MMA bettors get a rare week off, as the last weekend before November features no cards with betting lines. That will be rectified during the first week of December however, as Invicta, RFA, KSW, and perhaps even ONE FC will all have betting lines posted. Of course, the gem of the entire weekend will be UFC 181, which is headlined by a pair of title bouts in two of the sport’s most competitive and compelling divisions. Johny Hendricks will look to fend off Robbie Lawler once again, while Anthony Pettis makes the first defense of the title he won all the way back in August of 2013 against former Strikeforce champ and UFC title challenger Gilbert Melendez. There is more to see here than just the two big fights though. Heavyweight contenders Travis Browne and Brendan Schaub square off on the pay-per-view card, while Todd Duffee makes his return to the Octagon. Lightweights Tony Ferguson and Abel Trujillo should get the paid portion of the card off to a good start, as they look to extend current winning streaks. The preliminary card has its share of attractions as well. Urijah Faber occupies the top spot on the Fox Sports 1 prelims for the second consecutive time against heavy-handed Francisco Rivera. A pair of TUF winners look for their first victories since capturing the show’s title, and a quartet of prospects should provide fireworks on UFC Fight Pass to start the evening out. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas had previously released lines on the top six bouts of the card, and today added the final five at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (PPV, 10pm ET) UFC Welterweight Title Johny Hendricks -270 Robbie Lawler +210 UFC Lightweight Title Anthony Pettis -185 Gilbert Melendez +145 Travis Browne -270 Brendan Schaub +190 Todd Duffee -280 Anthony Hamilton +200 Tony Ferguson -245 Abel Trujillo +175 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET) Urijah Faber -405 Francisco Rivera +285 Eddie Gordon -170 Josh Samman +130 Corey Anderson -385 Justin Jones +265 Ashlee Evans-Smith -180 Raquel Pennington +140 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7pm ET) Sergio Pettis -280 Matt Hobar +200 Alex White -140 Clay Collard +100 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: TUF champions have gone 24-7-1 in their first bout since winning their respective seasons of the show. That’s either a huge coincidence, or the UFC realizes that even with the show’s waning popularity, it still provides a level of notoriety for fighters that they cannot garner anywhere else. As a result, they get somewhat favorable booking coming off the show and find a great deal of success. I would expect the same out of Eddie Gordon and Corey Anderson. Gordon is the more developed of the TUF winners at this point in his career, and while his opponent Josh Samman is a solid fighter, I’m not sure he has Gordon outmatched anywhere. Also, Samman’s injury history is extremely worrying when breaking down his fights. Gordon also has the benefit of learning at the side of one of MMA’s foremost talents, and with a camp that really seem to know how to develop fighters. I expect some solid improvements from him in this bout. Anderson is raw, but has a fairly high ceiling in a light heavyweight division that lacks depth. Just at a glance, I wouldn’t be shocked if he could reach the heights of someone like an Ovince St. Preux in a few years. He also has the benefit of facing an opponent taking the bout on just two weeks notice. Justin Jones has faced a lot of competition who are extremely lacking in experience, and you can see it on tape. He was already training for the RFA card that will be taking place the day prior to UFC 181, so perhaps the short notice won’t affect him as much as most, but he’s still very green and extremely undersized heading into this bout. At worst, Anderson will control the wrestling en route to an easy decision. At best, he gets another quick stoppage but still has enough cage time to show some improvements. Ashlee Evans-Smith is best known as the fighter who first defeated Fallon Fox (which was notable for the fact that it was Fox, and also that it was at 145). I think she may be able to use her size to similarly bully Raquel Pennington, who has been controlled in the past, and hasn’t inspired a ton of confidence in either of her UFC performances. I can see Evans-Smith wearing Pennington down as she has to fighters in the past, and while she may not get a finish in this one, it could become increasingly one-way traffic as it progresses. Sergio Pettis took a big step up in his second UFC bout, and acquitted himself quite well. While he ultimately fell short against Alex Caceres, you could definitely see the potential. Of course, he almost erased all of that in his next bout with Yaotzin Meza by being hesitant to pull the trigger. Against Hobar, he faces a fighter who is able to control him if he can drag it to the ground, so this all comes down to Pettis’ takedown defense. I expect that it should be good enough, but I don’t want to lay much juice on a still developing Pettis against a stiff challenge. Personally, I think the public is a bit crazy in their take on this fight. With Alex White’s porous defense, I wouldn’t be shocked if Collard comes out and puts some serious offense on him early to end this fight. Collard has his holes as well, but I think his pace is enough to mask them in this bout, and I like the dog price I can get on him here.
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