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UFC Fight Night 26 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Shogun vs. Sonnen, Overeem vs. Browne among fights with close lines

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Antonio Silva hits Alistair Overeem with a right during their fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Silva won with a third round TKO.

UFC Fight Night 26 is heavy with competitive matchups, making Boston’s first fight card in three years light on easy predictions.

Three of the four headlining bouts scheduled for Saturday’s Fox Sports 1 debut card feature a tight betting line with a favorite of less than minus-250 (risking $2.50 to win $1). That means oddsmakers give no one in those fights greater than a 70 percent chance to prevail.

The Sun’s picks panel is consequently conflicted, not coming to a consensus in any of those contests.

Expect a shake-up in the standings, where ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (89-39 on the year) leads the way with 2011 champion Kevin West (88-40) from KUNV and 2011 champion Case Keefer (86-42) from the Sun are close behind. The Sun’s Ray Brewer (83-45) and ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (83-45) round off the prognostication lineup.

Check below for picks, odds and a break down of every fight scheduled for UFC Fight Night 26.

Chael Sonnen

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 6-6
  • MMA record 27-13-1
  • Out of: West Linn, Oregon
  • Betting line: -140

No. 8 Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 5-5
  • MMA record 21-7
  • Out of: Curitiba, Brazil
  • Betting line: +110

Light Heavyweight Bout

Main Event

Last fight: First-round TKO loss to Jon Jones at UFC 159.

Punch list: The upside: Sonnen still possesses one of the most powerful double-leg takedowns in all of mixed martial arts and can control anyone with his wrestling. The downside: Sonnen hasn’t won a fight in more than a year-and-a-half and appears to be in the twilight of his career.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Sonnen

Cofield: Sonnen

Last fight: Lost a unanimous decision to Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fox 5.

Punch list: The upside: Remnants of the power that made Shogun an MMA mainstay remain as his last three wins have come by knockout. The downside: Shogun’s stamina is no longer the same as he seems to lose something as fights drag on.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Sonnen

Brewer: Rua

Okamoto: Rua

No. 8 Travis Browne

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’7”
  • Weight: 239
  • UFC record 5-1-1
  • MMA record 14-1-1
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: +185

No. 5 Alistair Overeem

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 264
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 36-12
  • Out of: Amsterdam
  • Betting line: -225

Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Knocked out Gabriel Gonzaga in the first round at “The Ultimate Fighter” 17 finale.

Punch list: The upside: Finishing three of his last five opponents within the first round, “Hapa” looks constantly improved and on the verge of breaking into the top of the division. The downside: He failed miserably in his only venture into the top-10, getting knocked out by Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Overeem

Cofield: Browne

Last fight: Third-round knockout loss against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 156.

Punch list: The upside: Overeem is one of the best kickboxers in the world, equally proficient with power and technique. The downside: Coming off of a suspended license for elevated testosterone levels, Overeem didn’t look the same and got toppled as a massive favorite against Silva.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Overeem

Brewer: Browne

Okamoto: Browne

Yuri Alcantara

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 28-4
  • Out of: Soure, Brazil
  • Betting line: +210

No. 2 Urijah Faber

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 4-2
  • MMA record 28-6
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: -260

Bantamweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Iliarde Santos at UFC on FX 9.

Punch list: The upside: Having gone 19-2 over the last five years, Alcantara joined the legions of elite lower-weight Brazilian fighters. The downside: He’s never faced anyone near Faber’s level.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Faber

Cofield: Faber

Last fight: Submitted Scott Jorgensen in the fourth round at “The Ultimate Fighter” 17 finale.

Punch list: The upside: “The California Kid” is the most respected and well-known fighter in the lower-weight classes. The downside: It’s essentially a no-win situation in Boston, as Faber is expected to roll a deceptively-dangerous opponent.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Faber

Brewer: Faber

Okamoto: Faber

Mike Pyle

  • Age: 37
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 8-3
  • MMA record 25-8
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +130

Matt Brown

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 10-5
  • MMA record 17-11
  • Out of: Columbus, Ohio
  • Betting line: -160

Welterweight Bout

Main Card Fight

Last fight: Split-decision win over Mike Pyle at UFC 160.

