With no UFC event this weekend, we get to look into our crystal ball and take an early look at some futures odds, specifically the two title fights scheduled for UFC 220 (Jan. 20th, Boston). I’m literally wearing my wizard hat right now [editor’s note: he really is] and I should be, because we are on a magical roll folks! Last weekend, a couple of the golden underdogs from my Best Bets for UFC 219 cashed in. Thanks, Neil Magny and Carla Esparza!
If you’re not excited about UFC 220, then you have no pulse. You are literally dead and should be packed on ice. How can you not be stoked to see one of the most anticipated heavyweight championship fights in UFC history? No matter the result, history will be made.
Stipe Miocic will be defending his heavyweight crown against rising superstar Francis Ngannou and I’m pretty sure someone is going to be looking straight up at the lights when it’s all said and done.
Also on the card, Daniel Cormier will be defending his light-heavyweight title against hard-hitting Volkan Oezdemir. Could we see an upset and the crowning of a new light-heavyweight king? Or will Cormier once again show us why he is one of the greatest to ever step foot into an Octagon?
The odds for both title fights have been unleashed upon the wagering masses, so let’s analyze those two big fights and figure out if there’s value in betting on them now or whether you should wait until closer to the date.
Stipe Miocic (+160) vs. Francis Ngannou (-185): UFC Heavyweight Championship
UFC Heavyweight Champ Stipe Miocic (17-2) will be looking to make history at UFC 220 when he tries to defend his title for the third consecutive time, something no heavyweight has ever been able to do. Unfortunately for Miocic, he will be standing across an absolute killer in Francis Ngannou (11-1) whose 11 victories all came by stoppage, including a recent dismantling of Alistair Overeem at UFC 218. But the extremely-hyped heavyweight has never fought anyone as polished as Miocic.
Ngannou has mostly fought older fighters who are past their prime, or prospects who have no business getting in the ring with him. Facing Miocic is a whole other ball game and we are about to see if Ngannou can hang in the majors.
Miocic may not have the reach advantage in this fight, but he does have a well-rounded game, more so than Ngannou, who relies almost exclusively on his striking. If Miocic is smart, he will shoot for a takedown. Either way, I believe he is savvy enough to avoid Ngannou’s power shots, and he should be able to throw his own counter hay-makers and test the Frenchman’s chin and overall resolve.
A lot of people have jumped aboard “The Predator” hype-train, and rightly so, but this Miocic moneyline of +160 is underestimating the champ. There’s a good chance his odds get even longer in the build-up to the fight, given that the public will likely be impressed by Ngannou’s highlight reel, but jumping on Miocic at +160 right now is not a bad idea. There’s a chance that more thoughtful heads prevail and the line shifts the other way.
My bet: $50 on Miocic (+160)
Potential payout: $80 profit
Daniel Cormier (-280) vs Volkan Oezdemir (+240): UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship
Is there value in taking Volkan Oezdemir (15-1) in this fight? The Swiss mixed martial artist is riding a five-fight winning streak and packs quite a punch. He has won 73-percent of his fights via knockout and, if he does happen to connect on Cormier’s jaw, it could be lights out.
The problem is, Oezdemir doesn’t really provide much that Daniel Cormier (19-1) hasn’t seen before, and there’s a good chance that the savvy champion will put away the hard-hitting challenger with his world-class wrestling and solid clinch work.
However, if you’re sold on Oezdemir’s ability to knock out Cormier, I’d take the +240 odds right now. While lines tend to shift towards favorites as fights draw nearer, the public also tends to be swayed by guys with KO power, which Oezdemir has in spades. So there’s a decent chance the line moves closer to even next week. Personally, I don’t see the upset happening, but a cautious bet at +240, Oezdemir only has to win about 30-percent of the time for this to be good value, and that’s certainly in the realm of possibility.
My bet: $25 on Oezdemir (+240)
Potential payout: $60 profit