This is more than a UFC money fight. Bigger than a super fight. “Dream fight” doesn’t even begin to describe the magnitude of this Saturday’s matchup Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez.
We’re talking the UFC’s biggest superstar, in a champion vs. champion bout, gunning to become the first man in the promotion’s history to simultaneously hold title in two weight classes. And he’s doing it at UFC 205 in New York, a state that Dana White battled tooth and nail for years to sanction MMA as a legal sport.
UFC Finally Arrives in New York
Of course it’s taking place at the legendary Madison Square Garden, “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” the storied venue where Rocky Marciano knocked out Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson went to war with Jake LaMotta, and Ali and Frazier held “The Fight of the Century.”
It just doesn’t get any bigger or better than this in the fight world. Forget UFC 200, this is by far the best card in the promotion’s history. And the UFC 205 odds all come down to the main event.
Conor McGregor (-150) vs Eddie Alvarez (+130)
Over/under 1.5 rounds, over -170, under +145
Let’s take a look at your betting options, courtesy of the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu. We’ll also take a look at prop bets, which are important with such a big fight.
From there, we’ll point you to some value bets that could make you very happy once it’s all over.
Notable Prop Bets
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +200/-260
McGregor wins by TKO/Any other result: +129/-169
UFC Odds Analysis
Since odds opened for this fight over a month ago, McGregor’s line has hovered between -145 to -150. It’ll likely stay in this range unless a huge surge of betting this week causes an unforeseen swing. Alvarez has fluctuated a bit, but has largely stayed around +130. He’ll likely remain a slight underdog until the opening bell.
The five round championship fight has the lowest possible over/under at 1.5 rounds. But top oddsmakers are offsetting this small window by making the over a -170 proposition, with the under at +145.
This is a tough pick: Four of McGregor’s last seven bouts have ended before this mark, while only one of Alvarez’s last five fights have ended before the final bell.
The Case for Conor McGregor
Nobody in the lighter weight classes hit harder than McGregor, and his 74” reach maximizes his ability to land that deadly left cross. Regardless of whether he’s backing up or coming forward, the killshot power in that punch remains constant. Mystic Mac also excels at maintaining distance, keeping opponents at the end of his punches.
Though he and Alvarez are listed at roughly the same height, Eddie will have to overcome a five inch reach deficit and get inside if he wants to strike effectively. That’s like wading through a minefield, except all the mines here are nuclear bombs.
It’s clear that McGregor will have the advantage on the feet. He is the longer man and his arsenal of flashy kicks extend his range even further.
Let’s Not Forget the Irishman Is Not Invincible
But the real question here is whether he can hold off Alvarez’s takedowns. We’ve yet to see him face a good wrestler with a full training camp.
It helps that “The Notorious” is an excellent athlete with a good sprawl and great balance. And because he’s roughly the same size as Alvarez, it’s unlikely that he will be bullied around.
Though Diaz exposed some of McGregor’s suspect ground game, he has been putting together top notch training camps and it’s unlikely he’s as vulnerable in this area as we’d think. Alvarez isn’t considered a dangerous submission artist either.
The Case For Eddie Alvarez
When it comes to the lightweight champion, most descriptions refer to his “heart” and “grit.” A native Philadelphian, Alvarez fits into the tough-as-nails stereotypes that seem to be in the DNA of every fighter from that city. These are arguably the most important intangibles for any fighter against a guy with killer punching power.
Alvarez is no longer the wild brawler that took home Fight of the Year honors in 2008 and 2011. The UFC version of “The Underground King” isn’t afraid to grind out his wins and throw entertainment by the wayside.
Ever-Evolving Fighting Style vs Raw Punching Power
Against a flashy striker in Anthony Pettis and a willing slugger in Gilbert Melendez, Alvarez was a wrestler first. It wasn’t fun to watch, but earning split decision wins against both of them earned him a title shot against Rafael Dos Anjos.
Against the Brazilian, the lightweight champion reminded us just how dangerous his fists still are. Backed into the cage by the Muay Thai stylist’s pressure, Alvarez launched a counter that ended the night with the belt strapped around his waist. McGregor is naturally aggressive, which plays into slip-and-rip skills.
However, this fight will be all about whether Alvarez can take McGregor to the ground. He’s not known as a dominating wrestler, but he is a guy that still trains the discipline at his old high school. Chained attempts and slick trips will be a big part of Alvarez’s game plan.
UFC Betting Values
McGregor at +150 to win is a good bet, especially since Alvarez is a hitable opponent. Getting a 50% return isn’t a bad deal when you consider the Irishman knocked down Nate Diaz at welterweight three times.
The over/under is a toss-up, though I’d lean towards the over as Alvarez will likely stall by pressing McGregor into the cage for good chunks of time. I’ll take McGregor’s +150 to win over on 1.5 rounds at -170.
