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September 2, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: UFC 172’s Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

MMA light heavyweight Anthony Johnson is seen in the offices of World Series of Fighting, Oct. 31, 2012. Johnson is fighting D.J. Linderman in the co-main event of the WSOF’s inaugural card.

I’m going to try to stay in the fight with Taylor Bern for the lead in the Play of the Day, which features odds from South Point, by betting on a fight.

Just as I had inched within a few hundred dollars earlier this week, Bern burned — bet he’s never heard that before — his way to back-to-back wins by the skin of his teeth. Now I’m risking part of my $10,000 on a sport where teeth are always at risk.

Anthony Johnson plus-200 over Phil Davis: $200 to win $400

Phil Davis has spent the entire week talking about Jon Jones, pretending as if Anthony Johnson doesn’t exist. That makes for a flag with twice as much red as the one Maryland hangs as its emblem.

But it’s not the reason, or at least the biggest reason, why fading Davis is the route to go at UFC 172. “Rumble” is undervalued after spending two years outside of the UFC.

There’s a perception that Johnson hasn’t faced the competition Davis has since his octagon ouster in January 2012. It’s false. Look closer.

“Mr. Wonderful” has beaten three fighters in that span — Wagner Prado, Vinny Magalhaes and Lyoto Machida. The first two are no longer in the UFC after they couldn’t cut it, and almost everyone believes he should have lost to Machida if not for an erroneous decision.

Johnson’s six-fight win streak, which features four knockouts, is vastly more impressive. Not even Davis’ best friends would go crazy enough to say he has a striking advantage over Johnson.

The thought is Davis’ wrestling — he won a national championship at Penn State — will control Johnson. But Johnson is a much better wrestler than given credit for.

It’s easy to envision Johnson keeping the fight standing, where he can at minimum score points and possibly hurt Davis severely in the right scenario. Rashad Evans, the only person to ever beat Davis, has basically acted as Johnson’s head coach throughout this training camp.

It’s yet another factor in Johnson’s favor. Davis might win anyway, but there’s not a chance he beats Johnson 68 percent of the time as the betting line indicates.

There’s a “Rumble” down at value town.

Standings: Bern (21-16, $10,600), Keefer (17-19, $9,308), Brewer (14-19-3, $6,615)

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

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