Chris Weidman is hoping a move up to light heavyweight can rejuvenate a sliding career. The former middleweight champ has lost four of his last five and finds himself well out of title contention at 185 pounds. The worst part of his recent run is that he’s been brutally knocked out in all of those defeats, getting blasted by Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero, Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza.
This Saturday, The All-American is hoping that the light heavyweight division will offer greener pastures. It certainly is a much shallower weight class, but Weidman is getting tossed right into the deep end against Dominick Reyes.
Not only is Reyes the No. 4 fighter at 205, he owns a flawless 11-0 record. “The Devastator” comes into the main event matchup on the strength of three straight wins, beating ranked fighters in Jared Cannonier, Ovince St. Preux and Volkan Oezdemir. A win over a big name like Weidman could be the final argument for a title shot – Jon Jones certainly could use some more challengers.
As usual, the UFC is making sure that it’s ESPN network card offers a strong overall night of fights. In the co-main event is the rebooked contest between Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez – which was a main event of its own just a month ago before an eye poke stopped the fight just a few moments in. Other fighters to keep an eye on are Maycee Barber, an undefeated women’s flyweight, and former NFL All-Pro Greg Hardy, who continues his polarizing UFC journey.
There are some solid opportunities in the online sportsbook, so let’s check in with the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu and break down your best betting options. Live UFC betting lets you bet on real-time line updates during any of the fights on the card as well.
Main Event, Light Heavyweight
Dominick Reyes -160 vs. Chris Weidman +127
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +250 / -350
Go Big: Reyes to win at -155
Honestly, we’re surprised that Reyes only opened as a moderate favorite. Weidman wasn’t a huge middleweight or anything, and he already had to work hard to land takedowns against 185-pounders. How’s he supposed to use his wrestling against bigger guys, much less a fighter with 85% takedown defense?
On top of that, Weidman’s recent losses were shockingly brutal. Sure, all knockouts are to some degree, but Romero and Rockhold absolutely obliterated The All-American’s face. At 35 years old, Weidman isn’t aging well and his chin is already cracked. That’s not a good sign against the younger Reyes, a former NFL hopeful with excellent athleticism and explosive knockout power.
Weidman’s boxer/wrestler style is the right type of offense to beat Reyes, but the former champ just doesn’t have the physical tools to make it work. We feel really good with a bet on Reyes anywhere over -200.
Go Small: Reyes inside the distance -125
In a five-round fight, there’s a good chance that The Dominator blasts Weidman’s chin with a killshot. But then again, he actually hasn’t knocked out anyone since leveling up his competition. Against Ovince St. Preux and Volkan Oezdemir, Reyes couldn’t actually get much offense off. Weidman might be vulnerable, but he’s a high-level vet who can find ways to prolong this fight.
Co-Main Event, Featherweight
Jeremy Stephens -115 vs. Yair Rodriguez -115
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +160 / -190
Go Small: Rodriguez to win at -115
Is there anything to be gained from the few seconds that these two actually fought before the eye poke? Maybe. Yair looked sharp, landing a few snap kicks flush on Stephens – that gives us a glimpse into how a fight might play out. Stephens is a fighter that needs to operate inside the pocket, and it appears that he’s going to have a helluva time getting inside range to do so.
Plus, now that this matchup has been shifted to three rounds, it gives Stephens less time to try and figure out the high-flying enigma in front him. If Lil’ Heathen were a better wrestler, he’d have a much better shot at taking the W here, but he’s never been a guy to try and grind his opponents down.
The lines haven’t fluctuated much since last month, giving you a near-even money price on Rodriguez. Still, Stephens is so experienced that we can’t recommend you going big on El Pantera – he was losing against The Korean Zombie until his miracle no-look elbow.
Maycee Barber -140 vs. Gillian Robertson +110
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: -160 / +130
Go Small: Barber to win at -140
The 21-year old Barber is still extremely raw, relying on strength and athleticism to overwhelm opponents with clinch fighting and wrestling. You can get pretty far in a thin division by just being tough, tireless and relentless. Still, she’s got a long way to go, especially since she moved up from strawweight and cannot simply bully her way past bigger flyweights anymore.
Gillian Robertson isn’t as gifted an athlete, but she’s been a pleasant surprise, racking up a 4-1 UFC record with all victories coming by way of finish. She’s emerged as an excellent submission grappler, and that dimension could give Barber some pause. But like Barber, the 24-year old is extremely raw, and without matching physical gifts it’s hard to see her pulling out the win here.
As always, you should be cautious when betting a fight featuring two unproven prospects, so we recommend going with a small bet on Barber – though at this price it won’t pay out much.
Check out the latest UFC betting odds.