In a scrap that may decide a 2012 challenger to Anderson Silva's middleweight belt, Mark Munoz faces Chris Leben on the UFC 138 betting odds menu Saturday.
We are referring to this Saturday’s UFC 138 card at National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England, more as the warm-up to next Saturday’s UFC 139 heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
By Richard Gardner, of Bodog Sportsbook
But one thing both cards have in common: They will be available on free television to viewers in the United States.
UFC 138 is headlined by a non-title middleweight bout between Mark “the Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz and Chris “the Crippler” Leben.
Recently, UFC president Dana White announced that all main event non-title bouts in UFC would change from three rounds to five, and this will be the first such occurrence.
This will be televised via same-day tape delay on Spike TV (8 p.m. Eastern), whose seven-year run with UFC ends. Fox TV has a landmark deal with UFC that begins with next Saturday’s Velasquez-dos Santos fight that should draw massive action.
Certainly parlays will be linked from this bout to next week’s, but generally we are expecting rather slow action for UFC 138 because there are no titles at stake and the time difference from England to North America.
This is the first time UFC has been to England since UFC 120 and its second visit to Birmingham since UFC 89 – ironically, Leben was on that card and lost to British fighter Michael Bisping. [ Check out odds on every possible outcome at Bodog Sportsbook ]
While Leben-Munoz isn’t a title fight, the winner of Saturday’s bout is probably only another victory or two away from a shot at middleweight king Anderson Silva (Leben, incidentally has already faced Silva, welcoming him UFC in June 2006. It wasn’t close as Leben was downed in just 49 seconds. It was the first of Silva's 14 straight, and counting, UFC wins).
And both Leben and Munoz enter off impressive wins. Leben (22-7) dominated Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132 in early July. Leben recorded the fastest knockout of his career, all of 27 seconds, and is 4-1 in his past five fights, with the loss coming via first-round knockout to Brian Stann in January at UFC 125.
And there are reports Leben was sick entering that Stann bout but didn’t want to withdraw.
Munoz (11-2) will be seeking his third victory of 2011. In his previous fight at UFC 131 in June, Munoz, a 2001 NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma State and two-time All-American there, bested one of MMA’s best jiu-jitsu practitioners in Demian Maia with a close decision victory.
Since losing his March 2009 UFC debut to Matt Hamill via knockout, Munoz has won six of seven and has not been finished, dropping only an August 2010 split decision to current middleweight top contender Yushin Okami.
This should certainly be a contrast in style, with Munoz a wrestling specialist and Leben a striking specialist who will be looking to land his big left hand that has rescued him on several occasions. Few believe this bout goes the full 25 minutes.
Munoz has been taking about 68 % of the betting action at Bodog. He opened at -205 and now is at -260. Leben started at +165 and is currently at +260 at Bodog Sportsbook.
Approximately 36 % of parlays remain active on this bout. Munoz is a perfect 8-0 as the betting favorite, while Leben is 4-1 as the betting underdog.
And don’t overlook UFC 138’s bantamweight bout between contenders Brad Pickett, a Brit making his UFC debut, and Renan Barao, with the latter riding an incredible 27-fight unbeaten streak, including finishing 18 opponents.
The early action has been fairly two-sided here, with Barao still at -135 and Pickett at +105.