McGregor-Mendes still a big fight

July 07, 2015 3:07 AM
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Saturday night’s card, which features two title fights, still has the makings of one of the greatest of all time, rivaling UFC 100. Because featherweight gold remains up for grabs by way of the “interim” strap as Chad Mendes (17-2) steps into the Octagon on short notice to face Conor McGregor

The most highly publicized bout in UFC featherweight history and arguably all of mixed martial arts, at least in recent years, was shelved when current champion 

Jose Aldo (25-1) pulled out of his UFC 189 main event against Conor McGregor (17-2).

But this . And though 4th of July has passed, we can expect plenty of fireworks inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena with UFC 189.

I’ll focus on the main event as I believe the change of opponents adds the kind of wrinkle that can ultimately lead to value for bettors as oddsmakers raced to generate the necessary adjustment to the betting line. The simple fact we saw major differences in opinions initially among bookmakers and significant line movement since betting opened for the “interim” championship, I feel, supports my sentiment.

When it was made official Aldo was out and Mendes was in some offshore sportsbooks installed Mendes as high as a -150 favorite. Bettors immediately backed McGregor as an underdog and within an hour he was listed as a -120 favorite. Since then more money has been bet on “The Notorious” and he’s currently as high as -175, with the take-back on “Money” Mendes +155.

bettors who create the market and this modification reflects that fact. But keep in mind the majority of money wagered on all sports including MMA and boxing doesn’t reach the betting window until the day of the event, so we could surely see the odds drop or climb some more by the time they enter the cage.

Now let’s try and determine if there’s still value to be had...

For McGregor, he’s had to change his preparation by readying himself for a world class wrestler rather than a world class striker. So he’ll need to control the distance even more and with a major reach advantage over Mendes, he should be able to do that.

McGregor is massive for the 145 lb division and he’s been able to defend against 100% of takedown attempts in the UFC. His amazing balance and hip movement have been major assets in helping Connor keep his fights standing, where his accuracy and one punch knockout power have facilitated quick finishes. Three of his five UFC victories came via first round KO/TKO and only one was by decision.

For Mendes, this bout marks his third attempt at UFC featherweight gold, having lost twice to Aldo. In his second attempt against the Brazilian, Mendes gave Aldo his toughest fight to date and showed monumental improvement. Under striking coach Duane Ludwig the Team Alpha Male product had developed into much more than one of the divisions most accomplished wrestlers.

On paper there’s no question Mendes is the better wrestler and he’ll also have the speed advantage. He’s also faced the much tougher competition to date with his only two losses coming against Aldo, who many rank as the top pound for pound fighter in MMA.

I still believe the betting value lies with McGregor. But based on my own “true line” of -200, I feel confident McGregor at anything less is the right side.

Pick: McGregor.

Bonus Bet: Dennis Bermudez -190.

Floyd update: Trusted sources in Philly who are very connected in the boxing world have informed me that Mayweather vs. Gennady Golovkin talk is much more than simply gossip. It’s not out of the realm of possibility when both are said to be interested. Follow me @Greek_Gambler for updates and more.

Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @vegasrunnerand at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at VegasRunner@GamingToday.com.