Q & Anik is an 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: The biggest UFC card of the year features the biggest fight of the year, as we finally get to see featherweight champion Jose Aldo back in action against interim champ Conor McGregor at UFC 194. There has been some crazy line movement already on the main event after McGregor opened as a -180 favorite at 5Dimes. In what is virtually a Pick’em championship fight now, who do you like and why? Anik: I guess I would say I’m a little bit surprised that last week you could get Jose Aldo as high as +150 if not +160, and now if you want to get him plus (money) at all, you really have to shop the price. This is the classic fight where you’re really just shopping the best number if you want to be involved. I honestly don’t know who’s going to win. And I think anybody who says that they know who’s going to win or discredits you for being on one side or the other is just being ignorant about the whole situation. It really is a Pick’em fight to me, but I do see value on Conor McGregor now that he comes down closer to -115, -120. What I like most about Conor, he’s a big-game hunter, he rises to the occasion. I feel like as the moment gets bigger, so does he. We talk so much about self-belief and mental toughness in Mixed Martial Arts, and when we get to this middleweight championship between Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman, I don’t know that we’ve ever had a title fight with two guys as confident as those two. But Conor believes in himself to such an extent that he makes a believer out of me. And that doesn’t even begin to get into his physical and technical gifts, which I think are obvious to anyone who has watched him fight. So I just love him mentally, and he’s just such a hard guy to get out of there…I feel like Jose Aldo is going to really have to treat this like it’s any other fight and really try to get the magnitude of the moment and the event to the back of his mind in order to be successful. 2nd Round Q: You’re obviously a big McGregor fan, and I have to believe a lot more of them will be arriving in Las Vegas very soon and lining up at the betting window to wager on their favorite son. What main advantage does he have compared to Aldo, and where do you see the betting line ending up on Saturday? Anik: On Aldo, I think he and Jon Jones are the two greatest Mixed Martial Artists of all-time. And I think if Aldo can beat Conor McGregor and finish him Saturday night, he would have an argument as the greatest MMA fighter of all-time based upon his resume. He’d be 26-1, undefeated at 145 pounds, and unbeaten in more than 10 years. Most of the elite pro fighters I think are going to end up on that side, backing Aldo. But I think it’s a big ask for Jose. He’s fought twice in 28 months, he hasn’t competed in 14 months. Both of the Chad Mendes fights took place in Brazil. This one is taking place in Las Vegas, he didn’t leave Rio until Monday. Conor, of course, has been on the West Coast here in the Pacific time zone for quite some time. So I just think this is going to be a different experience all together for Jose Aldo. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see any outcome. I think the only thing that would surprise me is if this thing went the distance. I just think that both of these guys, with their finishing instincts and everything else that they bring to the table, at some point somebody is going to make a mistake and leave an opening, and one of these guys is going to capitalize and get his hand raised. I’m definitely on the McGregor side here, and I think the time, if you’re betting Conor McGregor, is going to be now. Because I do believe once the Irish invasion comes later this week, that Conor’s probably going to close closer to -135. 3rd Round Q: The UFC 194 card is so stacked that middleweight champ Chris Weidman is fighting in the co-main event against former Strikeforce champ and No. 1 contender Luke Rockhold while two more top contenders at 185 – Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero – will also battle it out for the next title shot. Those two matchups are too close to call, so what betting tips do you have for readers looking for advice? Anik: When you look at the top three fights on this card, McGregor-Aldo, Rockhold-Weidman and Jacare vs. Romero, I’ve been bemoaning all week the fact that I have to give picks on these fights because I could really make an argument for an outcome on both sides of all three of them. I picked Luke Rockhold in the fight, partially because Kenny Florian on our podcast picked Chris Weidman, and we were both a little bit undecided late in the game, so we went on opposite sides. From a betting perspective, I think you may want to look at other opportunities on this card. I just don’t see a ton of value. I guess why I really like Rockhold is that over 25 minutes, I think he has more ways to finish a fight. Both of these guys are very good on the ground with their submissions, both opportunistic there. But on the feet, while Weidman’s power and will is unmistakable, I just like Luke’s size and his frame, he uses his length well, he has a ton of weapons, and I think his kicks are going to be a factor. But I wouldn’t blame any bettor who is enticed by Chris Weidman as a slight favorite, given his body of work as the undisputed UFC middleweight champion. 4th Round Q: Rockhold is one of the most confident challengers you will ever see fighting a champion. Can you break down the co-main event further stylistically and explain why you picked him to upset Weidman? Anik: I think it’s interesting that Rockhold keeps saying that Chris Weidman has gotten by on his wrestling and his toughness in this UFC title run, and feels like he can expose him athletically. And when it comes to Rockhold’s technical striking, he feels like he has a huge advantage. But if you’re Chris Weidman, if it’s not broken, no need to fix it. Do what’s gotten you here. Granted, he’s fighting a more dynamic guy than he’s ever fought before. A guy who has more weapons than he does on the feet. But I think one thing I can almost guarantee you is that at some point Chris Weidman is going to bully his way inside and be able to take Luke Rockhold down. That’s really what the fight hinges upon for me. Not to oversimplify it, but once Luke Rockhold gets taken down, how quickly does he get back up? He’s a tremendous scrambler, so I have confidence in his ability to get back up without absorbing too much damage. But you just have to be careful with Weidman, you don’t want to be fighting off of your back against him. You don’t want to let him to start to get that ground-and-pound going because physically and mentally that can compromise Luke Rockhold the rest of the way. But I really do believe the four best middleweights in the world are fighting this Saturday night. And I think if you put all four names in a hat and had them each fight the other, I’m really not sure that one guy is that much better than the other. 5th Round Q: Finally, you called UFC Fight Night 80 at the Cosmopolitan on Thursday and will be back there Friday for the TUF 22 Finale, headlined by Frankie Edgar versus Chad Mendes in an awesome featherweight bout. Can you give your thoughts on that main event, which really sets the stage for Saturday’s UFC 194? Anik: The Edgar-Mendes fight is super competitive. I guess I’ve been a little bit surprised that you’ve got to look far and wide to find people who are picking Chad Mendes in this spot. Frankie Edgar is a guy who I have admired to just such an extent, obviously he’s won four straight. And I think you can make the argument that he was fighting for a title shot in the Cub Swanson fight, and he won that fight with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Then he beats Urijah Faber, and he still hasn’t had the title shot. So he definitely deserves a title shot and the distinction here as the favorite. But Chad Mendes could be a future Hall-of-Famer in his own right. He’s only lost to McGregor and Aldo. He wasn’t on a full camp for the Conor McGregor fight, and both times he fought Jose Aldo were in Brazil. And, of course, their second meeting was super close. So here’s a guy who has been nearly perfect in his career, and I don’t think he’s getting the respect that he deserves going in this fight. I understand why Frankie’s the favorite, but I guess I’ve been surprised that more people aren’t backing Mendes. This is one of the better fights of the 34 fights we have this weekend, and I’m really excited to see what Chad can do with his back up against the proverbial wall. Another factor in this fight is the smaller 25-foot Octagon, which will be employed instead of the 30-footer that you’ll see at UFC 194. I’m told the Edgar camp has been training with this in mind. But if the smaller cage favors one guy over the other, it’s Mendes. 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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