It’s like the world’s most violent game of hot potato.
The ever-slippery Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight title is up for grabs this Saturday evening (Sept. 10, 2016) as newly-minted kingpin -- and Cleveland, Ohio, fan favorite -- Stipe Miocic looks to wow the local crowd inside Quicken Loans Arena against highly decorated combat sports wrecking ball, Alistair Overeem. The two will headline UFC 203's pay-per-view (PPV) main event, which will also feature a showdown between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne in the co-main event.
Of course, C.M. Punk makes his long-awaited professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut against Mickey Gall in the middle slot, while Urijah Faber squares off with Jimmie Rivera and Jessica Andrade opens the PPV show against Joanne Calderwood.
It’s a quality show, but it’s just as pricey as the rest. Let’s fix that, shall we?
UFC 203 Odds For The Undercard:
Jessica Eye (-140) vs. Bethe Correia (+120)
Brad Tavares (-170) vs. Caio Magalhaes (+150)
Nik Lentz (-425) vs. Michael McBride (+320)
Ian McCall (-125) vs. Ray Borg (+105)
Yancy Medeiros (-135) vs. Sean Spencer (+115)
C.B. Dollaway (-170) vs. Francimar Barroso (+150)
Drew Dober (-160) vs. Jason Gonzalez (+140)
Thoughts: I think we can dredge up some solid values out of this undercard, competitive though it may be. Jessica Eye and Ray Borg, in particular, strike me as bargains.
Correia has zero wins over current UFC fighters and her best victory -- a decision over Julie Kedzie -- could have easily gone "Fireball’s" way. Eye may be in a similar boat, but her losses all came against legitimately top-tier Bantamweight contenders with the wrestling to exploit her questionable takedown defense. She’s already decimated a straightforward bruiser in Leslie Smith and Correia doesn’t pack anywhere near as much power as "The Peacemaker." Eye should get back on track in an impressive performance, so bank on it.
As ineffective as Borg looked against Justin Scoggins, I’m still confident in his victory. McCall doesn’t have Scoggins’ size or masterful control of range. Indeed, his boxing-heavy attack isn’t as well-suited to shutting down Borg’s takedowns and he doesn’t hit as hard. Borg is nearly a decade younger and always improving, while McCall has been ravaged by injuries and fairly inactive during his UFC tenure. I just can’t pass him up as an underdog.
UFC 203 Odds For The Main Card:
Stipe Miocic (-140) vs. Alistair Overeem (+120)
Fabricio Werdum (-210) vs. Travis Browne (+175)
Mickey Gall (-440) vs. CM Punk (+440)
Jimmie Rivera (-130) vs. Urijah Faber (+110)
Jessica Andrade (-150) vs. Joanne Calderwood (+130)
Thoughts: Stipe Miocic will successfully defend his title, but let’s leave that ‘til the end.
Jessica Andrade looked tremendous in her Strawweight debut, but let’s not forget that she matched up brilliantly with Jessica Penne and her ever-porous defense. Calderwood is not only an inch taller than Penne -- making her a full four inches taller than Andrade -- she’s infinitely more dangerous in the stand up and has underrated wrestling to boot. Andrade’s lack of nuance in her blitzes leaves her vulnerable to Calderwood’s Muay Thai onslaught, which looked more devastating than ever against Valerie Letourneau. I passed up Calderwood in that bout and I ain’t doing it again.
Alright, let’s talk main event. I’m picking Miocic for two reasons. The first is the gap in durability. Save for his technical knockout loss to Stefan Struve, which was as much accumulation and exhaustion as anything, Miocic has proven extremely difficult to put away during his UFC run, shrugging off blows from the likes of Gabriel Gonzaga, Mark Hunt and Junior dos Santos. Overeem’s infamous chin pales in comparison and, while he might have slightly more stopping power in his blows, the ratio between his durability and Miocic’s power is much more significant than vice-versa.
The other reason is that the champ has excellent fight IQ. Miocic was masterful in shutting down Hunt and fought dos Santos in excellent fashion before "Cigano’s" power and body attack took over late. He shows a level of grace under fire that Overeem simply does not have. Miocic will make the hometown crowd happy, so bet accordingly.
UFC 203 Best Bets:
- Parlay -- Jessica Eye and Ray Borg: Bet $30 to make $75.30
- Single bet -- Joanne Calderwood: Bet $40 to make $52
- Single bet -- Stipe Miocic: Bet $80 to make $57.14
It's not often fight fans get two back-to-back Top 10 Heavyweight showdowns in one night. Looking forward to it! See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC 203 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you've got riding on the sportsbook.