The UFC 205 main card for Saturday night at Madison Square Garden includes three title fights, including a lightweight showdown where Conor McGregor will be spotting some size to the grinding grappler Eddie Alvarez.
McGregor is listed at -175 to win with Alvarez at +145, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, in what is the first champion vs. champion fight in the UFC since 2009. McGregor is more lethal in the stand-up game, but it’s well-documented that his wrestling is just adequate. Alvarez is good at getting a match to the ground.
As the featherweight champion who’s moved up a weight class, McGregor might not have the experience with having to get out of clinches with a heavier opponent who excels at the ground-and-pound game.
Ahead of their welterweight title bought, Stephen Thompson has moved to a -205 favorite (after opening at -170) and Tyron Woodley is now pegged at +165. That stems from the fact Thompson, the five-time world kickboxing champion, has never been finished off early in his MMA career.
Unlike most strikers, he also avoids leaving himself vulnerable to punches. Woodley has lost three of his four bouts that have gone past the third round.
Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is listed at -400 in her title defense against Polish compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+300). The two have similar styles, but Jedrzejczyk strikes more frequently and with more confidence. It will be tough for Kowalkiewicz to beat someone who is essentially her double, but with more firepower.
Also on the main card, Donald Cerrone is listed at -165 to defeat Kelvin Gastelum (+135) as he looks for his fourth consecutive early stoppage win since moving up to the welterweight division. Gastelum has split his four fights since the start of 2015. Cerrone also has more potential to end a match early, making him a safe form pick.
Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman is listed at -185 against Yoel Romero (+150) in his comeback fight in his hometown. Weidman is the more durable fighter, but Romero bides his time and picks his spots to attack, which creates potential for him to finish a foe quickly. The price on Romero is also tantalizing.
And Miesha Tate is a -170 favorite on the UFC betting lines against Raquel Pennington (+140) in what profiles as a redemption fight for the former bantamweight champion. Given that Tate once coached Pennington on The Ultimate Fighter, she should have some anticipation for her opponent’s tactics. Tate also has the stamina if the bout goes the distance.