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UFC 137 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Opinions widely vary on main event and co-main event

UFC 137 News Conference - NY NY

B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz face off during a news conference in advance of UFC 137 Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. Launch slideshow »

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Oddsmakers think the two headlining fights at the top of Saturday's UFC 137 make the card one of the most unpredictable of the year.

Both bouts — a welterweight scrap between B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz and a heavyweight showdown pitting Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione — hovered around a pick'em at sports books in the weeks leading up to the event. Now, Penn and Mitrione have become slight favorites.

Penn is listed at a price of -125 (risking $1.25 to win $1) with Diaz coming back at -105 (risking $1.05 to win $1). Mitrione is up to a -140 favorite with Kongo offered at +110.

Las Vegas Sun's picks panel illustrates the indecisive nature of the two matchups. The four prognosticators didn't come to a unanimous decision on either fight.

Case Keefer (84-49) from the Las Vegas Sun and Steve Cofield (82-51) from ESPN Radio/Cagewriter.com were on one side of the main event, while ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto (69-32) and KSNV's Kevin West (82-51) lined up on the other.

Check below to find out who everyone favored and read breakdowns of all 11 fights, complete with betting odds.

Nick Diaz

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 6-4
  • MMA record 25-7
  • Out of: Stockton, Calif.
  • Betting line: -105

B.J. Penn

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’9''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 12-6-2
  • MMA record 16-7-2
  • Out of: Hilo, Hawaii
  • Betting line: -125

Welterweight Bout

Main Event

Last fight: First round knockout victory over Paul Daley at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley.

Punch list: Diaz has to be thankful that fight day is mere days away. Despite struggling in other areas of his job, the elder Diaz brother never fails to provide an exciting fight. The win over Daley registered as the best round of the year. He should have extra motivation with his return to the UFC after five years away

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Diaz

Cofield: Penn

Last fight: Majority draw against Jon Fitch at UFC 127.

Punch list: Although Penn says he’s better at welterweight, the two-time champion is only 2-3-1 in the division as opposed to 10-3-1 at lightweight. In Penn’s defense, he’s only fought the best in the world at 170 pounds. That’s a curse, or luxury, of having one of the most notable name in all of mixed martial arts. Diaz continues the parade of tough opponents.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Penn

Okamoto: Diaz

Matt Mitrione

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 265
  • UFC record 5-0
  • MMA record 5-0
  • Out of: Indianapolis
  • Betting line: -140

Cheick Kongo

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’4''
  • Weight: 240
  • UFC record 9-4-1
  • MMA record 16-6-2
  • Out of: Paris
  • Betting line: +110

Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Second round knockout over Christian Morecraft at UFC on Versus 4.

Punch list: Long gone are the days of Mitrione being known for nothing more than his antics on the 10th season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. He’s transitioned from a former NFL player with impressive athleticism to a feared fighter. No one saw it coming, but “Meathead” has finished all but one opponent.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Kongo

Cofield: Kongo

Last fight: First round knockout over Pat Barry at UFC on Versus 4.

Punch list: The UFC veteran has enjoyed a spike in notoriety over the last few months. That’s what happens when you nearly get knocked unconscious before coming back to return the favor and improbably end the fight. The crazy sequence against Barry garnered widespread attention and landed Kongo on SportsCenter.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Mitrione

Okamoto: Kongo

Roy Nelson

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 263
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 15-6
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -280

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

  • Age: 37
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 220
  • UFC record 4-5
  • MMA record 27-9-2
  • Out of: Zagreb, Croatia
  • Betting line: +220

Heavyweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Frank Mir at UFC 130.

Punch list: This is a must-win for Nelson. Frustrated by Nelson’s weight and performance against Mir, UFC President Dana White contemplated cutting Nelson loose in May. He opted to give Nelson, who last two straight, another chance. But it’s obvious Nelson has lost some of the goodwill he earned by winning the 10th season of “The Ultimate Fighter”.

