UFC 135 Betting Odds: Jones Favored

nullUFC 135 takes place this Saturday night and the card has a number of big matchups, including the long-awaited first title defense of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.

Betting odds have been released for this weekend’s bouts and Jones is the overwhelming favorite to defeat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Saturday. Jones has been given a money line of -485 while Jackson has odds of +385. Jones (13-1) has ran through his last four opponents, winning each fight by TKO or submission. Jackson (32-8) has won his last two bouts, both coming by decision. Jackson has had six of his last seven fights end with a decision, as his last KO win was in 2008.

In the co-main event, Josh Koscheck is the clear favorite to defeat Matt Hughes in a welterweight contest. Koscheck has odds of -455 to defeat Hughes, while the former welterweight champion has odds of +355 to win. Koscheck (15-5) is taking this fight on short notice and he hasn’t competed since last December when he lost to Georges St. Pierre. Hughes (45-8) hasn’t competed since last November, when he lost in 21 second to B.J. Penn. Hughes doesn’t have much left to fight for, but still is a dangerous wrestler with some good submission skills.

For complete odds for UFC 135, check out the jump.

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UFC Fight Night 25 Recap: Jake Ellenberger has arrived

nullIf anyone had doubts about Jake Ellenberger being a top contender in the UFC welterweight division, they were put to rest on Saturday night.

The rising star knocked out Jake Shields in under a minute in the main event of UFC Fight Night 25, giving him the biggest win of his career over the recent No. 1 contender in the division.

It was an explosive victory, as Ellenberger used a big knee to set up a flurry of punches from the ground to finish the fight. But, in that short time, Ellenberger showed the tools he needs to be a star.

Early in the fight he threw an uppercut that would have ended the fight if it landed. Clearly he found a hole in Shields game in terms of his ability to defend inside punches.

Also, Shields had a few weak takedown attempts that Shields easily defended. In this division, takedown defense is going to be a big thing for Ellenberger.

His striking is on par with anyone in the division and his aggression is up there with anyone, which makes him a dangerous opponent. He is a fighter that is willing to fall on his sword in hopes of winning a fight, but he has all the skills to avoid that fate.

It will be interesting to see what is next for Ellenberger as he awaits the UFC welterweight Final Four that is coming up at UFC 137 in late October.

I will also be interested to see what is next for Shields. His drop to welterweight in the UFC has been anything but stellar, as he is now 1-2 and his one win was razor thin. Perhaps a move back to 185 pounds will be in order.

UFC Fight Night 25 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC Fight Night 25 takes place on Saturday night from New Orleans with a solid card of four free fights.

Here is a look at which fighters I like on Saturday, and why.

UFC Welterweight Bout – Jake Shields (26-5-1) vs. Jake Ellenberger (25-5) – Shields is coming off the loss of his father, which may affect his performance, but I think this is his fight to lose. Ellenberger is a rising star and clearly the better striker, but he is taking a big step up in competition. I see Shields being able to work in his takedowns and grappling control to earn a tough decision victory.

UFC Middleweight Bout – Court McGee (12-1) vs. Dongi Yang (10-1) – This is a classic striker vs. grappler match up, and I like the grappler to prevail. Yang has big punching power, but I see McGee getting this fight up against the cage where Yang will be neutralized. From there, look for McGee to grind out a few takedowns and eventually secure a choke in the later rounds.

UFC Featherweight Bout – Jonathan Brookins (13-3) vs. Erik Koch (12-1) – Koch is considered the favorite according to the oddsmakers, but my pick goes with Brookins. He needs a lot of work in his striking, but his grappling takes a back seat to nobody in the division. I see Brookins taking a few punches early, but eventually getting inside Koch and using a judo throw or roll to get the fight to the ground. From there, I expect Brookins to work in a choke to get the win.

UFC Middleweight Bout – Alan Belcher (15-5) vs. Jason MacDonald (26-14) – Belcher makes his return after more than a year off and he has a lot to fight for. He was a rising star in the division prior to his eye injury and he should have the skills to get past MacDonald, who is somewhat one dimensional, with a great submission skill set. Look for Belcher to pick apart MacDonald on his feet and avoid the ground game as he gets a decision win.

UFC Fight Night 25 Weigh-In Results

nullWeigh ins for UFC Fight Night 25 took place on Friday night and all of the main event fighters made weight for the card.

In the main event, welterweights Jake Shields (171) and Jake Ellenberger (170) came in on weight. The two are both fighting for a top-5 spot in a very stacked 170-pound division. Shields is hoping to bounce back after a loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129, while Jake Ellenberger is taking on the biggest challenge of his MMA career.

In the co-main event, Court McGee (184.5) and Dongi Yang (186) came in on weight for the 186-pound limit. This fight lacks some name power, but the UFC must feel they will put on a good show. Both guys leave it all in the cage, with Yang being an explosive striker and McGee being a relentless grappler that likes to scrap on occasion. McGee would be wise to stick to making this an ugly fight in hopes of avoiding a big knockout punch.