Punch list: Pyle’s win streak stands at one less than Brown’s, but three of the wins have come by first-round knockout. “Quicksand” tends to get hit some in fights, but not usually as hard as he can dish it out himself.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Pyle

Cofield: Pyle

Last fight: Second-round TKO victory over Jordan Mein at UFC on Fox 7.

Punch list: This is a fight between two perceived journeymen who have turned it on in a major way over the last couple years. “The Immortal” has won five in a row — with four by knockout — to leave memories of a 1-4 stretch well behind.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Pyle

Brewer: Pyle

Okamoto: Brown

John Howard

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 4-3
  • MMA record 20-8
  • Out of: Boston
  • Betting line: +325

Uriah Hall

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 7-3
  • Out of: New York
  • Betting line: -450

Middleweight Bout

Main Card Fight

Last fight: Knocked out Chris Woodall in the first round at CES MMA: New Blood.

Punch list: The parting between Howard and the UFC two years ago wasn’t amicable, but “Doomsday” got over his release and lobbied for another chance on a hometown card. He got it when Josh Samman pulled out of a bout against Hall with an injury a month ago.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Hall

Cofield: Hall

Last fight: Lost by unanimous decision to Kelvin Gastelum at “The Ultimate Fighter” 17 finale.

Punch list: Sonnen infamously declared Hall could beat Anderson Silva while the former was competing on the last season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. That’s going to have to wait a while as the elaborate striker couldn’t live up to his 5-to-1 favorite status against Gastelum in the show’s championship.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Hall

Brewer: Hall

Okamoto: Hall

Michael Johnson

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 4-4
  • MMA record 12-8
  • Out of: Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: +200

Joe Lauzon

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 9-5
  • MMA record 22-8
  • Out of: Bridgewater, Mass.
  • Betting line: -260

Lightweight Bout

Main Card Opener

Last fight: Third-round submission loss to Reza Madadi at UFC on Fuel TV 9.

Punch list: Nine months ago, Johnson was talking about potentially working himself into a title-challenging position. Now he’s just trying to hold onto his roster spot after two straight losses where his grappling failed him.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Lauzon

Cofield: Lauzon

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Jim Miller at UFC 155.

Punch list: Those in the arena will want to use earplugs when Lauzon walks to the octagon. One of the most beloved brawlers in the UFC, the Lauzon appreciation ratchets up when fighting near his hometown in Boston as evidenced when he defeated Gabe Ruediger at UFC 118.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Johnson

Brewer: Lauzon

Okamoto: Johnson

No. 3 Michael McDonald

  • Age: 22
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 4-1
  • MMA record 15-2
  • Out of: Modesto, Calif.
  • Betting line: -235

No. 5 Brad Pickett

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 23-7
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: +185

Bantamweight Bout

Televised Prelim

Last fight: Fourth-round submission loss to Renan Barao at UFC on Fuel TV 7.

Punch list: McDonald was candid in saying he might not have been ready for a title shot his last time out. But he arguably performed better against Barao than anyone else in the UFC and actually took an early round off of the interim champion.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Pickett

Cofield: McDonald

Last fight: Split-decision victory over Mike Easton at UFC on Fuel TV 9.

Punch list: One of UFC President Dana White’s favorite fighters, Pickett is known to always press the action even when it’s to his detriment. Both of his last two fights were close enough to warrant split decisions, with one going in his favor and the other not.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: McDonald

Brewer: McDonald

Okamoto: McDonald

Max Holloway

  • Age: 21
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 7-2
  • Out of: Waianae, Hawaii
  • Betting line: +220

Conor McGregor

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 13-2
  • Out of: Dublin
  • Betting line: -280

Featherweight Bout

Televised Prelim

Last fight: Split-decision loss to Dennis Bermudez at UFC 162.

Punch list: While not receiving anywhere near the attention of McGregor, Holloway has shown considerable promise of his own. The second-youngest fighter in the UFC is a particularly precise striker though his grappling is still coming along.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: McGregor

Cofield: McGregor

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Marcus Brimage at UFC on Fuel TV 9.

