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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.

Conor is back: UFC says McGregor will fight Oct. 6 in Vegas

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conor McGregor will return to mixed martial arts on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas with a bout against UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The UFC dramatically announced the matchup Friday to close a news conference promoting the slate of fight cards for the rest of 2018.

McGregor won the featherweight and lightweight championships during his meteoric MMA career, but he hasn’t fought in the UFC since taking the lightweight belt from Eddie Alvarez in November 2016.

McGregor hasn’t competed at all since losing his incredibly lucrative boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August 2017.

McGregor also has resolved his legal troubles after throwing a hand truck at a bus containing UFC fighters last April. Nurmagomedov was the intended target of his misbehavior after a previous spat between the fighters’ camps.

T.J. Dillashaw Slim Favorite Against Cody Garbrandt on UFC 227 Odds

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The betting lines are tight for the rematch between T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt, even though the outcome was as clear-cut as it could be the first time around.

Dillashaw is a -120 favorite with Garbrandt coming back at -110 on the UFC 227 odds in a bantamweight title matchup that is the co-main event for the night, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The rivals will square off at Staples Center in Los Angeles exactly nine months to the day since their title bout at UFC 217, when betting underdog Dillashaw won by a second-round knockout.

Dillashaw’s many virtues include premier footwork and being hard to hit, and he likely has the edge in grappling over Garbrandt, who will be conceding a 1½-inch disadvantage in reach. Garbrandt is also a top striker with knockout potential, but given that neither man has been in the Octagon since their title encounter, it’s hard to see how he flips the tactical edge that Dillashaw exhibited last November.

It seems eminently possible that the fight could be a rehash, albeit a more a drawn-out one, as Dillashaw’s other four title fights have all gone at least four rounds.

The co-main event of UFC 227 might be more of a matter of “how he wins” than “who wins?” as Demetrious Johnson (-500) takes on Henry Cejudo (+350) in his 12th title defense as flyweight champion. The value on Johnson is to be found in the method-of-victory props, where it is worth noting that four of his last seven victories have come via submission.

Cejudo, thanks to a decent wrestling base, should put up enough resistance to make Johnson work for a few rounds.

Thiago Santos (-375) is a ranked middleweight while Kevin Holland (+285) is a newcomer to the UFC in a matchup that was added to the main card just days ago. The heavy-footed Santos has had issues against technical fighters that work to take away his biggest weapon, but Holland is also a kickboxer first, who is jumping up a notch in competition.

Santos is coming off of a loss but his last four victories were all by technical knockout.

Renato Moicano (-375) would seem to be on more of an upswing than Cub Swanson (+285) entering their UFC 227 featherweight matchup, having gone 3-1 in his last four fights (all wins by decision) while Swanson has lost two in a row. However, Swanson is a high-volume striker who has a puncher’s chance for the betting-line upset, provided he can keep the fight standing and prevent Moicano from getting the fight on the ground and utilizing his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skillset.

And Polyana Viana (-225) is heavily favored against J.J. Aldrich (+175) in a matchup between two promising women’s strawweights. Viana has finished nine of her 11 pro fights in the first round, but is facing a step up in competition. Aldrich, whose last four fights have all gone the distance, is very capable of taking a victory by decision.

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