UFC International Fight Week is finally here, which signals one of the most stacked PPV cards of the entire year on July 7.
UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic defends his title against UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 226. But that isn’t the only title fight as UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway looks for a second defense of the crown vs. No. 1 ranked Brian Ortega.
Also on the PPV card: No. 1 ranked Heavyweight Francis Ngannou takes on No. 5 ranked Derrick Lewis; No. 9 ranked Lightweight Michael Chiesa vs. No. 12 Anthony Pettis and Kickboxing Legend Gokhan Saki vs. Kahlil Rountree Jr.
MIOCIC -250 (Westgate)
CORMIER +230 (William Hill)
TOTAL: 3.5 OVER -110 (WG) UNDER -105 (WH)
Miocic opened as -180 to -190 favorite and was bet as high -280 to -300 some places. Word around Vegas is the best UFC bettors on are Miocic to retain his title.
This is what boxing people in the 80s and 90s called a Superfight. The matchup you thought you’d never see. A champion moving up from 205 pounds to the Heavyweight division to face the 240 pound champ, it’s a special attraction and one worthy of the summer showcase fight at T-Mobile Arena.
Cormier has fought at this weight class before, amassing a record of 13-0 with two wins coming in the UFC. However DC’s never fought this level of a heavyweight.
Stipe Miocic might be the most underrated fighter in the UFC. Most experts out there believed fast rising star Ngannou would be too much power and speed for Miocic to deal with in Miocic’s last fight, but the champ tired out “The Predator” en route to a convincing unanimous decision.
Cormier will want no part of striking with Miocic; his goal will be to use his UFC Hall of Fame-level wrestling skills to take Stipe to the mat and grind him out. In other words, wear the champ down so if the fight does go back to the feet, Miocic will have lost so much energy it will take the snap out of his punches.
For Miocic it’s about stuffing takedowns, pursuing Cormier and controlling the octagon space. As much as I respect Cormier’s wrestling, the market seemingly corrected the betting line. Miocic should win this fight, likely with a big punch starting the chaos, leading Stipe to the stoppage win. With that said, -250 is no bargain and isn’t worth the risk as Cormier can win this fight. If you can find DC over +250 take a shot, or if you can find Stipe for -200 or less go that route. Public money should start to show on DC, so it’s more likely to see an improving Miocic price. Don’t wait too long though, as someone will likely scoop it up fast. Bet this fight on price only or pass and enjoy as a fan.
HOLLOWAY -140 (WG)
ORTEGA +125 (Multiple books)
TOTAL: 3.5 OVER -115 (CGT) UNDER EVEN (WG, WH)
The market reacted huge to the opening Ortega price at +160 to +170.
While I thought the opening line was too high, I cannot help but wonder: Are we forgetting how good Max “Blessed” Holloway is? Holloway has been relentless since losing a decision to Conor McGregor; 12 straight wins.
Going inside the numbers, Ortega might be tailor made for Holloway. Max lands around six strikes per minute, Ortega takes around five strikes per minute. Ortega isn’t great at taking people down or staying off the mat but he has been great at finishing six UFC fights by submission or KO/TKO.
Holloway will want to do what he always does, relentless pressure lots of combinations and changing levels and angles to keep Ortega off balance.
Ortega will look to capitalize off a Holloway mistake, counter a lunging strike to drive Holloway to the cage where he will look to lock in one of his classic jiu-jitsu submissions. The closer Ortega gets to Holloway the more likely Holloway loses his crown. If Holloway sticks and moves, avoids Ortega’s heavy counter shots, the champ retains.
Again, the betting line should determine where to get your money down. If Holloway drops to -125 or less, he’s the play. If not, stay with Ortega.
Favorite play of the weekend: Bet OVER ROUNDS in Ngannou/Lewis.
Correction: Last week, I wrote that Mikey Garcia was fighting Shawn Porter. Not true. It is Danny Garcia. But, Mikey is the correct fighter referred to in my Top 8 Boxers. He fights Robert Easter Jr. July 28. The winner of Danny Garcia vs. Shawn Porter (Aug. 25) will likely fight Errol Spence.