The UFC will go from its smallest platform to it’s largest in the span of a week, as the next card for the organization will be UFC on FOX 15 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The event is headlined by a fantastic middleweight bout between a pair of former champions, as Lyoto Machida takes on Luke Rockhold in one of the most complete MMA bouts on the docket in 2015. The betting line for this fight reflects its competitive nature, as Rockhold opened a very slight -140 favorite back in January, with the comeback on Machida at +100. Looking at 5Dimes Sportsbook one week before the bout, and the lines have simply tightened up, with Rockhold still sitting at -140 and Machida at +120. The card was originally scheduled to feature 185lb contenders Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Yoel Romero in another phenomenal bout, but Romero was forced off the card this past week with an injury. In his place, Chris Camozzi will make his return to the UFC in a rematch of Jacare’s UFC debut. The Brazilian won their original encounter with a first round arm-triangle, and will be looking for a repeat performance here. Featherweights Cub Swanson and Max Holloway seem poised to put on a ‘Fight of the Night’ type battle, as their styles should clash nicely. Swanson makes his first appearance since being dominated by Frankie Edgar back in November, while Holloway looks to extend his current five-fight winning streak. The main card will open with a bout in the now wide open women’s strawweight division. Both Paige Van Zant and Felice Herrig will look to step into the hole left by the surprising defeat of contender Joanne Calderwood. The pair each picked up dominant victories in their UFC debuts, and given the shallow division they fight in it won’t take too many more before they could find themselves competing for the belt. The undercard of the UFC on FOX 15 features some excellent fights as well, notably Beneil Dariush stepping in on short notice to face Jersey native Jim Miller, while New York prospect Aljamain Sterling takes a big step up in his career, stepping in with former WEC bantamweight title challenger Takeya Mizugaki. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for every UFC on FOX 15 bout today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (FOX, 8pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX, 6pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 4:15pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Jacare closed a -600 favorite the first time he fought Camozzi, and that was with Camozzi coming in on the heels of a four-fight win streak, and before we knew how dangerous Jacare really was on the feet. I fully expect Jacare to remain in the low four-figure range until this line closes, and I have no qualms with that at all. That moneyline doesn’t offer much in terms of value, but the prop for him to win inside the distance (or perhaps the under) could present some opportunities. It will be interesting to see how Cub Swanson reacts to his bout against Frankie Edgar. That result basically ended his hopes of a featherweight title shot, which could leave him in store for a letdown performance here. Swanson has fared well against everyone he has faced who hasn’t been an elite wrestler, but the UFC would probably favor a Holloway victory here as Swanson has lost to the top three fighters in the division. Swanson will have to use his speed advantage here, as in straight exchanges Holloway has the better chin. Swanson may be able to create angles with his movement here, but I actually think over 15 minutes Holloway can walk him down a bit and steal the decision. I favor Van Zant to pick up the win against Herrig, but I’m not terribly confident in her given the lack of competition she has faced thus far. This is more of a step up for Van Zant than it is for Herrig, even though I think Van Zant is the more talented fighter and has the far higher ceiling. Van Zant should be a little bit faster on the feet and will push the pace of the fight a bit more, but Herrig may be the slightly better wrestler. So, rather than laying what will likely end up as inflated numbers on her and on the over here, I’d rather just pass and look for other opportunities on this card. I’m finally starting to come around on Beneil Dariush. I’m not fully sold on him against a fighter who will push the pace on him and can wrestle him, but that’s not Jim Miller in 2015. Dariush has shown a lot of improvement in his striking recently, and I think he can control that aspect of this game — especially with his kicks. Dariush doesn’t seem to have the greatest cardio, but Miller has faded significantly in his recent bouts, so that should be another advantage for the Iranian. When all is said and done I see him taking a fairly comfortable decision or perhaps getting a late stoppage on a tired Miller, but at this price I like him for a play. Hopefully the public pushes Miller to be a slight favorite though. Another slight favorite I like at the current price — but hope the public flips — is Patrick Cummins. I think he can do pretty much what Ryan Bader did to Saint Preux, and he’s not much more of a threat to get knocked out. Saint Preux simply hasn’t improved his wrestling enough to hang with the best wrestlers at 205, and this should be another example. I like Cummins at the current price, but will hold out in hopes that it moves the other way. Gian Villante seems like enough of a test for Corey Anderson this early in his career, but he’s not the type of fighter who can really test a green prospect. Villante’s cardio just lets him down too much, and while this fight should be competitive early, Anderson will take over late with volume and takedowns en route to a decision. Unlike Villante, Takeya Mizugaki can be a very difficult test for upcoming prospects because his wrestling and pressure are consistently underrated, he has good cardio, and is difficult to finish. Aljamain Sterling will be a public darling in this bout, but I’m going to stay away, as this is a significant step up in competition for him. While he should win, I’m not sure I see the “future champion” potential many see in him. I quite like the way George Sullivan’s style matches up with Tim Means, and I think his pressure will force Means into a shell and Sullivan will take a decision on the back of his volume. I find it difficult to see Means winning any way other than via knockout, and Sullivan has never been knocked out in his career, so I really like the plus money here, but this should be another spot where the public comes in on the other side. I liked Diego Brandao when he was originally scheduled to face Jimy Hettes, and I don’t think much has really changed. Brandao is the more dangerous fighter early, and he will be the better wrestler throughout, it’s just a matter of if his cardio holds up. Eddie Gordon isn’t going to be a world beater as a middleweight, even coming off his TUF win, but he should handle Chris Dempsey here. I don’t think Gordon will look terribly impressive here, as it could turn into a bit of a clinch-fest with Gordon simply being in the control position. I wouldn’t lay the current price on Gordon, but I do like the Over 1.5 here.