Bisping heavy favorite against Henderson at UFC 204

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Middleweight champion Michael Bisping has motivation and a home nation crowd as he makes his first title defense against Dan Henderson at UFC 204 on Saturday.

The confrontation in Manchester, England, seems tailor-made for Bisping, who has a chance to avenge a 2009 knockout defeat against Henderson. The 37-year-old Bisping, who has never lost a fight in his native Great Britain, is listed as a -235 favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Henderson, age 46, is a +185 underdog.

Bisping will enter the cage after getting more prep time than he had ahead of his surprise knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. As the younger fighter, he should have an edge in stamina against Henderson. Henderson still has his strong right hand, but might have trouble frequently setting it up against a good defensive wrestler in Bisping.

In the co-main event, middleweight Gegard Mousasi is an overwhelming -335 favorite against +255 longshot Vitor Belfort on the UFC betting lines. Both are strikers, but Mousasi has the technique to maintain his guard, which could defuse Belfort’s potential for the knockout. Belfort’s last six fights have all ended by KO or TKO.

Ovince Saint Preux is listed at -155 against slight +125 underdog Jimi Manuwa in their light heavyweight bout. Saint Preux turned a lot of heads by going the distance with Jon Jones at his last fight in late April, while Manuwa is more of a mystery since he has not fought in more than a year. Saint Preux will be out for a quick finish and a statement win, but that might backfire against Manuwa, who has had 13 of his 15 pro wins via knockout.

Stefan Struve is a -185 favorite against Daniel Omielanczuk, who has a +150 payout for a victory in their heavyweight bought. Struve is an intimidating seven-footer whose reach with both his fists and feet is inimitable. Struve is the higher-volume striker, but the six-foot  Omielanczuk is the more accurate of the two. With the full-foot disparity in height, it’s Struve’s bout to lose.

Featherweight contender Mirsad Bektic is listed at -700 against late substitute Russell Doane, who is set at +450. Bektic is 10-0 since turning pro in mid-2011. Doane is a substitute for a substitute (replacing Jeremy Kennedy, who replaced original opponent Arnold Allen) who is almost moving up a weight class to fight on short notice. Stranger things have happened, but that’s hardly a favorable situation for a fighter.

Nunes, Pennington carry conflicting betting trends into UFC 224

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All of Amanda Nunes’ wins in her homeland have ended early, but challenger Raquel Pennington has a history of going the distance.

Women’s bantamweight champion Nunes is a -900 favorite on the UFC 224 odds with Pennington coming back at +550, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.  The card is set for Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday.

Nunes is 7-1 when she fights in Brazil, while Pennington is fighting in the country for the first time. Although Pennington has only been stopped once in 22 pro and amateur fights, Nunes’ home-soil advantage could be crucial. Nunes did require a decision during her most recent title defense against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215 in September 2017.

Bettors looking for value in method-of-victory props will have to decide whether they believe Pennington can duplicate and improve on the techniques Shevchenko employed, or whether Nunes learned some lessons from that fight about being the aggressor with her powerful striking game. If the latter theory pans out, there’s a good chance of a Nunes knockout.

In the co-main event, Ronaldo (Jacaré) Souza (-135) has a three-inch reach advantage over Kevin Gastelum (+130) in a matchup of Top 5 middleweights, as well as home-soil advantage. Souza rates the edge in power and versatility, which might make him too much for Gastelum to handle, setting the table for a submission.

That said, Gastelum’s speed and accurate striking does make it tempting to back him for the win, knowing full well that it’s not the percentage play.

Up-and-coming Mackenzie Dern (-265) takes on Amanda Cooper (+225) in a grappler vs. striker matchup between two women’s strawweight competitors who are each somewhat experienced. Dern has had three of her six wins via submission, which is coincidentally how Cooper has sustained all three of her losses.

Those trends should carry over, presuming that Dern has continued to upgrade her technique in order to get the match to the ground.

John Lineker (-250) is favored against Brian Kelleher (+195) in a bantamweight bout between high-volume strikers. Six of Lineker’s last nine fights have gone to a decision and that trend could continue if he focuses on using his punching power to wear Kelleher down early and get a lead on the judges’ cards. For Kelleher, the matchup might be too big of a step up in caliber.

And Lyoto Machida (-260) is favored against Vitor Belfort (+200) in a middleweight bout between two aging Brazilian fighters, the latter of whom has said this will be his last fight. Stylistically, Machida likely has the edge due to his abilities as a counter-striker, which should enable him to weather the anticipated early onslaught from Belfort, who is 0-4 in his last four fights as the underdog. Machida’s most likely path to victory is through a 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.

 

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.”