For full weigh-in results for Saturday’s card, check out the jump. Results are courtesy of Sherdog.com.

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UFC Fight Night 25 Betting Odds – Shields Favored

nullUFC Fight Night 25 – Battle on the Bayou takes place this Saturday night on Spike TV and features a solid card for a free MMA event.

When looking at the betting odds for this card, Jake Shields finds himself as the favorite against Jake Ellenberger in the main event of Saturday’s event. Shields has a money line of -185 while Ellenberger comes in at +155. This is a pretty classic striker vs. grappler matchup. Shields has the experience and grappling edge while Ellenberger is the better striker and has more to gain in this contest. It should be an explosive fight that will pave the way for the winner to become a top 5 contender.

Alan Belcher makes his return to the UFC after more than a year away due to a career-threatening eye injury. Belcher will face off with UFC veteran, Jason MacDonald in a middleweight bout. The local hero, Belcher, is the favorite in the fight with odds of -275. MacDonald comes in with a money line of +215. Belcher is a guy that enjoys using his striking and clinch game to beat up opponents. MacDonald is more of a submission specialist that will want to get the fight down to the ground.

In other featured bouts, Jonathan Brookins (+165) opens as an underdog to Erik Koch (-205) in his first fight since winning The Ultimate Fighter last December. Another TUF winner, Court McGee (-165) opens as a favorite in his contest with Dongi Yang (+135).

UFC Matchmaking update – UFC 140 gets main event

nullLost in a weekend that saw the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals take place were some big fight announcements from the UFC.

Here is a look at three different UFC events that have added to their cards.

- UFC 140 in Toronto go its main event as heavyweights Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will have their rematch. The two met back at UFC 92 with Mir handing Nogueira his first stoppage loss. Mir KO’d Big Nog in the second round. Nogueira claimed a staph infection hindered his abilities and has been seeking a rematch since. Mir has won his last two fights and looking to get back into the title hunt with a win while Nogueira is coming off his KO win over Brendan Schaub at UFC Rio. UFC 140 also added Tito Ortiz vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Brian Ebersole vs. Rory MacDonald to the lineup.

- UFC 139 picked up a big fight as middleweight Vitor Belfort will return to action when he takes on former Strikeforce champion, Cung Le. This will be a battle of perhaps the two fastest strikers in all of MMA. Le hasn’t fought since June of 2010, when he KO’d Scott Smith to avenge his only loss. Belfort is coming off a KO win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. This fight should come down to which fighter strikes first.

- Jon Fitch will make his long-awaited return to the octagon at UFC 141 when he faces off with Johny Hendricks. Fitch hasn’t competed since February when he had a draw against B.J. Penn. Fitch had shoulder surgery that put him on the shelf for a while. Fitch hasn’t lost since his 2008 title fight with Georges St. Pierre. Hendricks has one loss in his career, to Rick Story back in December of 2010. He has won his last two fights, but is facing the toughest opponent of his career when he squares off with Fitch.

Diaz removed for UFC 137 main event, GSP vs. Condit on

nullI see your Nate Marquardt and raise you a Nick Diaz.

In one of the most bizarre situations in UFC history, Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz has been removed from the main event of UFC 137 against UFC champ, Georges St. Pierre, after going AWOL on the company and skipping two press conferences in two days.

After missing three different flights to head to Toronto for a press conference to promote UFC 137 on Tuesday, Diaz stopped communicating with Dana White and the UFC and was nowhere to be found on Wednesday, for another press conference to promote the event in Las Vegas.

White announced at the beginning of the presser that Diaz was removed from the fight and co-main eventer, Carlos Condit, will take on GSP for the title.

Diaz’ trainer, Cesar Gracie, expressed his frustration with his own fighter to MMAJunkie.com.

“I don’t blame Dana White on this at all,” Gracie today told MMAjunkie.com  ”This is a professional company, and Nick is a 28-year-old man.”

“I’ve stuck up for Nick, even when he was wrong before,” Gracie said. “But he’s let a lot of people down. He’s let his team down. We all bought plane tickets to Vegas. We got hotel rooms booked, paid for. We’ve got all that, and Nick just decided not to go to something he’s supposed to. They’re paying him a lot of money, and in this economy where people don’t have money, he’s blessed. He should be thanking God every night how blessed he is.

“And instead, he’s not getting on a plane to go to Vegas. I’m extremely disappointed. He’s done a lot of stuff, but this is the worst of it. If I were him, I would be begging Dana White to get my job back and work your way up to a title shot at some point.”

“I’m not a psychologist,” he said. “I personally think there’s some kind of social anxiety happening here with Nick. Dana said, ‘You’ve got to play the game this much.’ And this isn’t even playing the game. This is about being a man and being responsible. And Nick has done neither in this situation.

“He’s a great jiu-jitsu guy. He’s a great fighter. I’m saying this because I care deeply about the guy. He’s one of my black belts. But in this situation, he is 100 percent wrong, and he got what he deserved.”

There are so many side stories to this happening, but clearly the main one is the odd behavior of Diaz. I sincerely hope he is of good physical and mental health, but he has a lot of explaining to do.

