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UFC 138 breakdown, betting odds and picks

The promotion’s return to England features a five-round middleweight tilt

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UFC 138 has the unenviable distinction of being sandwiched around many of the promotion’s more notable events of the fall.

The card, which takes place Saturday in Birmingham, England, and airs via tape delay at 8 on Spike, falls a week before the debut of UFC on FOX and a week after UFC 137.

A loaded UFC 139 card is also only two weeks away. Although it’s not receiving as much attention as a normal UFC event, that doesn’t mean this weekend’s card doesn’t have intriguing bouts.

Mark Munoz meets Chris Leben in the middleweight main event as a -255 (risking $2.55 to win $1) favorite. Leben comes back at +205. The bantamweight co-main event is nearly a pick’em with Renan Barao as a -130 favorite with Brad Pickett at even money.

The Las Vegas Sun’s picks panel is torn on both fights. Check below to see who ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (75-37), ESPN Radio/Cagewriter.com's Steve Cofield (89-55), KSNV’s Kevin West (90-54) and Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (91-53) like in each of the 10 fights as well as a breakdown and betting odds in each contest.

Mark Munoz

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 6-2
  • MMA record 11-2
  • Out of: Lake Forest, Calif.
  • Betting line: -255

Chris Leben

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 12-6
  • MMA record 26-7
  • Out of: Oahu, Hawaii
  • Betting line: +205

Middleweight Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Demian Maia at UFC 131.

Punch list: The last time Munoz went on a three-fight win streak in the UFC and received prime placement in the event, he lost a decision to Yushin Okami. He’s racked up three straight wins again and the UFC rewarded Munoz with his first main event. Can he get over the hump this time around?

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Munoz

Cofield: Leben

Last fight: Knocked Wanderlei Silva at 0:27 of the first round at UFC 132.

Punch list: Despite a loss to Brian Stann earlier this year, Leben seems to have turned the corner from a middle-of-the-division oddball to a top-tier middleweight warrior. He’s gone 3-1 since the beginning of 2010 and the demand to see him fight has risen because of his all-out brawling style.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Leben

Okamoto: Munoz

Renan Barao

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 26-1
  • Out of: Rio de Janeiro
  • Betting line: -130

Brad Pickett

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 21-4
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: Even

Bantamweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Cole Escovedo at UFC 130.

Punch list: Barao’s only loss came six years ago — in his first professional fight. He’s unmatched as the 135-pound division’s brightest prospect. But Pickett is the first consensus top 10 fighter he’s encountered.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Barao

Cofield: Pickett

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Ivan Menjivar at WEC 53.

Punch list: Pickett came over to the UFC in the WEC merger, but hasn’t fought in 10 months. The American Top Team-trained fighter had to pull out of a UFC 130 bout with Miguel Torres because of an injury. He went 3-1 in the WEC and is driven to fight for the bantamweight title soon.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Pickett

Okamoto: Pickett

Papy Abedi

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 8-0
  • Out of: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Betting line: +240

Thiago Alves

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 10-5
  • MMA record 18-8
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: -300

Welterweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: First round victory by submission over Nathan Schouteren at Superior Challenge 6.

Punch list: It was newsworthy when the UFC snatched up Abedi, who is viewed as one of the best 170-pound up-and-comers in Europe. The organization’s matchmaking team obviously thinks highly of Abedi, who has finished all of his fights before the end of the second round, as evidenced by pitting him against one of the division’s top fighters in his debut.

Staff picks:KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Alves

Cofield: Alves

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Rick Story at UFC 130.

Punch list: Although Alves has gone 1-3 in his last four, he hasn’t lost his standing as one of welterweight’s toughest outs. It’s worth nothing that two of the defeats came to Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch, possibly the two best 170-pound fighters in the world. Alves will want to strike with Abedi and will look to thwart the newcomer’s takedown attempts.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Alves

Okamoto: Alves

Edward Faaloloto

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’9''
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 2-2
  • Out of: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Betting line: +400

Terry Etim

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 5-3
  • MMA record 14-3
  • Out of: Liverpool, England
  • Betting line: -600

Lightweight Bout

Televised Fight

Last fight: First round TKO defeat against Michael Johnson at UFC on Versus 4.

Punch list: It’s hard not to wonder if fighting on this level was too much, too soon for Faaloloto. Before the lopsided defeat in his UFC debut, the Leben-coached fighter also dropped a knockout loss to Anthony Njokuani at WEC 52.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Etim

Cofield: Etim

Last fight: Second round loss via submission to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 112.

Punch list: Etim has dealt with broken ribs and a variety of other injuries for the past 19 months. Now, he gets to return in front of his home country fans. Four of his five UFC wins have come via stoppage with a closely contested battle with Sam Stout at UFC 89 as the exception.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Etim

Okamoto: Etim

Anthony Perosh

  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 1-3
  • MMA record 11-6
  • Out of: Sydney, Australia
  • Betting line: +300

Cyrille Diabate

  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 17-7-1
  • Out of: Rueil-Malmaison, France
  • Betting line: -400

Light Heavyweight Bout

Television Opener

Last fight: First round submission victory over Tom Blackledge at UFC 127.

