UFC 166 odds & picks: Underdogs have a puncher’s chance

Frank Doyle | Updated Oct 18, 2013


Let’s just get one thing straight: If Cain Velasquez hits like a girl, that is one very nasty female. The current UFC champion puts his belt on the line Saturday night at UFC 166 in Texas in his third bout with Junior Dos Santos and largely ignored prodding from Dos Santos’ camp to get into a pre-fight war of words.

Dos Santos won the first bout with a first-round knockout, but was thoroughly whopped for five rounds in a Velasquez decision in the second. Leading up to this third bout, Dos Santos wouldn’t stop talking about how Velasquez couldn’t finish him and said his opponent “hits like a girl.” Velasquez, set as a -263 favorite at Sports Interaction, didn’t take the bait.

It was a little odd to hear JDS spouting off after the brutal beating Velasquez put on him 10 months ago, but he knows what he’s up against. Velasquez is a true pro and looks even nastier after training with Daniel Cormier to get ready for this main event. Meanwhile, you have to have some concerns about Dos Santos.

Does he have a shot? Absolutely and it’s a nice price for a fighter with Dos Santos’ power. But make sure that’s what you’re betting on – JDS landing one big shot that ends this bout. He’s a legitimate contender for certain, but he’s still relying on a big knockout punch too much and did suffer a cut that required stitches a few weeks ago in training. That’s something to keep in mind for the later rounds.

Take Velasquez to win in a decision at +210.

Roy Nelson vs. Daniel Cormier

Same story, different fighters here. Nelson has the puncher’s chance with his huge knockout power, but Cormier is a better all-around fighter. His time sparring with Velasquez will obviously help here and he’s also motivated by Nelson’s big mouth. In the other corner, Nelson just said he went through the “crappiest camp” he’s ever had. Cormier’s a big -556 favorite, so look to bet him to win by knockout once those lines go up.

Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez

If you’re looking for a good bet for Fight of the Night, this is it. These two used to train together, so there shouldn’t be many surprises. Sanchez has been out of the octagon for a while and will come right at Melendez, while Melendez will be out to bounce back after a very close title loss to Benson Henderson. This one might go the distance and I like Melendez to get the decision.