When it comes to prop bets, the most likely is also the most expensive. At -270, you can bet that the fight doesn’t go to decision, which is a predictable outcome given McGregor’s track record. Betting that he wins by TKO is also a solid play at +129.
Our UFC Picks (By Value):
- McGregor to win at -150
- Mcgregor by TKO at +129
- Fight Goes to Decision at -270
Stephen Thompson (-185) vs Tyron Woodley (+165)
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -135, under +115
Why You Should Be Excited About This Fight
At UFC Fight Night 82 this past February, a flashy-yet-unheralded kickboxer by the name of Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson squared off against former welterweight champion and then top-3 ranked Johny Hendricks.
Most experts picked Hendricks to win, citing Wonderboy’s weakness in wrestling as the main factor. What happened next rocked the welterweight division entirely.
Thompson destroyed Hendricks in one round. Nobody had beaten “Bigg Rigg” like that. And he did it in a way that made you wonder if Wonderboy’s training routine was simply imitating what he saw in Jet Li movies.
Simply Amazing Past Performance
Question mark kicks, side kicks, jump kicks all landed with stunning, deadly accuracy. Hendricks, a man who many feel beat the legendary GSP, looked like an amateur.
He was so good that after the fight, Michael Bisping, who had been assigned to talking head duties, proclaimed that Thompson would be the champion before the year’s end.
Wonderboy now has a chance to fulfill the prophecy. But it won’t come easy, as Woodley just might be the most underrated champ in the UFC.
Let’s take a look at your betting options courtesy of the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu. From there, let’s make some educated guesses that should net you a nice payout come fight night.
UFC Odds Analysis
Thompson opened around a -150 favorite in the fight odds, but his line has moved 35 points to his current -185 status. It appears that bettors are buying into his hype and driving his money line down – to the point where he might be overvalued.
Woodley will be an underdog for the second straight fight, and he’s an even bigger one than he was against Robbie Lawler.
The over/under for this five round championship fight is split down the middle at 2.5 rounds, with the over as the more expensive bet at -135. It’s a relatively low round total, as both men have finishing power. But they are both durable and only have one stoppage loss between them.
The Case for Tyron Woodley
T-Wood is the most explosive athlete in the welterweight division. Dude is fast and vicious – it only took one punch for him to drop the famously durable Robbie Lawler. This is a sport where speed kills, and nobody covers ground as fast Woodley.
Just look at the man’s thighs. You get the sense he could’ve been a great running back. Instead, he was a D-1 wrestler.
It’s those quick-twitch muscles that could allow him to succeed where Hendricks and Rory MacDonald couldn’t. Both those guys failed to get inside the pocket quickly enough to penetrate Thompson’s defense. There’s no question that Woodley should be able to.
This Guy Is Just Full of Surprises
He leads with a crushing overhand right that comes so fast that most opponents can’t see it. Though Woodley has a relatively low output, he can get away with it because it only takes one of those bombs to put an unlucky fighter away. Along with that right hand, he’s got a whipping low kick that bruises the holy hell out of lead legs.
But where he could find the most success is with his wrestling. Wonderboy has shown drastically improved takedown defense against chained attempts, but Woodley’s reactive double legs are all about explosive speed. Thompson might never see them coming, and if he’s on the bottom, he’s in trouble.
The Case for Stephen Thompson
There literally is no fighter like Thompson on the UFC roster. Really, can you think of anyone else that fights from a bouncy sidestance? It looks freaking awesome, like he’s auditioning for the Kickboxer remake. I know there already is one featuring Georges St. Pierre, but I deny its existence due to it’s all-around crappiness.
Back to Thompson’s style. There is no better kicker on the roster, period. He throws side kicks like a lead jab, and it might be my favorite move of his. When he digs it into someone’s ribs, they get knocked the fu*k back.
But wait! There’s More!
Know what a question mark kick is? Basically Thompson fakes like he’s gonna throw a low kick, then switches the arc mid-kick to target the face. And he lands that shit!
What other kicks does he do? Oh I dunno, all of them. Spinning hook kicks, spinning back kicks, Daniel LaRusso crane kicks. And again, he does it from a sidestance that nobody else does. That gives him crazy range that lets him fight extremely long.
I haven’t even gotten into his boxing yet. Wonderboy is superb at slipping punches and firing straight punches. In fact, the majority of his seven KOs have come by way of punches. So yeah, don’t forget about those fists. Because they have a ton of fury.
So I went a little overboard on the Thompson love, but it’s awesome to see a guy with such a fresh style. Really, Woodley has a great chance. Especially if you see him nail a takedown in the first round. If he can establish his wrestling early, that takes away much of Thompson’s game.
