Cloudbet is indebted to Adam Martin (@MMAdamMartin) for his expert opinion in this article.
UFC 260: The big men do battle
The UFC is back this weekend with another big card at UFC 260, topped by a rematch between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Francis Ngannou in the main event. These two fighters met three years ago at UFC 220, when Miocic won by decision after five rounds.
The co-main event was originally set to feature UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega, but that was scratched after the champion tested positive for Covid-19. Hopefully, the UFC is able to re-book that title fight for the near future. In its place, welterweights Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque now take the co-main event slot.
Aside from previewing these two fights, we also take a look at the rest of the main card and one prelim fight that we feel is being overlooked. It should be another great night of action.
Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou 2 - Heavyweight title
Stipe Miocic to win - 2.16 / +116: Stipe Miocic is the UFC heavyweight (265lbs) champion. The 38-year-old American is coming off back-to-back wins over Daniel Cormier, winning their trilogy 2-1. Miocic has been in the UFC since 2011 and racked up an impressive 14-3 record, beating many of the best heavyweights - including Cormier twice, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, and of course Ngannou - back at UFC 220 in January 2018. In the first fight, Miocic entered the cage as a big underdog but was able to take away Ngannou’s best weapons, as his wrestling was on point.
We also know that Miocic is a great striker, making him the most well-rounded heavyweight in the sport. Miocic is again the underdog for this rematch, but the odds are much tighter this time and may even flip at some point. He has all the tools to get the job done, just as he did the first time, but he has to watch his chin. If Ngannou lands, we could see Miocic go to sleep just like Cormier put him to bed in their first fight at UFC 226. But if Miocic can survive a big start, he should have the cardio edge the longer the fight goes on. It should be a fascinating bout to watch unfold and we’ll ultimately get to see who the best heavyweight in the world is.
Francis Ngannou to win - 1.78 / -129: Francis Ngannou has been called a future champion ever since the first time he stepped into the Octagon in 2015. The 34-year-old Cameroon native knocked out Luis Henrique that night, and for the most part he’s never looked back since. Ngannou is 10-2 overall in the UFC, with all 10 of his wins coming by knockout. In his last four fights, he’s finished Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Curtis Blaydes all in the first round. He has some of the most brutal KO power you’ll ever see from an MMA fighter and his takedown defense appears to be improving as well - truly making him an extremely dangerous fighter.
Ngannou did lose to Miocic the first time they fought, and then to Derrick Lewis in his next fight, meaning he got written off by a lot of people. But if Ngannou has shown us anything since then, it’s that he’s not letting those two losses affect his career. He could have packed it up after those fights, but he got back in the gym and got better. If he has the takedown defense to keep the fight with Miocic standing this time, we could very well have a new champion. Ngannou’s key to victory is to land early on.
Total rounds: The total has been set at Over/Under 1.5 rounds for this main event. Generally, heavyweight fights go under the total, but the first bout between Ngannou and Miocic went over - to the full five rounds, in fact, but that seems less likely this time.
Ngannou’s last four fights have ended in the first round, and if he touches Miocic’s chin there’s a very good possibility this fight finishes quickly, too. Miocic has gone over the total in three of his last four fights, but the one fight that went under was his KO loss to Cormier, which came in the first round back at UFC 226.
Since we’re leaning towards Ngannou winning this fight by knockout, it also makes sense to lean towards the Under as well. Despite what happened in the first fight, all Ngannou needs is to land one big shot early to finish it.
Betting tips: Ngannou to win / Under 1.5.
Tyron Woodley vs Vicente Luque - Welterweight
Vicente Luque to win - 1.40 / -246: One of the top welterweights in the UFC, Luque has won eight of his last nine fights to earn this opportunity to fight Woodley. The 29-year-old is 12-3 overall in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage, including back-to-back TKO wins over Niko Price and Randy Brown heading into this bout. The last time we saw Luque fight a top opponent he lost a decision to Stephen Thompson two years ago, but he’s been working hard to earn another chance to fight a top-10 opponent. He gets that opportunity this weekend.
He has the striking advantage on paper, now let’s see how it plays out in the cage.
Tyron Woodley to win 3.13 / +213: It wasn’t that long ago that Woodley was the UFC welterweight champion, but he doesn’t appear to be the same fighter anymore. The 38-year-old has lost his last three fights, getting absolutely dominated by Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman. In each of those fights he backed up against the fence and was afraid to let his hands go - and paid for it. He took quite a bit of damage in those fights and was also dominated in the wrestling department. Woodley still has a massive right hand and his wrestling skills to fall back on, but based on how he’s looked lately, it seems difficult to back him here against the younger Luque.
Total rounds: The total has been set at Over/Under 2.5 rounds for this bout, with the juice on the Over side. Looking at both fighters, this fight does seem more likely to go the distance. It’s true that Woodley was finished in his last fight, but it came late in the fifth round. Before that, he had gone the distance in six of his last seven. Although Woodley is slowing down, he still has a great chin and it’s not a given that Luque finishes him. While it’s true that Luque is very dangerous, both on the feet and on the ground, finishing Woodley is still a tall task. It’s also worth noting that Luque has gone Over the total in three of his last four fights. It feels like this might go the distance, with Luque likely winning a decision.
Betting tips: Luque to win / Over 2.5.
Money Talks - Probability vs the action
Cloudbet's new feature compares a direct representation of the odds on an event, as shown by the Probability line, to a direct representation of the "wisdom of the crowd" and the action Cloudbet has taken so far on the event, as shown by the Money Talks line.
In the heavyweight title fight, Ngannou is favoured to win yet the money placed so far by Cloudbet players has come in heavily on Miocic to defend his title.
It's worth noting that we saw the same trend on the UFC 259 Blachowicz vs Adesanya fight, which ended with Blachowicz upsetting the odds and defending his title against the favourite. Perhaps Cloudbet bettors are sharper than the average Joe?
In the second fight, the action has so far been much more balanced between the two fighters, despite Luque being heavily favoured by the odds.
Also on the card...
Thomas Almeida vs Sean O’Malley - Bantamweight
This should be a fun fight between two strikers. Sean O’Malley is coming off of his first career loss to Marlon Vera, but was undefeated prior to that and running through everyone in his way. Thomas Almeida was once a top prospect in the sport, but has really struggled lately, having lost four of his last five bouts. Almeida’s chin seems questionable and a precise striker such as O’Malley should be able to find the KO punch.
Betting tips: O’Malley to win / Under 2.5.
Jamie Mullarkey vs Khama Worthy - Lightweight
This is basically a striker vs. grappler matchup. Worthy is going to want to keep the fight standing, while Jamie Mullarkey is going to want to take it to the ground - so whoever is able to get the fight to their territory will win. There’s been some weaknesses in Khama Worthy’s defensive grappling and it’s possible to see Mullarkey pressing him against the fence before dragging him to the mat. Mullarkey wins a decision - so that means siding with the dog and the Over.
Betting tips: Mullarkey to win / Over 1.5
Jared Gooden vs Abubakar Nurmagomedov - Welterweight
Featured Prelim: Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin Abubakar is still looking for his first UFC win against Jared Gooden. David Zawada caused an upset in Nurmagomedov's first UFC fight, tapping him out in the first round, but this is a different match-up against a striking-based fighter in Gooden. If Nurmagomedov is able to land the takedowns he should be able to grind Gooden out and win a decision on the judges’ scorecards.
Betting tips: Nurmagomedov to win /Over 2.5.
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