We’re only one third of the way through 2019, but it’s already been a wild ride. With week after week of pay-per-view cards, ESPN+ offerings and ESPN network events, it’s tough for MMA fans to keep up.
This is one of those rare weeks without a UFC event, and it’s as good a time as any to update you on a few key fight bookings that you might’ve missed. A few of them are big enough that online sportsbooks like BookMaker.eu have already released money lines, but we’ve also got some that just bear a second mention here.
As usual, there are some awesome pay-per-view headliners. And just because this is arguably the weirdest sport on the planet, there are some headscratchers. We’ve sorted them out for you, along with a few reasons to care. Where possible, we’ve also included UFC odds courtesy of BookMaker.eu. Now, let’s take a look at some Good Fights, Great Fights and Sad Fights.
Great Fight: UFC 236, April 13
Fight odds: Max Holloway -265 vs. Dustin Poirier +205
No Hype Needed
Any time either of these guys fight, you need to be watching. Both of them are relentless violence machines that have a habit of dragging opponents through the woodchipper. On top of that, you’ve got the featherweight champ on a 13-fight win streak in an interim lightweight title scrap. That’s superfight material right there.
It might surprise you that online oddsmakers opened with Holloway as a big favorite, considering that he’s coming up from a smaller weight class. But the Hawaiian looked flawless against the previously unbeaten Brian Ortega. In fact, he’s been largely untouchable during his win streak. Though Poirier is on a five-fight unbeaten streak against elite fighters, in no ways has he made it look as easy.
Great Fight: UFC 236, April 13
Fight odds: Kelvin Gastelum +175 vs. Israel Adesanya -225
Israel Adesanya, Superstar?
What happens when you mix the electric fighting style of a prime Anderson Silva with the swag of Conor McGregor? The result is Israel Adesanya, who is as flashy inside the cage as he is outside of it. Clearly a special striker, his mix of speed, athleticism, creativity and accuracy is something we just don’t see often. To many, it only seemed like a matter of time until we saw him in a title fight – and at UFC 236 he could walk away with an interim title around his waist.
But don’t sleep on Kelvin Gastelum – he’s proven every bit as dangerous with his fists. Don’t let the lack of jaw-dropping highlights fool you. Sometimes, meat and potatoes tastes just as good as an exotic Michelin star course. With his tendency to plant himself inside the pocket and plug away, Adesanya might have some trouble getting his offense off. This is a true live ‘dog.
Good Fight: UFC Fight Night 149, April 20
Alexander Volkov vs. Alistair Overeem
Kill or Be Killed
Basically, it’s almost physically impossible for The Reem to be in a boring fight. He’s simultaneously lethally dangerous and perilously vulnerable. At any given moment, his power and K1-level kickboxing skills could render an opponent unconscious. But at the same time, it only takes a solid punch or two to shatter an a famously fragile chin. That makes for great drama and exciting scraps.
Alexander Volkov got blown up in one of the most dramatic last-second comebacks in UFC history (thanks Derrick Lewis). But that was a fight he was handily winning, and prior to that he schooled former champion Fabricio Werdum. A very good striker in his own right, the Russian is right on the cusp of a title shot – but he’s also wading deep into dangerous territory to get there.
Sad Fight: UFC 237, May 10
Clay Guida vs. BJ Penn
Why BJ, Why?
Yes, BJ Penn is still fighting. This is a guy that fought around the same time as a prime Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes. Speaking of which, his last win came against Matt Hughes in 2010. Since then, he’s lost seven straight – and hasn’t looked remotely competitive in any of those fights. At age 40, Penn is done. But for some reason, he still steps into the ring despite the fact that he’s had a fork stuck in home for years.
Clay Guida is well past his prime, but he’s won two of his past three. The fact that he’s still competitive against solid dudes like Erik Koch and Joe Lauzon is all you need to know. Bet the house on Guida. Penn might be a legend, but reputations don’t win fights. I think every MMA fan is hoping that the Hawaiian, win or lose, lays down the gloves after this scrap.
Good Fight: UFC Fight Night 150, May 4
Al Iaquinta vs. Donald Cerrone
Ragin’ Al Returns
MMA’s favorite anti-hero is back. Al Iaquinta endeared himself to the entire world by cussing out a crowd that was booing his win, then took it one step further by repeatedly cussing out Dana White and the UFC at every opportunity. He’s also a bonafide Twitter troll, unafraid to rib his fellow fighters with biting sarcasm. But most importantly, the man can fight. After going five rounds with Khabib Nurmagomedov, he upset title contender Kevin Lee to prove his status as a top lightweight.
Now, he’s welcoming “Cowboy” Cerrone back to the division. While it won’t get him closer to a title shot, it’s a high profile matchup against a star. Cerrone’s peak is in the rearview mirror, but every now and then he reminds us that he’s a stud with a big win. And when he comes out on top, it’s usually in the most memorable way possible.
Check out the latest UFC betting odds.