15 minutes rather than 25. Betting lines for these two bouts have been out for approximately three months already, and have settled in at this point. After opening up as a -290 favorite (bet $290 to win $200), Johny Hendricks has been bet up to -400. After cashing as a large underdog twice in 2013, Robbie Lawler finds himself in familiar territory, currently sitting at +325 (bet $100 to win $325). There hasn’t been quite as much movement in the co-main event, but Carlos Condit did see some slight action early which has him as a -175 favorite. The comeback on Tyron Woodley is +155. The remainder of the main card sees another bout at 170lbs, an interesting lightweight contest, and two emerging light heavyweights. Hector Lombard and Jake Shields have both held middleweight titles in other promotion, but are still motivated to make their mark at 170lbs in the UFC. Both are ranked in the top 15 of the division, and a win here for either should put them one or two wins away from a title shot. At lightweight, Myles Jury and Diego Sanchez seem like fighters headed in two different directions. Jury is 4-0 in the UFC, while Sanchez could easily be 0-4 in his last four trips to the octagon. It will be the biggest test of Jury’s young career, and how he deals with Sanchez’s aggression should go a long way to determining how successful he’ll be at the top of the division. After an auspicious UFC debut, Nikita Krylov looked like a completely different fighter against Walt Harris in his last outing. He continues to try to reinvent himself as he drops down to light heavyweight for the first time in his career to take on Ovince St. Preux. Since starting his career 3-4, St. Preux has gone 11-1 since, only dropping a decision to Gegard Mousasi. He looks to move his UFC record to 3-0 win a win here. Today MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for the remaining three main card bouts on UFC 171 at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (Pay-Per-View, 10pm ET) Johny Hendricks -290 Robbie Lawler +210 Carlos Condit -130 Tyron Woodley -110 Hector Lombard -165 Jake Shields +125 Myles Jury -210 Diego Sanchez +160 Ovince St. Preux -280 Nikita Krylov +200 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: I originally thought it was a typo that St. Preux/Krylov was on the PPV portion of this card, but it seems like that’s a real thing. I wonder if Krylov’s contract has PPV points included? Lombard/Shields is a very difficult fight to break down. Does it play out like Lombard/Okami, Shields/Woodley, or Shields/Ellenberger? I can see so many different ways for this to go down, but in the end I do slightly favor Hector Lombard to fend off the takedowns and control — if not hurt — Shields with strikes. There is danger that Shields may to turn this into an ugly fight and grind out some rounds against the cage even if he can’t get takedowns, so it’s hard to make a play in this one. I feel marginally better about the Jury/Sanchez fight, but there are still reasons for trepidation. I think that Jury is the better striker, but Sanchez’s aggression and volume has a way of swaying the judges even when it shouldn’t. As far as the wrestling, Jury should have a slight edge there as well. Again, Sanchez is more aggressive with his takedowns, but not particularly effective with them overall. Jury should be able to capitalize on Sanchez’s aggression on the feet to score some takedowns of his own, but Diego’s defensive grappling will mitigate any serious damage. I do think Jury wins a decision here, but with Sanchez’ judging voodoo the total may be the safer way to play this one. Finally, the drop in weight by Nikita Krylov hasn’t really changed anything. I actually think cutting weight for the first time in his life may hinder his cardio in this fight. More importantly, he still can’t wrestle offensively or defensively. As long as St. Preux doesn’t stand in front of him and let himself get headkicked, he should be able to ragdoll Krylov, wear him down and eventually finish with a TKO or Sub. However, don’t go nuts, this is still the same fighter who looked very bad early on against Cody Donovan.
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