Just when you thought the mixed martial arts Gods couldn’t bless us anymore in 2019, it’s almost time for UFC 241 in California.
Arguably the pound-for-pound best in the business Daniel Cormier will put his heavyweight title on the line in a rematch with Stipe Miocic, while Nate Diaz makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon against ‘Showtime’ Anthony Pettis.
Our betting expert takes us through the markets and odds here.
Diaz v Pettis
The fact that this fight should have happened years ago doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting now it’s finally here.
UFC fans have been crying out for the Stockton-born brawler to return since his last fight with Conor McGregor. On his day, he’s one of the best in the world, but the question here will be how he responds to three years out of the octagon. He’ll look to pressure Pettis, landing in volume and hoping his opponent will leave the neck exposed. If he can use his kickboxing to establish range with patience, ‘showtime’ will need to avoid getting backed-up against the cage.
Pettis is still trying to establish himself as a contender at 170 pounds and beating Diaz would go a long way to landing a top-ranked opponent. Expect him to follow other fighters’ lead and go after Diaz’s legs frequently and early. This may be the key to the fight and if Diaz can’t avoid taking damage to his legs, Pettis’ night will get considerably easier.
Both fighters have seen it all inside the octagon and their aggressive styles make this a must-watch fight. My head tells me Pettis to win by decision at 11/8 after a sluggish return from Nate, but if Nate is in the right condition, my heart is tempted by Diaz to win via finish at 6/1.
Cormier v Miocic 2
Many fans were somewhat confused when Dana White announced they would run this one again at UFC 241, given the Cormier dominance in the first bout. Yet, Miocic is not far removed from a dominant title-run of his own and will be no pushover on Saturday night.
There has been speculation that at 40-years young, Cormier may look to hang up the gloves after this one, but a third fight with arch-rival Jon Jones seems the only logical fight that remains for either men. Truthfully, it appears like nobody except Jones can really provide a stern test for DC. He comfortably beat Derrick Lewis in his last bout and took just four-and-half minutes to dispatch Miocic in July 2018.
Miocic hasn’t fought since that loss and has been biding his time for a rematch. His schooling of the well-fancied Francis Ngannou last January should serve as a poignant reminder for anyone who doubts his ability to get the job done. As well as Ngannou, he boasts wins against Mark Hunt, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem. He’s a dangerous proposition.
I would still expect Cormier to win but perhaps less convincingly than in the first encounter. Grosvenorsport.com are offering Cormier to win in Round 3 at 13/2 and at that price I’d be tempted to back it.
For those predicting a shock, Miocic via knockout is available at around 15/8.