UFC 205 betting lines: Alvarez an underdog vs. McGregor in New York

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The UFC 205 main card for Saturday night at Madison Square Garden includes three title fights, including a lightweight showdown where Conor McGregor will be spotting some size to the grinding grappler Eddie Alvarez.

McGregor is listed at -175 to win with Alvarez at +145, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, in what is the first champion vs. champion fight in the UFC since 2009. McGregor is more lethal in the stand-up game, but it’s well-documented that his wrestling is just adequate. Alvarez is good at getting a match to the ground.

As the featherweight champion who’s moved up a weight class, McGregor might not have the experience with having to get out of clinches with a heavier opponent who excels at the ground-and-pound game.

Ahead of their welterweight title bought, Stephen Thompson has moved to a -205 favorite (after opening at -170) and Tyron Woodley is now pegged at +165. That stems from the fact Thompson, the five-time world kickboxing champion, has never been finished off early in his MMA career.

Unlike most strikers, he also avoids leaving himself vulnerable to punches. Woodley has lost three of his four bouts that have gone past the third round.

Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is listed at -400 in her title defense against Polish compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+300). The two have similar styles, but Jedrzejczyk strikes more frequently and with more confidence. It will be tough for Kowalkiewicz to beat someone who is essentially her double, but with more firepower.

Also on the main card, Donald Cerrone is listed at -165 to defeat Kelvin Gastelum (+135) as he looks for his fourth consecutive early stoppage win since moving up to the welterweight division. Gastelum has split his four fights since the start of 2015. Cerrone also has more potential to end a match early, making him a safe form pick.

Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman is listed at -185 against Yoel Romero (+150) in his comeback fight in his hometown. Weidman is the more durable fighter, but Romero bides his time and picks his spots to attack, which creates potential for him to finish a foe quickly. The price on Romero is also tantalizing.

And Miesha Tate is a -170 favorite on the UFC betting lines against Raquel Pennington (+140) in what profiles as a redemption fight for the former bantamweight champion. Given that Tate once coached Pennington on The Ultimate Fighter, she should have some anticipation for her opponent’s tactics. Tate also has the stamina if the bout goes the distance.

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.