Live from San Jose is the absolutely stacked UFC on FOX 7 undercard. Surprisingly for an undercard, the FX broadcast has a potential title shot in the mix, along with some Strikeforce newcomers making their Octagon debuts. In the FX main event, Chad Mendes (13-1) is looking to make a case for another featherweight title shot if he can plow through Darren Elkins (16-2) like he plowed through Yaotzin Mesa and Cody McKenzie with two extremely fast knockouts. The initial reaction to this fight is that Mendes will roll again, as he opened a -445 favorite (bet $445 to win $100) to Elkins’ +315 (bet $100 to win $315) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Since moving to featherweight two years ago, Elkins has gone 5-0 with wins over Omigawa, TUF winner Diego Brandao and Antonio Carvalho to name a few. The question is: does Elkins have the ability to stop Mendes’ takedowns, and if he does, can he stand up and trade with a Mendes who now has knockout power in a rapidly developing stand up game? It will be extremely tough, as Mendes probably beats everyone in the division outside of Jose Aldo. At this point, Mendes, who is always a favorite of bettors is all the way up to a -750 favorite, with the comeback on Elkins at +525. The line may seem high given Elkins’ recent accomplishments, but skill-for-skill Mendes is the superior fighter both technically and physically. Strikeforce middleweight contender, Lorenz Larkin (13-0 1 NC), was about to get a title shot at Strikeforce’s last show until Luke Rockhold had to pull out due to an injury. Before that, he upset Robbie Lawler in an impressive debut at middleweight, after spending his entire career at light heavyweight. Francis Carmont (20-7) fights out of the famed Tristar Gym of GSP, Rory MacDonald, and Mike RIcci fame, so you know he’s well-rounded with the ability to outwork his opponent purely from a physical standpoint. Carmont opened an ever so slight favorite at -125, with Larkin coming in at -115. It should be mentioned that Larkin’s NC was a knockout loss to King Mo, until Mo tested positive for a banned substance. In that fight, Mo had his way with Larkin, dominating him physically and taking him to the ground where he was pounded out. Carmont may want to take this route, as he’s the bigger man with a four-inch height advantage and substantial bulk. This fight has every reason to be exciting no matter where it goes, but it will be most interesting on the feet, where there are 14 knockouts between these two men. The line has moved a bit in Carmont’s direction, but it still remains close. Currently it sits at -140/+120 in the Frenchman’s favor. Ultimate Fighter runner-up Ramsey Nijem (7-2) looks to make it four wins in a row vs. undefeated Myles Jury (11-0). Both of these guys are products of TUF, but Jury spent a few years in the King of the Cage promotion, winning his first 9 fights in the first round. The trend continued in his UFC debut as he submitted Chris Saunders in the first round at the TUF 15 finale. He finally saw the judges as he defeated Michael Johnson by unanimous decision at UFC 155. It should be noted that even though that fight went to decision, Johnson was destroyed by Jury. Nijem has proved himself as a solid addition to the lower ranks of the UFC lightweight division, and is well rounded. Nijem will need to utilize his grinding style and bring the fight to the ground where Jury will have to work off his back, thus neutralizing his better striking and explosive submissions that come in the first round. The line opened in Jury’s favor at -230 to Nijem’s +170. After some early steam on Jury, the line has settled down to the current -250 spot, while Nijem has moved over a 2-to-1 underdog at +210. The Team Alpha Male portion of the prelim cards continues in a bout that has title implications in the UFC’s lightest division. If he wins this fight, Joseph Benavidez (17-3) should for all intents and purposes be the next flyweight number one contender after Demetrious Johnson and John Moraga scrap. Looking to stop Joe and earn a shot in is Darren Uyenoyama (8-3). Benavidez, who was a long-time top 5 bantamweight before dropping to 125lbs opened a massive -505 favorite, with Uyenoyama +335. Darren is a spectacular grappler, and Benavidez as we know, has a great background in in wrestling and has applied it to MMA well through team Alpha Male. Darren is currently 2-0 in the UFC and 1-0 at flyweight, but on the outside looking in at the shot that could be Benavidez’s. Expect a fast-paced, exciting fight that has every reason to go everywhere a fight can go inside the Octagon. Benavidez holds the advantage in experience, competition and is just outright one of the best in the division, but it seems like it’s almost anyone’s game in the flyweight division if it goes into the later rounds. The betting public feels this fight is far more likely to go Benavidez’s way however, as he has increased to a -600 favorite, with Uyenoyama currently sitting at +450. Making his UFC debut is former Strikeforce lightweight contender Jorge Masvidal (23-7) taking on Tim Means (18-3-1), who was last seen getting knocked out in the sauna prior to his UFC on FOX 5 weigh-ins, which took him out of his scheduled fight. The line here opened fairly close, as Masvidal was made a -165 favorite and Means a +125 underdog. Means is nasty on the feet, with 13 knockouts to his name and decent grappling. Masvidal is very well-rounded, with underestimated boxing, a good wrestling base and solid BJJ. Masvidal also has a good chin that can possibly withstand Means’ explosive first rounds, which will be the first test. This is a difficult fight for Masvidal, who has been able to beat up guys smaller than him, but has also seen the final bell in every fight he’s been in since 2010. The first round will be the litmus test, but after that point Masvidal could have an advantage with his experience in deeper waters. The public sees that this fight could go either way, and the line has remained largely unchanged, as Masvidal is now -145, while Means remains at his original +125 price. Finally, to kick off the Team Alpha Male prelims on FX, we have bantamweights TJ Dillashaw (7-1) taking on undefeated Hugo Viana (7-0) in a fight that helps shake up the somewhat shallow, but ever exciting bantamweight divison. Dillashaw opened a solid -295 favorite over Viana who priced in as a +215 underdog. This is Dillashaw’s second short-notice fight in a little over a month, which would be worrisome if he didn’t dominate his last opponent, Issei Tamura, at UFC 158. Dillashaw has an NCAA Division I wrestling background and a developing striking game. He’s looked more confident since losing to John Dodson at the TUF 14 finale, and has brought a sense of urgency to finish his fights. Hugo is a fast and big bantamweight after spending the last few years at featherweight. He has decent jiu jitsu but will be looking to impose his length in the stand up and hope to sprawl out of Dillashaw’s incoming shots. If Dillashaw does get Viana to the ground, it could be game over for the tae kwon do black belt. Dillashaw saw some steam early in this fight, but more rational heads have prevailed and the line has returned to near its opening numbers. Currently, Dillashaw is a -300 favorite, and Viana is +250. The UFC on FOX 7 card will kick off with two Facebook Prelims at 4pm EST. The FX portion of the card will air starting at 5pm EST, and the main card featuring four “UFC vs. Strikeforce” fights airs live on FOX at 8pm EST.
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