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.

 

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.