Staff picks:KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Nelson

Cofield: Nelson

Last fight: Third round knockout loss to Brendan Schaub at UFC 128.

Punch list: Cro Cop’s situation is even more dire than Nelson’s. White wanted him to retire after his second straight knockout defeat earlier this year, but decided to honor Cro Cop’s contract and give him one last fight. A loss to Nelson all but clinches the end of a storied career as it would be Cro Cop’s third consecutive defeat.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Nelson

Okamoto: Nelson

Jeff Curran

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 33-13-1
  • Out of: Island Lake, Ill.
  • Betting line: +325

Scott Jorgensen

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’4''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 12-4
  • Out of: Boise, Idaho
  • Betting line: -425

Bantamweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Billy Vaughn at XFO 39.

Punch list: The journeyman is now better known for the exploits of his cousin, Pat Curran, whom he’s mentored. Pat Curran has made a name for himself in Bellator and will soon challenge for the lightweight belt for the second time. Jeff Curran’s last run in a major organization ended unceremoniously, as he lost four straight in the WEC in 2009.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Curran

Cofield: Jorgensen

Last fight: First round knockout of Ken Stone at “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale.

Punch list: Many bemoaned the fact that Jorgensen, one of the world’s best 135-pound fighter, was buried so far down on the UFC 137 card. Well, they can’t anymore. Injuries re-shuffled Jorgensen to the pay-per-view, where he likely belongs. In the last two years, he’s gone 6-1 with the only loss coming to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Jorgensen

Okamoto: Jorgensen

George Roop

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-3
  • MMA record 12-7-1
  • Out of: Tucson, Ariz.
  • Betting line: +265

Hatsu Hioki

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 24-4-2
  • Out of: Nagoya, Aichi Pref., Japan
  • Betting line: -325

Featherweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Opener

Last fight: Third round TKO victory over Josh Grispi at “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale.

Punch list: Roop has no nickname, but might want to consider “The Spoiler”. He has a history of upsetting highly touted opponents. That’s what happened the last time out, as he beat up Grispi as a 4-to-1 underdog.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Hioki

Cofield: Roop

Last fight: Second round submission victory over Donald Sanchez at Shooto Tradition 2011.

Punch list: Japanese fighters have a reputation for struggling upon arrival in the UFC and fighting in a cage for the first time. But there’s reason to think Hioki could be different. Many rank him as the second best featherweight in the world and he’s 12-1-1 in his last 14 fights.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Hioki

Okamoto: Roop

Donald Cerrone

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 16-3
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: -240

Dennis Siver

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 8-4
  • MMA record 19-7
  • Out of: Mannheim, Germany
  • Betting line: +190

Lightweight Bout

Spike Prelim

Last fight: First round TKO over Charles Oliveira at UFC on Versus 5.

Punch list: No lightweight’s stock has risen as much as Cerrone’s this year. “Cowboy” made the most of the WEC merger by winning three fights in six months — one by submission, one by decision and one by TKO. He’s near the top of the 155-pound division in the UFC in no time.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Cerrone

Cofield: Cerrone

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Matt Wiman at UFC 132.

Punch list: Siver gets startlingly low levels of applause for a fighter who has won four straight and seven of his last eight. It may unfairly have to do with the fact that he doesn’t speak English, and therefore, doesn’t connect with the American fans. But no one can ignore him if he beats Cerrone.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Cerrone

Okamoto: Cerrone

Bart Palaszewski

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 34-14
  • Out of: Wonder Lake, Ill.
  • Betting line: +225

Tyson Griffin

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 8-5
  • MMA record 15-5
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -285

Featherweight Bout

Spike Prelim

Last fight: Split decision loss to Kamal Shalorus at WEC 53.

Punch list: “Bartimus” is one of only two men to ever beat former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. That alone should be enough to get Griffin’s attention. The Poland native makes his featherweight debut here and will look to show off his well-roundedness.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Griffin

Cofield: Griffin

Last fight: Majority decision victory against Manvel Gamburyan at UFC on Versus 4.

