After nearly four years away from the sport, welterweight GOAT Georges St. Pierre is back. And despite what you think about him jumping the line at middleweight, GSP’s return sets up one of the biggest cards of the year.
The UFC and its partners are doing everything they can to sell pay-per-views, taking advantage of St. Pierre’s starpower by loading up the main card with three title fights and two high-stakes, fan-friendly matchups. Even if you hate the fact that Bisping still hasn’t faced a real contender, it’s impossible not to love this card.
For the bantamweight championship bout, rivalries don’t get much realer than the beef between Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw, ex-teammates who spent a whole season of TUF getting in each other’s faces. And strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk might be the UFC’s most exciting titleholder, thanks to her ultraviolent Muay Thai.
Masvidal vs. “Wonderboy” is more than just a top-5 pairing – it’s an scrap between two different-yet-elite strikers. And Johny Hendricks might as well be fighting for his career against a young knockout artist in Paulo “Borrachinha”.
There’s tons to go over here, so let’s get into your best betting options, courtesy of the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu. Today we’re breaking down your Cherry Picks – “safe” betting actions – and Calculated Risks – higher payout bets for the bettors who love to swing for the fences.
Georges St. Pierre -130 vs. Michael Bisping +100
Over/under 4.5 rounds, over -140, under +120
Cherry Pick: Bisping to win at +100
Early action has been on Bisping, driving his price from +130 to the nearly even money where it’s at today. We’ve been telling you for the past few weeks now that you wanted to jump on Bisping early. While the payout’s not nearly as good, it’s still a decent price in a matchup where the middleweight champ really should be favored.
GSP is a welterweight who made his bread taking guys down and controlling them. If that didn’t work, he jabbed them to death. That’s it. No knockout power, no crazy submission game. His past seven fights went to the cards, giving the label as a points fighter.
So now, he’s got to either outwrestle Bisping – who has solid takedown defense – or outbox him. I just don’t see it happening. Bisping has fashioned a Hall of Fame career with a boxing style built on volume and pace, and as the bigger, longer man he’s not going to get beat to the punch here.
Calculated Risk: Bisping inside the distance at +275
The general consensus that Bisping is pillow-fisted is way overblown. Sure, his knockout ratio is great, but in recent years he’s changed into a much more confident boxer. Early on in his career he was a fidgety outfighter who basically slap-boxed and circled out, but these days Bisping sits on his punches and hits with force. Credit goes to trainer Jason Parillo for evolving his game over the years.
Who knows where GSP’s at after being out of the game for so long. One thing we do know is that he got lit up by Hendricks when he failed to take him down. Bisping’s a bigger, stronger guy who can do some damage. We with the price was a bit better, but it’s not bad for a small bet.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk -500 vs. Rose Namajunas +385
Over/under 3.5 rounds, over -185, under +160
Cherry Pick: Over 3.5 rounds at -185
The rounds over is a lot cheaper than Joanna’s price to win. Despite J-Check’s killer Thai boxing, the fact is that she’s gone to decision in four straight. “Thug” Namajunas is as tough as they come and has yet to be knocked out. Oddsmakers are even doing you a favor by setting the round total at 3.5.
Calculated Risk: Namajunas inside the distance +500
I know, I know. This is a horrible style matchup for Namajunas. She’s not strong enough to drag Jedrzejczyk to the mat, and nobody can hang with the champ in a kickboxing battle. The wildcard here is that Rose excels in snatching submissions out of scrambles. That’s something Joanna hasn’t faced before.
She’s not as decorated as Gadelha in BJJ (who is?), but her grappling instincts could surprise Joanna. Hey, stranger things have happened. If a flood of action drives her price to anywhere near +400, a small bet makes sense.
Cody Garbrandt -180 vs. T.J. Dillashaw +141
Over/under 3.5 rounds, over -165, under +145
Cherry Pick: Garbrandt to win at -180
Honestly, we wouldn’t blame you if you stayed away from this fight entirely – it’s crazy competitive and we usually lean towards the underdog in toss-ups like this. But if Garbrandt is fully healthy, he just needs to do what he did against Dominick Cruz and this fight should be his. Dillashaw and Cruz aren’t clones, but the gameplan to beat them is largely the same.
Calculated Risk: Garbrandt by TKO/KO at +220
T.J.’s only been knocked out once, by John Dodson – a speedy, explosive puncher. Garbrandt is a bigger, more explosive hitter with an undefeated amateur boxing record. While T.J. moves around a lot, he does leave openings to get hit, and if Garbrandt can floor Cruz multiple times, he’ll likely catch Dillashaw too. Remember, “No Love” has starched all but two of his opponents.
Stephen Thompson -185 vs. Jorge Masvidal +145
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -225, under +175
Cherry Pick: Over 2.5 rounds at -225
Don’t expect a knockout. Masvidal has only been TKO’d once in 44 pro fights, and Thompson proved he could take a punch when Tyron Woodley nearly knocked his head off and he still somehow survived. Despite how good they are with their fists and feet, neither fighter is a one-hitter quitter. This is a safe bet to go to the cards.
Calculated Risk: Masvidal to win at +145
Thomas and Masvidal aren’t taking each other down, setting up a striking battle. It’s easy to fall in love with Wonderboy’s highlight reel, but anybody standing up with Masvidal is putting themselves in a 50/50 affair. “Gamebred” is one of the smoothest, most underrated strikers there is, and he proved that he can handle kickboxers when he schooled Donald Cerrone.
Johny Hendricks +200 vs. Paulo Henrique Costa -250
Over/under 1.5 rounds, over -110, under -120
Cherry Pick: Over 1.5 rounds at -110
Hendricks looks shot, and the move to middleweight hasn’t helped – save for one spirited win against an equally shot Hector Lombard. It’s easy to believe that a young killer like Borrachinha will ice Hendricks in a few seconds, but the fight script suggests that “Bigg Rigg” will have to resort to wrestling to avoid the Brazilian’s knockout power. I’m sure his new coaches at Jackson-Wink are teling him the same. A wrestling-heavy approach eats up lock, and 1.5 rounds is the lowest possible total.
Check out the latest UFC 217 betting odds – click here.