Q & Anik is a new article featured exclusively at MMAOddsBreaker.com that goes five rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik offering his betting tips and picks on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: Will the winner of the main event between Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown really the No. 1 contender at welterweight, and should the winner get a title shot against champion Johny Hendricks? Anik: I think the landscape of the division is such that it’s really hard to go wrong, and that might sound like promotional speak, but it really isn’t. On the merits of what Matt Brown was able to accomplish in Cincinnati, and given what Robbie Lawler has really been able to do in the five fights since he returned to the UFC, you’re not going to get an argument from me as to whether or not the winner of this fight is the No. 1 contender. Certainly, Rory MacDonald I think is worthy and has a case. Ultimately, with Johny Hendricks being sidelined for the better part of 2014, I think maybe that’s resulted in this fight being made the title eliminator. This is a good problem to have. Rory MacDonald is certainly the type who I think is more than willing to accept another fight if need be. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the winner of this main event in San Jose, however it goes down, will be a worthy No. 1 contender. Robbie Lawler obviously was very competitive with Johny Hendricks the first time around, statistically landed at a great clip and nearly won the fight. On the other side, you have Matt Brown who has won seven straight fights, and there have been very few fighters that have won seven or eight in a row and not been granted a UFC title shot. In my mind, Matt Brown handled the step up in competition against Erick Silva about as well as you could have, and he gets another step up in competition here. If he can beat Robbie Lawler with an eighth straight win, he’s the No. 1 contender in my eyes. 2nd Round Q: What do you think of the betting odds for the main event, should Brown really be this big of an underdog against Lawler, and why do you think the line is so big in Lawler’s favor? Anik: I think it has to do with (Lawler’s) championship performance against Johny Hendricks. I really feel like that is at the core of why this line is a little bit inflated. I think you’re going to find that most of the experts will pick Robbie Lawler to win. Obviously, he couldn’t have looked any better against Jake Ellenberger. I think the big issue for me is, this is his third fight in 133 days and third appearance in 2014. He didn’t make his first appearance of the year until two-and-a-half months in, so here we are just past the mid-point of the calendar year, and he’s fighting and trying to peak for the third time in 133 days. This will be his 35th pro fight, so if anybody’s capable of peaking three times in a short window, it is him. But that is cause for concern for me. I do see some value on Matt Brown. Here’s a guy who has made a habit of coming through as the underdog, he did so again against Erick Silva the last time out. In that fight though, I think you had a lot of the masses who were backing him. I don’t think that’s the case here, just because of Robbie Lawler’s current form. But there is no way I would ever advocate playing against Matt Brown in his current form. He’s just such a hard guy to get out of there. Robbie Lawler obviously is one of the better knockout artists we have in the UFC, top to bottom. But Matt Brown is such a hard guy to put away. And if Erick Silva was unable to do it in that first round, I’m not convinced that Robbie Lawler’s going to be able to get him out of there quickly. To me, if you can get Matt Brown around +300, I have to lean in that direction. I certainly think the fight’s closer than that on paper, and I think stylistically it’s a good matchup for Matt Brown. I don’t think he has to worry too much about the ground game. I just think he needs to worry about Lawler’s power and technique, which are both advantages for Lawler in the fight. 3rd Round Q: Does the co-main event between Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira seem like it’s set up for Johnson as a perfect opportunity to entertain the national TV viewing audience with another great performance after upsetting Phil Davis in this return to the UFC? Anik: I think Anthony Johnson, at this stage of his career, is not in the business of underestimating anyone. Certainly, it’s a co-main event showcase for him on FOX, and he’s a guy who I think the UFC forecasts as a future title challenger in what has long been the glamour division. But I really feel like Little Nog earned this type of fight because even though his last fight was about a year ago, he did beat Rashad Evans. That’s saying something, and it was a unanimous decision victory. Maybe the fight was closer than that and could have been split. But he beat Rashad Evans and has won two straight. I think a lot of people are going to look at the layoff for Little Nog, just his second fight here since 2011. But because he has dealt with so many injuries, I feel like he’s a guy who is pretty well-equipped to handle the layoff. When he fought Rashad Evans, he was similarly entrenched as an underdog at about this price, had not fought in more than a year and was able to beat one of the best 205-pounders of all-time. I don’t think the layoff is going to be too big of a factor, I think