The UFC is back in our lives on July 7th after a couple week hiatus. UFC 226 is a great PPV card, that is the tent pole event that the UFC has every July for International Fight Week. This year we will see a champ vs champ battle as the main event with heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic taking on light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier for the title of baddest man on the planet. The co-main is also a fun title fight with Max Holloway defending the featherweight belt against top prospect Brian Ortega. Other stars on this card include Francis Ngannou, Derrick Lewis, Anthony Pettis, Gokhan Saki, Mike Perry and Raphael Assuncao.
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.
Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier
Miocic is the heavyweight champ with his belt on the line and he’s the rightful favourite in this fight. That said, I think Cormier has a definite chance in this match with some legitimate paths to victory. I think the fact Cormier is moving up from light heavyweight has people overlooking him. Let’s not forget that Cormier was a heavyweight when he entered the UFC and he won fights over both Frank Mir and Roy Nelson before shedding some weight and continuing his career at light heavyweight. Cormier was on the path to a title fight at heavyweight back then and moved down mostly to be in a different division than his good friend and training partner, Cain Velasquez, who was the best heavyweight on the planet at the time.
Cormier is 12-0 in his career as a heavyweight, which includes wins over Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett in Strikeforce as well. He can hang with the big boys and will likely only be giving up around 10 pounds to Stipe when they get in the cage on July 7th.
Cormier will look to close the distance and take Stipe to the mat, or at least make this fight a grinding battle up against the cage. None of Stipe’s opponents have even shot a takedown on Stipe since his loss to Junior Dos Santos back in 2014. That’s 6 straight opponents without having to stuff a takedown. To be fair it’s because Stipe finished four of those opponents very quickly in the first round, and the two decision wins were against Mark Hunt and recently Francis Ngannou, two guys who Stipe actually took down 6 times in both of those fights.
If Cormier can stay conscious and close the distance looking for takedowns in this fight we really don’t know how Stipe will react. There’s a good chance he will be able to stuff most of the takedowns, but if Cormier keeps working and does get this fight to the mat there’s a good chance he can put Stipe away or at least survive early and then win rounds as the fight progresses. Stipe generally gets first round knockouts or wins decisions. If Cormier can get an early takedown and win the first round this is his fight to win.
Play: Cormier +215
Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega
If Holloway pushes the pressure, but fights smart he should win this fight. Ortega often took beatings before finding a way to get a late submission on his rise up the ranks. He was likely losing fights to Tavares, Brandao, Guida and Moicano before finding 3rd round finishes in each of those fights, and he was outstruck badly against Swanson before finding a second round submission. In his title eliminator fight against Frankie, Ortega got the better of the stand up and knocked Frankie out in the first round. This was a result of Edgar being nervous about looking for takedowns because of Ortega’s submission expertise.
Holloway should be able to pick Ortega up apart on the feet, but he has to still fight with aggression or else he will leave himself open to a finishing shot from Ortega. That said it seems to me there is a clear path to victory for Holloway in this fight. Win rounds on the feet and don’t go to the mat or get in tie-ups with Ortega. Ortega didn’t score a single takedown in his 6 fight winning streak, but still finished 3 fights with submissions. If Holloway can keep the distance and pick Ortega apart with strikes I see him finishing this fight in the championship rounds when Ortega simply cannot take anymore.
Play: Holloway -170
Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis wins most of his fights with his never quit style and the fact that he is able to keep his power late into fights, which cannot be said about most heavyweights. Lewis has a 2nd, 3rd and 4th round knockout in his last 3 wins and he has taken some big shots in each of those fights before finding the chin himself.
The problem with Lewis’ style is he usually gets hit early and if you get hit by Ngannou you’re going unconscious, I don’t care who you are. Ngannou was beaten by a great gameplan of takedowns by Stipe Miocic, but Lewis doesn’t have the athleticism to use this gameplan against Ngannou. For this reason, I think Francis should be able to stay patient and load up on some big shots to put Lewis away early in this fight. It’s not long ago we were talking about Ngannou being an absolute monster after his win Overeem. Another highlight reel knockout should bring back that narrative at UFC 226.
Play: Ngannou -365
Michael Chiesa vs Anthony Pettis
I think Pettis should be the favourite in this fight. Yes, he’s not at the same level he was when he was UFC champion, but he’s still only losing to the very top fighters in the sport and winning the fights against the guys a step below that elite level. Sure, Pettis is 2-5 in his last 7, but those losses have come against Dos Anjos, Alvarez, Barboza, Holloway and Poirier. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would consider Chiesa elite. His biggest win was over Beneil Dariush.
Pettis is the more athletic fighter, the more dangerous fighter on the feet and I think his submission game is underestimated as well. I actually think Pettis has a better shot at getting a submission in this fight than Chiesa does.
As you can tell I’m not high on Chiesa, so I really like Pettis at these odds.
Play: Pettis +140
Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree Jr.
I really wasn’t impressed by Saki in his win over Henrique da Silva in his UFC debut. Yes, he got a late first round KO, but he took a lot of licks of his own from Silva, who has now lost 4 straight UFC fights.
Rountree Jr. is a far more dangerous striker than Da Silva was and considering these guys are probably just going to go out and bang, I’m going with the underdog. If either one of these guys catches the other one flush it’s going to be lights out, so I’m happy to take the young MMA fighter over the old kickboxer.
Play: Rountree Jr. +146