Stipe Miocic makes first title defense as betting favorite at UFC 203

Leave a comment

Stipe Miocic is the betting favorite against challenger Alistair Overeem in the heavyweight title fight that will cap UFC 203, which is in the fighter’s hometown on Saturday.

The specter of losing the strap, and face, is a powerful motivator for Miocic heading into the showdown at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Saturday. Miocic is listed at odds of -145 for a victory in the five-round bout, with Overeem rating a good chance at +115.

It might be tougher to keep a title than earn it in the heavyweight division, but Miocic has evolved from freestyle wrestling background into a hybrid of grappler and disciplined boxer who keeps his guard up.

Overeem has potential to knock out almost any opponent, but the chances to land a massive strike could be farther and fewer between than usual against Miocic, who is a good striker in his own right. Miocic is also generally considered the stronger wrestler of the two.

Also on the main card, Fabricio Werdum, who lost the heavyweight title to Miocic at UFC 198 in May, is a -225 favorite against +175 underdog Travis Browne on the UFC 203 betting lines.

Werdum won a unanimous decision against Browne when they last tangled in April 2014 in spite of spotting him three inches in height. Losing in May should have been a prod for Werdum to brush up on his technique. Browne has split four TKO decisions since that bout 3½ years ago.

Former WWE champion CM Punk is a +300 underdog in his UFC debut against Mickey Gall, who is a -400 favorite entering their welterweight match. It has taken 21 months since the time he signed with UFC to get CM Punk into a ring, and it’s hard to imagine the UFC would give him an opponent whose style would pose problems.

Bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera is listed at -125 against 37-year-old mainstay Urijah Faber, who is a slight underdog at -105. The 27-year-old Rivera is Faber’s junior by a decade. Over their careers, Faber has been more reliable at earning submissions and at defending against submission attempts. Rivera’s punching power and the fact that he’s on the way up whereas Faber has plateaued make him a tempting play.

Jessica Andrade is a -145 favorite against -115 underdog Joanne Calderwood in the women’s strawweight matchup that opens the UFC 203 main card. Andrade has the greater knockout capability, while Calderwood possesses more stamina.

Calderwood got a lesson in weathering an early onslaught in a 2015 fight against Cortney Casey when she was nearly dispatched early before eventually winning. Learning from that experience could come in handy against Andrade.

Mayweather and McGregor end press tour with a bang in London

1 Comment

Sometime before Floyd Mayweather Jr. stole Conor McGregor’s microphone and before McGregor walked behind Mayweather and pretended to spank him, it might have been hard to understand why all this was happening.

The four press conferences in four days. The insults and posturing. The clothes. Nobody seems to be talking about the 40-year boxing legend with increasingly public financial problems getting paid to fight an MMA star in his first-ever boxing match.

And that’s the whole point.

No matter what goes down on August 26, when Mayweather and McGregor finally put on boxing gloves and start punching each other, Friday’s press conference in London will live on in sports history.

Here are some of the best moments:

McGregor calls Mayweather’s body guards “Juice Head Turkeys”

McGregor has called out pretty much every member of Mayweather’s entourage this week, including his body guards. Earlier on the press tour, Mayweather ordered his security team to surround McGregor and some minor shoving ensued.

Apparently, the incident left a mark. McGregor had some choice words for those body guards on Friday and called them “juice head turkeys” from inside the ring.

Feel free to Google that expression, unless you’re offended by Thanksgiving arts and crafts or holiday recipes.

McGregor rubs Mayweather’s head

If McGregor were fighting, say, Adrian Beltre, this wouldn’t have gone down so smoothly.

But in one of the more revealing moments of the press conference, Mayweather  tried visibly not to laugh as McGregor rubbed his head and cracked some bald jokes. His best line might have been pointing out Mayweather’s fondness for wearing hats in public and asking him “What the [expletive] were you hiding under that thing?”

Mayweather does a chokehold in front of McGregor

McGregor’s most recent loss came against Nate Diaz in 2016, as the Irish fighter tapped out when Diaz put him in a rear naked choke-hold. Mayweather didn’t plan on letting McGregor forget that on Friday. Imitating the MMA move in front of his opponent, Mayweather even had his DJ cue up a few bars of Rich Gang’s 2013 single “Tapout.”

He then asked the decidedly pro-McGregor crowd why they decided to put their faith in “this quitter,” before asking them to get Nate Diaz on the phone.

“If you quit once, you quite twice,” Mayweather said. “If you quit twice, you quit three times. But on the fourth time, I’m going to knock you the [expletive] out.”

 

Valentina Shevchenko Favored Against Amanda Nunes in Five-Round UFC 2013 Matchup

Leave a comment

With a scheduled five-round bout this time around, Valentina Shevchenko is favored against woman’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in the main event at UFC 213.

Shevchenko is a slight -125 betting favorite against -105 underdog Nunes at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in their title matchup at UFC 213, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday. The match comes 16 months after their first matchup which Nunes won by unanimous decision in her only victory in the UFC that didn’t end early. That was a three-round fight.

The rematch is scheduled for five rounds, which would seem to work in favor of Shevchenko, who has the endurance to be methodical and play a long game while waiting for an opponent to over-commit to an attack. That might negate Nunes’ trademark aggressiveness.

By the same token, though, Nunes is rarely going to be priced at -105. Her backers can take heart in knowing she has made great strides with her technical game since that March 2016 showdown against Shevchenko.

Robert Whittaker (-135) is favored slightly against Yoel Romero (+105) on the UFC 213 betting lines as they vie for the interim strap in the middleweight division. Whittaker has by far the greater cardio of the two and his grappling is good enough to counter Romero, a former Olympic freestyle wrestler.

If Whittaker can survive the first two rounds – and he’s characterized the fight as a 25-minute war – he should be able to wear down Romero. If Romero is to win, it will likely be by using his ground-and-pound game to get an early submission.

By virtue of his win when they went head-to-head in 2011, Alistair Overeem (-130) is the favorite against No. 1 heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum (even).

Overeem, at age 37, is a deadly striker who has become craftier about picking his spots over his long career. His losses over the years have usually come by knockout, which is something that the jiu-jitsu specialist Werdum hasn’t been able to achieve in recent years. Overeem’s powerful kicking might help him with keeping Werdum at bay.

Anthony Pettis (-240) is favored against Jim Miller (+190) in the former champion’s return to the lightweight class. Pettis should have more energy than he typically did when he was cutting mass as a featherweight, which could aid him with using his kicks to create an opening for a submission.

Miller is a grinder, though, and is certainly capable of trading strikes and getting the match to the mat. On the whole, one should not overlook that this is a fight Pettis wanted to re-establish himself.

And the only true mismatch on the UFC 213 odds on the main card is the heavyweight bout between emerging force Curtis Blaydes (-750) and Daniel Omielanczuk (+475). The price on the latter fighter is tempting if taken in a vacuum, but when it comes to the Octagon, Blaydes has a reach advantage in the striking phase and is also a one-time U.S. national junior college champion, whereas grappling is Omielanczuk’s weakness.