Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 | 2 p.m.
Case Keefer on MMA Oddsbreaker show
The quickest fight in promotional history could take place Saturday night in the UFC on Versus 6 main event — not in terms of length, but more in the way of movement.
Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz (18-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has worked his way to nine straight wins over top competition by always being the fastest man in the cage. Perhaps for the first time in his career, that won’t be the case in Washington D.C. when he encounters top contender Demetrious Johnson (10-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC).
Johnson, nicknamed “Mighty Mouse”, is the smallest fighter in the UFC at 5-foot-3. He makes up for his size disadvantage with blistering speed that lets him dictate the pace of the fight.
“Something that he does different than a lot of guys in my division is he’s got a rhythm in his stand-up style,” Cruz said of Johnson. “He moves in a certain way. Other fighters know what I mean: You fight with a rhythm or you fight kind of flat-footed and try to pick and choose when you’re going to throw. He fights off of rhythm.”
Cruz could have just as easily used those words to describe himself. He likes to bounce around and drop in from unexpected angles to throw punches.
The strategy has made for high-intensity fights, and more importantly to Cruz, a winning combination.
“He’s an opponent that hasn’t been solved,” Johnson said. “He’s a great champion. He knows how to put people where he’s comfortable.”
Oddsmakers expect that to continue Saturday as Cruz is installed as a -435 favorite (risking $4.35 to win $1) with Johnson coming back at +335 (risking $1 to win $3.35).
Pick: Cruz by decision
Check below for a full breakdown of the card with betting odds and picks. The four televised fights will begin at 6 on Versus, while facebook will stream the other six bouts starting at 2:40.
Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry (6-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) vs. Stefan Struve (21-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC)
Line: Johnson -200, Brenneman +160
Matchup: At 7-feet, Struve is the tallest fighter in the UFC and could use his reach to keep the 5-foot-11 Barry at bay. But Struve hasn’t done that with much success throughout his UFC career. Barry and Struve were on the receiving end of highlight knockouts their last time out against Cheick Kongo and Travis Browne, respectively.
Pick: Barry by knockout
Welterweight Bout: Anthony Johnson (9-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) vs. Charlie Brenneman (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
Line: Johnson -200, Brenneman +160
Matchup: Brenneman has stolen some of the hype that accompanied Rick Story by beating him in a major upset at UFC on Versus 4 in June. But his wrestling skillset matches the strengths of Johnson, who is the biggest fighter that competes in the 170-pound class.
Pick: Brenneman by decision
Lightweight Bout: Matt Wiman (13-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) vs. Mac Danzig (20-8-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC)
Line: Wiman -220, Danzig +180
Matchup: This is a long-delayed rematch from UFC 115 in June 2010. Wiman sunk in a first round guillotine choke and the referee erroneously thought Danzig was out and stopped the fight. Danzing’s career has gone up and down since winning the sixth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”.
Pick: Wiman by decision
Lightweight Bout: Yves Edwards (40-17-1 MMA, 8-5 UFC) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (14-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC)
Line: Edwards -175, Oliveira +145
Matchup: The 35-year old Edwards is still well-rounded, but has lost some of the quickness and ability to take a punch that made him a UFC standout years ago. Oliveira is likely facing a must-win situation after falling to Gleison Tibau via second round submission at UFC 130.
Pick: Edwards by decision
Lightweight Bout: Michael Johnson (9-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. Paul Sass (11-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Line: Johnson -200, Sass +160
Matchup: Johnson looked phenomenal in disposing of Edward Faaloloto in his first fight outside of “The Ultimate Fighter” 12. Sass was impressive too in his first UFC fight, beating Mark Holst by first round submission at UFC 120, but hasn’t appeared in almost a year since then.
Pick: Johnson by TKO
Bantamweight Bout: Mike Easton (10-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Byron Bloodworth (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Line: Easton -345, Bloodworth +275
Matchup: It’s a storybook scenario for Easton, who makes his UFC debut in front of his hometown crowd. Easton has dominated the regional circuit around Washington D.C. and was slated to meet promising Jeff Hougland in this bout. Hougland pulled out a week ago, opening the opportunity for the North Carolina-based Bloodworth.
Pick: Easton by decision
Lightweight Bout: Shane Roller (10-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. T.J. Grant (16-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC)
Line: Roller -200, Grant +160
Matchup: Grant has alternated wins and losses in the UFC since joining the organization in 2009. The Canadian grappler takes on a three-time All American wrestler in Roller. Both men are coming off of losses, as Melvin Guillard knocked out Roller at UFC 132 and Grant lost via unanimous decision to Ricardo Almeida at UFC 124.
Pick: Grant by decision
Welterweight Bout: Josh Neer (31-10-1 MMA, 4-6 UFC) vs. Keith Wisniewski (28-12-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Line: Neer -255, Wisniewski +205
Matchup: Both are receiving another chance in the UFC. Neer is making his unprecedented fourth run through the promotion, while Wisniewski was cut after one loss in 2005. Neer has a few notable wins including one over Melvin Guillard, while Wisniewski once beat Jorge Santiago.
Pick: Neer by TKO
Bantamweight Bout: Walel Watson (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Joseph Sandoval (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Line: Watson -115, Sandoval -115
Matchup: These two speedy newcomers will kick off the show. Neither has fought on a stage anywhere near as large as the UFC. Watson is five inches taller and will have a reach advantage, but Sandoval is likely the more efficient striker.
Pick: Watson by submission