Chris Leben and Mark Munoz become trivia tomorrow night. Their fight at UFC 138 will be the first five-round non-title fight in UFC history. An historic occasion dampened by the fact that anyone wanting to watch it live in the United States is going to be doing so via streams of questionable legality. Cheers!
Chris Leben $13 - The last time Leben fought a wrestler with the skill set of Munoz, he landed 42 significant strikes en route to stopping Aaron Simpson in the tenth minute at the Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale. Leben is susceptible to takedowns -- Simpson took him down twice and Yoshihiro Akiyama took him down five times -- but he does a good job of getting back to his feet. Prior to his knockout loss to Brian Stann (his first since fighting a debuting Anderson Silva in 2006), Leben was on a three-fight streak of landing more than 40 significant strikes. He should have no trouble maintaining a pace like that against Munoz, who allowed 32 significant strikes in his last fight against jiu-jitsu specialist Demian Maia
Cyrille Diabate $21 - There's not many fighters Diabate could fight at 205 pounds in the UFC that would inflate his unit price to $21, but here we are. Anthony Perosh has this fight because he stepped in on short notice to fight Mirko Cro Cop, and the UFC found him a body to beat up in front of a hometown crowd in Australia. Diabate is an accomplished kickboxer, and his 11.18 points for significant strikes is the best three-fight average on the card. You can expect him to land on Perosh, who will be giving up six inches of reach.
Worth A Flyer
Papy Abedi $7 - This is more a wager against Thiago Alves, who has looked impotent in two of his last three bouts (Rick Story and Jon Fitch combined to score an average just north of 12 against Alves). The Fitch fight can be explained, to a degree, by a disastrous weight cut, but there's no such crutch for the Story fight. It's fair to point out that Alves looked great against John Howard (scoring 14.07 points in the process), but it's hard to ignore the two sandwiching fights. Abedi has a background in judo and wrestling. Alves, against Story and Fitch, allowed a combined 8.67 takedown points.
Brad Pickett $9 - There's a lot working against Pickett here. He's averaged 15 minutes in his last three fights, and should he defeat Renan Barao (who is unbeaten in 27 fights dating back to 2005), it's unlikely to be by finish. More importantly, however, is Barao's three-fight points against average: a bantam 3.01. Half of Pickett's three-fight average is attributed to grappling (takedowns, submission attempts, and positional passes). Barao has allowed one takedown in his last three fights and hasn't had a point scored against him for submission attempts or passes.