There are a number of title fights coming up in both the UFC and in Bellator and odds are available for a handful of them. Here are the opening odds for four upcoming title fights courtesy of the offshore sportsbooks:
UFC 223: Ferguson vs. Khabib
Saturday, April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
Khabib Nurmagomedov -215 (For lightweight title)
Tony Ferguson +170
Initial thoughts: This is going to be one of the best fights of the year. Nurmagomedov (25-0) is undefeated in his career and has shown very little flaws in his game. His last outing was a brutal three-round lopsided decision over Edson Barboza and it showed he’s ready to compete for the world title. Ferguson (23-3) is on a 10-fight win streak and just beat Kevin Lee to win the interim belt. He’s an amazing, dynamic fighter and deserves the chance to compete for the undisputed belt. I agree that Khabib should be favored here because of his wrestling dominance but Ferguson is such a good fighter and it’s hard to write him off. If the number gets too crazy on Khabib it might be worth taking a look at Ferguson as a big dog.
UFC 224: Nunes vs. Pennington
Saturday, May 12 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Amanda Nunes (For women’s bantawmeight title) -530
Raquel Pennington +350
Initial thoughts: Nunes (15-4) won the women’s bantamweight title from Miesha Tate at UFC 200 and has since defended it twice against Ronda Rousey and Valentina Shevchenko. She looks like she’s going to hold the belt for a long time and it’s hard to bet against her. Pennington (9-5) has won four-straight fights but hasn’t fought in well over a year since beating Tate in her last outing. She’s been winning fights but mostly by decision and that could be an issue against a finisher like Nunes. Considering how shallow the women’s bantamweight division is I’m not surprised Pennington got the title shot, but having said that, I don’t see her winning this fight. The only way she wins is if Nunes completely gasses out and I just don’t see that happening here. There probably isn’t any betting value at these odds, but as the odds indicate, I favor Nunes to win this fight.
Bellator 199: Bader vs. King Mo
Saturday, May 12 at SAP Center in San Jose, California
Ryan Bader -210
Muhammed Lawal +160
Initial thoughts: Bader (24-5) has been nothing but impressive in Bellator so far, first beating Phil Davis to win the light heavyweight title and then TKOing Linton Vassell in his first title defense. Bader has won nine of his last 10 fights overall and it looks like the UFC made a major mistake in not re-signing him when they have a weak light heavyweight division. King Mo (21-6, 1 NC) won a decision over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson last March and has not fought since. Prior to that, he was knocked out by Mirko Cro Cop. This is a fight between two wrestlers so I expect the wrestling to cancel each other out and on the feet there’s no question Bader is the more powerful striker. I really like Bader in this matchup and I expect bettors to bet him up to a 3-to-1 favorite.
UFC 226: Miocic vs. Cormier
Saturday, July 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada Stipe Miocic -170
Daniel Cormier +140
Initial thoughts: Miocic (18-2) is coming off of a one-sided beatdown of Francis Ngannou and hopefully that performance showed everyone not to sleep on him anymore. He’s an extremely well-rounded and improving fighter and after reeling off six-straight wins in the heavyweight division, he deserves to be called the baddest man on the planet. Cormier (20-1, 1 NC) has only lost to Jon Jones in his career and he picked up another dominant win over Volkan Oezdemir in his last fight. However, he’s going to be 39 when this fight rolls around and at some point father time is going to catch up. Miocic is the bigger fighter in this contest but unlike a lot of other heavyweights he’ll actually be able to match up with Cormier’s speed. As good as Cormier is, I just feel like Miocic’ size advantage is going to be the difference in this one. Having said that, it’s hard to bet against a guy so well-rounded like Cormier. I agree with the opening odds and figure the odds will stay around the same heading into fight week.