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Hunt’s Odds Against Lesnar Drop Ahead of UFC 200 Main Event

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With Jon Jones booted from UFC 200 over a potential doping violation, Brock Lesnar’s comeback fight against Mark Hunt has become the main event on the card that is set for Las Vegas on Saturday.

Lesnar’s star power and return to the Octagon for his first match since 2011 offers a lot for the curiosity seeker, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out for bettors. Hunt is now a -175 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com after opening at -136.

While Hunt is the world’s No. 8-ranked heavyweight, his style falls in the range of the type of striker whom Lesnar often struggled against before leaving UFC to go back to wrestling for almost five years.

Lesnar’s odds have risen to +145 from +121. One read into that could be that oddsmakers are trying to ply bettors to make the higher-paying play, but at the same time Lesnar’s athleticism makes him a hard-to-resist underdog. Hunt will need to prove that he has upgraded his ground game from absolute liability to passable.

Whether Dana White makes good on his vow to find a suitable opponent to take Jones’ spot against Daniel Cormier, the card is still deep.

The odds for featured featherweights Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar’s hotly anticipated UFC 200 rematch, which is for the UFC’s interim 145-pound belt, have flip-flopped all week. Edgar, who has won his last five fights, is the slight -120 favorite. Aldo, who won in the rivals’ first matchup, is listed at -110.

While Aldo is maintaining that Edgar hasn’t changed since that 2013 fight, Edgar’s recent body of work shows that he has made great strides as a striker.

Women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate is a big -260 betting favorite at the sportsbooks against challenger Amanda Nunes, who is a +200 underdog. Tate is a grinder with a strong track record of frustrating and fatiguing opponents, which should mean that Nunes’ chances of a technical knockout should be far and few between.

Cain Velasquez will be at a six-inch height disadvantage against Travis Browne in their heavyweight match. Velasquez is the -305 favorite, since he has proven himself to be as indefatigable as a 245-pound heavyweight can get in UFC.

Browne is listed at +245. At 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Browne is a potent striker. Of course, he needs to be on his feet to do that and Velasquez uses his wrestling skills to deny opponents that luxury.

Mayweather stops Nasukawa in 1st round, flooring him 3 times

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SAITAMA, Japan (AP) It took less than three minutes for Floyd Mayweather to knock down his Japanese kickboxer opponent Tenshin Nasukawa three times in a totally one-sided bout of exhibition boxing on New Year’s Eve.

Nasukawa’s father threw in the towel after 140 seconds of the first round on Monday as his 20-year-old son bravely teetered around the ring trying to get up.

It was a quick and definitive victory for the 41-year-old American. Mayweather was gracious in victory, hugging the weeping Nasukawa and calling him “still a great champion.” Nasukawa, however, barely landed a clean punch against the vastly more experienced Mayweather.

The rules for the three-round contest – organized by The Rizin Fighting Federation and held at Saitama Super Arena on the northern outskirts of Tokyo – were no kicking allowed and no official record of the match.

Mayweather said: “Tenshin is still undefeated. I’m still undefeated.”

Mayweather has won all 50 of his pro fights, while Nasukawa has an undefeated record in kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

“It’s all about having fun,” Mayweather told reporters after the fight, praising Nasukawa as a “young hungry lion.”

The Mayweather-Nasukawa bout culminated an evening of more than a dozen fights, streamed by FITE for a fee, but not in the U.S. Fuji TV was the broadcaster in Japan.

Mayweather, who hadn’t fought since beating UFC star Conor McGregor more than a year ago, said he was retired and came to Tokyo to give an opportunity to a younger fighter like Nasukawa.

“I told Tenshin to `hold your head up high,”‘ Mayweather said.

Nasukawa said after the bout that he was grateful for the experience and that he had learned a lot.

Fans – and possibly Nasukawa himself – appeared taken back that Mayweather showed little mercy in the exhibition.

“He is first class,” Nasukawa said.

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Melee at UFC 229 after Nurmagomedov chokes out McGregor

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LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor tapped out in the fourth round of his comeback fight at UFC 229 against Khabib Nurmagomedov, who then climbed over the cage and set off a brawl by scuffling with another fighter in McGregor’s corner on Saturday night.

The wild scene occurred after McGregor (21-4) got caught in a choke by Nurmagomedov (27-0), who defended his lightweight belt with an impressive victory over the Irish star who infamously attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov in Brooklyn last April.

The men in McGregor’s corner appeared to respond with taunts, and Nurmagomedov climbed over the fence and fought with Dillon Danis, a Bellator welterweight who trains with McGregor. Meanwhile, two men entered the cage and sucker-punched McGregor, who defended himself before security personnel separated everyone.

Nurmagomedov and McGregor both left the ring before the championship belt could be put around Nurmagomedov’s waist.

Before the post-fight madness, Nurmagomedov firmly asserted his grappling dominance over McGregor’s striking skill in the Irish superstar’s first MMA bout in 23 months. McGregor hadn’t been in a fight since losing his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather last year, and Nurmagomedov proved an insurmountably tough opponent for his comeback.

Nurmagomedov and McGregor made no secret of their mutual loathing in the past few months, and the UFC used footage of McGregor’s attack on the bus to promote UFC 229, which could be the best-selling pay-per-view card in UFC history.

Four security guards separated the fighters while they didn’t touch gloves before the bout, and Nurmagomedov went for a takedown in the opening minute while dominating the opening round.

Nurmagomedov staggered McGregor with a right hand early in the second round, but McGregor got up and landed a flying knee. Nurmagomedov made another takedown and steadily improved his position throughout a dominant round, eventually standing and raining down blows on the prone McGregor.

Nurmagomedov decided to stand and strike with McGregor in the third round, apparently unafraid of McGregor’s famed power. McGregor landed several significant shots, but Nurmagomedov took them and eventually reasserted control against the cage.

McGregor did decent work in the fourth round before Nurmagomedov got control, climbed on McGregor’s back and finally submitted the former two-division champion.