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October 1, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: UFC 173’s Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger

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Sam Morris

Robbie Lawler.and Jake Ellenberger face off during the weigh in for UFC 173 Friday, May 23, 2014 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

I hit my first my three mixed martial arts bets in Play of the Day, which uses odds from the South Point, by finding live underdogs.

Straying from the formula and taking a favorite last time caused my starting $10,000 bankroll to hit a new low. For UFC 173, it's back to the dogs.

Jake Ellenberger plus-190 vs. Robbie Lawler: $270 to win $513

This sets up as an ideal situation for Ellenberger to pull the upset. Lawler swears he's feeling no ill effects from a five-round war with Johny Hendricks at UFC 171, but coming back in two months after that caliber of slugfest can't inspire much confidence.

Ellenberger, meanwhile, has sharpened his skills for 10 months since the last time he fought in a lackadaisical loss to Rory MacDonald he's eager to atone for.

Imagine if Lawler and Ellenberger had fought before then. Ellenberger would be at least a 2-to-1 favorite.

Now I understand recent performance must carry some weight. Lawler was terrific in wins over MacDonald and Bobby Voelker, and perhaps even more impressive in his failed bid at the title against Hendricks.

But adjust for those outings, and I still believe this fight should be around a pick 'em fight. Ellenberger has one major weakness — his tendency to gas.

That reputation has somehow overshadowed a tremendous run in the UFC. Ellenberger's only blips came in the MacDonald fight, a knockout loss to Martin Kampmann that he nearly won in the first round and a split-decision loss to Carlos Condit that could have gone either way.

There might not be a single welterweight in the UFC who should be a 2-to-1 favorite over "The Juggernaut."

Standings: Bern (26-18-1, $11,500), Keefer (22-25, $8,558), Brewer (18-24-3, $5,990)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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