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Jones, Johnson Big Betting Favorites on Saturday’s UFC 197 Card

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Jon “Bones” Jones makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon on Saturday when he takes on Ovince Saint Preux in the main event at UFC 197 as a strong -600 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion will be looking to claim the interim crown in Saturday night’s showdown at MGM Grand Garden Arena, following a 15-month absence.

Owner of a professional MMA record of 21-1, Jones claimed a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Cormier in his last fight at UFC 182, successfully defending the Light Heavyweight title he held at the time as -170 chalk and extending his current unbeaten streak to 12 fights.

After Jones was stripped of the belt in April 2015, Cormier claimed the vacant Light Heavyweight title with a win over Anthony Johnson. Cormier was originally scheduled to face Jones at UFC 197 before a foot injury forced him to withdraw, clearing the path for Saint Preux’s first shot at the interim championship.

Saint Preux takes on Jones sporting +400 odds after earning a unanimous decision against  Rafael Cavalcante against UFC Fight Night 82, paying out at -360 odds to improve his pro record to 19-7. However, he has struggled against top flight competition in recent years.

The 33-year-old was submitted by Glover Teixeira in the third round of their main event at UFC Fight Night 73, disappointing as -115 chalk, and also dropped a unanimous decision to Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 47 as a +140 underdog.

While Jones is currently pegged at No. 2 on the OddsShark Pound-for-Pound Rankings, he has been unable to end a fight inside the distance in his last three outings, also settling for unanimous decision wins over Teixeira as -550 chalk at UFC 172, and over Alexander Gustafsson as a -1100 favorite at UFC 165 in one of the greatest UFC battles of all time.

In other UFC 197 betting action, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson looks to continue his domination of the UFC Flyweight division when he puts his title on the line against Henry Cejudo as a -400 betting favorite.

Undefeated in his last 10 bouts, Johnson last defended his crown at UFC 191 with a unanimous decision win over John Dodson as a big -550 favorite, while Cejudo tries to extend his perfect MMA record to 11-0 as a +300 underdog.

Anthony Pettis is listed as -175 chalk in his Lightweight matchup with Edson Barboza, who sits at +145 odds for Saturday, while Robert Whittaker is -335 chalk in his Middleweight clash with Rafael Natal, who trails at +255.

Floyd Mayweather to start MMA training ‘soon’

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Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor in the boxing ring back in August. Now, Mayweather is eyeing a turn in the octagon.

The 41-year-old Mayweather, who retired from boxing following his win over McGregor, confirmed to TMZ Sports that he would “soon” begin training with UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley.

Mayweather thinks it will take him less than a year to acclimate to MMA.

“Even if it takes six-to-eight months, whatever it takes, we want to make sure that everything is done correctly, is done the right way,” Mayweather said.

Mayweather doesn’t believe his skill-set will require extensive improvement. He graded his wrestling skills as “probably a seven” out of 10, but he could “take it up to a nine if possible.” His real weakness is kicking, which Mayweather graded as just a four. But his hand game? “On a scale of 1-10, it’s 100.”

Mayweather was hesitant to say who he would face in his MMA debut, though he was asked directly about a rematch with McGregor.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “We can’t say. That’s why I pause, you know?  I can’t really say, you know? I have to talk to my team, speak with my father and then see how it’s gonna play out.”

Like his boxing match with McGregor, Mayweather and his team want “the right numbers and we would make it happen.”

Tony Ferguson betting favorite against Kevin Lee in UFC 216 main event

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A nine-fight win streak and fight fans’ preference to see strikers win out over grinders might be why Tony Ferguson is such a big favorite against Kevin Lee at UFC 216.

Ferguson is the -225 betting favorite with Lee coming back at +175 as they meet for the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

As noted, Ferguson has won his last nine bouts, ending six early for a nice 66.7 percent rate. For his part, Lee has won five consecutive bouts, ending four early.

Ferguson prefers to work at distance with jabs and kicks, gradually chipping away at his opponent. The 33-year-old is a more well-rounded fighter than the 25-year-old Lee, so laying chalk is justifiable since this bout could go either way.

There is a good case to take Lee and the plus money, though. Lee is far beyond the typical lightweight in how often he attempts takedowns and how often he winds up gaining control. Succeeding in that strategy would leave Ferguson unable to use his best assets.

Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (-1200) is a massive favorite against Ray Borg (+700). Johnson is simply too complete a fighter to lose against a boxer-wrestler type such as Borg, but Borg has a great ability to get off of his back and will make Johnson work for the win. Eleven of the last 14 UFC fights (78.6 percent) in which one fighter was a favorite of -1200 or more ended with a stoppage, and based on form Johnson should extend the trend.

The potential upset on the main card involves the heavyweight tilt between former champion Fabricio Werdum (-260) and Derrick Lewis (+200). Werdum’s weakness is his striking defense and Lewis has secured 16 of his 18 career MMA wins via knockout, which seems like a lethal combination in Lewis’ favour. Werdum’s chances of winning likely rest on him wearing Lewis down or getting a takedown that sets up a submission.

As well, Beneil Dariush (-240) is favored against Evan Dunham (+190) on the UFC 216 odds in a lightweight bout that is likely to be heavy on grappling, increasing the possibility of it going the distance. Four of Dariush’s last eight fights were decided by a decision, while Dunham’s four-fight win streak consists entirely of victories by decision.

As long as Dariush stays aggressive in the stand-up game – and he likely won’t have to worry about walking into a devastating punch against a grinder like Dunham – he should be able to get the win.

And Kalindra Faria (-200) is favored against UFC newcomer Mara Romero Borella (+160), a replacement opponent who took the fight after  Andrea Lee was pulled out for not having an up-to-date anti-doping clearance.

Faria is the more seasoned fighter and her ability to throw combinations has helped her score knockouts in more than half of her 18 career professional wins. Romero Borella is undefeated in her last six fights, but prior to that was finished by strikes in three consecutive fights, so there’s potential for an early ending.