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UFC 143 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Nick Diaz is the popular play at sports books in interim welterweight title fight

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Leila Navidi

Carlos Condit wraps his hands during open workouts for UFC 143 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012.

The cycle repeats for another week.

The betting line for the UFC 143 main event and its movement is eerily reminiscent of what happened before last week’s UFC on FOX card. The interim welterweight championship bout between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit opened as a pick’em months ago in sports books.

Like Rashad Evans over Phil Davis, bettors have swarmed on Diaz to make him more than a 2-to-1 favorite. Condit is now as high as a +175 underdog.

Evans proved the public’s lean correct. It’s time to see if Diaz can do the same.

Check below for a breakdown, betting odds and picks on every fight. KSNV’s Kevin West (16-4) leads our picks competition with ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (14-6), Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (13-7), Ray Brewer (11-9) and ESPN Radio/Cagewriter.com’s Steve Cofield (11-9) not far behind.

Nick Diaz

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 7-4
  • MMA record 26-7
  • Out of:Stockton, Calif.
  • Betting line: -225

Carlos Condit

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 4-1
  • MMA record 27-5
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: +175

Interim Welterweight Title Bout

Main Event

Last fight: First round knockout victory over Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 132.

Punch list: Condit has knocked out two straight opponents in the first round. Another early finish would be advisable here. Diaz is always in impeccable shape and spends his free time competing in triathlons. Although Condit has no apparent issues with conditioning, it’s hard to be on the same level as Diaz.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Diaz

Cofield: Condit

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over B.J. Penn at UFC 137.

Punch list: Diaz won’t commit to the idea of Condit being his toughest opponent yet. Diaz respects “The Naturual Born Killer”, but points out that he’s faced several top-level mixed martial artists. It’s almost certain, however, that Condit has more power in his hands and kicks than anyone else Diaz has encountered.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Diaz

Brewer: Diaz

Okamoto: Diaz

Fabricio Werdum

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 246
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 14-5-1
  • Out of: Los Angeles
  • Betting line: -150

Roy Nelson

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 252
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 16-6
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +120

Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision defeat to Alistair Overeem at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum.

Punch list: Released three years ago, Werdum left the UFC on somewhat poor terms after an unknown upstart named Junior dos Santos knocked him out in the first round. Now that dos Santos is the heavyweight champion, the UFC has reconsidered and brought Werdum back. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt had a successful run in Strikerforce, where he went 3-1.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Werdum

Cofield: Nelson

Last fight: Third round TKO of Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 137.

Punch list: For the third consecutive time, Nelson fights in front of his hometown here. Gone are the days when Nelson jokes about staying in Vegas for the around-the-clock food, though. He’s significantly leaner than he was last May before a lopsided unanimous-decision loss to Frank Mir. Nelson is prepared to test his own high-level grappling against Werdum’s heralded jiu-jitsu.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Nelson

Brewer: Nelson

Okamoto: Nelson

Mike Pierce

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’8’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 13-4
  • Out of: Portland, Ore.
  • Betting line: +205

Josh Koscheck

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 14-5
  • MMA record 18-5
  • Out of: Fresno, Calif.
  • Betting line: -265

Welterweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: Split decision victory over Paul Bradley at UFC on FOX 1.

Punch list: Pierce bounced back from a razor-thin split-decision loss to Johny Hendricks with a stellar performance against Bradley three months ago. Wrestling remains the Team Quest product's foremost strength. He’s lifelong friends with top middleweight contender Chael Sonnen as the two wrestled together when they were children.

Staff picks:KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Koscheck

Cofield: Koscheck

Last fight: First round knockout win against Matt Hughes at UFC 135.

Punch list: The promotion’s most hated fighter, according to UFC President Dana White, has come a long way since appearing on the first season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ seven years ago. He now has as many fights as anyone in UFC history. Koscheck is campaigning for a crack at the winner of Diaz vs. Condit, but that might be a hard-sell considering he’s already lost twice to St. Pierre earlier in his career.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Koscheck

Brewer: Pierce

Okamoto: Pierce

Scott Jorgensen

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’4''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 13-4
  • Out of: Boise, Idaho
  • Betting line: +175

Renan Barao

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 27-1
  • Out of: Rio de Janeiro
  • Betting line: -225

Bantamweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Jeff Curran at UFC 137.

Punch list: Other areas of Jorgensen’s game have developed, but he remains a wrestler at heart. His only loss in his last eight fights came via unanimous decision to 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz. “Young Guns” believes he should get another shot at Cruz with a victory over Barao.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Barao

Cofield: Jorgensen

Last fight: First round submission victory over Brad Pickett at UFC 138.

Punch list: The buzz surrounding Barao has built quickly. After a so-so UFC debut with a unanimous decision win against Cole Escovedo, he blew fans away by stopping the veteran Pickett early in England. Barao will enter the top five of the 135-pound division with a win over Jorgensen.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Barao

Brewer: Barao

Okamoto: Barao

Clifford Starks

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 8-0
  • Out of: Tempe, Ariz.
  • Betting line: +230

Ed Herman

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 6-5
  • MMA record 19-7
  • Out of: Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Betting line: -300

Middleweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Opener

Last fight: Defeated Dustin Jacoby by unanimous decision at UFC 137.

Punch list: The former Arizona State wrestler impressed in his UFC debut. He took the fight on short notice and proceeded to take Jacoby down at will. Starks hopes to show more of a full arsenal with an entire training camp to prepare, but his wrestling chops could give Herman fits.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Herman

Cofield: Herman

Last fight: First round submission victory over Kyle Noke at UFC on Versus 5.

