UFC 223 Odds: Cherry Picks, Savvy Risks and Lottery Tix

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Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. But fool me four times? Time to curl up in the fetal position and weep.

Even if you don’t believe in curses, you’ve got to wonder why – for the fourth straight year – the MMA gods have robbed us of the best fight the UFC can make. This time, it happened in the most bizarre way possible: Tony Ferguson tore apart his knee while tripping on a cable cord at a UFC-mandated media interview.

At this point, just come to terms with this fact:

Don’t get your hopes up for Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson ever again. Life will be better once you accept it.

Which brings us to the most hastily assembled superfight in UFC history: Featherweight champion Max Holloway has agreed to step in on six days notice to challenge Nurmagomedov for the undisputed lightweight title.

In any other context, that announcement would’ve torn the roof off the MMA world. But the fact that we’re still too salty to get excited about it shows just how salty we are about the circumstances.

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At least we’ve still got the original co-main. Joanna Jedrzejczyk will get a chance to get the title back in a rematch with Rose Namajunas. It was the biggest fall for a women’s fighter since Ronda Rousey, and the biggest upset of the year. What’s worse, Rose humiliated J-Check at her own game, knocking out a renowned kickboxer in just one round. Now we get to see if it’s a fluke.

Despite the main event switch, this is still a great card. And of course, you’re gonna want some betting tips. So let’s get down to business, with our usual guide: Cherry Picks are chalk plays that are relatively safe, Savvy Picks are underdog bets with great value and Lottery Tix are high-risk plays that are worth consideration.

As always, we’re using the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu.


Khabib Nurmagomedov -528 vs. Max Holloway +382

Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +185 / -265

Betting Breakdown

We can’t think of a tougher win-win situation than the win Holloway signed up for. On one hand, stepping in on just six days notice to face a human meat grinder like Khabib is going to earn universal adulation. If he somehow pulls off the miracle, that’s a place in the record books and instant legend status. And win or lose, he still walks away as the featherweight champ – plus nobody expected him to win anyway.

It’s Really Happening: Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov: UFC 209 Odds

But on the other hand, he’s facing Khabib Nurmagomedov on freaking six days notice. Just a few weeks ago he said he’d have to get surgery for an ankle injury. You can’t train cardio with a bum ankle. Plus, his nutritionist implied to ESPN that his diet hasn’t been up to par. The truth is that “Blessed” is coming off the couch to face a stone cold killer whose putting the finishing touches on a full training camp.

Even if “Blessed” had the time to prep, he’s a featherweight pressure fighter fighting the best lightweight wrestler in MMA right now. This could get ugly, and you should bet accordingly.

Cherry Pick: Parlay Nurmagomedov to win at -528

Sports betting is about playing the numbers, but we’ve got to use common sense too. It’s impossible for us to see any other outcome other than Khabib dominating this fight. The price is insanely high for the Russian, so use it as a parlay booster.

Savvy Risk: Nurmagomedov inside the distance

If Holloway gasses, it’s over. And rounds with Khabib on time is gonna drain his gas tank really quick. This is a higher risk play because of Holloway’s toughness, but consider the context here.


Joanna Jedrzejczyk -145 vs Rose Namajunas +115

Over/under 3.5 rounds, over -145, under +125

Betting Breakdown

Namajunas opened around +180, but early action has quickly brought her line up to +115. In the same time, Jedrzejczyk’s price has gone from -225 to -145, a dramatic 80-point swing. The champ’s opening line was too good for savvy bettors to pass up, and if you missed that boat you’re faced with a difficult decision.

The question here is whether Namajunas’ win was a fluke. This could be another Serra-GSP scenario, where the better fighter just got caught and finished. Or it could be a case where this is just a bad style matchup for Joanna (ex)Champion. Here’s what we know: Jedrzejczyk is one of the best strikers in the game, and she laying beatdowns on contenders who would give Thug Rose a ton of issues.

Cherry Pick: Jedrzejczyk to win at -145

The early action did you a solid: the price on Jedrzejczyk is now playable as a straight bet. There is some concern about her chin, but don’t forget that her loss was also Namajunas’ first KO. It’s doubtful that it happens again, which sets up a kickboxing match for the division’s premier Thai boxer.

Cherry Pick: Over 3.5 rounds at -129

This is probably the safer pick, and the payout is actually better. Four out Joanna’s last five fights have gone to decision, and if she can survive Claudia Gadelha’s all-world jiu-jitsu, she should be able to survive Rose’s crafty grappling.


Quick Picks

Lottery Ticket: Anthony Pettis by submission at +651

Fun fact: Chiesa opened as an underdog, but now is a slight favorite going into the matchup. People really love the fact that he’s a wrestler facing a dude who historically has had problems against them. But even if it goes to the mat, let’s not all of a sudden forget how dangerous Pettis is as a submission artist. “Showtime” has submission finishes every bit as quick as flashy as his renowned knockouts, and he could very well snatch something in scrambles.

Savvy Risk: Renato Moicano to win at +130

Kattar has got all the hype right now, and his wrestling could make the difference. But he is a striker first, and Moicano is a guy that went toe-to-toe with Jeremy Stephens and came out with his hand raised. The Brazilian also hung tough for three rounds against No. 1 contender Brian Ortega, before getting caught with a submission. The fight could’ve gone either way before that.

Cherry Pick Parlay: Kowalkiewicz vs. Herrig fight goes to decision at -300

Neither strawweight has knockout power, nor are they known submission threats. This is a matchup between two scrappers who win with grit and determination. The fight script projects a kickboxing match between the two, and both have never been knocked out. Use this bet to boost another pick.

Check out the latest UFC 223 betting odds.

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Abe Chong
Abe first encountered MMA in 2000, watching a VHS tape of Kazushi Sakuraba kicking the legs of a downed Royce Gracie in Pride Fighting Championships. He's been hooked ever since. Abe has penned NBA and NFL articles for Sports Illustrated and RotoExperts. In 2010, Abe signed on as the lead MMA writer for BigOnSports.com, and is now dedicated to helping fellow fans beat the odds.

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