Punch list: The Xtreme Couture product says featherweight is where he always should have fought. He definitely impressed in his debut against Gamburyan en route to a decision over the former No. 1 contender. The three-fight losing streak he endured at lightweight last year seems like eons ago.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Griffin

Okamoto: Griffin

Eliot Marshall

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 11-4
  • Out of: Boulder, Colo.
  • Betting line: +350

Brandon Vera

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 7-5
  • MMA record 11-5
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: -500

Light Heavyweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: First round knockout loss to Luiz Cane at UFC 128.

Punch list: The Cane loss was especially lopsided and lasted only 2:15. Marshall desperately needs a win to save his UFC life. He’s already been cut once and the organization is not known to grant third chances.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Vera

Cofield: Vera

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Thiago Silva at UFC 125 that was later overturned to a no contest.

Punch list: Fighters talk about their worst nightmare being losing their job with the UFC. Vera lived it earlier this year. The UFC let him go after losing to Silva, Vera’s third straight defeat, but re-instated “The Truth” after Silva failed a post-fight drug screening and admitted to taking banned substances.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Vera

Okamoto: Vera

Danny Downes

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 8-2
  • Out of: Milwaukee
  • Betting line: +175

Ramsey Nijem

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 4-2
  • Out of: Orem, Utah
  • Betting line: -215

Lightweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss against Jeremy Stephens at “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale.

Punch list: Downes took a severe beating against Stephens, but showed his toughness by making it all three rounds without getting knocked out or tapping. The Marquette graduate who has the grades to go to law school trains at Duke Roufus’ stable, one of the most notable camps in mixed martial arts.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Downes

Cofield: Nijem

Last fight: First round knockout loss to Tony Ferguson at “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale.

Punch list: He feels he needs to atone for the performance against Ferguson, which made him the runner-up in the most recent edition of “TUF”. Nijem opted to stand and trade without Ferguson instead of working to his advantages — wrestling and submissions.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Nijem

Okamoto: Downes

Francis Carmont

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 16-7
  • Out of: Montreal
  • Betting line: -110

Chris Camozzi

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 15-4
  • Out of: Lakewood, Colo.
  • Betting line: -120

Middleweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: First round knockout of Jason Day at Slammer in the Hammer.

Punch list: He trains at Tristar Gym alongside originally announced headliner Georges St. Pierre. Carmont has overcome a topy-turvy start early in his career to win five in a row over the last three years. All of those victories have come by stoppage.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Carmont

Cofield: Carmont

Last fight: Split decision win over Joey Villasenor at Shark Fights 15.

Punch list: Camozzi was unsurprisingly let go earlier this year after one loss at UFC 127. But all is right now as the organization has opted to give “The Ultimate Fighter” season 11 veteran one more chance in the octagon. He has never won via stoppage in a major promotion.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Carmont

Okamoto: Camozzi

Clifford Starks

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 7-0
  • Out of: Tempe, Ariz.
  • Betting line: -110

Dustin Jacoby

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 6-0
  • Out of: Springfield, Ill.
  • Betting line: -120

Middleweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Artenas Young at Shark Fights 20.

Punch list: Starks took this fight a week ago after an injury to Brad Tavares. His last fight was less than two weeks ago, but Starks apparently didn’t endure much damage. He’s in a long line of former Arizona State wrestlers who have transitioned over to professional MMA.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Starks

Cofield: Jacoby

Last fight: First round TKO win against Billy Horne at Annihilation Productions: Riverfists 2011.

Punch list: Jacoby has trained in MMA for less than two years. He played football in college was a quarterback at the NAIA level. The athleticism has translated into fighting nicely, as none of Jacoby’s fights have ever entered the third round.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Jacoby

Okamoto: Jacoby

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