But then again, T-Wood has also had problems with conditioning that might surface in a five-rounder. He is a super-muscular guy, and his explosive fighting style tends to lead to a lack of oxygen later. He’ll have to conserve his energy, especially against somebody as elusive as Thompson.
UFC Betting Values
Hear me out. I agree that Thompson should be the favorite, but Woodley is a fantastic underdog. Like Wonderboy, he has a nearly limitless ceiling. Though he’ll be outmatched on the feet, his explosive KO power is the great equalizer.
I wouldn’t hold it against you to place a small bet on an upset. As for the over/under, I’d go with the over as Woodley will probably try and wrestle for good portions of this fight, which eats up clock.
Thompson unanimous decision Woodley
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-375) vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+305)
Over/under 4.5 rounds, over -185, under +155
J-Check, Joanna Champion, Joanna Violence…whatever you wanna call her, strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is must-see television.
Considered one of the top two women’s pound-for-pound fighters, the Polish Muay Thai ace will make her fourth title defense on the UFC 205 main card this Saturday against undefeated countrywoman Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
It’ll be a great opportunity for the UFC’s most savage champion to introduce a new swath of casual fans to her brutalizing ways.
UFC Odds Analysis
What’d you expect? In our champions rankings a few weeks ago, J-Check was ranked the No. 2 overall champion. Much of this had to do with the fact that aside from Claudia Gadelha, the champion seems a few laps ahead of the division, Kowalkiewicz included. It makes total sense that Joanna is such a massive favorite.
The over/under is set at 4.5 rounds, which is the highest possible round total. While Jedrzejczyk is a terrifying striker, she has just 4 KOs in 12 career victories.
Kowalkiewicz has gone to decision in seven of her 10 career fights. With the over at -185, oddsmakers are obviously expecting a prolonged battle.
The Case for Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Um…she tries hard? Seriously, it’s hard to see any area where Kowalkiewicz is better than the champion. Her last victory is by far her most significant, and I have to admit that it was impressive watching her make a comeback against the highly regarded Rose Namajunas.
When she realized that Namajunas had the advantage on the feet, Kowalkiewicz made the fight ugly and battered the contender with knees in the clinch.
With a background in Muay Thai, Kowalkiewicz’ specialty is her standup. But much of her success in this phase comes from her toughness. She doesn’t have much hand speed and possesses little power, but her durability lets her eat an uncommon number of punches which she returns with zeal. Good takedown defense lets her keep the fight standing.
Her Best Weapon?
Probably her cardio and volume, which lets her set a pace that not many women can match. Kowalkiewicz throws upward of 25 strikes per minute, which dwarfs the 16 set by Jedrzejczyk.
Still, her awkward footwork and lack of technique makes it difficult to do any real damage on her opponents.
The Case for Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Where to begin? Joanna Champion is the best Muay Thai practitioner in the UFC, period. Seriously, YouTube her fights might serve as better lessons than actually going to a gym.
Not only does she have stellar and foot speed, all of her strikes have the snap that comes from refined technique. When she throws, she throws hard with little effort.
Her standup game starts with a jab and a front push kick. By no means does she use them as pawing range-finders – she whips them so hard you can practically see her opponent’s life bar meter go down when they land.
Once she finds her rhythm, she will open up with rapid multi-kick-punch combinations. Through superb footwork, she finds angles and moves out of counters like a boss. Or a champ.
Things Are NOT Looking Good for Kowalkiewicz
Jedrzejczyk’s wiry frame hides her natural strength, which makes her extremely difficult to take down or muscle in the clinch. Carla Esparza, an excellent wrestler, couldn’t even come close to taking the Pole down.
Only Gadelha has had any success getting Jedrzejczyk to the mat, and she expended so much energy doing so she had nothing left in the championship rounds. This does not bode well for Kowalkiewicz, who relies so much on clinch control.
How do you say “bloodbath” in Polish? Because that’s what these fight odds looking like – in favor of the champ. While Jedrzejczyk had her struggles against Valerie Letourneau, before ultimately pulling away late, I don’t foresee her having the same issues against Kowalkiewicz.
While the challenger has the requisite grit, she is both featherfisted and lacking in real striking technique. And she isn’t nearly a good enough wrestler to to win this fight in top control.
MMA Betting Values
Jedrzejczyk to win is the safest bet on the card, but an expensive UFC betting proposition at -375. If you look at the over/under, the under on 4.5 rounds at +155 is a tempting play.
Joanna’s most similar prior UFC opponent appears to be Jessica Penne, and she completely dismantled her in under three rounds.
Our Fight Picks:
Jedrzejczyk TKO Kowalkiewicz, Round 3
For more UFC 205 odds and previews, read UFC 205: Prelims Previews and Picks