The UFC is headed to Detroit this Saturday for their next PPV card UFC 218. The main event was scheduled to be Max Holloway defending the featherweight belt against top contender Frankie Edgar, but unfortunately Edgar had to pull out of the fight and instead we have Jose Aldo stepping in for a rematch. I don’t love the fact that Aldo got immediate title fights both times he lost the belt, but there really isn’t a clear contender outside of Edgar at featherweight, so I’m not surprised the UFC gave Aldo the nod.
Outside of that title fight the PPV portion of this card is full of exciting fights including a likely top contender fight between Overeem and Francis Ngannou at heavyweight, and a potential top contender fight between Cejudo and Pettis at flyweight. Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje is sure to bring fireworks and Waterson vs Torres is an interesting high level match-up in the women’s strawweight division.
All of the odds are taken from BetOnline.ag, our top rated betting site for MMA. Here’s our full BetOnline review for you to check out if you’re interested in opening an account and placing some bets.
Jose Aldo vs Max Holloway
I think Holloway wins this fight, but I also think his odds are too short, so I likely won’t bet this fight myself. That said, my lean is Holloway.
Aldo actually won the first two rounds of their recent title fight before getting TKO’d by Holloway in the third. That said, it seemed like Holloway was working himself into the fight with the plan to increase his output late. This strategy turned out to work and it will be interesting to see if he employs the same strategy this Saturday.
The weird thing about the first fight was that Aldo didn’t use his dangerous leg kicks at all. Holloway doesn’t check kicks, but rather likes to throw punches when his opponent kicks to counterattack. I’m not sure if this was the reason Aldo wasn’t throwing his leg kicks, or if he possibly had a leg injury going into the fight (which his camp said after the fight).
Overall, I think Aldo’s skills match up quite well with Holloway. The reason I’m going with Holloway is his durability and endurance over this five round fight. I’m not saying that Aldo will slow down, but Holloway will be speeding up into the 5th round and it could only take 1 or 2 clean shots to finish the fight for Holloway, similar to the last title fight between these two. Aldo doesn’t seem to have the same durability ever since being KO’d by McGregor and over a five round fight against a guy who is going to find the chin cleanly at least a few times in Holloway, I just question whether Aldo can make it to the final bell.
Lean: Holloway -280
Alistair Overeem vs Francis Ngannou
Overeem squeaked out a win over Werdum in his last fight and got a late KO of Hunt in a fairly close fight previous to that. Overeem has moved towards being a smart fighter in his old age who does everything he can to take as little damage as possible. The problem with that strategy in this fight is that Ngannou is a beast and even just small damage from him could be enough to put Overeem out.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a big step up in competition for Ngannou, but I like his chances against anyone who is going to stand with him, which I expect Overeem to do. All it will take is one glancing shot and I think Overeem goes out. It will be hard for Ngannou to close the distance because Overeem will try to use kicks to stay on the outside, but I think Ngannou will find a way in close enough to land some finishing blows fairly early in this fight.
Play: Ngannou -220
Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis
Cejudo looked awesome employing a new karate style against Wilson Reis in his last fight, but Reis is not a good stand up fighter and was clearly outclassed. Against Pettis, until I see Cejudo’s striking work well against a top level stand up fighter then, I have to give the edge to Pettis. Yes, Cejudo will have the wrestling in his back pocket that he can turn to if he’s losing the striking battle, but Pettis is very capable from his back, so even if Cejudo does get the fight to the mat early, I don’t think he will be able to finish.
If this was a 5 round fight I would favour Pettis even more because he gets better as the fight progresses, but even in this 3 round fight I could see Cejudo winning the first round with some takedowns before Pettis takes over the fight in the second and third with creative striking.
This is not a confident play, but it’s my favourite spot to take an underdog on the main card.
Play: Pettis +200
Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje
I’ve been of the belief that Eddie Alvarez is overrated since he entered the UFC. He lost his UFC debut to Donald Cerrone by being destroyed by leg kicks (we will come back to this) and then won split decisions over Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis to be gifted a title shot. He went out and took advantage of the gifted title shot, which you see so often in the UFC, but was quickly destroyed by Conor in his first title defense and then was losing against Dustin Poirier before landing illegal knees to get the fight changed to a no contest. What I’m mainly saying here is that Alvarez is definitely not championship material in the lightweight division and is more accurately just a top 10 guy.
The problem with this bet is that we really don’t know a ton about Gaethje yet. He went in and absolutely starched Michael Johnson in his UFC debut, but Johnson is primarily a striker who has now lost 4 of his last 5. Alvarez is a pressure fighter who has the ability to get into a dog fight and come out on top, which is what this could easily turn into.
I’m still favouring Gaethje due to his devastating leg kicks, which is how Cerrone beat Alvarez a couple years back. Gaethje also is generally the aggressor, so I don’t think he will be bullied around by Alvarez. Another reason I like Gaethje is that he’s never been knocked out in his 18-0 MMA career and Alvarez could still be reeling from the Conor knockout a year ago and then he was wobbled several times by Poirier in his last fight as well. Gaethje throws every punch to finish the fight and I think he could catch Alvarez with something solid to end this fight at any moment.
Lean: Gaethje -175
Michelle Waterson vs Tecia Torres
Waterson was pumped up as the next big thing after beating Paige VanZant easily in their main event fight last year. Waterson was on another level to Paige, but that can be said about a good portion of the strawweight women in the UFC. Paige really only has one good win in the UFC over Felice Herrig, who was not at her best. I can’t give Waterson much credit for that win at all. She was pumped up after that win and proceeded to get worked by Rose Namajunas in her next fight. She still has some star power from that Paige win though, so the UFC is giving her another shot against a legitimate contender.
Torres isn’t the type of women fighter that the UFC is trying to promote, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a true threat in the strawweight division. She’s 9-1 in her career, with her only loss being a very close decision to the current champion, Rose Namajunas (I thought Torres won the fight). Torres is a pressure striker who generally wins her fights by 30-27 decisions. I expect that to be the case against Waterson. Torres should be able to close the distance against Waterson, who used to fight at 105 pounds and land strikes while avoiding return strikes.
Torres will likely keep this standing and piece up Waterson to avoid the grappling skills of Waterson. For this reason I see a dominant 30-27 decision in this one.
Play: Torres -185