UFC 156 is coming at us live from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada with an absolutely stacked card from top to bottom. Supporting the main event superfight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar is a preliminary card on FX that features UFC veterans and Strikeforce invaders looking to make a name for themselves under the bright lights of the UFC. First up is a lightweight fight between Strikeforce transplant Isaac Vallie-Flagg (13-3-1) and a man known as the “ThugJitsu Master,” Yves Edwards (42-18-1). Vaillie-Flagg hasn’t lost in a half decade, sporting a 9-0-1 record over that time frame and most recently winning a split-decision over vet Gesias Cavalcante at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier. This is Vallie-Flagg’s first time in the Octagon, so jitters are absolutely possible. The man standing across from him hasn’t had butterflies in a fight since Rory MacDonald was in grade school. The veteran Edwards has done it all and seen it all in the fight game, and he’s made it known that, at 36-years-old, he’s making one last run to the top. He’s gone 4-2 in the UFC in his second stint with the promotion over the last two years, and is as well-rounded as they come. He has knockout power in his hands, feet, and knees and can work off his back or on top. This is a tough maiden fight for Vallie-Flagg and it must be noted that this is only his second time at lightweight after spending the vast majority of his career at welterweight. The MMA Odds indicate Edwards’ overall game and wherewithal in the cage will be too much for Vallie-Flagg, and we have Yves the clear favorite at -245 (bet $245 to win $100) to Vallie-Flagg’s +185 (bet $100 to win $185). Another lightweight bout is up next, with stifling wrestler Jacob Volkmann (15-3) taking on former Strikeforce fighter Bobby Green (19-5) in a battle that perfectly displays the ‘styles make fights’ phrase. In Affliction, Green’s fight style was infamously described as ‘Hood,’ which at the time promoted Green as a hard-hitting stand up fighter only to see him get quickly tapped out by Dan Lauzon. In the three years since that fight, Green has gone 11-2 and has developed his game in every area, but will it be enough to stop a man in Volkmann who has some of the best wrestling in the lightweight division? Every fight stands on the feet, but Volkmann has been on a tear, going 6-1 since his move to the lightweight division two years ago. We think Volkmann will do his thing and bring Green down to the ground and keep him there. Volkmann vs. Green opens with Volkmann -300 and Green at +230. Next up are two former Strikeforce title contenders who find themselves facing each other on short notice and with a lot to gain in the stacked UFC welterweight division. Tyron Woodley (10-1) looks to bring his Division I All-American wrestling to the Octagon for the first time after losing to Nate Marquardt in a 2012 “Fight of the Year” candidate for the Strikeforce welterweight title. Jay Hieron (23-6) is still looking for his first UFC win (0-3 UFC) after three separate stints in the promotion. The Extreme Couture product has elevated himself to championship material in multiple other organizations including the IFL, Strikeforce and Bellator, but outside of the IFL, fate, or Ben Askren, have delivered losses to Hieron. Woodley has an elite ground game, and Hieron is no slouch in the wrestling department, but no one outside of Marquardt has been able to stifle the takedowns of T-Wood. Hieron holds the edge in the striking department, but Woodley has shown great improvement in that area since early in his career. This is going to be a close fight, as both men are well-matched. We have Woodley the slight favorite facing Hieron on short notice at -160 to Hieron at +130. We cap off the FX prelims with yet another competitive lightweight bout; longtime UFC vet Gleison Tibau (26-8) stepping into the Octagon against other longtime UFC lightweight vet Evan Dunham (13-3). Dunham is extremely well-rounded fighter coming off a disappointing loss to the currently surging TJ Grant at UFC 152, while Tibau has gone 6-2 over the last three years, losing only to Jim Miller and standout Khabib Nurmagomedov. Tibau is a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and has 11 submissions to prove it. Dunham is no slouch either, also holding a black belt in BJJ. Dunham may have the close advantage in the stand up department, but overall, this is as well-matched a fight as it gets. We both fighters as favorites at -115, meaning this is a true Pick ’em fight. Here are the complete opening MMA odds for the UFC 156 preliminary card: EVAN DUNHAM -115 GLEISON TIBAU -115 DUN/TIB -OVER -2.5 -260 DUN/TIB -UNDER 2.5 +200 ———- JAY HIERON +130 TYRON WOODLEY -160 HIE/WOO -OVER 2.5 -250 HIE/WOO -UNDER 2.5 +190 ———- BOBBY GREEN +230 JACOB VOLKMANN -300 GRE/VOL -OVER 2.5 +120 GRE/VOL -UNDER 2.5 -160 ———- ISAAC VALLIE-FLAG +185 YVES EDWARDS -245 VAL/EDW -OVER 2.5 -220 VAL/EDW -UNDER 2.5 +170 ———- CHICO CAMUS -165 DUSTIN KIMURA +135 CAM/KIM -OVER 2.5 -120 CAM/KIM -UNDER 2.5 -120 ———- EDWIN FIGUEROA +150 FRANCISCO RIVERA -200 FIG/RIV -OVER 2.5 +120 FIG/RIV -UNDER 2.5 -160
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