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UFC 124 Betting at Bodog

We will see if Josh Koscheck’s predictions about his own fights are better than his hockey forecasts.

When the UFC visited Montreal’s Bell Centre back in early May for UFC 113, Koscheck took Paul Daley down to the ground and controlled him for most of three straight rounds, winning a straight 30-27 unanimous decision. The victory was by far the biggest of Koscheck’s career and it earned him a welterweight title bout against Georges St. Pierre.

After that Daley fight, Koscheck taunted the Montreal fans by promising to defeat St. Pierre, who is from the city, and vowing that the Pittsburgh Penguins would defeat the Montreal Canadiens in the then-ongoing NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Koscheck obviously embraces his role as UFC’s second-biggest villain behind Brock Lesnar.

Two of the most popular things in Montreal are the Canadiens and St. Pierre, so those taunts obviously didn’t go over well with the crowd and will be remembered.

The Penguins, as we all know, were upset by the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year and now Koscheck gets his shot to at least make good on his St. Pierre prediction at UFC 124 on Saturday night back in Montreal.

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These two fighters know each other well. Back on Aug. 25, 2007, at UFC 74 St. Pierre beat Koscheck, a four-time NCAA wrestling All-American, by unanimous decision by mainly outwrestling and maintaining the top position throughout most of the fight. In addition, Koscheck and St. Pierre also coached opposing teams in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12, which just ended.

In their first fight, St. Pierre, who is considered by many the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, closed as a -240 favorite against Koscheck. But the challenger believes he is a much different fighter these days.

"One of the things that I've been good at in my whole career is fighting a way to get what I want,” said Koscheck. “He's gonna see that. I'm coming to hurt you and I'm gonna put on a show and I'm gonna put out a victory. … After several years of training in MMA, training in boxing, training in jujitsu, I'm a different fighter than when he fought me.”

The line for Saturday’s fight opened with St. Pierre (20-2-0) as a -450 favorite, but heavy action on both St. Pierre and parlays involving GSP moved the line to -525. At this point we saw significant buyback on Koscheck (currently +300) and decided to move the line to St. Pierre -500 where it currently sits and is generating solid two-sided action. In fact, in total handle it’s nearly a 50-50 split on the fighters.

Being favored is nothing new for St. Pierre, who has won his past seven fights overall. That streak began with the Koscheck victory following a TKO loss to Matt Serra earlier in 2007 at UFC 69. In all seven of those wins GSP entered as the betting favorite – six were title defenses.

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The current -500 number is the second-biggest number that St. Pierre has been in his winning streak. The only time he was a bigger favorite was at UFC 111 in March when he was -625 against British striker Dan Hardy and beat Hardy by unanimous decision.

This is the first time that Koscheck (15-4-0) has been an underdog since his first fight with St. Pierre. In that stretch he has gone 6-2, losing only to Thiago Alves and Paulo Thiago (he needs to stop fighting guys named Thiago). The popular strategy for many players on this bout has been either to bet Koscheck straight up and take advantage of the big odds or bet St. Pierre in a parlay with some of the other champions at higher odds to increase the payout.

For example, a parlay consisting of St. Pierre at -500, Anderson Silva (UFC 126 vs. Vitor Belfort) at -325 and Cain Velasquez (TBD, vs. Junior dos Santos) at -225 pays +127.

Article by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager