UFC 223 becomes Blessed thanks to Holloway

UFC 223 becomes Blessed thanks to Holloway

April 03, 2018 3:06 AM


Disappointment among UFC fans of the fourth, yes fourth, cancellation of the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson fight was devastating. Ferguson had to withdraw due to an apparent knee injury on a press set of all things. It looked like yet another amazing matchup was doomed at the top of a UFC PPV.

In flies the Hawaiian Superman, Max Holloway.

Yes, UFC Featherweight Champion Max “Blessed” Holloway, who missed out on a March 3 defense against Frankie Edgar, steps up to replace Ferguson and takes on Khabib for the UFC Lightweight Championship this Saturday at UFC 223 from Brooklyn, New York.

Taking this fight is such a risk for Holloway, having only six days to get ready for arguably the most dangerous opponent in the UFC in Nurmagomedov. “The Eagle” has a perfect mixed martial arts record of 25-0. With that said, Holloway is on the run of his young career, capturing the UFC Featherweight Title in 2017. “Blessed” is on a 12-fight win streak since his decision loss to Conor McGregor back in August of 2013. In other words, Max is world class just like Khabib.


NURMAGOMEDOV -500 (William Hill, CG Technology)


TOTAL: 3.5 OVER -130 (CGT)

UNDER +115 (WH)

Since the fight is brand new, books around town are still going over where they want this fight to be so I only see a line on the fight at William Hill, CGT and Westgate thus far. Only WH, CGT have the total. So check back with your favorite book in the coming days.

Knowing me, you know I immediately rule out a bet on Khabib because of how large the line is. I originally believed this line to be -400 to -450. As I spoke to my respected UFC friends in town, it seemed I was a little high. They thought -350 to -400, so I figured maybe -380 was the right opener. One of the respected offshore books opened -379 and now the fight has been bet all the way to -485, and in town as high as -550.

I made my line with the idea that Holloway had less time to prepare, and with opposition of this quality that’s a tough task. I think a full camp is closer to -350 line.

Now with that said, Holloway’s best shot is to use his boxing and speed to control the distance and look to win this fight on the scorecards. Holloway is tough, gritty and not afraid to grapple, but grappling with a 25-0 monster of Sambo seems to be a horrible idea. Holloway will have to stay on his feet the majority of this fight to win rounds.

With this line already at 4-1 I think a small play in combination with the OVER in the fight is the best probability or bang for your buck. So I look at this as a “TV bet.” If you are going to watch the fight and you are a $100-$500 bettor, slash your normal straight bet in half and parlay Holloway to Over, and hope for the Floyd Mayweather fight where Holloway continues keeping Khabib off balance with movement and stinging punches.

Not the most entertaining style but it’s the only one in my eyes that shows Holloway standing tall. So again 25-50% of a normal play on HOLLOWAY + OV.

If you twist my arm and force me to make a straight bet, I have to play UNDER because of the likelihood Khabib is just too big and strong for Holloway to keep off him for three and half rounds, likely leading to a stoppage win for the -500 favorite. I am not in love with it but that’s the play.

Also on the card in another huge fight, UFC Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas defends her title for the first time against the woman she took the strap from, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Namajunas completely destroyed the former champion as a sizeable underdog anywhere from +350 to as high as +500 at some places. Joanna was undefeated and she calls Rose’s victory a fluke. This is a fantastic rematch with true bad blood between the two ladies. Another can’t miss fight.


Jedrzejczyk -115 (Westgate)

Namajunas +105 (WH, CGT)

Total: 3.5 OVER -130 (Caesars, Westgate, WH, CGT)

UNDER +110 (Caesars, Westgate, WH)

This feels like another very parlayable fight depending on who you like. If Namajunas is truly better than Jedrzejczyk then she likely stops her again within the 3.5 round total, so Rose and Under. If Joanna is correct that the first fight was a fluke, she likely keeps her range, controls the angles and regains the title with a unanimous decision, Joanna and Over.

All I can say here is I don’t believe what we saw was a fluke. But since the price is low enough we can just straight bet this thing. NAMAJUNAS.

The Scratch Sheets: Anthony Joshua took another piece of the heavyweight boxing alphabet soup defeating Joseph Parker last Saturday in Wales, by unanimous decision. It was a very tactical battle between the two, without much action for casual fans and was marred by a horrendous referee performance. But in the end, Joshua now holds the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO Heavyweight titles, the only one missing is the WBC title held by undefeated American Deontay Wilder.

Joshua-Wilder is the mega Heavyweight fight we all need. Rumors have surfaced of a possible meeting this summer. My history with boxing makes me a pessimist until the fight is officially signed. I will be keeping my fingers crossed.

Coming up next weekend, a WBA/IBF Junior Middleweight Unification fight between Erislandy Lara vs. Jarrett Hurd on Showtime and on the undercard of Caleb Truax defending his IBF Super Middleweight Title vs. James DeGale. UFC Fight Night from Arizona features Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje, which on a paper should be a war.