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UFC 164 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Pick’em fights everywhere on Saturday’s pay-per-view card

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Sam Morris

Anthony Pettis talks to the media in this file photo.

UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby deserve a pat on the back for the UFC 164 card they assembled.

The promotion can sometimes go months without putting on as many evenly matched fights as it will in Saturday’s pay-per-view at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. That’s at least according to the odds.

Ten of the 12 fights at UFC 164 feature a favorite of 2-to-1 or less. Parity starts at the top where Benson Henderson is installed as a minus-125 (risking $1.25 to win $1) to defend his title against the last man who beat him, Anthony Pettis, who comes back at minus-105 (risking $1.05 to win $1).

The Sun’s picks panel is predictably conflicted throughout the entire card, including the main event. Three prognosticators actually went with the slight underdog in Pettis over Henderson.

Check below for picks from ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (97-44 year to date), Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (95-46), KSNV’s Kevin West (93-48), Las Vegas Sun’s Ray Brewer (91-50) and ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (91-50) as well as odds and picks for every fight.

Anthony Pettis

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 16-2
  • Out of: MIlwaukee
  • Betting line: -105

Benson Henderson

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 7-0
  • MMA record 19-2
  • Out of: Glendale, Ariz.
  • Betting line: -125

Lightweight Championship Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Beat Donald Cerrone by TKO in the first round at UFC on Fox 6.

Punch list: An injury to Henderson’s announced opponent, T.J. Grant, allowed Pettis to back into this dream opportunity in front of his hometown. But make no mistake: Pettis earned this. He was anointed the 155-pound division’s top contender after beating Cerrone in January.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Henderson

Cofield: Pettis

Last fight: Split-decision victory over Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7.

Punch list: For the third time in his four title fights, Henderson won a much-contested decision against Melendez. Several media members, including the Sun, scored the fight for Melendez. Against Pettis, Henderson will be looking to get back to what he did against Nate Diaz — dominating by controlling the octagon for 25 minutes.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Henderson

Brewer: Pettis

Okamoto: Pettis

Josh Barnett

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 249
  • UFC record 4-1
  • MMA record 32-6
  • Out of: Fullerton, Calif.
  • Betting line: -175

Frank Mir

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 257
  • UFC record 14-7
  • MMA record 16-7
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +145

Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Submitted Nandor Guelmino in the first round at Strikefore: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine.

Punch list: The former UFC heavyweight champion returns to the promotion with the idea of reclaiming his title. He’s aware the landscape has changed drastically in the last 12 years and that it’s going to be a much taller task against the bulked-up division.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Barnett

Cofield: Barnett

Last fight: Lost to Daniel Cormier by unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 7.

Punch list: The lifelong Las Vegas native says he would have lost to Barnett if the two would have fought in the UFC a decade ago when they were both young prospects. But he’s more confident now, especially with training guru Greg Jackson in his corner for the second straight fight.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Mir

Brewer: Mir

Okamoto: Barnett

Clay Guida

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 146
  • UFC record 10-7
  • MMA record 30-13
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: +350

Chad Mendes

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 5-1
  • MMA record 14-1
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: -450

Featherweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: Split-decision win over Hatsu Hioki at UFC on Fox 6.

Punch list: The veteran’s 145-pound debut was a success because of his wrestling. That won’t be an option against Mendes. Guida will have rely on his high striking volume to wear down Mendes and gain favor with the judges.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Mendes

Cofield: Mendes

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Darren Elkins at UFC on Fox 7.

Punch list: Since losing in his title shot against Jose Aldo, Mendes has spent a total of 3:34 in the cage. He hasn’t needed any more time than that to knock out three opponents in the first round. Against Guida, he’ll be trying to do it against his most experienced opponent yet.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Mendes

Brewer: Mendes

Okamoto: Mendes

Brandon Vera

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 204
  • UFC record 8-6
  • MMA record 12-6
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: -130

Ben Rothwell

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 258
  • UFC record 2-3
  • MMA record 32-9
  • Out of: Kenosha, Wisc.
  • Betting line: +100

Heavyweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Fourth-round TKO loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC on Fox 4.

