Dana White’s Contender Series 18 Opening Odds Reactions

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Dana White’s Contender Series takes place Tuesday, June 25 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The offshore sportsbooks recently opened up the betting odds for the full card, and here they are.

Dana White’s Contender Series 18 Opening Odds

Alton Cunningham -350
Tony Johnson +250

Justin Gonzales -305
Zach Zane +225

Kyle Daukaus -265
Michael Lombardo +185

Miles Johns -320
Richie Santiago +240

Miguel Baeza -380
Victor Reyna +260

And here are my initial thoughts on the┬áDana White’s Contender Series 18 Opening Odds:

  • The main event is a light heavyweight bout between Cunningham (7-1) and Johnson (7-2). Cunningham is actually a DWCS veteran, having lost to Bevon Lewis via TKO last summer. In hindsight that loss doesn’t look too good on his resume, but otherwise the 26-year-old Cunningham has been a beast inside the cage. All seven of his pro wins have come by TKO, including two knockout wins since the Lewis fight that earned him another ticket to the show. Johnson, meanwhile, is actually a long-time veteran of the sport, having first competed way back in 2007. He actually fought for Strikeforce way back in 2008, but has had numerous lengthy absences throughout his career. Johnson is 36-years-old now and is riding a three-fight win streak into the UFC, including a victory in Bellator. It’s nice to see a guy like Johnson persevere and get the chance to fight in the UFC, but all signs are pointing to the younger fighter in Cunningham to get the win. Not surprisingly, he’s a big favorite.
  • Next we have a featherweight bout between Gonzales (9-0) and Zane (12-7). The 28-year-old Gonzales is a really solid prospect who has racked up an undefeated record with nine victories since turning pro in 2016. The 29-year-old Zane, meanwhile, is Black House-based fighter who has racked up eight wins since beginning his MMA career with a 4-7 record. Zane has arguably fought a higher level of competition and although he has a poor record, keep in mind he is 8-0 since 2017. Gonzales is a good prospect but I wouldn’t count Zane out of this fight despite the odds. This one could be a dog-or-pass situation.
  • Next up we have a middleweight bout between Daukaus (6-0) and Lombardo (8-1). The 26-year-old Daukaus has won all six of his pro fights by submission since making his pro debut in 2017, including a D’arce choke victory over UFC veteran Jonavin Webb in his last outing earlier this year. The 29-year-old Lombardo is an ATT product who has won his last five fights. However, I’m bothered by Lombardo’s poor level of competition as the opponents he defeated were very inexperienced. The win over Webb shows me that Daukaus can hang with UFC-caliber fighters, and he should win this fight as well.
  • Then it’s a bantamweight bout between Johns (8-0) and Santiago (7-1). The 25-year-old Johns is undefeated since making his pro debut back in 2014, with his last bunch of fights taking place in LFA. The 26-year-old Santiago bounced back from his first pro loss to pick up a submission win in his last fight. He’s a ground ace, but the fact he lost so recently makes it surprising the UFC signed him. Johns enters this fight as the clear favorite due to his unblemished record.
  • And finally, we have a catchweight bout between Baeza (6-0) and Reyna (10-3). This fight will be contested as a 178lbs catchweight after Reyna — who took the fight on short notice — badly missed weight. The 26-year-old Baeza is unbeaten as a pro since making his debut back in 2015 with five of his six victories coming by way of knockout. The 32-year-old Reyna is coming off of two straight losses to get his chance on the Contender Series. He has quite a few wins by knockout but he has lost the few times he’s stepped up in competition, including a submission loss to UFC middleweight Kevin Holland. Based on the fact Reyna took the fight on short notice and missed weight, you have to favor Baeza quite a bit here.

Written by Adam Martin.

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