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Jones, Johnson Big Betting Favorites on Saturday’s UFC 197 Card

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Jon “Bones” Jones makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon on Saturday when he takes on Ovince Saint Preux in the main event at UFC 197 as a strong -600 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion will be looking to claim the interim crown in Saturday night’s showdown at MGM Grand Garden Arena, following a 15-month absence.

Owner of a professional MMA record of 21-1, Jones claimed a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Cormier in his last fight at UFC 182, successfully defending the Light Heavyweight title he held at the time as -170 chalk and extending his current unbeaten streak to 12 fights.

After Jones was stripped of the belt in April 2015, Cormier claimed the vacant Light Heavyweight title with a win over Anthony Johnson. Cormier was originally scheduled to face Jones at UFC 197 before a foot injury forced him to withdraw, clearing the path for Saint Preux’s first shot at the interim championship.

Saint Preux takes on Jones sporting +400 odds after earning a unanimous decision against  Rafael Cavalcante against UFC Fight Night 82, paying out at -360 odds to improve his pro record to 19-7. However, he has struggled against top flight competition in recent years.

The 33-year-old was submitted by Glover Teixeira in the third round of their main event at UFC Fight Night 73, disappointing as -115 chalk, and also dropped a unanimous decision to Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 47 as a +140 underdog.

While Jones is currently pegged at No. 2 on the OddsShark Pound-for-Pound Rankings, he has been unable to end a fight inside the distance in his last three outings, also settling for unanimous decision wins over Teixeira as -550 chalk at UFC 172, and over Alexander Gustafsson as a -1100 favorite at UFC 165 in one of the greatest UFC battles of all time.

In other UFC 197 betting action, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson looks to continue his domination of the UFC Flyweight division when he puts his title on the line against Henry Cejudo as a -400 betting favorite.

Undefeated in his last 10 bouts, Johnson last defended his crown at UFC 191 with a unanimous decision win over John Dodson as a big -550 favorite, while Cejudo tries to extend his perfect MMA record to 11-0 as a +300 underdog.

Anthony Pettis is listed as -175 chalk in his Lightweight matchup with Edson Barboza, who sits at +145 odds for Saturday, while Robert Whittaker is -335 chalk in his Middleweight clash with Rafael Natal, who trails at +255.

Miocic favored against Cormier to highlight UFC 226 betting lines

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Stipe Miocic takes a significant size and reach advantage into a legacy fight against Daniel Cormier – and perhaps has more face to lose. Miocic is the -210 favorite with Cormier coming back at +170 in the co-main event on the UFC 226 betting lines, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

 

Miocic is on a streak of a record three heavyweight title defenses and Cormier, who is the light heavyweight title holder, will go into the Octagon at T-Mobil Arena in Paradise, Nevada on Saturday with a chance to become a two-weight world champion, a feat few other men have completed.

 

Holding a 7½-inch reach advantage over Cormier, Miocic may offer a combination of power, speed and boxing ability that Cormier hasn’t seen before. Cormier might rate better in the grappling department, which is a reason why it wouldn’t come as a shock if he pulled the upset, but Miocic’s edge in the stand-up game is certainly greater.

 

Miocic is also 35, still the typical peak period for a heavyweight, whereas Cormier, at age 39, might be at the point of his career where durability is becoming a factor, especially in a bout with a strong likelihood of going the full five rounds. At the end of the day, the figurative scales seem tipped in Miocic’s favor.

 

In the co-main event, Francis Ngannou (-370) is a hefty favorite against Derrick Lewis (+280) on the UFC 226 odds in a heavyweight matchup. Both are counter-punchers by nature, so it’s possible a feeling-out process takes the fight past Round 1, where Ngannou ended his last four victories. If the two keep the fight standing, then Ngannou should come out ahead against Lewis, whose last three losses have come by knockout or technical knockout.