Little Nog is definitely in the twilight of his career though. He can turn back the clock every now and again, but that back injury has been a real nagger for him and obviously has stunted his momentum. On the other side, you have Anthony Johnson, who just could not have looked better than he did in his promotional return against Phil Davis. I thought Mr. Wonderful was pretty game that night, even though he did get dominated. He wasn’t looking for a way out. I thought he still tried to move forward and press the action. But Anthony Johnson was just too good, his striking has just improved leaps and bounds. I think the camp really has rounded into form, and I think that has helped Anthony Johnson. He is electricity, he is a highlight reel and a post-fight bonus waiting to happen. I think it’s a very good matchup for him and a good opportunity for him to make a statement that he is a worthy No. 1 contender. Obviously, you’ve got (Alexander) Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier, but in my mind Anthony Johnson is right there. I’m excited to see what he can do. 4th Round Q: The featherweight bout between Clay Guida and Dennis Bermudez has Fight of the Night written all over it. Do you agree, or is there another bout that you think could end up as the best on this card? Anik: I think maybe Daron Cruickshank and Jorge Masvidal was the first one that I thought of as a potential Fight of the Night candidate, but a close second for me certainly would be Bermudez and Clay Guida. I really feel like Dennis Bermudez is the darkhorse of this featherweight division. I think he’s one of the most unheralded guys despite the fact that he’s won six fights in a row. I don’t think he’s ever looked better than he did against Jimy Hettes, knocking him down all day and certainly earned that Performance of the Night bonus. His current form I think is as good as any 145-pound fighter, and what a different fighter this is than the guy who was submitted by Diego Brandao back in 2011. This guy has evolved, whereas I think Brandao has gone a little bit in the other direction. Bermudez really is a guy who can do it all, he’s a very difficult guy to take down, he can finish you with strikes or submission. He really is this modern day, well-rounded mixed martial artist, and I think he deserves to be the slight favorite here against Clay Guida. I think fans at this point know the book on Clay Guida, leads the league in takedown attempts, cardio is the best in the business. You never have to worry about him tiring over 15 minutes. I think he’s at a striking disadvantage here, so I think Dennis Bermudez can lean on his takedown defense and keep this fight upright and try to out-strike Clay Guida. I guess I see some value on Daron Cruickshank. Jorge Masvidal has made a career of knocking off these younger guys when they try to make a run. But I really feel like Daron Cruickshank has a lot of confidence from beating Erik Koch as a sizable underdog, and now he can lean on that UFC experience a little bit. This is a guy who could easily be 6-1 in the UFC had the John Makdessi decision gone his way, so I love his current form. I think he is the more explosive finisher, I think Masvidal is the more well-rounded fighter. But I think if there’s a finish on either side, I think it’s more likely to come from Daron Cruickshank. 5th Round Q: A lot of MMA experts thought Patrick Cummins could eventually become a force in the light heavyweight division even though he had virtually no chance against Daniel Cormier. Now he’s facing veteran Kyle Kingsbury and is only a small favorite, shouldn’t the line be higher? Anik: When Cummins fought Roger Narvaez in Albuquerque in June, he was fighting a late-notice replacement who was coming up from 185 pounds. Cummins did exactly what he needed to do that night (second-round TKO), obviously from a striking standpoint, he looked a lot better than he had a few months prior against Daniel Cormier. I do think you’re looking at an evolution in the striking game of Patrick Cummins. I think the reason he’s a slight favorite here and actually not the underdog really just has to do with Kyle Kingsbury’s layoff. I remember being in Nottingham, England back in 2012 and seeing Jimi Manuwa just ruin Kingsbury’s face, just bludgeoned him really from the opening bell. Kingsbury certainly has the advantage in terms of pro experience, I think he more than three times as many pro fights. For Kyle Kingsbury, I don’t worry too much about the layoff. This is a guy who always keeps himself in tremendous shape, and I think it was just about recovering from those injuries sustained in the fight with Jimi Manuwa. He had an orbital bone fracture in two places. I think a lot of people thought that would be the end of Kyle Kingsbury in the UFC. I think if Kingsbury had been more active, maybe you’d be looking at a Pick’em fight. I guess I’m not as surprised at the line because I’m still waiting to see what a lot of Patrick Cummins’ training partners see. This is a good test for him at this point in time. I would probably lean towards the more experienced Kyle Kingsbury just based upon his toughness, and I just feel like he’s never looking for a way out. And I think against an opponent like Patrick Cummins, that bodes well. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His betting tips and picks posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.
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