After a quiet few weeks, the UFC comes roaring back with a light heavyweight title fight that will headline UFC 210 as Daniel Cormier defends his championship in a rematch with the heavy handed Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
There’s also a middleweight tilt, which will have heavy implications on the division as Chris Weidman looks to end his two-fight losing streak against Gegard Mousasi in the co-main event. All in all, it’s a solid card emanating from Buffalo and there certainly is some value for the betting community.
Starting with the title fight, it’s interesting considering that the champion is a slight underdog despite owning a victory over Johnson the last time they met at UFC 187 in 2015. Not much has changed since they last fought. Johnson still possesses the ability to knock anyone out in the blink of an eye, as evidenced by his three-fight knockout streak since losing to Cormier. As a matter of fact, Johnson has knocked out five of his last six opponents. As for Cormier, he may not be as flashy, but he gets the job done with victories over Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva.
It appears that oddsmakers figure that Cormier may have a tough time avoiding a fight ending strike from Johnson this time around (he came close in their first meeting) and gave him a slight edge at -120. As we all know, the longer the fight lasts, the better it is for Cormier as his wrestling has proven to be the great equalizer in against every opponent not named Jon Jones. For that reason, it would be wise to hedge your bet by going with Cormier and the under of +135 for under a round and a half. There’s really only one way Johnson can win this fight, and that’s by knockout. And, judging by his track record, it will come early. Johnson hasn’t scored a knockout after the second round since 2008, when he was still a welterweight. You’re pretty safe with that. But hedging it with a Cormier victory can work out as well considering that his chances of winning increase exponentially as the fight drags on and Johnson’s conditioning comes into question.
But it’s also not totally out of the realm of possibility that Cormier gets an early finish. After he choked out Johnson the last time they met, DC has the mental edge in knowing exactly where Johnson’s weaknesses lie. Rather than waste time trying to win a decision, expect Cormier to look for as many openings to finish the fight as fast as he can. So, betting on the under is about as good as betting on Johnson, but with slightly better odds. But taking Cormier for the long haul isn’t a bad decision either.
The co-main event is an interesting one as Weidman comes in as a +100 underdog despite being a former champion. The back-to-back knockout losses to Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold have certainly hurt. However, the quality of competition that Weidman has faced is far superior to Mousasi’s resume. Although a rejuvenated Mousasi has won four in a row against the likes of Thiago Santos, Thales Leites, Vitor Belfort and a revenge bout with Uriah Hall, those wins pale in comparison to the elite competition that the former champion has faced.
The underdog status is surprising and you should err on the side of Weidman winning the fight. I’d also feel comfortable betting on the under of +160 if the fight goes less than two and a half rounds. Weidman’s underrated grappling could play a major factor in this fight as three of his Dutch opponent’s six losses have come by submission. Mousasi may have the momentum, but Weidman should certainly put that to rest.
One other fight you should keep an eye on is the welterweight title between strikers Thiago Alves and Patrick Cote. Both have a penchant for hurting their opposition and this fight is destined to stay standing, which drastically increases the likelihood of a finish. With the line being +170 for under 2.5 rounds, it’s certainly worth a look. Alves has struggled a bit in his past ten fights dating back to 2009, as he’s only secured one finish in his last ten fights while going 4-6. Cote, on the other hand, has gone 6-3 since returning to the UFC in 2012. He’s 2-1 in his last three fights with all three ending by knockout. It’s certainly worth the risk.