Holloway favored over Pettis on UFC 206 odds for Saturday night event

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Whether one buys the premise of an interim featherweight title bout, it’s easy to see why Max Holloway is a big favorite against Anthony Pettis in the headline matchup for UFC 206 in Toronto on Saturday.

Having won nine fights in a row, Holloway is listed as the -190 betting favorite with Pettis at +165 for the co-main event at Air Canada Centre, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The interim belt was created after Conor McGregor moved up to win the lightweight strap at UFC 205.

Holloway is a much busier striker who prefers to attack, while Pettis picks his spots for counter-attacks. There is definitely potential for Pettis to win if he can slow the pace and get the match to the ground, although no one has done that against Holloway recently. It will also be interesting to see what form Pettis shows now that he has cut body mass to compete at featherweight (145-pound limit).

The match is scheduled for five rounds. The winner will likely advance directly to a title fight against champion Jose Aldo.

In the co-main event, welterweight Donald Cerrone is the main card’s heaviest favorite at -280 as he takes on veteran Matt Brown, who is listed at +220. Cerrone is looking for a fourth consecutive win since moving up to welterweight and it’s fair to take a pass on Brown, who has lost four of his last five bouts. If Brown prevails it would be the biggest upset, in terms of odds on the underdog, at a UFC event since UFC 200.

Featherweight Doo Ho Choi is a -210 favorite against Cub Swanson, who is listed +180. Swanson’s defense is top-notch but he is spotting some reach to Choi, who is also the more efficient of the two in the striking game. Choi defends well and, if anything, might be underpriced. The line could narrow closer to fight time, since Swanson has more name recognition among casual North American and European fight fans.

Coming out of nearly two-year hiatus, Jordan Mein is favored at -155 against +135 underdog Emil Meek. Meek, a Norwegian newcomer to UFC, is a powerful striker who has seven of his eight career wins by knockout. A loss here won’t hurt his prospects in the UFC, so essentially he has been handed a nothing-to-lose scenario which might foment trying to attack Mein and get him off-balance early. There is upset potential here.

Middleweights Tim Kennedy (-145) and Kelvin Gastelum (+125) have been matched after each was pulled out of UFC 205. The prices have been shifting toward equilibrium – Kennedy opened -222 with Gastelum at +175 – as oddsmakers try to balance out the enthusiasm for Gastelum. Gastelum is now likely a middleweight for good after failing to make the weight limit for UFC 205 and should be motivated, whereas it’s unclear what to expect out of the 37-year-old Kennedy, who last fought more than two years ago.

Underdogs have won 163 of 440 fights this year in the UFC, or 37 percent. That trend has been consistent from UFC 201 through UFC 205 with underdogs prevailing in 14 of 41 fights, or 34.1%.

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.

UFC 229 Khabib vs McGregor odds update: Betting lines, props for Saturday

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Just as a longer fight likely works in favor of Khabib Nurmagomedov against Conor McGregor in what is being called the biggest bout in UFC’s history, bettors might also need to wait out the pre-fight odds.

With his UFC lightweight championship on the line, the undefeated Nurmagomedov is a -160 favorite on the Khabib-McGregor odds with the Irishman coming back at +130 in the main event on the card for UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The quintessential showdown between grappler and striker — likely no need to guess who is who — might see a reprise of a pattern with the odds for McGregor fights. The line moved toward parity late before The Notorious One’s boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August 2017, suggesting the former two-division’s champion has a fanbase who hew to the Han Solo maxim of “never tell me the odds.”

This time around, Nurmagomedov opened at -200, so those convinced he can handle McGregor, who last got in the Octagon 23 months ago, might wish to wait until closer to fight time.

For Nurmagomedov, eight of his 10 career UFC bouts have gone at least three rounds, winning six by unanimous decision, which is offered at +400 in method-of-victory UFC 229 props. Nurmagomedov is a superior wrestler who puts endless pressure on opponents, and it’s realistic to think that if he can protect his chin from McGregor, then he could end the fight relatively early through submission (+290) or KO/TKO/DQ (+280).

There are also +1400 odds on the fight ending in Round 5, with +235 on it going the distance.

Nineteen of McGregor’s 21 career wins in mixed martial arts have ended in either the first or second rounds. It’s probably no secret that McGregor will need an early strike to establish himself, and his footwork might help him play some rope-a-dope against the takedown attempts of Nurmagomedov in the early round.

There are +333 odds at UFC betting sites on a KO/TKO/DQ win by either fighter in Round 1, with the price jumping to +475 in Round 2, which seems like a way that both McGregor fans and skeptics can back up their sentiments. The over/under on the fight’s duration is 2.5 rounds, with the under at -140 and the over at even money.

One prop where laying chalk on McGregor seems to make the most sense is -175 to have a longer walkout. Nurmagomedov is priced at +125.

In a lightweight lead-in bout on the main card, Tony Ferguson (-350) is favored against Anthony Pettis (+265) on the UFC 229 odds in a matchup between two submission stylists. A knee injury has contributed to this being Ferguson’s first bout in more than a year, so there’s a strong possibility of the fight going to a decision.

Rising light heavyweight Dominick Reyes (-225) faces a stiff test against Ovince Saint Preux (+175), who has never quite been able to hang with the division’s elite. The scenario seems tailor-made for Reyes, who has ended of his nine career bouts in Round 1, to have another short night.

Alexander Volkov (-190) has been moving deeper into minus money ahead of facing Derrick Lewis (+155), whose sometimes-wonky back condition may give bettors pause. Volkov rates having the edge in both the volume of his striking and his striking defense.

And Felice Herrig (-130) might be a vulnerable favorite against Michelle Waterson (+100) in a women’s strawweight bout. Herrig has a diverse skill set but also absorbs significant strikes at a frighteningly high rate, while Waterston is proficient with both landing significant strikes and converting takedown attempts. Herrig’s fights tend to go to a decision, which could repeat itself here.

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 Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.