McGregor favored to defeat Diaz at UFC 202 despite earlier loss

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Since their rematch was rescheduled, Conor McGregor has shifted from being the slight underdog at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com to being the favorite against Nate Diaz, who handed him his first UFC loss in March.

Ahead of their welterweight bout at UFC 202, which takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, McGregor is listed at -130 to get the win while Diaz rates an even-money shot. Initially, Diaz was the -125 favorite.

McGregor has focused his training on building up his cardiovascular capacity, since a fight against Diaz always has a high likelihood of going the distance. McGregor clearly stands to lose more face with a loss, but bettors should also recall that Diaz was able to win their first showdown after taking the bout on only 10 days’ notice.

Diaz, with his Jiu-Jitsu background, has the capability of forcing the match to ground and grappling, which will force McGregor to divert energy he would prefer to use attacking.

In the co-main event, Anthony (Rumble) Johnson is listed at -200 on the UFC 202 betting lines to defeat Glover Teixeira, who is listed at +160, in a matchup of light heavyweight strikers. It’s a tough matchup for Teixeira, who tends to be willing to trade punches, which is highly unlikely to work against  someone with Johnson’s power.

Teixeira’s chances likely rest on making sure he can use his grappling ability. The winner will take a big jump in the light heavyweight rankings.

In a featured welterweight matchup, Donald Cerrone is listed at -250 against +195 underdog Rick Story. In his last fight, Cerrone, with his reach and Muay Thai background, did what some considered impossible when he became the first fighter to defeat Patrick Côté by TKO. Story is also very durable and has a chance to win ugly.

Also on the main card, welterweight contender Hyun Gyu Lim is listed at -285 against +225 underdog Mike Perry, who is making his debut in UFC. Both are knockout specialists, so Perry has the quintessential puncher’s chance at an upset.

Lim is a physical force, but has shown that he will lower his guard to attack, which makes this matchup a more dangerous one than it might initially appear to be.

The biggest favorite on the card is Tim Means, who is -450 to defeat +325 underdog Sabah Homasi. Means is motivated after a six-month fight to win reinstatement after a positive drug test, and Homasi is stepping in with only two weeks’ preparation.

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

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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

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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.