Holloway favored over Pettis on UFC 206 odds for Saturday night event

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Whether one buys the premise of an interim featherweight title bout, it’s easy to see why Max Holloway is a big favorite against Anthony Pettis in the headline matchup for UFC 206 in Toronto on Saturday.

Having won nine fights in a row, Holloway is listed as the -190 betting favorite with Pettis at +165 for the co-main event at Air Canada Centre, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The interim belt was created after Conor McGregor moved up to win the lightweight strap at UFC 205.

Holloway is a much busier striker who prefers to attack, while Pettis picks his spots for counter-attacks. There is definitely potential for Pettis to win if he can slow the pace and get the match to the ground, although no one has done that against Holloway recently. It will also be interesting to see what form Pettis shows now that he has cut body mass to compete at featherweight (145-pound limit).

The match is scheduled for five rounds. The winner will likely advance directly to a title fight against champion Jose Aldo.

In the co-main event, welterweight Donald Cerrone is the main card’s heaviest favorite at -280 as he takes on veteran Matt Brown, who is listed at +220. Cerrone is looking for a fourth consecutive win since moving up to welterweight and it’s fair to take a pass on Brown, who has lost four of his last five bouts. If Brown prevails it would be the biggest upset, in terms of odds on the underdog, at a UFC event since UFC 200.

Featherweight Doo Ho Choi is a -210 favorite against Cub Swanson, who is listed +180. Swanson’s defense is top-notch but he is spotting some reach to Choi, who is also the more efficient of the two in the striking game. Choi defends well and, if anything, might be underpriced. The line could narrow closer to fight time, since Swanson has more name recognition among casual North American and European fight fans.

Coming out of nearly two-year hiatus, Jordan Mein is favored at -155 against +135 underdog Emil Meek. Meek, a Norwegian newcomer to UFC, is a powerful striker who has seven of his eight career wins by knockout. A loss here won’t hurt his prospects in the UFC, so essentially he has been handed a nothing-to-lose scenario which might foment trying to attack Mein and get him off-balance early. There is upset potential here.

Middleweights Tim Kennedy (-145) and Kelvin Gastelum (+125) have been matched after each was pulled out of UFC 205. The prices have been shifting toward equilibrium – Kennedy opened -222 with Gastelum at +175 – as oddsmakers try to balance out the enthusiasm for Gastelum. Gastelum is now likely a middleweight for good after failing to make the weight limit for UFC 205 and should be motivated, whereas it’s unclear what to expect out of the 37-year-old Kennedy, who last fought more than two years ago.

Underdogs have won 163 of 440 fights this year in the UFC, or 37 percent. That trend has been consistent from UFC 201 through UFC 205 with underdogs prevailing in 14 of 41 fights, or 34.1%.

Mayweather and McGregor end press tour with a bang in London

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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

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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.