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%.

Darren Till favored against Tyron Woodley on UFC 228 odds

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Simply put, Darren Till has exhibited more pathways to victory lately than Tyron Woodley, which is why it’s not a surprise to see a UFC champion listed as an underdog.

Till has shifted to being the -140 favorite on the UFC 228 odds with welterweight champion Woodley coming back at +110 in the co-main event for Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The card takes place at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Till is 17-0-1 in his career with 10 victories by knockout or TKO, and has shown he can win by counter-attacking with his kickboxing or by forcing the issue and using his reach, as he did during an October 2017 win against Donald Cerrone.

Woodley, whose last three bouts have all gone the full five rounds, has fallen back on a safe approach during his most recent posts, trying to control the pace and set up his powerful overhand right. Staying in his comfort zone against Till might prove easier said than done.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko (-1400) offers little value as an overwhelming UFC 228 betting favorite against women’s flyweight title-holder Nicco Montano (+750).

Shevchenko is thriving now that the creation of a flyweight division means she can pick on people her own size, instead  of spotting size to bantamweights. While underdogs have won 35 percent of fights in the UFC in 2018, Montano’s so-so takedown defense (50 per cent to Shevchenko’s 55%) recommends looking elsewhere for someone to take at plus money.

Coming into their women’s strawweight match, Jessica Andrade (-450) is on a run of four fights in a row going to a decision, while Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+325) has had eight of her last nine end up in the judges’ hands. Andrade is the higher-volume fighter and that might put her in good stead if this bout also goes the distance

Welterweights Abdul Razak Alhassan (-145) and Niko Price (+115) are each knockout artists, with the former having all nine of his wins via first-round knockouts or TKOs. Trusting in Alhassan’s power and strength is understandable, but Price is the somewhat more multi-dimensional fighter with his jiu-jitsu grappling background and that could help him pull the mild upset.

Rising featherweight contender Zabit Magomedsharipov (-1400) takes on Brandon Davis (+750), who is an injury substitution on the card. The Achilles heel for Davis is his wrestling defense and that could literally play into the hands of the aggressive Magomedsharipov, who has finished two of his three most recent victories by submissions in the second round.

Meantime, light heavyweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (-170) is an early favorite on the UFC 229 Khabib vs. McGregor odds against Conor McGregor (+140), with that card scheduled for October 6 at T-Mobile Arena.

On form, Nurmagomedov is the grappler with the edge in cardio over the striker McGregor, who hasn’t stepped inside the Octagon in nearly two years. However, with McGregor’s capabilities and his savvy at psychological warfare, he offers great value as an underdog.

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.

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.