Getty Images

Conor McGregor a no-show, and off of UFC 200

Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor’s seat was vacant, and so now is his spot headlining the big UFC 200 card this summer.

The Irish fighter was a no-show at a press conference Friday promoting the card, and UFC President Dana White said he would not meet Nate Diaz in a rematch on top of the July 9 card in Las Vegas.

“You have to show up to promote the fight,” White said. “It’s part of the job. It’s what we do here.”

Not to be outdone, McGregor tweeted that he respected the fact other fighters traveled to the press conference “but not everyone up there made the company ($)400 million the last 8 months.”

The dispute over promotional duties means UFC’s biggest card of the year will be without McGregor, the wildly popular fighter who lost to Diaz last month in a major upset. Diaz indicated he might not fight, either, though White said he was looking for an opponent for him.

“If it doesn’t happen I’m going on vacation,” Diaz said.

White left a seat on the dais vacant at a press conference at the MGM Grand, though McGregor made it clear earlier this week that he wouldn’t be attending. McGregor posted on Facebook that he couldn’t afford the time he would need to leave his training camp in Iceland for a series of promotional appearances for the card.

But White noted the fight was nearly three months away, and that UFC is spending $10 million to promote the card and needed McGregor to participate in the promotion.

“People (other fighters on the card) came from Poland and Brazil. Is that fair?” White asked. “It sets a bad precedent. These guys came in from all over the world and they’re here.”

McGregor had asked for a quick rematch with Diaz, after moving up in weight to lose to him in a fight he dominated early. The two signed contracts, but McGregor disrupted plans when he refused to travel to Las Vegas from Iceland to promote the bout.

White said he is not angry with McGregor and expects him to fight again, just not on the landmark UFC 200 card that will be held at the new T-Mobile arena on the Las Vegas Strip. He said McGregor could fight the winner of the bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar, which is on the UFC 200 card.

Also on the card is Miesha Tate, who upset Holly Holm last month and will meet Brazil’s Amanda Nunes. White said it is also possible that light heavyweight Jon Jones could meet Daniel Cormier on the card if Jones wins his fight Saturday against Ovince Saint Preux.

McGregor is the biggest pay-per-view attraction the UFC has, but White said the card will have plenty of attractive fights. He said he understands fans want to see McGregor on UFC 200, but that he had to take a stand.

“It’s an unpopular decision, but it’s the right decision,” White said.

The press conference took place before the weigh-in for UFC 197, which features Jones vs. Saint Preux for the light heavyweight title and Demetrious Johnson against Henry Cejudo in a flyweight title bout.

Odds lean toward Thompson against Woodley for Saturday’s UFC 209 card

Leave a comment

The odds for the rematch reflect popular consensus that Stephen Thompson outfought Tyronn Woodley when they first met for the UFC welterweight championship.

Thompson, the challenger, is the -160 betting favorite against +130 strap-holder Woodley in the co-main event for UFC 209: Woodley vs. Thompson 2 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The two will meet for the second time in fewer than four months when they step into the Octagon at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

In their first fight, Thompson was able to dictate terms and Woodley often ceded control of the Octagon, which gave Thompson time and space to connect with kicks and strikes. One could theorize that three and a half months of analyzing that fight has helped Thompson figure out how to maintain that advantage while upgrading his defense.

That said, Woodley is stronger in cinches and at grappling – when he chooses to use those skills. His patience and strength could help him drag the fight out and pick spots to land his big overhand right.

Elsewhere, Khalid Nurmagomedov is a -190 favorite against +155 underdog Tony Ferguson, as they square off for the interim lightweight title in the co-main event.

Nurmagomedov’s 24-0 career record might give bettors pause about picking against him, but this is the first time he has ever faced a five-round bout and Ferguson might be the more tireless fighter. Ferguson, with his six-inch edge in reach, should have the advantage in stand-up situations.

Rashad Evans is the -230 favorite against +180 underdog Daniel Kelly on the UFC 209 betting lines in a matchup of mirror-image middleweights, as each relies on wearing down opponents. The bout is unlikely to end early and Kelly tends to get stronger as a match goes on as he gains a feel for his opponent’s tendencies.

It’s something of a toss-up, although some bettors might shy away from Evans in his debut at 185 pounds and go with Kelly strictly on betting value.

Alistair Overeem is listed at -145 against +115 slight underdog Mark Hunt in a heavyweight bout. Overeem, who will have something to prove after losing his last bout against Stipe Miocic in September, has a multi-faceted repertoire and can punish opponents when he gets them into clinches.

Hunt is a strong counter-puncher who comes into this matchup with greater knockout capability, but Overeem’s edge in grappling makes him a solid chalk pick.

And in a lightweight bout, Lando Vannata is a -270 favorite against +210 underdog David Teymur. Vannata is more of a striker, while Teymur, with his background in Muay Tuai, is more of a kickboxer.

A win would validate why Vannata thus far has made a rapid ascension through the lightweight division, but Teymur will get his chance to land some devastating kicks. He’s also a left-hander, which can sometimes be a difficult matchup. There is upset potential here.

Ronda Rousey slight favorite against Amanda Nunes at UFC 207

Leave a comment

Betting lines can be influenced by popularity, which is important to keep in mind when looking at the women’s bantamweight title bout between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes that will be the culmination of UFC 207 on Friday in Las Vegas.

Rousey is the -140 betting favorite with Nunes nominally the underdog at +110, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Rousey is fighting for the first time since losing her title to Holly Holm in November 2015, while Nunes is making her first defense since her victory by submission against Miesha Tate in July.

Since she has been away for so long, Rousey is a bit of a blank slate, but during her title reign she had the knack for using her judo background to get a fight to the mat. That might give her a shot at nullifying some of Nunes’ punching power and forcing the champion, whose cardio is below-average, to burn energy getting out of clinches and back on her feet. Of the two, Nunes is the more powerful puncher.

Dominick Cruz is a -225 favorite on the UFC 207 odds in his bantamweight title defense bout against underdog Cody Garbrandt (+175). One case for the challenger is that Garbrandt, who is undefeated in the UFC, averages more significant strikes per minute than Cruz, and hits at a higher percentage. His quick-strike power gives him a chance to get the win, but the unknown variable is his stamina. Cruz has shown throughout his career than he can elude heavy punchers and allow his stamina to carry the day.

T.J. Dillashaw is listed at -240 in his bantamweight bout against John Lineker (+190). Dillashaw’s propensity to strike early and frequently, along with being sounder technically than Lineker, makes him the clear favorite. Lineker’s brawling style makes him entertaining to watch, but he’s not efficient in his striking and that can land a fighter in trouble if he is unable to land a knockout.

Dong Hyun Kim is a -145 favorite against Tarec Saffiedine (+115) in a welterweight match that was moved to the main card after Cain Velasquez was scratched from his showdown with Fabricio Werdum. Kim, who has won six of his seven fights with the lone defeat coming against Tyron Woodley, has been able to handle any opponent who is isn’t elite. Saffiedine has dropped two of his last three fights and, from a betting perspective, doesn’t offer great value as an underdog.

And in a late add to the main card, Ray Borg is a slight -135 betting favorite against Louis Smolka (+110) in a flyweight bout. Borg is the savvier grappler of the two whereas Smolka has greater reach and striking ability. Smolka’s defense might not be strong enough to prevent Borg from turning this into a fight that is contested mostly on the mat.