Welcome to UFC 259
For any MMA fan, this weekend’s blockbuster UFC 259 card is a mouthwatering proposition - 15 fights, headlined by three UFC championship bouts. While the whole card presents plenty of opportunity to bet with bitcoin on the UFC, the Cloudbet Blog will focus on the three big fights - to provide you with what you need to know about the fighters heading into the weekend to make a more informed betting decision.
All odds cited are correct at the time of writing, but please make sure you check the site for the latest odds.
At the top of the card, four champions will battle it out for three titles. In the main event, reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya makes a bold move - stepping up a weight class into the light heavyweight division to challenge defending champ Jan Blachowicz.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya - Light heavyweight
Jan Blachowicz to win - 2.90/+190 One of the most underrated fighters in all the UFC, Blachowicz has won eight of his last nine fights, including a second-round knockout win over Dominick Reyes in his last outing to take the UFC light heavyweight belt. (You can skip to around the 10.00 mark for the final flurry.)
Known for his “legendary Polish power,” Blachowicz has knocked out three of his last four opponents. He seems to have truly turned the corner in his career and has hit his athletic peak late in his career, at the age of 38. He is a complete mixed martial artist, with powerful striking and improved grappling skills.
The odds offered on Blachowicz put him deep in underdog territory - but he is the champion and not getting as much respect from the oddsmakers as he deserves. He is an excellent fighter and is worth betting on as a big underdog.
Israel Adesanya to win - 1.44/-227 Adesanya is the UFC’s middleweight champion, but is moving up in weight for this battle. Unbeaten at 20-0 in his MMA career, Adesanya has a perfect 9-0 record in his UFC career. “The
Last Stylebender” is a tall, long, rangy striker with power and precision. Adesanya was the biggest middleweight in the UFC, which allowed him to clean out the division with ease - in his last two fights he destroyed Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker.
But now he moves up to 205lbs and it will be interesting to see how he handles the bigger opponents. Adesanya is very mobile on his feet and his game plan will likely be to stick and move from Blachowicz. But he’ll have to be very wary, and careful, of Blachowicz’s power. At this level, and at this weight, one connection is all it takes. What’s more, Blachowicz may look to grind Adesanya out against the fence and potentially even sneak in a takedown or two.
Adesanya is a heavy favourite - and based on his unbeaten record, arguably rightfully so… But it just feels like this is going to be a much tougher fight against a bigger man, and until he proves that he can beat light heavyweights, it’s risky to lay that kind of juice on Adesanya in this particular spot.
Total rounds: The Over/Under for this bout is set at 2.5 rounds, at odds of 1.68/2.23 (-146/+123). Looking at Adesanya’s UFC career, he has gone over the total in six of his fights and under in three - including twice in his last three outings. Blachowicz has gone over the total 10 times in his UFC career, and surprisingly under it just five times - including in three of his last four fights.
We suspect this one may go over the total as this fight could very well be more of a technical striking battle.
Betting tips: Blachowicz to win / Over 2.5 rounds
Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson - Featherweight
Amanda Nunes to win - 1.09/-1042 Amanda Nunes is known as The Lioness for a reason - she’s the two-division champion at bantamweight (which she took off Meisha Tate in 2016 and has successfully defended six times) and featherweight (by KO’ing Cris Cyborg in 2018, successfully defending it last year against Felicia Spencer).
Nunes is riding an 11-fight streak and is quite simply the most dominant female fighter of all time. With a 14-1 UFC record and wins over the likes of Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Meisha Tate, Ronda Rousey, Holy Holm and Germaine de Randamie (twice), she truly is an all-time great.... and still in her prime.
In short, she is one hell of a fighter, and - unsurprisingly - is a massive favourite to defend her featherweight belt against Megan Anderson.
It’s a fight that most people expect Nunes to win, but can Anderson play spoiler?
Megan Anderson to win - 7.50 (+650) Anderson is a former Invicta FC champion and is the bigger woman in this fight. All signs point to Nunes winning, but any time you see a big underdog at these massive odds it’s tempting to take a shot.
Looking at Anderson’s UFC career, she is 3-2 and she has won her last two fights by first-round stoppage to get this title shot. However, she didn’t fight the best opposition in those contests. She does have power in her kicks and some submission skills on the ground, but one hole her past opponents Holly Holm and Felicia Spencer found was her ground game. If Nunes is smart and purses the takedown she will have an easier time beating Anderson than attempting to stand and trade.
Anderson has big power in her kicks and knees and is a true featherweight - but her only way to win this fight is going to be to get the finish.
Total rounds: The total has been set at an Over/Under of 1.5 rounds at odds of 1.79/2.07 (-126/+106). Based on Nunes’ quick finishing ability, we suspect this fight will go under the total. While Nunes is coming off of two straight decision wins, she was fighting much more durable oponents in Spencer and De Randamie. Once Anderson tastes the power of Nunes, she’s unlikely to want to keep fighting for long.
Either by knockout or submission, this fight should end quickly in Nunes’ favour. In her 14-fight (13-1) UFC career, eight have ended in under 1.5 rounds. Anderson, meanwhile, has five UFC fights behind her, with her last four also gone in under 1.5 rounds. There looks to be some value betting the under here, especially given how juiced Nunes is for this defence of her title.
