Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida will not be the only two guys worth watching on December 10th. The UFC has gone ahead and stacked the entire fight card. Lets go over the opening preliminary fights and decide if they hold any UFC betting value.

UFC 140: Opening Prelims 

Yves Jabouin vs. Walel Watson 

Yves JabouinTo the delight of striking enthusiast throughout the sport, Canadian kickboxer Yves Jabouin will meet the wiry frame of Walel Watson. 

Much like Jabouin’s recent opponent Pablo Garza, Watson appears to have both a significant reach advantage along with the stronger submission attack.  

Considering how active I’ve seen Walel keep his guard, I’d say his grappling presents just as much of a threat as Garza’s. He’s constantly looking to either attack his opponent’s leg from the bottom or secure some type of reversal. The anaconda choke he locked in against Ismael Leon was just further proof of his aggressive submission attack. 

Jabouin’s grappling, however, is mostly centered around getting back to his fight. The fight with Ian Loveland showed some great insight into his scramble ability as well as what he’ capable off his back. At one point in the second round he masterfully executed a high crotch reversal to regain favorable top position. 

Jabouin not only has a physical strength advantage in the clinch, but also shows the better defensive posture behind a more diverse striking attack. He should prove to a tad faster while maintaining the aggressor roll for most of the fight. I’d say Walel is a smart option to add to your UFC picks at +145 but make Jabouin your UFC betting choice at anything less than that.

Free UFC Pick: Yves Jabouin SU 

John Cholish vs. Mitch Clarke 

Renzo Gracie’s academy appears to have another touted prospect on their hands. Through 8 fights John Cholish has finished 6 of his opponents by either submission or knockout, the latest victory coming against a game Mark Stephens. 

Cholish’s Cornell wrestling pedigrees appears to have translated remarkably well into MMA. Looking back at the Stephens fight he was constantly rolling for kneebars and leg-locks before he finally securing one in the second round. The transition he used to catch the submission is considered as one of the slickest kneebar attempts of the year. 

His opponent, Mitch Clarke, happens to also be former collegiate wrestler out of the University of Saskatchewan. In his past fights he’s shown some strong grappling from top position; most notably seeking out his opponent’s neck in scrambles. 

I think of the two Cholish has shown to be the better athlete. That should be the defining difference anytime they’re in a clinch situation. Not only that but his striking looks a bit crisper behind a lot more fluidity in his combinations and footwork. 

Free UFC Pick: John Cholish SU 

Mark Bocek vs. Nik Lentz 

Mark BocekThe self professed “Best grappler in the lightweight division” faces off with the miraculously unbeaten Nik "The Carny" Lentz. Somehow through 7 fights, most of which ended in a controversial decision, Lentz has kept his undefeated UFC record intact. 

Lentz can be easily described as a good MMA wrestler with above average grappling ability for the division. Unfortunately, his greatest assets happen to play right into some of Mark Bock’s primary strengths.

Simply put, Bocek has shown the ability to stifle better wrestlers and submit better grapplers. He fought former number one contender Jim Miller to a split decision and gave the current number one contender, Ben Henderson, his toughest fight since entering the UFC. 

However, the stall factor is always a concern when betting against Lentz. Battling the scorecards will be a huge problem for Bocek if we see the fight go to a decision. With that kind of variance surrounding this fight I would avoid both fighters at anything less than +135 in the UFC odds, although I do think Bocek should edge out a close fight where his grappling controls the tempo. 

MY UFC Pick: Mark Bocek SU 

Jake Hecht vs. Rich Attonito

UFC newcomer Jake Hecht will make his promotional debut in UFC 140 against former Ultimate fighter contestant, Rich Attonito.

Hecht, currently training out of Cork, Ireland, has put together a 10-1 record since losing his first fight back in 2006. For the most part he’s a submission based fighter who prefers to attack with either a north-south choke, or a triangle from his guard.

Attonito, meanwhile, appears to have a clear striking advantage and possibly even the stronger base. His wrestling pedigree along with the power in his hands makes him a tough first fight for anyone. Add in the first time octagon jitters and this may be asking too much out of Hecht. 

Look for Rich to control both the grappling and striking exchanges in this fight. I think he takes a dominant lead in the first two rounds before ultimately finishing the newcomer sometime in the final frame. 

Free UFC pick: Rich Attonito by knockout