Holly Holm

McGregor, Holm big favorites on UFC 196 odds at Sportsbooks

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(OddsShark.com) — Holly Holm will be looking to improve her professional MMA record to a perfect 11-0 on Saturday when she defends her UFC Women’s Bantamweight crown for the first time at UFC 196, taking on Miesha Tate as a heavy -340 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com

The 34-year-old Holm ascended to the Women’s Bantamweight championship with a stunning second-round victory over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, ending the previously undefeated Rousey’s night with a flurry of head kicks and punches and paying out as a +900 underdog.

Holm brings a wealth of combat sports experience into Saturday night’s matchup at UFC 196 in Las Vegas, previously winning world title belts in both kickboxing and women’s boxing before launching her professional MMA career in 2011.

“The Preacher’s Daughter” made her UFC debut at UFC 184, picking up a split decision victory over Racquel Pennington as massive -900 chalk, following up with a unanimous decision victory over Marion Reneau as a much narrower -210 favorite at UFC Fight Night 71.

Currently pegged as the No. 2 contender among Women’s Bantamweights in the OddsShark MMA Fighter rankings, “Cupcake” Tate is a +260 underdog in her second bid for the title, having previously lost by submission to Rousey as a +650 underdog at UFC 168.

Tate has won four straight fights since, all by decision, most recently getting past Jessica Eye as a solid -200 favorite to improve her pro MMA record to 17-5.

Saturday night’s co-main event has sparked considerable interest as UFC Featherweight champion Conor ( takes on Lightweight Nate Diaz in a Welterweight division contest as a strong -380 favorite at the sportsbooks.

McGregor had originally been scheduled to battle Rafael dos Anjos in a bid for the UFC Lightweight crown before dos Anjos was forced to withdraw due to a foot injury, replaced by Diaz, who sports +290 odds in Saturday night’s unusual matchup.

“The Notorious” McGregor made UFC history in his last outing, ending Jose Aldo’s night, and lengthy reign as UFC Featherweight champ, with a knockout just 13 seconds into their bout at UFC 194, rewarding bettors as -170 chalk, and improving his record to 19-2 with a 15th straight victory, and fifth straight inside the distance.

Diaz returns to the Welterweight division as a +290 underdog after contesting seven of his past eight fights as a Lightweight, most recently stunning Michael Johnson with a unanimous decision win as a +375 underdog at UFC on Fox 17, marking just his second victory in his last five fights.

Dana White couldn’t put Holly Holm-Ronda Rousey rematch at risk

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Just over a month after Holly Holm shocked the world by knocking out Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, Holm’s manager Lenny Fresquez told the Los Angeles Times that he’d like Holly to defend her bantamweight title against Miesha Tate while Rousey recovered from her long list of injuries suffered at the hands and feet of Holm.

It only took 36 hours for UFC president Dana White to blow up Fresquez’s fantasy. White told the L.A. Times that Rousey is up next for Holm. The UFC is targeting July 9th for the fight in the new Las Vegas arena.

Despite Fresquez’s wishes to keep Holm away from an eight month layoff, it’s easy to see why White wouldn’t dare risk a loss by Holm before her rematch against Rousey.

UFC 193 was the second largest pay-per-view event in the history of the company with over one million buys. Holm-Rousey II as the main event of UFC 200 would have a great chance of surpassing the record mark of 1.6 million buys set by UFC 100.

There’s just simply no reason for White to put Holm against a formidable opponent in (17-5) Tate. Even though Miesha is perhaps best known for tapping out to Ronda at UFC 168, she’s in the upper tier of fighters in the bantamweight division and Holm’s performances before KO’ing Rousey were lackluster to say the least.

In February, Holm made her UFC debut and defeated (5-4) Raquel Pennington by split decision. Holm showed improvement from her horrendous debut in July when she defeated 38-year old Marion Reneau, but it was nothing compared to the comfort level she showed in the octagon against Rousey.

White is smart enough of a business man to understand that a rematch between Holm and Rousey has appeal that goes beyond just the bubble of sports. Ronda Rousey is his biggest star (shhhh…. don’t tell Conor McGregor) and her comeback story is going to grab the attention of people who normally don’t feel the need to order a UFC PPV, which is exactly the sweet spot any promoter wants to reach.

Even though Rousey recently told ESPN the Magazine that she is facing a long recovery after her loss to Holm, it’s in the best interest of White to preserve what could be the biggest fight in UFC history.

Twitter: @ScottDargis