Betting tips: Nunes to win / Under 1.5 rounds
Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling - Bantamweight
Petr Yan to win - 1.88/-114 Yan won the vacant UFC bantamweight title in his last fight when he beat former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo to a pulp for a fifth-round TKO win.
“No Mercy” hasn’t lost since joining the UFC in 2018, going 7-0 with four knockout wins. Aside from Aldo, he has also knocked out an all-time great in Urijah Faber.
Yan has huge power for someone of 135lbs - but importantly, he also has that special power that allows him to change the tide of a fight. Against Jimmie Rivera, Yan was getting pieced up but was able to knock Rivera down with big shots and steal the fight. He’s also quite the wrestler.
He does have quite a challenge here in Sterling, but if anyone is up to the task, it’s Yan.
The champion is currently at pick ‘em odds. Considering he hasn’t lost yet, there has to be some value betting Yan here at this price.
Aljamain Sterling to win - 1.99/-102 It’s taken Sterling seven years in the UFC, but he’s finally got his first title shot. It’s been a hard, long journey to the top for Sterling, who has had several hiccups over the years. But he has really improved his all-around game and is riding into this fight on a five-fight win streak. In his last fight, Sterling picked up a quick first-round submission win over Cory Sandhagen, who looks like a future champion himself right now. Prior to that, he defeated Pedro Munhoz in a fight that showed his improved striking skills.
With his elite grappling and submission abilities to go along with a better stand-up game, Sterling is considered a live dog by many to beat Yan and win the UFC bantamweight title. I still question his chin after the KO loss to Moraes, but he certainly has all the skills necessary to be a UFC champion.
Total rounds: The total for this bout is set at Over/Under 3.5 rounds, at odds of 1.79/2.07 (-126/+106). Looking at Yan’s UFC career, his fights are 4-3 going over/under totals. That makes it tricky to predict what is going to happen in this fight with Sterling, who is generally very durable, but who has been finished by Marlon Moraes. If anyone is going to finish Sterling it’s Yan, but you have to credit Sterling for his toughness. Looking at Sterling’s UFC career, he is 10-4 in respect to his fights more often than not going over the total.
If we had to chose, we’d lean towards this fight going Over 3.5 rounds.
Betting Tip: Yan to win / Over 3.5 rounds
Money Talks - but what's it saying?
Since our inception in 2013, Cloudbet has always strived for excellence through innovation - and continues to do so.
As such, we've just added another cool feature to our bitcoin crypto sportsbook, examples of which we've included here for the three big fights.
Blachowicz vs Adesanya
The Probability line is a direct representation of the odds on offer for the event. But what's way more interesting to the bitcoin bettor is the Money Talks line - which is a direct representation of the "wisdom of the crowd" and the action Cloudbet has taken so far on the event.
And this may offer interesting insights to the potential bettor.
We can see from the Probability line that Blachowicz, despite being the reigning light heavyweight champ, is still considered a sizeable underdog going into this fight. But the Money Talks line shows the action so far being placed in his favour.
Have the bookies got it wrong? Do the sharp bettors know better? Perhaps. After all, this is in line with the tip we offered above - maybe Blachowicz is being underestimated by the odds; maybe Adesanya's ability to fight at the higher weight is being overestimated?
Nunes vs Anderson
Here's another really telling contrast. Given that Nunes is so heavily favoured to win - look at that probability line! - why has roughly half the action Cloudbet has seen so far been on Anderson?
Of course we cant answer that directly, but here's a thought - with such great odds on offer, maybe it's just worth a punt that Anderson might land a lucky blow? Or maybe betting with crypto on the UFC attracts contrarian bettors who fancy seeing an upset, no matter how unlikely?
Yan vs Sterling
At almost pick 'em odds, the line on this fight is the tightest of the three and suggests there's very little in it... but our Money Talks line suggests that the smart money is backing Yan to maintain his title.
As we wrote above, considering he hasn’t lost yet, others seemingly agree that there has to be some value in betting on Yan at this price.
We're psyched about this feature because it let's our players take a look at the action that's already been placed on any given event - and that may sway your decision on who to back, or confirm your opinion if you think you've been thinking outside the box...
(Question: Does having your seemingly out of the box thoughts confirmed by the wisdom of the crowd immediately make those thoughts mainstream and therefore no longer out of the box?)
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Of course, while we've focussed solely on the main events at UFC 259 in this post, Cloudbet is offering markets on all the fights on the card, and there will undoubtedly be some fascinating match-ups in the prelims.
In the lightweight division, Khabib protege Islam Makhachev takes on Drew Dober; Megan Anderson is no doubt backing bantamweight Dominick Cruz to take down Casey Kenney after his disparaging podcast comments about her this week; while at flyweight, Adesanya stablemate Kai Kara-France challenges Rogeirio Bontorin, both tied for eight in the current rankings and looking to make a point.
Who knows what miracles, surprises or straight up dominance we might see this weekend, but one thing's for sure... there are an awful lot of fight fans excited about the UFC 259 card.
This article, especially the fight previews and betting tips, was contributed to heavily by Adam Martin (@MMAdamMartin)