Punch list: “The Truth” retreats back to the heavyweight division after an unspectacular 4-4 run at light heavyweight over the last five years. In hindsight, it’s laughable that Vera once proclaimed he’d hold the title in both weight classes simultaneously.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Vera

Cofield: Vera

Last fight: Submitted by Gabriel Gonzaga in the second round at UFC on FX 7.

Punch list: “Big Ben” has alternated wins and losses in every fight since joining the UFC. He’s at his best when he finds a rhythm with his striking in the earlygoing. Rothwell is a perfect 6-0 when fighting in his home state.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Rothwell

Brewer: Vera

Okamoto: Vera

Dustin Poirier

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 13-3
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: +130

Erik Koch

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 13-2
  • Out of: Milwaukee
  • Betting line: -150

Featherweight Bout

Main Card Opener

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss against Cub Swanson at UFC on Fuel TV 7.

Punch list: Poirier mouthed, “I can’t believe you’re going to take this from me,” to Cub Swanson near the end of their last fight. He feels like he’s improved drastically and started to reach his peak since relocating to American Top Team, but now is favored to endure a two-fight losing streak.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Koch

Cofield: Poirier

Last fight: First-round TKO loss to Ricardo Lamas at UFC on Fox 6.

Punch list: It’s hard not to feel bad for “New Breed”. Twice slotted to fight champion Jose Aldo, both opportunities withered due to injuries. Now he finds himself far from the top of the division after getting steamrolled by Lamas in his first fight in a year-and-a-half.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Poirier

Brewer: Koch

Okamoto: Poirier

Gleison Tibau

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 12-7
  • MMA record 27-9
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: +135

Jamie Varner

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 156
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 21-7-1
  • Out of: Glendale, Ariz.
  • Betting line: -165

Lightweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 prelim

Last fight: Second-round submission victory over John Cholish at UFC on FX 8.

Punch list: The parade of long-tenured UFC fighters at this event continues with Tibau. Nearing his eighth year employed by the company, Tibau has stayed consistently in the same spot. He’s always been above average but just outside out of the top 10.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Varner

Cofield: Tibau

Last fight: Beat Melvin Guillard by split decision at UFC 155.

Punch list: The former WEC champion’s decision to put aside his pride and train alongside the man who took his title, Henderson, likely salvaged his career. Varner fought his way into the world’s largest promotion and impressed in all three of his fights, even a submission loss to Joe Lauzon, since making the switch.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Varner

Brewer: Varner

Okamoto: Varner

Tim Elliott

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 9-3
  • Out of: Kansas City, Mo.
  • Betting line: -170

Louis Gaudinot

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’3”
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 6-2
  • Out of: Hoboken, N.J.
  • Betting line: +140

Flyweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Jared Papazian at “The Ultimate Fighter” 16 finale.

Punch list: A well rounded athlete, Elliott took the traditional route into mixed martial arts after a college wrestling career. He had a draw in his first fight and lost the next two, but has gone 9-1 ever since and some believed he deserved a decision that went the other way against John Dodson last year.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Elliott

Cofield: Gaudinot

Last fight: Second-round submission victory over John Lineker at UFC on Fox 3.

Punch list: The slick green-haired prospect might be the smallest fighter in the UFC. He had the disservice of fighting well above his natural weight class on “The Ultimate Fighter” 14, where he bowed out in the quarterfinals and lost a preliminary bout on the finale card. But he felt more comfortable and pulled off an upset against Lineker back at his rightful class.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Gaudinot

Brewer: Elliott

Okamoto: Elliott

Hyun Gyu Lim

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 11-3-1
  • Out of: Seoul, South Korea
  • Betting line: +145

Pascal Krauss

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 11-1
  • Out of: Milwaukee
  • Betting line: -170

Welterweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 Prelim

Last fight: Second-round knockout victory over Marcelo Guimares at UFC on Fuel TV 8.

Punch list: A part of the burgeoning mixed martial arts scene in South Korea, “The Ace” showed he was deserving of the shot the UFC granted him in March on a card in Japan. He’s on a six-fight winning streak with all finishes, five by knockout and one by submission.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Krauss

Cofield: Krauss

Last fight: Beat Mike Stumpf by unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 6.

