Saturday, July 19, 2014 | 3:20 a.m.
The Play of the Day has broken through with a five-game winning streak, the longest in the history of the contest that uses South Point betting lines and a $10,000 starting bankroll.
We’ll need good fortune not to ruin it with an 0-2 weekend, which wound up as the tally from last Saturday and Sunday.
Chris Dempsey plus-225 vs. Ilir Latifi: $200 to win $450
As with any underdog this sizable, the plus-money comes with serious reasons for hesitation. But I believe Dempsey has credible answers for all his alleged drawbacks, worthy-enough answers to take a shot on a big live dog in Dublin.
Hesitation No. 1: Dempsey took the fight on less than three weeks notice when Latifi’s original opponent, Tom Lawlor, suffered an injury. Answer No. 1: Dempsey was already training to stay in shape, believing his eight-fight win streak on the regional circuit around his native Pittsburgh had earned him an imminent shot in the UFC.
Hesitation No. 2: Dempsey will be at a size disadvantage fighting at light heavyweight, Latifi’s class, when he’s actually a middleweight. Answer No. 2: Latifi isn’t that much bigger than Dempsey, who’s used to giving up size anyway as he competed at heavyweight as a college wrestler where he was a Division II All-American.
Hesitation No. 3: Latifi has the octagon experience against the green, debuting Dempsey. Answer No. 3: Latifi became a well known name when he saved a card to take on Gegard Mousasi at the last minute, losing via uncompetitive unanimous decision, and then later beat up retiring Cyrille Diabate, who was 40 years old. The Swede is not exactly a proven UFC veteran.
To me, this looks like a ho-hum wrestling match. In a wrestling match, I’ll always lean to the American.
Standings: Bern (38-25-1, $14,119), Keefer (31-35, $9,146), Brewer (25-36-3, $3,185)