Punch list: “Short Fuse” made up for lost time in 2011. After going through major injuries and not fighting for two years, Herman finished two opponents within the first round last year. “The Ultimate Fighter” 3 veteran could break into the upper-tier of the division with a third straight victory.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Herman

Brewer: Starks

Okamoto: Herman

Max Holloway

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 4-0
  • Out of: Waianae, Hawaii
  • Betting line: +350

Dustin Poirier

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 11-1
  • Out of: Lafayette, La.
  • Betting line: -500

Featherweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Beat Eddie Rincon by unanimous decision at UIC 4.

Punch list: Holloway’s situation isn’t unlike the one Poirier found himself in a year ago — a mostly unknown fighter going up against an opponent considered one of the best in the division as a fill-in. Poirier stunned Josh Grispi in the role at UFC 125. He hasn’t forgotten about that moment, and wants to deny Holloway from enjoying a similar feeling.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Poirier

Cofield: Poirier

Last fight: Second round submission victory over Pablo Garza at UFC on FOX 1.

Punch list: UFC 143 was supposed to feature Poirier against the featherweight division’s other most up-and-coming fighter, Erik Koch. Poirier loses the primetime matchup, but gets a seemingly easier task. “The Diamond” is no more than two victories away from a title shot.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Poirier

Brewer: Poirier

Okamoto: Poirier

Henry Martinez

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 8-1
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: +325

Matthew Riddle

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 5-3
  • MMA record 5-3
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -475

Welterweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Second round submission victory over Ali Hanjani at Jackson’s MMA Series 7.

Punch list: It’s hard to believe this bout started as Amir Sadollah vs. Jorge Lopez. Injuries changed it completely and forced Martinez to take the bout on nine days’ notice. Martinez is game for it, however, as he trains with Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, N.M., and has finished three straight opponents.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Riddle

Cofield: Riddle

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss against Lance Benoist at UFC Fight Night 25.

Punch list: “The Ultimate Fighter” 7 alum was supposed to fight at UFC 141, but became ill hours before the fight and canceled. Luckily for Riddle, a slot opened on this card shortly after he began feeling better. With two straight losses, this is likely a win-or-get-released proposition for the wrestler.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Riddle

Brewer: Riddle

Okamoto: Riddle

Edwin Figueroa

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 8-1
  • Out of: McKinney, Texas
  • Betting line: -135

Alex Caceres

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 6-4
  • Out of: Miami
  • Betting line: +105

Bantamweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Second round TKO of Jason Reinhardt at UFC on Versus 6.

Punch list: Figueroa has finished in all six of his professional victories. He has compiled six knockouts and two submissions. He’s got all the ingredients for a future contender in the 135-pound division if he can continue to progress.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Figueroa

Cofield: Figueroa

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Cole Escovedo at UFC on FOX 1.

Punch list: As a major underdog, “Bruce Leroy” got his elusive first octagon victory against Escovedo. He showed off some creative striking in the affair. Caceres is looking to develop a fighting game as flashy as his fun loving personality.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Figueroa

Brewer: Caceres

Okamoto: Figueroa

Chris Cope

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 5-3
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: +230

Matt Brown

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 5-5
  • MMA record 12-11
  • Out of: Cincinnati
  • Betting line: -300

Welterweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Lost to Che Mills via first round knockout at UFC 138.

Punch list: Cope flew 15 hours to England for his last fight and lasted less than one minute. Mills caught “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 semifinalist with a big shot and put an end to his hopes of a victory. Cope had shown promise and improvement before the Mills loss, though.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Brown

Cofield: Brown

Last fight: Second round submission loss against Seth Baczynski at UFC 139.

Punch list: His nickname is “The Immortal”, but Brown won’t be able to revive his UFC career with another loss. Brown has gone a dismal 1-4 in the UFC since 2010. He always brings entertaining scraps, but that’s not always enough. A win is necessary at least ever so often.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Cope

Brewer: Cope

Okamoto: Brown

Stephen Thompson

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 5-0
  • Out of:Simpsonville, S.C.
  • Betting line: -275

Dan Stittgen

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 7-1
  • Out of: Schaumburg, Ill.
  • Betting line: +215

Welterweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision over Patrick Mandio at Fight Party.

Punch list: Dating back to his professional kickboxing days, “Wonderboy” has won 62 straight fights. Thompson is a world renowned kickboxer and helped fighters like Georges St. Pierre and Rashad Evans prepare for fights before jumping into MMA himself.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Stittgen

Cofield: Stittgen

Last fight: Majority decision over Mark Stoddard at King of the Cage: Interference.

Punch list: He won’t have an advantage in the striking portion against Thompson, but Stittgen could have a better game everywhere else. Five of his seven victories have come by submission, which he’ll undoubtedly look for against an inexperienced grappler like Thompson.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Stittgen

Brewer: Thompson

Okamoto: Thompson

Michael Kuiper

  • Age: 22
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 11-0
  • Out of: Helmond, Netherlands
  • Betting line: +150

Rafael Natal

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 1-1-1
  • MMA record 13-3-1
  • Out of: New York
  • Betting line: -185

Middleweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Defeated Morris Cilfoni at Milano in the Cage.

Punch list: The prospect was rewarded with MMA Fighter of the Year in Belgium three years ago. Kuiper is a striker first, but has four submission victories to go with his six knockouts. He rides a streak of three straight first round knockouts into UFC 143.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Kuiper

Cofield: Natal

Last fight: Unanimous decision win against Paul Bradley at UFC 133.

Punch list: “Sapo” salvaged his job with the victory over Bradley in Philadelphia this summer. He’ll combat Kuiper’s striking with grappling. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is an instructor at the famed Renzo Gracie academy and has seven wins by submission.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Kuiper

Brewer: Kuiper

Okamoto: Natal

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