The co-main event of UFC 173 is a three-round light heavyweight battle between Daniel “DC” Cormier and Dan “Hollywood” Henderson. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists Cormier as a-850 favorite (bet $850 to win $100) while Henderson is a +575 underdog (bet $100 to win $575). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Cormier at -425 and Henderson at +305, and the betting public has been all over Cormier so far. I do expect Cormier to win this fight and I’m picking him, but I believe the line is way too high. Here’s why. Cormier (14-0) won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix by defeating Josh Barnett and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and has since went 3-0 inside the UFC Octagon with wins over Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, and Pat Cummins. The 35-year-old is an Olympic-calibre wrestler and has transferred his skills on the mat well into MMA as he’s been able to take down bigger opponents at will, push them against the fence, and also use his wrestling in reverse to keep fights standing and hurt his opponents on the feet with his improving striking. Blessed with extremely fast hands, Cormier has scored eight career wins by T/KO and in his last outing against Cummins he finished his opponent in just 79 seconds in his light heavyweight debut. Cormier badly wants a title shot at 205lbs, but first he will need to take out Henderson in the co-main event of UFC 173. Henderson (30-11) is one of the greatest fighters in the history of mixed martial arts. The 43-year-old has won every title in every promotion except for a UFC belt, and that’s why he took this title eliminator fight against Cormier just two months after his stunning knockout upset of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC Fight Night 38. Blessed with a deadly right hand that has knocked out a who’s who of the sport’s finest fighters, Henderson is also an accomplished wrestler and primarily uses his wrestling in reverse to keep fights standing, where he is the biggest threat to his opponents. He is still one of the top light heavyweights in the world, but at 43 years of age the clock is ticking and it’s clear from his last string of performances that his body is wearing down and his chin is also starting to crack. Against Cormier, Henderson will look to keep the fight in the center of the Octagon and land his patented H-bomb, but that’s certainly easier said than done. Although many figure Cormier will stand with Henderson and attempt to knock the veteran out, I think instead he will look to play it safe, push Henderson against the fence for three rounds, and take home a decision on the judges’ scorecards to earn his UFC light heavyweight title shot against the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson. I am picking Cormier but there is no value on him at -850 and I think the best option is to pass on him. I do see value in the prop on Cormier wins by decision at -115, though, and feel if you like Cormier in this matchup that prop is the way to go. As for Henderson, the odds on him winning by T/KO are +790 and I believe that prop is potentially worth a small flier bet and/or as a hedge for the prop on DC by decision.
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