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UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs Velasquez Odds and Predictions

Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez returns to the octagon to face Francis Ngannou at UFC on ESPN. Photo from @Boxing_NewsNow (Twitter)
  • UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs Velasquez is scheduled for Sunday, February 17
  • Will Cain Velasquez return to full form? Has Francis Ngannou’s takedown defense improved?
  • See the odds and picks for all fights on the main card

The UFC is set for a rare Sunday night card. Not only will the fights be on a Sunday, but it will also be the first card to fully air on ESPN. And for the debut, arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time in Cain Velasquez is back to take on Francis Ngannou in the main event.

The fights take place on Sunday, February 17, in Phoenix, Arizona, in what should be a great night of fights.

Francis Ngannou vs Cain Velasquez Odds

Fighter Odds to Win at Bovada
Francis Ngannou +160
Cain Velasquez -200

*All odds taken 2/11

Ngannou (12-3) started off 2018 with a title shot against Stipe Miocic in which his takedown defense was exploited and Miocic easily won a decision.

Then, Ngannou fought Derrick Lewis at UFC 226 in what was promised to be an absolute slugfest where somebody was going to get knocked out. Ultimately, neither threw many punches and Lewis ended up winning by decision.

Ngannou then needed to get back into the win column and knocked out Curtis Blaydes in just 45 seconds to end his 2018 and set himself up for this fight against Velasquez.

Velasquez (14-2) is back and ready to return to the Octagon. The former champion has been out due to back injuries and will now return for the first time since UFC 200 in July 2016.

Since then, many wondered if Velasquez would ever return. He has been training for awhile preparing for this, as he is ready to return and try to recapture the heavyweight title again.

Ngannou vs Velasquez Tale of the Tape

Francis Ngannou
VS
Cain Velasquez

32 Age 36
6’4″ Height 6’1″
83″ Reach 77″
5 UFC First-Round Finishes 7
7:16 Average Fight Time 7:54
November 2018 Last Fight July 2016

There is no question Velasquez has more experience given he has fought better competition than Ngannou. He has gone toe-to-toe with some of the best in Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos, and others.

As well, Velasquez is considered the greatest heavyweight of all-time for what he has done inside the Octagon. Also, Velasquez’s cardio is one of his strengths, while Ngannou was gassed at the end of five rounds against Miocic back in January.

Ultimately, I only see this fight going one way. I see it as a complete domination in which Velasquez looks like his old self and simply wrestles Ngannou for five rounds or until he scores a TKO or submission win.

The only way I see Ngannou winning is if somehow he can land a big shot early and knockout Velasquez. But, if Miocic could avoid the big shot, so too, can Velasquez.

Pick: Cain Velasquez (-200)

Paul Felder vs James Vick Odds

Fighter Odds to Win at Bovada
Paul Felder -130
James Vick +100

Paul Felder (15-4) is returning to the lightweight division after a brief stint at welterweight did not go his way. Felder fought fan favorite Mike Perry, in which Perry won by decision as Felder broke his hand during that fight.

Since then, Felder has been recovering from his injury and preparing to drop back down to lightweight. At lightweight, he has had more success with notable wins over the likes of Charles Oliveira, and Daron Cruickshank, among others.

Meanwhile, James Vick (13-2) is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Justin Gaethje in what was his first UFC main event. Vick had everything going his way as he was riding a four-fight winning streak, but was ultimately caught by Gaethje.

Now, Vick will have to try and get a couple more wins to get back at a top-10 opponent.

Paul Felder vs James Vick Tale of the Tape

Paul Felder
VS
James Vick

34 Age 31
5’11” Height 6’3″
70″ Reach 76″
2 UFC First-Round Finishes 3
11:29 Average Fight Time 8:38
July 2018 Last Fight August 2018

There is no doubt Vick will plan on using his reach in this fight. Six inches is a huge differential in reach, and if used properly, can dictate the fight. For Vick to win, he will need to keep the fight standing, in which it should, given both are strikers.

If Vick can use his reach effectively I see him winning by late TKO or by unanimous decision to get back in the win column and keep his ranking beside his name.

Pick: James Vick (+100)

The Rest of UFC on ESPN Main Card

Fighter Odds to Win at Bovada
Cynthia Calvillo -300
Cortney Casey +230
Fighter Odds to Win at Bovada
Kron Gracie -340
Alex Caceres +260
Fighter Odds to Win at Bovada
Jimmie Rivera -170
Aljamain Sterling +140
Fighter Odds to Win at Bovada
Myles Jury -185
Andre Fili +150
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Writing about the world of MMA is Cole's passion. Cole has covered numerous UFC and Bellator fights for publications like BJPENN.COM, Sherdog, USA Today SMG, and MyMMANews. He's interviewed some of the top MMA fighters in the world and been first to report on new cuts.