We’ve got a mostly blank MMA canvas for 2019, and in the WME era that means there’s sure to be a slew of money fights coming our way this year. The term “money fight” is one that’s becoming seriously blurred, as it could mean a champion vs. champion matchup, or in some cases it’s simply a divisional scrap that has tons of fans stoked.
These are events that online sportsbooks love, as the betting volume spikes when there’s a money fight on the horizon. You’ll usually find money lines months in advance, with as many as 30 prop bets to choose from in some cases. The stakes are higher here – for fighters, bettors and sportsbooks.
Today, we’re taking a look at some of the matchups we want to see most this year. Some of them already have odds in the Future Events section (like BookMaker.eu), and if they’re not already up we’ve taken the liberty of projecting some odds. Let’s pray to the MMA gods that a few of these get booked.
The Heavyweight Money Fight
Brock Lesnar +273 vs. Daniel Cormier -337
(MMA future events odds courtesy of BookMaker.eu)
Let’s Get This Out of the Way
To be honest, most longtime MMA fans believe that Lesnar shouldn’t be anywhere near the heavyweight title. But they realize that Cormier is truly one of MMA’s good guys, and they really don’t mind seeing the dude get paid before his self-imposed March 2019 retirement deadline.
Would it be competitive? Probably not, and that’s something that online oddsmakers realized in openint with Cormier as a huge favorite. But still, there’s just something about the massive, snarling Lesnar that’s larger than life. You look at his ham-sized fists and wonder how anyone can survive a smack upside the head with one of those babies. Someone that big and muscular seems like they’d be able to choke slam DC one hand, like he’s Thanos or something.
On the other hand, the 5’11”, portly heavyweight champ has made a career out of chopping down giants. Whether he’s walking a guy down or systematically dismantle them with his wrestling, it’s clear that this is one of the best ever to do it. Unless Lesnar hits something like +400, you parlay Cormier’s price.
McGregor’s Next Career Move
Conor McGregor -170 vs. Nate Diaz +135
Conor McGregor -185 vs. Dustin Poirier +150
Not even the massive starpower of McGregor is immune to losing. After getting thrashed by Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Irishman is in a precarious position. A second straight loss would not only hurt his drawing (and earning) power, but his legacy as an all-timer. He needs to be super picky about his next opponent. It needs to be somebody that matters, but a winnable fight at the same time. Scratch elite wrestlers off the Red Panty Night sweepstakes.
The obvious choice is Nate Diaz. It’d make a ton of money, and their previous two scraps (they’re tied 1-1) were thrillers. We’d also love to see a rematch with Dustin Poirier. Ever since coming up from featherweight, The Diamond has surged into lightweight contention, and is one of the most consistently exciting fighters on the roster. Given how quickly Mystic Mac slept him, Poirier has gotta be itching for a rematch. A win over Poirier also keeps Conor right at the top of the 155 pound ladder.
Both odds above are projections. McGregor has got to be a clear favorite against both, since he does extraordinarily well against other strikers.
What a Lightweight Champ to Do?
Khabib Nurmagomedov -200 vs. Tony Ferguson +170
Fifth Time’s the Charm
You know the story, these guys have been scheduled four times to meet, only to fall through each time due to increasingly ridiculous circumstances. Tony Ferguson shredding his knee to pieces tripping on a wire cable a few days before the fight will never be beaten in terms of bizarre reasons for a fight cancelation.
The UFC owes it to us to try and book this fight at least once a year until it happens. That seriously might put Khabib and El Cucuy’s lives in mortal danger, given the uncanny bad luck they’ve had trying to meet each other. But dammit, there’s never been a better time: The undefeated Khabib has the lightweight belt. Ferguson is on an 11-fight winning streak.
We put up the prices from their last scheduled matchup, but expect Khabib to be an even bigger favorite this time around. Some of McGregor’s starpower rubbed off on Khabib, and casual bettors will be more willing to bet on the guy they watched annihilate the world’s biggest MMA star.
Now Entering the Blessed Era
Projected Odds: Max Holloway +110 vs. Tony Ferguson -110
Fight of the Century Right Here
Max Holloway is a superstar in waiting. He’s got swag, style and fights like Wolverine in permanent berserker mode. The Hawaiian has said he plans to become the greatest featherweight ever and clean out the 145-pound division.
But this is the money fight era. Throw him in the cage with his fighting doppelganger, the aforementioned Tony Ferguson. They’re mirror images of each other when it comes to cardio, pace and general savagery. Want a 25-minute dogfight? One of the best fights of all time? Want to see actual whirlwinds rise from the cage from the action? Then make this fight happen.
Tony’s a slight favorite, just based on the fact that he fights at a higher weight class. But Holloway is a huge featherweight that will end up at 155 sooner or later. There wouldn’t be too much difference in size or speed.
Check out the latest UFC fight odds.