It’s a rare week without a UFC event, which gives us a few days to sit back and reflect…on some great upcoming fights that just hit the online sportsbooks. With the flood of cards thrown our way during the 24-hour news cycle, you might’ve missed a few of these headlines, so let’s catch up.
Just a note: we’ll be putting out our in-depth betting guide for UFC 232 next week, so we’re skipping over that pay-per-view in this article. In some cases, opening odds haven’t been released, but we’ll speculate on what they’ll be and how you should capitalize. Remember, betting on fights early is a great way to get favorable odds before the larger public moves the lines.
UFC Fight Night 143 – Brooklyn, January 19, 2019
Henry Cejudo +165 vs. TJ Dillashaw -196
Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder
Champ vs. Champ, plus an NFL All-Pro’s Debut
The bantamweight title “superfight” between Dillashaw and Cejudo gets moved from pay-per-view to the ESPN+ streaming channel, which probably isn’t sitting well with both titleholders. But for online betting purposes, nothing’s changed: Dillashaw is still nearly a 2-1 favorite against the smaller Cejudo.
The obvious reasoning is that even an Olympic gold medalist wrestler is going to have a tough time bringing down a bigger former collegiate one. Plus, Dillashaw’s looked positively studly after schooling Garbrandt in back-to-back fights, and he’s got that frustrating footwork to deal with.
There have been a few NFL players that transitioned to MMA, most notable Herschel Walker, Matt Mitrione, Brendan Schaub and Brock Lesnar. Those were all practice squad players or hopefuls with the exception of Walker. And by the time Walker competed in Strikeforce, he was nearly 50 years old – his MMA foray was more a novelty than a serious career move.
But Greg Hardy is a former All-Pro for the Dallas Cowboys and just 30 years old. This dude chewed up 300-pound offensive linemen like it was nothing. Say what you want about his troubled past and how he’s fighting on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, but he’s coming to the UFC regardless. And the fact that he’s Greg Hardy makes him a huge draw.
There are no easy fights inside the UFC, but Dana White is going to make sure he gets a winnable match. Expect him to be a massive favorite against Allen Crowder.
UFC 233 – Anaheim, January 26, 2019
Ben Askren -300 vs. Robbie Lawler +245
It’s About to Get Funky
Askren straight up retired as an undefeated Bellator and One Champion because there wasn’t anyone who could beat him. But now he’s with the big boys in the UFC, despite Dana White’s vow that “Funky” was too boring for the octagon. His first matchup in the big show? Former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, who specializes in scrambling brain matter and rearranging noses.
Online oddsmakers always tend to favor wrestlers, so it’s no surprise here that Askren is a huge favorite. Lawler’s got great takedown defense, but he’s also past his prime and been through a bunch of bloody wars inside the cage. As fun as he is to watch, Lawler has to be faded in this matchup.
UFC 234 – Melbourne, Australia, February 9, 2019
Kelvin Gastelum +170 vs. Robert Whittaker -215
Pick On Somebody Your Own Age
For six straight fights, the 27-year old Whittaker has faced somebody well over 30 years old. That’s not a knock against him, especially since two of those guys were Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza. But Gastelum is the same age and parallels the Aussie in a few ways: they’re both quick, dynamic and powerful boxers who used to fight at welterweight.
Sportsbooks aren’t ignoring Whittaker’s 9-fight win streak against the middleweight elites, which is why he’s a big favorite here. But Gastelum is definitely a live ‘dog, and we suggest you finally these lines closely to see if his price gets any better. At +185, we’d jump onboard without any hesitation.
UFC 235 – Las Vegas, March 2, 2019
Nick Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal
Stockton’s Original Gangster is Back
Or is he? In fact, I hope somebody makes a prop bet on whether he actually fights in March. I’m sure that the chalk bet would be that he doesn’t. In fact, we could do an entire article of Nick Diaz prop bets and it’d be the funnest content I ever wrote.
But Nick Diaz is truly back, sign us the hell up. MMA is 2000% more interesting when the older Stockton bro is competing: his press conferences require extra security. His interviews will confuse the hell out of you. He might lie down and pretend to take a nap inside the cage. He might even send you to the hospital, then follow you there to continue fighting. Yes, this all happened.
Pitting him against another street dude in Masvidal makes for great TV. Let’s set the over/under at how many times they call each other “bitch” or “ho” at 200. As for the actual fight, Diaz should be the underdog here, as he’s 35 years old and hasn’t fought since 2015. Plus, judging by his Instagram, he’s spending more time at Vegas clubs then he is inside the gym.
Check out the latest UFC betting odds.