There are a few upcoming non-title fight main events in the UFC and Bellator that have odds available for them. Here are the opening odds for these bouts courtesy of the offshore sportsbooks, as well as my initial thoughts on them:
UFC on FOX 29: Poirier vs. Gaethje
Saturday, April 14 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona
Dustin Poirier -130
Justin Gaethje -110
Initial thoughts: This should be an amazing fight, and I’m so happy it’s five rounds. Poirier (22-5, 1 NC) is coming off of a particularly devastating TKO win over Anthony Pettis and is undefeated in his last three fights as he’s re-emerged as a title contender at 155lbs. Gaethje (18-1) had been undefeated in his MMA career before falling via TKO to Eddie Alvarez in his last outing back at UFC 218 in December. That knockout loss is definitely concerning going forward, but I’m not sure this is the spot to fade him. Both guys are amazing fighters and I’m expecting an incredible standup fight here. But I feel ike Gaethje is the more durable fighter and in a bout I see staying on the feet, I think he’ll have a slight edge to get the win.
UFC Fight Night 128: Barboza vs. Lee
Saturday, April 21 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Edson Barboza -135
Kevin Lee -105
Initial thoughts: Another great fight in the UFC lightweight division. Barboza (19-5) was nearing a title shot after an incredible KO over Beneil Dariush but a lopsided decision loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last outing means he has to rebuild his stock. The UFC hasn’t given him an easy road back by giving him a former title challenger in this bout. Lee (16-3) had won five-straight fights but a submission loss to Tony Ferguson in his last outing sent him back down the ladder. He’s still young enough to turn things around though I question if 155lbs is the right weight for him. Despite Barboza’s shoddy takedown defense against Khabib, I feel like he should be able to stop Lee’s takedown attempts and on the feet the striking is night and day. I agree with Barboza being pegged the favorite here because he has a huge striking advantage in a fight that has a good chance to stay on the feet.
Bellator 198: Fedor vs. Mir
Saturday, April 28 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois
Frank Mir -180
Fedor Emelianenko +140
Initial thoughts: Mir (18-11) is a legend of the heavyweight division but he’s almost 40, hasn’t fought in two years due to a USADA suspension and was viciously knocked out by Mark Hunt in his last outing before his hiatus. Not a good look coming into this bout. Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) is one of MMA’s all-time greats but at 41 he’s slowing down and we saw that in his last fight when he was brutally knocked out by Matt Mitrione. But prior to that he had reeled off five-straight wins and had shown some signs of life. My initial feeling is that the odds should be flipped here, with Fedor as the favorite. I know his chin is gone but so is Mir’s, and at least Fedor has been active. We’ll have to see how the line moves, but right now I see value on Fedor as the underdog.
(BONUS) — The odds for Whittaker vs. Romero 2 were released after my article on the upcoming title fight opening odds was released, so here are my thoughts on that bout here.
UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero 2
Saturday, June 7 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois
Robert Whittaker -150
Yoel Romero +110
Initial thoughts: This is a terrific rematch between two incredible middleweights. Whittaker (19-4) was promoted to undisputed UFC middleweight champion after Georges St-Pierre retired. Whittaker is on an eight-fight win streak and in his last outing defeated Romero via decision to win the interim belt. But he hasn’t fought in almost a year due to injuries and health issues. Romero (13-2) knocked out Luke Rockhold in his last outing but missed weight and was ineligible to win the interim belt. The Cuban has won nine of his last 10 fights and has looked amazing in every fight save for the fight with Whittaker last year. Since Whittaker won the first fight and is the much younger fighter he deserves to be slightly favored going into this bout. But his long injury layoff is definitely concerning and Romero looked amazing against Rockhold. It should be an amazing fight, though it might be one to stay away from at the books.