UFC 134 Odds and Betting Preview at Bodog Sportsbook
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
By Richard Gardner
The UFC returns to Brazil for the first time since 1998 on Saturday with Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami headlining the UFC 134 card at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Silva, a Brazilian who many regard as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, looks to defend his middleweight championship belt for an unprecedented ninth straight time against the Japanese contender Okami.
Silva (30-4-0) is on a 14-fight winning streak. That run began after a disqualification loss to Okami in January 2006, when Silva delivered an illegal upkick to the jaw of his opponent. Okami had the opportunity to fight on but decided that he couldn't. Silva is still angry over that because he believes that Okami could have continued.
"I was a little surprised with his reaction to that [upkick]," Silva said. "Do I think he could have continued? I do think he could have continued. But he had the rules in his favor. I did an illegal kick and he chose that it was better not to continue."
Most recently, the "Spider" knocked out countryman Vitor Belfort in February at UFC 126 with a front kick that landed flush on Belfort's jaw and sent him reeling to the canvas.
Since losing a 2009 bout to Chael Sonnen, Okami (26-5-0) has trained with his Sonnen to improve his wrestling technique (Silva's toughest UFC fight came against Sonnen). And it has appeared to work as "Thunder" has won three straight fights in 2010, knocking out Lucio Linhares before outpointing Mark Munoz and Nate Marquardt to earn his shot at Silva's title. Many consider Okami to be the best MMA fighter to ever come out of Japan.
The action thus far at Bodog Sportsbook has been heavily on Silva, to the tune of more than 84 percent, including nearly all of the parlay action. We opened the champion at -500 but he is now at -625, with Okami at +425.
Should Silva prevail as expected, we might see one of the most anticipated bouts in UFC history with a rumored Silva vs. welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre bout in the works. The winner of that potential fight would be the undisputed pound-for-pound king. UFC president Dana White said that fight very well could take place this year; St-Pierre won his ninth straight fight by beating Jake Shields via unanimous decision at UFC 129 at the end of April.
But back to Saturday's card. The other main matchup is also a rematch between Forrest Griffin (18-6-0) and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (19-5-0). Griffin is currently on a two-fight win streak, with his last victory a unanimous decision over former middleweight champion Rich Franklin at UFC 126. Mauricio Rua looks to rebound in his home country after a TKO loss to Jon Jones at UFC 128.
When Griffin stepped into the cage with Rua the first time, Griffin was a huge underdog in Rua's UFC debut in September 2007. But in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, Griffin, the winner of "Ultimate Fighter 1" snapped on a rear-naked choke, forcing Rua, a former PRIDE champion, to submit in the third round. Rua would undergo knee surgery following the loss and remained sidelined for 16 months.
The action on this bout originally was heavy on Rua, so he moved from the -200 favorite to -250 with a little more than 62 percent of the action on "Shogun." However, late action has been more balanced, with Griffin now at +195 after opening at +160.
The winner of this fight likely will be right behind No. 1 light-heavyweight contender Rashad Evans for a title shot, with that belt currently held by Jones, who fights Rampage Jackson at UFC 135 next month.
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