 

Paul Felder (-155) took a fight on this card late, but is favored against Mike Perry (+125) in a  welterweight matchup. The 33-year-old Felder has scored three consecutive knockout victories whereas the 26-year-old Perry has lost his last two bouts, so it’s reasonable to think the elder fighter will be able to figure out an opponent who seems to have plateaued in his maturation process.

 

Michael Chiesa (-160) holds an edge in grappling technique over Anthony Pettis (+130) in a catchweight (157.5 pounds) matchup. Chiesa missed the cutoff weight for lightweight for this bout. Fighters who miss weight are 7-2 in the UFC in 2018. Chiesa’s route to victory involves getting the match to the ground or on the fence and grinding out a victory, making it worth considering taking him to win by decision, which was also the verdict in three of Pettis’s five defeats during his seven most recent fights.

 

And Gokhan Saki (-145), a converted kickboxer, has a striker-vs.-striker matchup against Khalil Rountree Jr. (+115) in a light heavyweight bout. Saki is an unknown as a grappler, but what is known about Rountree is that he has never landed a takedown in the UFC, so there is a strong likelihood of a high-volume striking matchup that Saki could end by knockout or technical knockout.

 

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Whittaker Faces Romero as Betting Favorite on UFC 225 Odds

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Robert Whittaker was not 100 percent physically when he defeated Yoel Romero in their first fight 11 months ago, which is something to keep in mind when sizing up the rematch on Saturday.

With the UFC middleweight championship at stake, Whittaker is a -220 favorite on the UFC 225 odds with Romero coming back at +190 in the headlining fight on the main card, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The card, which is one of the most stacked the promotion has had in some time if all goes off according to plan (that is, everyone makes weight) takes place at United Center in Chicago.

Whittaker, despite being encumbered by a leg injury, won by unanimous decision when the two squared off in the Octagon at UFC 213 in July 2017. The Australian fighter has not fought since then. At his peak, Whittaker is a well-rounded fighter, combining high-volume striking – especially to opponents’ heads – with a strong takedown defense.

The main question with the 41-year-old Romero is his cardio, especially since the UFC’s recently adopted changes to weigh-ins have created extra challenges for older fighters to make weight. In their first fight he attempted half as many strikes as Whittaker but landed them at a higher rate. However, in a close fight, volume has a favorable effect on the judges’ scorecards.

Whittaker has landed at least one knockdown in six of his 12 career UFC fights, while Romero has had at least one in six of his 11 starts in UFC and Strikeforce. That suggests there is potential for a stoppage.

In the co-main event, Colby Covington (-130) is a narrow, nominal favorite against Rafael dos Anjos (+110) as they vie for the interim welterweight title. Covington is a on five-fight win streak, but the past three were by unanimous decision as he bases his strategy around takedowns and grinding opponents.

However, if Dos Anjos can tap into his Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu background and keep Covington at bay with powerful kicks, he will stand a great chance at winning and giving backers a payoff. There’s a strong likelihood the matchup goes the duration.

Holly Holm (-210) is favored against UFC debutante Megan Anderson (+180) in what amounts to a women’s featherweight title eliminator. Holm, the former bantamweight champion, is 0-2 as a featherweight. The powerful but inexperienced-with-grappling Anderson, at 6-foot tall to Holm’s 5-foot-8, will come in with a significant reach advantage and that might help her with wearing down Holm.

The generation gap is hard to ignore in the heavyweight matchup between Tai Tuivasa (-250) and Andrei Arlovski (+210). Tuivasa, age 25, has won all seven of his pro fights by knockout or TKO, but the 39-year-old Arlovski will be his toughest opponent yet. Tuivasa believers should probably expect another quick knockout, while skeptics might look at a safe play on Arlovski dragging out the fight and testing the younger artist’s staying power.

In the opener on the main card, welterweight Mike Jackson (-200) is favored against CM Punk (+170) in a matchup that is as blank a slate as it gets, due to each man’s inexperience in UFC. CM Punk comes in with a deeper grappling background than Jackson and that could set him up for the upset in a fight that is highly likely to have an early stoppage.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.