Punch list: The aging Perosh grabbed his first octagon victory in his UFC light heavyweight debut earlier this year. Perosh, who has spent most of his career at heavyweight, will now look to get out of the bottom of the division and make a move up the ranks.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Diabate

Cofield: Diabate

Last fight: Unanimous decision win against Steve Cantwell at UFC on Versus 3.

Punch list: The French kick boxer is always looking for a finish. His last fight marked a rare time that one of his bout’s went to the scorecards. It was only the second time in the last seven years that one of Diabate’s bouts didn’t end prematurely.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Diabate

Okamoto: Diabate

Justin Edwards

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 7-1
  • Out of: Bellefontaine, Ohio
  • Betting line: -125

John Maguire

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 16-3
  • Out of: Cambridge, England
  • Betting line: -105

Welterweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Jorge Lopez at UFC Fight Night 25.

Punch list: Edwards looks to be one of the more promising competitors to come out of “The Ultimate Fighter” 13. He took out the more heralded Lopez three months after losing a razor-thin split decision to Clay Harvison at the “TUF” 13 finale.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Edwards

Cofield: Edwards

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Peter Irving at Ultimate Challenge MMA 23.

Punch list: He’s built a profile in UK promotions, but it’s always tricky to project how that success will translate to the UFC. Maguire will probably test Edwards’ submission chops as the Brit considers “gypsy jiu-jitsu” his top strength.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Edwards

Okamoto: Edwards

Jason Young

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 8-4
  • Out of: London
  • Betting line: +260

Michihiro Omigawa

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 143
  • UFC record 0-4
  • MMA record 12-10-1
  • Out of: Tokyo
  • Betting line: -340

Featherweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 131.

Punch list: “Shotgun” caught some attention for his performance at UFC 131, where he hung in there against an opponent who was more highly touted. He’s a striker and will look to attack Omigawa’s legs and keep his distance with leg kicks.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Omigawa

Cofield: Omigawa

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Darren Elkins at UFC 131.

Punch list: A second UFC stint appears to be fizzling out for the hyped Japanese fighter. In his defense, most believed he beat Elkins in June and was on the wrong end of a poor decision. The UFC even opted to give Omigawa his win bonus despite the defeat.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Omigawa

Okamoto: Young

Philip De Fries

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Weight: 254
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 7-0
  • Out of: Sunderland, England
  • Betting line: -165

Rob Broughton

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 257
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 15-6-1
  • Out of: Liverpool, England
  • Betting line: +135

Heavyweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Second round submission win against Stav Economou at Ultimate Warrior Challenge 16.

Punch list: It speaks to how highly some think of De Fries that he’s favored over the veteran Broughton. De Fries is a submission machine, forcing all seven of his opponents so far to tap before the end of the second round.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Broughton

Cofield: Broughton

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Travis Browne at UFC 135.

Punch list: Barely a month has passed since Broughton fell to Browne in Denver, but he agreed to fill in late for an injured Oli Thompson. Broughton is a boxer and hasn’t lost via stoppage in the last three years.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: De Fries

Okamoto: Broughton

Che Mills

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 13-4
  • Out of: Gloucester, England
  • Betting line: -225

Chris Cope

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 5-1
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: +175

Welterweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: First round knockout over Marcio Cesar at BAMMA 6.

Punch list: Mills lost an elimination round fight on “The Ultimate Fighter” 9 to eventual winner James Wilks. That was more two-and-a-half years ago, so his return to the UFC was a long time in the making.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Mills

Cofield: Cope

Last fight: Unanimous decision over Chuck O’Neil at “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale.

Punch list: Cope surprised O’Neil, and everyone else, with his improvement in his last fight. Cope took a lot out of his semifinal run on the last season of “TUF” and immediately built on it at his home gym, The Arena, after the show.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Mills

Okamoto: Cope

Vaughan Lee

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’5’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 11-6-1
  • Out of: Birmingham, England
  • Betting line: +150

Chris Cariaso

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’3’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 11-3
  • Out of: San Francisco
  • Betting line: -180

Bantamweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: First round TKO victory over Mark Jones at Sprawl ‘N Brawl: Revolution.

Punch list: Heading into his UFC debut, he’s won four of his last five with the only outlier being a draw. The grappler looks to have improved dramatically after eight years in the sport.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Lee

Cofield: Cariaso

Last fight: Split decision loss to Michael McDonald at UFC 130.

Punch list: He earned the nickname “Kamikaze” for a reason. Cariaso will use his quickness and keep coming throughout the whole fight. He’ll look to strike with Lee and use his Muay Thai game in the bout.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Cariaso

Okamoto: Cariaso

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