Punch list: Renowned Milwaukee MMA coach Duke Roufus must be thrilled to have so many of his guys on one card. Stumpf moved to Milwaukee from Germany to train with the Roufus stable, which also includes main-card fighters Anthony Pettis and Erik Koch.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Krauss

Brewer: Lim

Okamoto: Krauss

Kyung Ho Kang

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 11-6
  • Out of: Busan, South Korea
  • Betting line: -205

Chico Camus

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 12-4
  • Out of: Milwaukee
  • Betting line: +185

Bantamweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 Prelim

Last fight: Loss to Alex Caceres at UFC on Fuel TV 8 overturned to a no contest.

Punch list: This fight carries the same basic premise as the one above it: A Korean prospect tries to knock off a Duke Roufus-trained local. Kang’s anticipated UFC in March was a letdown, but he received a reprieve with a no-contest following a positive drug test from Caceres.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Kang

Cofield: Kang

Last fight: Submitted by Dustin Kimura in third round at UFC 156.

Punch list: “The King” thrilled in his UFC debut last year before suffering a setback in February. Like most in Duke Roufus’ stable, Camus considers himself a striker first. But he does have three career wins by submission in addition to four by knockout.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Kang

Brewer: Camus

Okamoto: Camus

Nikita Krylov

  • Age: 21
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 245
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 15-2
  • Out of: Donetsk, Ukraine
  • Betting line: -210

Soa Palelei

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 265
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 18-3
  • Out of: Brasilia, Brazil
  • Betting line: +180

Heavyweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Gabriel Tampu at M1 Challenge 38.

Punch list: Not much is known about the Ukranian newcomer. All that can be gleaned from his résumé is that he has a penchant for a certain organized crime boss and likes to stay busy. Krylov, who turned professional just 13 months ago and promptly racked up 17 fights, calls himself “The Al Capone” and dressed up as the infamous Chicago mobster in a photoshoot.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Palelei

Cofield: Palelei

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Sean McCorkle at Australian Fighting Championship 4.

Punch list: An international battle caps off the Internet-streamed portion of the card. Palelei hails from Australia, where he’s on an eight-fight winning streak ever since unluckily encountering Daniel Cormier in the Olympian’s second professional mixed martial arts bout. If the name sounds famiiar, that’s because Palelei had one bout — a loss to Eddie Sanchez — in the UFC six years ago.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Krylov

Brewer: Palelei

Okamoto: Palelei

Al Iaquinta

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 5-2
  • Out of: Wantagh, N.Y.
  • Betting line: -240

Ryan Couture

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 6-2
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +200

Lightweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Lost by first-round submission to Michael Chiesa at “The Ultimate Fighter Live” finale.

Punch list: For the first time in 14 months, Iaquinta enters the octagon. Injuries have derailed the prospect who trains with middleweight champion Chris Weidman since he was stunningly upset in the final’s of his season on “TUF”.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Iaquinta

Cofield: Iaquinta

Last fight: Second-round TKO loss to Ross Pearson at UFC on Fuel TV 9.

Punch list: Feels like this might be the last shot for “The Natural’s” son. Couture has shown flashes of being a UFC-caliber fighter, specifically with his wrestling. But he’s been noticeably out-struck in each of his last two bouts.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Iaquinta

Brewer: Iaquinta

Okamoto: Iaquinta

Magnus Cedenblad

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 10-4
  • Out of: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Betting line: -110

Jared Hamman

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-4
  • MMA record 13-5
  • Out of: El Segundo, Calif.
  • Betting line: -110

Middleweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Second-round submission loss to Francis Carmont at UFC on Fuel TV.

Punch list: It’s been easy to forget Cedenblad is signed to a UFC contract, too. His only appearance in the octagon was 16 months ago. The striker will look to stay on his feet this time around.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Cedenblad

Cofield: Cedenblad

Last fight: Second-round TKO loss to Michael Kuiper at UFC 150.

Punch list: Yes, Hamman is still in the UFC despite an extremely underwhelming tenure. It might be because he’s willing to let loose and swing, which produces exciting fights and pleases the UFC, as seen in three straight bouts that have ended in early knockouts.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Hamman

Brewer: Hamman

Okamoto: Hamman

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

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