On Saturday night at UFC 226, Daniel Cormier will attempt to become only the fifth man to ever win titles in multiple divisions, and only the second man to ever hold those titles concurrently, when he takes on Stipe Miocic at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The pay-per-view was also supposed to feature a featherweight title defense between Max Holloway and Brian Ortega but that fight fell off the card just days ago when Holloway’s team pulled him from the event due to medical issues. Even with that fight gone, there are still 11 fights, and that means 11 chances to make some money, so we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know for your gambling needs this Saturday.
UFC 226, Las Vegas, Nevada, PPV (10 P.M. ET)
Stipe Miocic (-220/69%) vs. Daniel Cormier (+200/33%)
FS1 Prelims (8 P.M. ET)
Uriah Hall (+325/24%) vs. Paulo Costa (-400/80%)
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims (7 P.M. ET)
Dan Hooker (-120/55%) vs. Gilbert Burns (+100/50%)
Cormier at +200
As one of the only true superfights in MMA history, this fight has been analyzed from every possible angle. I don’t have too much to add to basically any of that except to say, Daniel Cormier is one of the 10 best fighters ever and competes in a better weight class than Stipe Miocic. He is also most definitely the best fighter Miocic has ever fought. That’s not to say that Stipe won’t win - he’s bigger, he hits harder, and he’s outstandingly durable - but Cormier can put more effective pressure on Miocic than Werdum did, and in the clinch, he should be able to control Stipe, take him down, and win the fight.
I’m willing to believe my prejudice against Miocic is coloring my pick here (I think Stipe is great but I also think he benefits enormously from competing in an absurdly bad division populated primarily by well-past-their-prime stars), but at the end of the day, I think Cormier wins more often than he loses this one so give me +200 all day. Also, Cormier by decision at +450 is equally as enticing given Stipe’s durability.
Lewis at +325
This is a simple one: Francis Ngannou has superior hand speed and, if it stays at range, should bust up Lewis over the course of 15 minutes. But Ngannou is also still fairly raw and Lewis has been adept at finding ways to end up on top and if he does so against Ngannou, the former heavyweight title challenger is in for a much worse night than Miocic gave him from top position. Ngannou a righteous favorite but this line is a bit out of whack considering “The Black Beast” is durable enough to take Ngannou’s bombs and does have a simple enough path to victory. Throw a few dollars down on Lewis or, if you’re feeling extra spicey, on the Fight Goes To A Decision prop at +385 or Ngannou By Decision at +545.
Perry at +135
Mike Perry is destined to be perennially underrated as a result of his personality (and his face tattoos) but love him or hate him, “Platinum” is one of the most talented welterweights in the world. At only 26 years old, and not even four full years into his career, Perry already gave Santiago Ponzinibbio (at worst, one of the five best welterweights on the planet) everything he could handle. Perry’s biggest issues are a lack of defense and, frequently, a lack of a coherent game plan other than punch stupid hard. Fortunately, Perry finally left his team in Florida and relocated to one of the best camps in the world, Jackson-Wink. I expect Greg Jackson and the boys will do wonders with the raw athleticism of Perry and shore up a lot of his weaknesses.
Felder is a talented fighter and the more skilled guy but he is also making a last-minute adjustment, moving up a weight class, and prone to complete lapses in the cage that have set him back before. It’s totally possible Felder just piles up points with combinations and wins a decision but it’s also pretty likely that Perry clubs him. Maybe I’m way off on this but it feels like a pick ‘em fight so take the free value on Perry.
Saki by KO/TKO at +105
This is fairly straightforward: Gokhan Saki is a dramatically better striker than Khalil Rountree Jr. and Rountree has never so much as attempted a takedown in his five fights in the UFC. Perhaps even more damning, Rountree is all explosion and frequently gasses himself out in the first round. Maybe Rountree changes things up and starts firing off double legs but the overwhelmingly likely outcome in this fight is Saki and Rountree throwing hands until one of them falls down, and if Tyrone Spong, Peter Aerts, Melvin Manhoef and a host of other kickboxers couldn’t get Saki out of there, I have little faith in Rountree to do so. Saki straight is a perfectly reasonable bet but considering Rountree’s cardio issues, getting him at plus-money for a finish is a freaking steal.
Assuncao at -170
Like Mike Perry, Raphael Assuncao is also destined to be forever underrated, not because of his personality but because of his lack of one. Assuncao is a lunch-pail worker who has done essentially nothing but win in the UFC and yet he’s only marginally closer to a title shot than you are because the UFC has less than zero interest in seeing him win a title. Since dropping down to bantamweight, Assuncao has only lost once, to current champion T.J. Dillashaw, a man he also has a win over. Rob Font is certainly a good fighter but he’s just not as good as Assuncao who should be able to take this fight to the floor and dominate with grappling. Assuncao at anything less than -200 is nice value.
Chiesa vs. Pettis is interesting because Pettis should be a better fighter than Chiesa except for the fact that he hasn’t looked like the good version of “Showtime” in years at this point. Chiesa has the grappling chops to win this but his vulnerability to the body and Pettis’ excellent kicking game makes things interesting.
Wow, Paulo Costa sure is handsome; shouldn’t be that big a favorite though. He’s going to win but Hall is the exact kind of guy that should keep a line down because he might haul off and do something incredible.
Fight Pass Prelims
Gilbert Burn vs. Dan Hooker should be a pick ‘em fight. Burns is an elite level grappler and his striking has come on for real. Hooker is a good prospect but this is an extremely close fight. If Burns drops any lower, jump on it.
That’s all for this week. If you have any questions or just want to let me know what action you’re on, get at me on Twitter @JedKMeshew. Good luck and enjoy the fights!
(Editor’s note: All of this advice is for entertainment purposes only.)