Today at 5Dimes Sportsbook, MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened lines for a dozen upcoming UFC bouts. The earliest of the fights is on July 7th, as heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Roy Nelson square off on the Thursday leading up to UFC 200. A pair of bouts on the UFC’s blockbuster July 9th card were opened as well, as the rematch between bantamweights TJ Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao now has a number, as does the women’s bantamweight bout between Cat Zingano and Julianna Pena. The UFC’s first trip to South Dakota features a couple of high-action fights at the top of the card; lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Michael Chiesa, and bantamweight sluggers John Lineker and Michael McDonald are now lined. The July slate continues with a couple more fights with title implications. The two big fights at UFC on FOX 20, Holly Holm versus Valentina Shevchenko and Anthony Johnson versus Glover Teixeira are now available for betting as well. The biggest lines released however are for the pair of title bouts taking place at UFC 201. First, Robbie Lawler will be defending his welterweight strap against Tyron Woodley. While the announcement of the fight wasn’t met with a great deal of praise, Lawler has shown in recent fights that he can be hurt, and Woodley is one of the hardest hitters at 170. Lawler opened the favorite, but could the recipe be there for a new champion come July 30th? The answers seems to be a resounding “No” when it comes to the second title fight. Now that the line has opened for his ninth consecutive title defense, Demetrious Johnson has been in excess of a -400 favorite for each of his past six bouts. Wilson Reis is the “lucky” contender this time around, although if there is some solace for the Brazilian, it’s that his style is similar to those who defeated Johnson back when that still seemed like a thing that could happen. Moving into September, some of the big fellas get some love as well. The heavyweight bouts between Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett, and Fabricio Werdum and Ben Rothwell are now open. Finally, Ryan Bader looks to kickstart a new streak to get back into title contention at light heavyweight, and he’ll have Ilir Latifi in his way. Now, take a breath, and check out the opening numbers for all of those bouts: ——————– UFC Fight Night 90 July 7th Las Vegas, Nevada
———- UFC 200 July 9th Las Vegas, Nevada
———- UFC Fight Night 91 July 13th Sioux Falls, South Dakota
———- UFC on FOX 20 July 23rd Chicago, Illinois
———- UFC 201 July 30th Atlanta, Georgia
———- UFC Fight Night September 3rd Hamburg, Germany
———- UFC 203 September 10th Cleveland, Ohio
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Damn. That’s a lot of big fights to think about all at once. I won’t go into much depth because of the amount of fights here, but I’ll give some quick thoughts. I don’t think Roy Nelson’s chin can take what it once did. I also can’t remember a time that he’s been an effective striker moving backwards. Derrick Lewis comes forward aggressively and hits like a truck. Even as these two start to tire (if Lewis can’t get him out of there early), he’ll still be the aggressor, and if anyone scores top position here, it’ll be the “Black Beast”. Dog price? Love it. The only thing keeping this number remotely in check are some bad judges. Dillashaw closed -230 against Assuncao when they first fought, and that was just at the beginning of his metamorphoses into the Dillashaw we know today. Assuncao is the most underrated fighter at bantamweight, but he simply won’t be able to keep up with Dillashaw on the feet, and even Dominick Cruz couldn’t establish top position against the former champion. Dillashaw via wide decision, and I might take a look at the points handicap. Cat Zingano is the more skilled fighter, but Julianna Pena’s tenacious style is a terrible one to come back to after an extended layoff. This has to be dog or pass simply because of the circumstances. If it was Zingano’s second or third fight back I’d like her a whole lot more, but I think I’ll end up passing here unless the line flips. Tony Ferguson has a massive striking advantage and good enough takedown defense to win this fight easily, but is prone to some bonehead moves in the cage. On the other hand, Michael Chiesa knows exactly what he needs to do to win — even when he’s getting beaten up — and he has Hippie-Hobo magic on his side. The styles scream Ferguson will win, but that’s been the story of Chiesa’s career. His run seems like it should end here, but I’m not sure I’m confident enough to bet this big of a number against it. I wish Michael McDonald seemed half as dedicated to MMA as he is to becoming a man of the cloth, because he could be a truly great fighter. If he comes in even the slightest bit unprepared against John Lineker, his life will be hell for 15 minutes (or less). McDonald scored a nice finish, but was otherwise unimpressive in his last outing, while Lineker eschewed the concept of height and reach advantages in blasting Rob Font to a decision. McDonald needs to find a way to deter Lineker from coming forward, and I just don’t know how he does it. The talk leading up to this fight will be about Holm getting back to a title shot, but I think Shevchenko could surprise. Shevchenko is the most difficult striker for Holm in the bantamweight division, and unless Holm has developed an offensive grappling game out of nowhere, this will be razor close. If it stays more on the outside, Holm uses her superior athleticism to take a decision, but Shevchenko can win if she gets inside and makes it a bit dirtier. Glover Teixeira is a difficult man to knock out, but Anthony Johnson will be up to that task. Obviously if this gets into the second and third rounds, the tide will shift towards Teixeira, but even though he hasn’t been TKO’d since his MMA debut in 2002, I think ‘Rumble’ is the man to do it. Of course, if the number is ridiculous, they may be a bit of value in Teixeira, but after seeing both Ryan Bader and Ovince Saint Preux rock him in recent fights, I think Johnson finishes what they couldn’t. Robbie Lawler has been in absolute wars since he got back into the UFC title picture, and they’re starting to add up. He seemed to be on the verge of being finished against both Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit. While Tyron Woodley won’t put out nearly the same volume as either of those guys and will tire late in the fight, he’s arguably a harder hitter. If he catches Lawler early, we could have a new champ. I think Lawler survives the early onslaught and goes on to TKO Woodley in the 3rd or 4th, but there’s a huge danger zone early in this one. There’s a reason Woodley held out so vehemently for this bout, and he’ll be confident early. Demetrious Johnson will win. His moneyline is tough to bet, but his points handicap will provide a nice discount and hedge against the (growing) possibility of him finishing. Do that. Until further notice: Always do that in Demetrious Johnson fights. Andrei Arlovski’s takedown defense has been bad since he returned to the UFC. Josh Barnett still has enough of a chin to eat a couple Arlovski shots early, and get this one to the ground, repeatedly if necessary. Arlovski isn’t going to pull off a surprise choke either, so I like Barnett pretty big here. Bader will win this fight if it gets out of the first round, and it should, but Ilir Latifi hits like he has the power of all the horses behind him. While improved defensively, Bader still has a propensity for getting hit way too much and way too hard. It would suck to see Bader work so hard and put together the run he did only to be denied a title shot, so I think he starts climbing back up the ladder here, but not without a scary moment or two early. Where will Werdum’s head be at following a massive one-punch knockout to lose his belt in front of his fans in Brazil? Also, how will his chin hold up moving forward? He hasn’t taken a lot of damage, but that was the second big one-punch KO of his career, and he’s not getting any younger. Those are the only two questions I have, because from a technical perspective, Junior dos Santos showed how limited Ben Rothwell really is last time out.
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