Whittaker Faces Romero as Betting Favorite on UFC 225 Odds

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Robert Whittaker was not 100 percent physically when he defeated Yoel Romero in their first fight 11 months ago, which is something to keep in mind when sizing up the rematch on Saturday.

With the UFC middleweight championship at stake, Whittaker is a -220 favorite on the UFC 225 odds with Romero coming back at +190 in the headlining fight on the main card, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The card, which is one of the most stacked the promotion has had in some time if all goes off according to plan (that is, everyone makes weight) takes place at United Center in Chicago.

Whittaker, despite being encumbered by a leg injury, won by unanimous decision when the two squared off in the Octagon at UFC 213 in July 2017. The Australian fighter has not fought since then. At his peak, Whittaker is a well-rounded fighter, combining high-volume striking – especially to opponents’ heads – with a strong takedown defense.

The main question with the 41-year-old Romero is his cardio, especially since the UFC’s recently adopted changes to weigh-ins have created extra challenges for older fighters to make weight. In their first fight he attempted half as many strikes as Whittaker but landed them at a higher rate. However, in a close fight, volume has a favorable effect on the judges’ scorecards.

Whittaker has landed at least one knockdown in six of his 12 career UFC fights, while Romero has had at least one in six of his 11 starts in UFC and Strikeforce. That suggests there is potential for a stoppage.

In the co-main event, Colby Covington (-130) is a narrow, nominal favorite against Rafael dos Anjos (+110) as they vie for the interim welterweight title. Covington is a on five-fight win streak, but the past three were by unanimous decision as he bases his strategy around takedowns and grinding opponents.

However, if Dos Anjos can tap into his Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu background and keep Covington at bay with powerful kicks, he will stand a great chance at winning and giving backers a payoff. There’s a strong likelihood the matchup goes the duration.

Holly Holm (-210) is favored against UFC debutante Megan Anderson (+180) in what amounts to a women’s featherweight title eliminator. Holm, the former bantamweight champion, is 0-2 as a featherweight. The powerful but inexperienced-with-grappling Anderson, at 6-foot tall to Holm’s 5-foot-8, will come in with a significant reach advantage and that might help her with wearing down Holm.

The generation gap is hard to ignore in the heavyweight matchup between Tai Tuivasa (-250) and Andrei Arlovski (+210). Tuivasa, age 25, has won all seven of his pro fights by knockout or TKO, but the 39-year-old Arlovski will be his toughest opponent yet. Tuivasa believers should probably expect another quick knockout, while skeptics might look at a safe play on Arlovski dragging out the fight and testing the younger artist’s staying power.

In the opener on the main card, welterweight Mike Jackson (-200) is favored against CM Punk (+170) in a matchup that is as blank a slate as it gets, due to each man’s inexperience in UFC. CM Punk comes in with a deeper grappling background than Jackson and that could set him up for the upset in a fight that is highly likely to have an early stoppage.

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.

T.J. Dillashaw Slim Favorite Against Cody Garbrandt on UFC 227 Odds

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The betting lines are tight for the rematch between T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt, even though the outcome was as clear-cut as it could be the first time around.

Dillashaw is a -120 favorite with Garbrandt coming back at -110 on the UFC 227 odds in a bantamweight title matchup that is the co-main event for the night, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The rivals will square off at Staples Center in Los Angeles exactly nine months to the day since their title bout at UFC 217, when betting underdog Dillashaw won by a second-round knockout.

Dillashaw’s many virtues include premier footwork and being hard to hit, and he likely has the edge in grappling over Garbrandt, who will be conceding a 1½-inch disadvantage in reach. Garbrandt is also a top striker with knockout potential, but given that neither man has been in the Octagon since their title encounter, it’s hard to see how he flips the tactical edge that Dillashaw exhibited last November.

It seems eminently possible that the fight could be a rehash, albeit a more a drawn-out one, as Dillashaw’s other four title fights have all gone at least four rounds.

The co-main event of UFC 227 might be more of a matter of “how he wins” than “who wins?” as Demetrious Johnson (-500) takes on Henry Cejudo (+350) in his 12th title defense as flyweight champion. The value on Johnson is to be found in the method-of-victory props, where it is worth noting that four of his last seven victories have come via submission.

Cejudo, thanks to a decent wrestling base, should put up enough resistance to make Johnson work for a few rounds.

Thiago Santos (-375) is a ranked middleweight while Kevin Holland (+285) is a newcomer to the UFC in a matchup that was added to the main card just days ago. The heavy-footed Santos has had issues against technical fighters that work to take away his biggest weapon, but Holland is also a kickboxer first, who is jumping up a notch in competition.

Santos is coming off of a loss but his last four victories were all by technical knockout.

Renato Moicano (-375) would seem to be on more of an upswing than Cub Swanson (+285) entering their UFC 227 featherweight matchup, having gone 3-1 in his last four fights (all wins by decision) while Swanson has lost two in a row. However, Swanson is a high-volume striker who has a puncher’s chance for the betting-line upset, provided he can keep the fight standing and prevent Moicano from getting the fight on the ground and utilizing his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skillset.

And Polyana Viana (-225) is heavily favored against J.J. Aldrich (+175) in a matchup between two promising women’s strawweights. Viana has finished nine of her 11 pro fights in the first round, but is facing a step up in competition. Aldrich, whose last four fights have all gone the distance, is very capable of taking a victory by 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