Jon Jones is back (again)! Cris Cyborg might actually run into some adversity! It’s a New Year’s Eve eve UFC card, and Dana White and WME are making sure that it’s as big as it can possibly be without the presence of a certain Irishman or a hulking WWE fighter.
Jones isn’t just fighting for his title in his main event against Alexander Gustafsson. It’s not really even about the fact that it’s a rematch of one of the best UFC fights of all time. His legacy is on the line, and this could be his last chance to be a legend while he’s still in his prime. This is the most talented physical athlete ever to fight in MMA, and he’s wasted away a few of his best years because of partying and careless PEDs use.
Even if you take away all the legacy stuff, Jones has to know that his livelihood is at stake. At the end of the day, these are prizefighters. It has to hurt watching DC become a millionaire while knowing that it could’ve been him fattening his pockets all these years.
In the co-main event, featherweight champion Cris Cyborg defends her title against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in a legit superfight. For as long as anybody can remember, Cyborg has been leaving her opponents looking like the victims of a horror movie. Not a single fighter that EliteXC, Strikeforce or the UFC has put in front of her has remotely presented a viable threat.
Until now. Amanda Nunes is a killer. She thrashed Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate so brutally that both future Hall of Famers immediately retired. When it comes to violent Muay Thai and explosive knockouts, she’s the one woman who anyone can even consider Cyborg’s equal.
Cyborg is a -320 favorite at the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu. To anyone unfamiliar with MMA, that’s some long odds to overcome. But consider this: Cyborg closed as -1667 favorite against Yana Kunitskaya in her last fight. Against Tonya Evinger, the Brazilian closed at -1429. Against the unfortunate Lina Lansberg, Cyborg was -2000.
Since her first two pro fights, there have only been two other cases where Justino closed at higher than a -400 price. This is a rare occasion, and it’s a champion vs. champion superfight.
Stoked yet? You should be. Now let’s take a deeper look into both fights and break down your best betting options (UFC odds courtesy of BookMaker.eu)
Jon Jones -285 vs Alexander Gustafsson +220
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +100 / -120
It’s All About Jones
It’s old news by now that Jones barely trained for the first fight. Not only was he dogging it in the gym, the man was in full-on Rick James mode with the cocaine and the clubbing. And he somehow still gutted a unanimous decision win.
Another thing to think about: Gustafsson only has one more appearance than Jones since they met in 2013, despite the fact that the former champ was suspended three times. Injuries and scheduling issues have kept the Swede out of the cage, and his last contest was before Jones’ most recent fight. If there’s a ring rust argument to be made, it goes both ways.
You can tell me that The Mauler has improved, and I wouldn’t argue against that – he looked awesome against Glover Teixeira and Jan Blachowicz. But unless he went through some Pokemon-style evolution, Gustafsson physically cannot overcome the gap against Jones.
Our pick: Jones to win at -285
There’s a reason that oddsmakers opened with Jones as nearly a 3-1 favorite: they’re not gonna fade a GOAT in his prime, and neither should you.
Alternate pick: Fight goes to decision at +100
Ok, I know that I’ve been talking about Jones a lot, so here’s some love for Gustafsson. Even if Jones is pining for a huge stoppage for his return, this is the wrong guy for him to get it.
Cris “Cyborg” Justino -265 vs Amanda Nunes +205
Fight goes/doesn’t go the distance: +150 / -180
Can a Lioness Stop a Cyborg?
First things first: this one will take place on the feet, even though both women are BJJ black belts. They do their best work bombing away on the feet, and have excellent takedown defense to boot. It’d be a waste of energy for either to try and take this down.
Size is obviously playing into the online odds. Justino goes through a drastic weight cut to make 145 pounds, and natural bantamweights have been hopelessly annihilated against Cyborg. Just as importantly, trainer Jason Parillo has upgraded Cyborg’s skills.
Version 2.0 is no longer simply a physical savage that overwhelms her opponents. You can see it right away, just by how she bobs and weaves when kickboxing. The power was always there, but now she’s got fantastic technique when it comes to her punch-kick combinations. She achieves the same level of violence more efficiently than before – which is freaking scary to think about.
Nunes is staring down a monster, but this is a solid style matchup for her. Her hand speed and reaction time makes her a killer counterstriker, and Cyborg’s march forward should give her plenty of opportunities to smash. Even though she plays a defensive game, Nunes still lands 4.54 significant strikes a minute and has 11 KO in 16 career wins.
Our pick: Cyborg to win at -265
Nunes needs to be closer to the +275 range before we start considering a bet. What we worry about most is her gas tank, especially against somebody as relentless as Cyborg. While she might have some success early, Nunes doesn’t have the cardio to keep up.
Prop bet: Cyborg inside the distance at -125
Riskier pick, better payout obviously. In Cyborg’s last 15 fights, only Holly Holm made it to a decision – and she’s a defensive wizard who can slow fights down. Nunes doesn’t have that ability, and we don’t see her lasting 25 minutes.
Check out the latest UFC 232 betting lines and odds.