He has certainly blown the greatest opportunity of his pro career and may never step foot inside a Zuffa cage or octagon again.

Carlos Condit may be a tougher opponent for St. Pierre, but we will break down that fight another time.

Also lost in the mix is that B.J. Penn is now without an opponent, as he was set to face Condit at UFC 137 in the co-main event.

MMA News and Notes – Henderson vs. Guida set, Diaz skips media event

nullLost in the announcement of Lesnar vs. Overeem on Tuesday were some other big news in the world of MMA, mostly concerning the UFC.

- In another big fight announcement, MMAFighting.com is reporting that top lightweight contenders, Ben Henderson and Clay Guida will collide on the UFC on FOX undercard. Henderson is coming off his dominant win over Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5 while Guida defeated Anthony Pettis at the Ultimate Fighter Finale. The winner of this bout could find themselves in top contender status for the lightweight title. It should be a good grappling match, but I see Henderson favored based on styles.

- MMAFighting.com also reported that Matt Hughes has accepted a fight with Josh Koscheck for UFC 135. Koscheck will replace Hughes’ original opponent, Diego Sanchez. Sanchez had to pull out of the fight with a broken hand.

- You can’t a teach a dog new tricks apparently. Despite Dana White insisting that Nick Diaz would conform to the various media requests that are expected of a top contender for his UFC 137 title bout with Georges St. Pierre, apparently the Strikeforce welterweight champion skipped a press conference on Tuesday in Toronto to promote the event. The UFC had to explination for his absence according to the Winnipeg Free Press, but another scheduled press conference is to take place today in Las Vegas. Will Diaz be there? Will he be punished for his absence?

- Fedor Emelianenko will return to action on Nov. 12 when he takes on Jeff Monson for a M-1 event in Russia according to MMAMania.com. Fedor has lost his last three bouts and will face Monson, who is coming off a loss to Daniel Cormier on the undercard of Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum. Stylistically, this is a good matchup for Fedor, but will do nothing to get him back into the American spotlight.

- Another announcement that took place on Tuesday is that the UFC is heading back to Japan in 2012. Sherdog.com reports that Feb. 26, 2012 is the set date for the organization to make its return to Japan, which is nearly 14 years since the UFC first stepped foot in Japan. Expect to see many of the countries top starts on that card.

Diego Sanchez out of UFC 135 with broken hand, Koscheck says he is in

nullWell a summer of injuries that plagued the UFC is starting to force its way into a stacked fall lineup.

According to UFC President Dana White’s Twitter account, Diego Sanchez is out of his co-main event bout with Matt Hughes at UFC 135 due to a broken hand.

White indicated that the UFC is searching for a replacement for Hughes, but just moments later, Josh Koscheck posted this on his Twitter account:

Oh ya 19 days then or something like that!!!! Either way it looks like I am in to fight matt Hugh if he takes it????

The blow is tough for Sanchez, who had won his last two bouts to improve to 23-4 in his career. A fight with Hughes gave Sanchez a chance to pick up a win over a Hall of Fame fighter and really put a stamp on his career. Sanchez was coming into the fight as the favorite to win.

Hughes (45-8) hasn’t fought since last November when he was KO’d by BJ Penn in 21 seconds. There don’t seem to be a lot of options left for Hughes in the octagon, but a fight with Koscheck wouldn’t seem too favorable for him.

Koscheck hasn’t competed since UFC 124 last December when he lost to Georges St. Pierre and suffered a broken orbital bone. Koscheck indicated he would be returning to action in November as a middleweight. Apparently plans have changed. Koscheck has the skill set to beat Hughes as his wrestling is on par with Hughes and his striking is far superior.

UFC 135 takes place Saturday, Sept. 24 from Denver.

Shields to fight Sept. 17 despite loss of father

nullI am not the biggest Jake Shields fan in the world.

But, I have to give the guy a lot of credit.

Shields will stick with his upcoming bout against Jake Ellenberger on Sept. 17 despite losing his father, Jack, at the age of 67 on Tuesday.

MMAFighting.com first reported that Shields would be fighting in a few weeks.

Jake Shields has decided to go through with his Sept. 17 fight against Jake Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night 25 following the recent death of his father and manager, Jack Shields. MMA Fighting confirmed the fighter’s decision with UFC officials.

GracieFighter.com broke the news of Jack Shields’ passing on Tuesday. He was 67 years old.

No word just yet on the cause of death. According to Sherdog.com, Shields died in his sleep on Monday at his Sacramento, Calif., home.

“Lost my father manager and one of my best friends today!! R.I.P jack you will be greatly missed and loved by many,” Shields was quoted as saying on the Web site.

I am fortunate to still have my father alive and well, but just the sheer thought of him passing away is enough for me to not want to do anything the rest of the day.

I am sure this is a tough time for Jake and I wish him my best as he goes through this period. I also give him a lot of respect for taking the fight with Ellenberger. It is a dangerous fight for him but I am sure he will have a lot of support going into the contest.