MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas released betting odds for several summer UFC bouts on Monday at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Keep reading as MMA betting analyst Brad Taschuk offers his preliminary thoughts on these upcoming matchups below…
Jon Jones (-280) vs. Daniel Cormier (+220): As much as Cormier is now trying to play the cool dad in his exchanges with Jones, I still firmly believe that Jones occupies a permanent spot in his head. Jones seems to understand how much his win over Cormier bothers the current champ, and the additional digs about him doing cocaine the weekend before are likely doing nothing to dissuade that mindset.
Cormier’s issue in the rematch is going to be, how does he approach the fight? Tactically, Jones fought to Cormier’s strengths in their first outing, and he still won convincingly. If Jones is able to beat Cormier in the clinch, it’s going to be difficult for Cormier to walk away with the belt still around his waist after this. At distance, Jones has a much more varied arsenal in addition to his massive length advantage. Cormier can eat some shots to wade through that distance – and land on Jones as he does – but without being able to control the fight from the inside, there’s not much to be gained by doing that.
I simply look at the options here for Cormier, and don’t see much going on. Of course, we won’t have seen Jones in action for 15 months by the time he steps in against Cormier, and his last 15-month layoff resulted in a rather tepid performance against Ovince St. Preux. I fully believe that Jones is the type to rise to the occasion in his fights however, so I sense a “vintage” Jones outing is in store.
Chris Weidman (-135) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (-105): While the circumstances of Weidman’s defeat to Gegard Mousasi were somewhat controversial, there is no questioning that he was slowing down in that fight, and Mousasi was beginning to take over. While Mousasi and Gastelum are vastly different fighters, that should provide a great deal of hope for Gastelum heading into this fight. The former TUF winner likely won’t give up the same takedowns Mousasi did early on, and he puts far more pressure on his opponents than Mousasi. The combination of those factors means that Weidman will once again tire, and his opponent will take over. Gastelum is one of the more naturally gifted finishers in MMA once he has an opponent on the ropes or senses them fading, and I think that will play a big role once this fight gets into the third or fourth round, as he picks up a late stoppage in the former champ’s hometown.
Misha Cirkunov (-260) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (+180): I don’t think Oezdemir’s game has improved drastically from the guy who wasn’t successful in Bellator. If Kelly Anundson can take you down and tap you with a neck crank, Cirkunov might pop his head right off. Even standing, Cirkunov offers more power and has shown significant improvement. I can see how some may see a path to victory for Oezdemir, as keeping this standing and landing volume as Cirkunov’s pace falls could lead to a decision, I just have a very difficult time seeing that actually happening. Extremely difficult.
Derrick Lewis (-175) vs. Mark Hunt (+135): For all his technical faults, Lewis will not quit. Travis Browne gave him every opportunity, and not only did he not go away, he stormed back to finish Browne. He may need to put that heart on display again facing Hunt, although he shouldn’t have the same difficulty closing the distance that he did against Browne. Hunt was massacred in the clinch by Alistair Overeem, but Overeem’s clinch is a far different beast than Lewis’. I think the determining factor in this fight will be that Lewis will keep a higher pace into the championship rounds than Hunt – whose motivations for continuing to fight, aside from money, are dwindling. And even if that doesn’t lead to his customary ground-and-pound finish, this should start to look more and more like Hunt’s bout against Stipe Miocic, even in front of what is certain to be a raucous crowd for Hunt.
Derek Brunson (-210) vs. Daniel Kelly (+160): “This is the one. Finally Kelly is facing a far better athlete who is still in his prime. He won’t be able to close the gap with grit this time.” I can hear them already, doubting Old Man Judo Dan. The thing is, Kelly just faced a far better fighter than Brunson both athletically and technically, and – shhh – don’t tell anyone, but Rashad Evans actually showed up to that fight and put in a good performance. Kelly is simply an excellent tactician who brings a far different look than any other fighter in the middleweight division. I can’t wait to bet on him as an underdog for approximately the 742nd time in a row. The question is, what price is the public going to give me after counting him out again?
Holly Holm (-350) vs. Bethe Correia (+250): This is weird. First, I’m more interested in every main card fight on the Singapore card than these two. Second, Holm is at her best when she doesn’t have to lead, she won’t have to lead in this fight, but Correia’s pressure is so awkward and constant that I still think she’s able to get to Holm. This is a big step back from the strikers Holm has faced in her last two defeats, but MMA is such that aggression can make up for a lack of technique in many instances. Perhaps Holm is still able to cut angles, land strikes with ease, and make Bethe look silly, but at 35 and after losing a title belt in her second division, I really think we’re seeing the tail end of Holm’s career.
Marcin Tybura (-190) vs. Andrei Arlovski (+150): This is the same story as every Arlovski fight. If he can land first (which he can here), he still has a chance, but once Tybura starts to get hands on him it won’t go so well. Tybura’s cardio is a major advantage here if the fight ever gets to the point it becomes a factor, and if the numbers on him winning in Round 2 or 3 are big enough, that could be the type of thing I throw in a round robin. Likewise, if Arlovski in Round 1 (or TKO) is upwards of +300, that presents some value, even though I have to side with the Polish fighter as the straight pick.
Kevin Lee (-120) vs. Michael Chiesa (-120): Both Chiesa and Lee were right in their comments prior to the scuffle they had at last Friday’s press conference. Chiesa likely needs a mistake from Lee in order to win this fight, but Lee does make them fairly regularly. Even an extremely high-level grappler like Beneil Dariush will tell you that it only takes one mistake or lazy moment for Chiesa to end up on your back, and once there, he’s one of the best finishers in MMA. At the same time, Lee has been physically dominant in grappling exchanges over his last few fights, and he will have massive strength and wrestling advantages in this bout. It could come down to if one of these two can land something on the feet to swing things in their advantage, and even though Lee has been rocked in the past by less than stellar strikers, I think his stand-up has progressed more than Chiesa’s. I’ll side with Lee, but it’s not a confident pick.
Johny Hendricks (-245) vs. Tim Boetsch (+175): I thought Hendricks looked pretty solid against one of the better versions of Hector Lombard we’ve seen in the Octagon. If he comes out with a similar performance against Boetsch, a finish wouldn’t be out of the question. However, I’m unsure if fighting close to home is a good thing or bad thing for Hendricks, who seems to enjoy the comforts of home a little too much at times. Not having to cut to 170 should help in that regard, but it could also just mean he’s a bit lazier in his preparation for this one. Still, I’m struggling to find too many reasons to not back the far more talented fighter in this bout, especially since his wrestling should neutralize the size advantage Boetsch brings into the bout.