I’m a parlay player. You know, the kind who tries to beat the sports books with multiple plays at a low out-of-pocket price. Greedy? Probably. Profitable? Uh … not so much—at least not this year.
I hit a couple of five-teamers during football season, and I just missed some much larger parlays by the tiniest of margins in basketball. But when you don’t have Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s cheddar to throw around the one time Kansas State beats Kansas in the last 30 years (Mayweather bet $20,000 on the Wildcats), you have to compensate for a much smaller budget.
That’s what makes long-shot stories like the one that came out of UFC 131 so awesome. An unidentified bettor plopped down $200 on a 12-fight parlay on online sports book Bodog.com and cashed to the sum of $51,547. The favored fighter won 10 of the 12 bouts that night, and a controversial judging choice in another bout kept the ticket alive. But hey, a win is a win—especially at 50-freaking grand!
Sadly, there won’t be any 12-fight parlays for UFC 132. First, there are only 11 fights on the July 2 card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and second, unless you’re betting online, the maximum number of bets you can make on fight parlays at the Las Vegas Hilton is eight. The Venetian, which carries odds for almost all of the fights on the card, allows for only three underdog bets on a single parlay.
Now to ensure there’s a little more practical analysis for UFC 132, which features a bantamweight championship fight between Dominick Cruz and challenger Urijah Faber, I enlisted the help of friend Brett Okamoto, who covers mixed martial arts for ESPN. All odds are from the Hilton and current as of June 28.
Light heavyweight bout—Ryan Bader (-500) vs. Tito Ortiz (+400): This very well could be Ortiz’s final UFC bout, but he probably doesn’t want to hear that. Despite not winning since beating Ken Shamrock twice in 2006, Ortiz wrote in a blog for ESPN this week that he is still capable of competing against the division’s elite. His unanimous-decision loss to Matt Hamill last October and split-decision setback to Forrest Griffin a year earlier suggest otherwise. Bader is looking to bounce back from his first loss, which came against Jon Jones in February. That seems much more likely than an Ortiz victory.
Okamoto’s breakdown: “Ortiz says he wants to continue fighting, but there has been evidence that suggests otherwise, that he wants to stick around more as a figure rather than a fighter. Stylistically, he does have the tools to win, because he has the wrestling background to hang with Bader. They’re very similar in what they do well, but Bader is younger and quicker, while Ortiz is in decline.”
Middleweight bout—Wanderlei Silva (-175) vs. Chris Leben (+155): Similar to Ortiz, Silva was one of the sport’s biggest stars because of his powerful punches and forward-moving style, but now age is taking its toll. After scoring a victory over Michael Bisping in his middleweight debut, Silva was forced to sit out more than a year with knee and rib injuries. Leben was on a three-fight winning streak before UFC 125, but he couldn’t even make it out of the first round against Brian Stann during their New Year’s Day bout. The first fighter to connect is going to take this one.
Okamoto’s breakdown: “This is a hard fight to bet on because you just never know what you’re gonna get out of Leben. He had two amazing fights against Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama, fights most people didn’t think he’d win. Everyone was high on him before he fought Stann, but he looked awful. It’s hard to say what his game plan was because he really walked right into Stann’s punches. If he does that against Silva, the same thing is gonna happen.”
Bantamweight championship bout—Dominick Cruz (-140) vs. Urijah Faber (+120): It’s hard to make an argument against Cruz with the way he’s rolled through his last eight bouts since losing to Faber in 2007. But he did lose to Faber via guillotine, and I think with the crowd backing “The California Kid,” Faber pulls out another victory.
Okamoto’s breakdown: “The more I think about it, I really like Cruz in this one. Faber is coming down in weight and hasn’t fought for years at 135 like Cruz has. And Cruz has made some of the top guys in the division, like Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen, look just silly. He’s got a speed advantage and is well conditioned, so you have to like Cruz if the fight goes into later rounds. It seems like he has advantages however the fight goes, and he’s a lot more confident than the first time the two fought.”
Samuelson’s best bet: I’ll go with the possibility of the big payday and take Ortiz, Faber and Shane Roller (a +235 underdog in his lightweight bout against Melvin Guillard) on a three-team parlay. If that doesn’t work out, there’s always Megabucks.
Okamoto’s best bet: “Take the smart money and bet on Cruz. Also, I like lightweight Dennis Siver against Matt Wiman at -130. Siver has looked solid in his last couple of fights.”