Punch list: The UFC has big plans for McGregor. Since the outspoken Irishman dazzled in his debut four months ago, the promotion has pushed him hard with media opportunities and other appearances.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: McGregor

Brewer: McGregor

Okamoto: McGregor

Steven Siler

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 4-1
  • MMA record 22-10
  • Out of: Orem, Utah
  • Betting line: +180

Mike Brown

  • Age: 37
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 26-8
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: -260

Featherweight Bout

Televised Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Kurt Holobaugh at UFC 159.

Punch list: The most surprising alum of “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 to find success in the UFC, Siler’s only loss since the show came by a decision to Darren Elkins. The John Hackelman-trained wrestler is showing flashes that indicate his striking is catching up to his grappling.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Brown

Cofield: Brown

Last fight: Beat Daniel Pineda by unanimous decision at UFC 146.

Punch list: The question will be how the former WEC champion responds to a 15-month layoff. Brown has a size advantage over anyone in the 145-pound class, but could feel sluggish off of the inactivity especially considering he had lost three of four and thought about retirement before his recent two-fight win streak.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Siler

Brewer: Siler

Okamoto: Siler

Daniel Pineda

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 17-9
  • Out of: Houston
  • Betting line: +250

Diego Brandao

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 17-8
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: -350

Featherweight Bout

Televised Prelim

Last fight: Submitted Justin Lawrence in the first round at “The Ultimate Fighter” 17 finale.

Punch list: With 13 career victories by submission, “The Pit” can grapple with the best. He showed some vulnerability on the feet two fights ago when Antonio Carvalho caught him for an early knockout.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Brandao

Cofield: Brandao

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Pablo Garza at UFC on Fuel TV 9.

Punch list: Continuing to believe a UFC championship is his destiny, “Ceara” rededicated himself to hard training after suffering his first loss in the octagon last year. With two straight blowout victories, the results speak to his work.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Brandao

Brewer: Brandao

Okamoto: Brandao

Cole Miller

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 146
  • UFC record 8-5
  • MMA record 19-7
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: +120

Manvel Gamburyan

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’5”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 3-5
  • MMA record 12-7
  • Out of: Hollywood, Calif.
  • Betting line: -150

Featherweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Submitted Bart Palaszewski in the first round at “The Ultimate Fighter” 17 finale.

Punch list: Miller’s greatest achievement might be continually sticking in the UFC for six years after the show. The streak looked in jeopardy after a recent two-fight losing streak, but bounced back in a big way against Palaszewski.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Miller

Cofield: Gamburyan

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Michihiro Omigawa at UFC on Fox 4.

Punch list: These two were cast members all the way back on “The Ultimate Fighter” 5. Gamburyan made it all the way to the finals, where he lost to Nate Diaz, while Miller fizzled out in the second round.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Gamburyan

Brewer: Miller

Okamoto: Miller

Ovince St. Preux

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 13-5
  • Out of: Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Betting line: -300

Cody Donovan

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 8-2
  • Out of: Denver
  • Betting line: +230

Light Heavyweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Majority-decision victory over Gian Villante at UFC 159.

Punch list: Ever since St. Preux switched from football to mixed martial arts, he’s carried high expectations. The time is crunching for him to reach those standards as he’s done well but not outstanding.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: St. Preux

Cofield: St. Preux

Last fight: First-round TKO over Nick Penner at UFC on FX 6.

Punch list: The former Bellator fighter snagged a coveted Fight of the Night bonus check in his UFC debut last December. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu who also holds four career victories by knockout.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: St. Preux

Brewer: St. Preux

Okamoto: Donovan

James Vick

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 154
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 4-0
  • Out of: Temple Hills, Maryland
  • Betting line: +150

Ramsey Nijem

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 7-3
  • Out of: Orem, Utah
  • Betting line: -170

Lightweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Chris Pecero at Xtreme Knockout 12.

Punch list: Injuries have kept Vick from fighting over the last year-and-a-half since his time on “The Ultimate Fighter: Live”. He advanced to the semifinals of the show with raw but powerful striking.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Nijem

Cofield: Nijem

Last fight: Knocked out by Myles Jury in the second round at UFC on Fox 7.

Punch list: “Stripper Ramsey” entertained on the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and never stopped once officially in the UFC. A three-fight win streak from Oct. 2011 to Dec. 2012 is bookended by two knockout losses.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Nijem

Brewer: Vick

Okamoto: Nijem

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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