For some reason, you never see too many in-depth UFC previews come out until the week of a major bout. I’m trying to snap that trend a little bit here at Legit Gambling Sites, and it’s also important that our headline and content match, so as to be honest to readers who click in.
But what exactly is the definition of a “complete” card in MMA? Octagon promoters are all-too quick to imitate professional wrestling promoters for some reason, and so we have several categories of UFC undercard, preliminary, and “early prelim” bouts that can be compared to “dark” matches at WrestleMania.
If we try to cover them all in-depth we’ll lose readers’ attention with a 5000-word story, but if we cut them all off except for a few marquee PPV matches at UFC 240, we’ll be cheating fans out of a lot of buzz and intrigue.
UFC 240 on July 27th includes some of the more sought-after pairings and intriguing bouts in MMA together on 1 card, including a terrific women’s bout featuring Cris Cyborg in a co-main event. So I’m going to err on the side of offering tips on as many matches as we comfortably can in this space without previewing Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar in 1-liners.
Yet it’s Holloway and Edgar who are foremost in the minds of a majority of Las Vegas ‘cappers as Ultimate Fighting Championship’s next premier event gets set to take place in Edmonton.
In some respects the pre-fight story of Max and Frankie parallels classic scenarios in boxing and other prizefighting genres. In other ways, it could only ever happen in modern-day Mixed Martial Arts.
UFC 240: Holloway vs Edgar Analysis and Vegas Lines
If you haven’t heard, there are a few old folks and quite a few Heavyweight boxing fans living in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a few of those people are involved in the sports gambling industry. (They say to always double-check everything you write for accuracy, but I feel pretty safe-on-1st-draft with that nugget.) Boxing fans and old-school MMA enthusiasts alike must recalibrate themselves to a new age of male and female Octagon combatants.
Prize-fighting is now an all-the-time thing. No longer do fighters lounge all over the world, kick back in their hometowns, give interviews and dodge all-comers until selecting their next opponent for a mega-payoff title defense. Cage fighters are in shape all the time, train all the time, fight all the time. Scenarios that never would have been possible when Will Smith released “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson” are now growing common in UFC and other MMA promotions.
Imagine a champion boxer from 20 years ago learning just a few weeks prior to a bout that his opponent would be missing due to injury, but that he’d be expected to fight anyway. Typically the champ would prefer to skip or postpone the bout altogether, or – as Apollo Creed does in Rocky – agree to fight a palooka instead.
For an elite prizefighter in days of yore, a fight did not simply take place on the evening of the bout but rather in months of training beforehand. Once the wheels were in motion toward a Heavyweight title meeting an unforeseen crash could derail a ticket gate and a PPV profit.
That was then, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship just marches onward no matter what. When heralded featherweight Frankie Edgar learned that featherweight icon Max Holloway was injured and could not go at UFC 222, Edgar simply continued to train and remained on the card to fight Brian Ortega.
Tactically speaking, both combatants in the new pairing were at a disadvantage having to re-train their bodies to take on a new opponent’s strengths and weaknesses with just a handful of training days to go. That creates a sort of chaos where anything is possible, though veterans like Edgar have come to expect chaos in the cage.
What Edgar did not expect was to suffer the first KO-against of a proud career.
Think of the conundrum for Vegas handicappers! They must put a numerical value on a “timeline” of Frankie Edgar’s career that would never have happened if he had simply faced Max Holloway at UFC 222 and retained respect as a tough chin and a tougher combatant…win or lose. Perhaps Blessed would have knocked-out or submitted Edgar that night. Perhaps not. In either way, bookmakers are flying blind on next weekend’s main event in Canada, in ways they’ve never had to in ages past.
Holloway vs Edgar, Cyborg vs Spencer at Bovada, BetOnline and MyBookie
We also shouldn’t forget the wonderful co-main event between Cris Cyborg and Felicia Spencer. I want to compare the odds across our purview from Bovada Sportsbook to BetOnline to MyBookie, giving us as many as 4 moneylines to handicap short of the undercard.
Bovada has cast both bouts as David vs Goliath match-ups. Holloway is a (-400) favorite to prevail. Cyborg – listed nerd-style at the online betting site as Christiane Justino – is a whopping 1-to-6 favorite. The underdogs Edgar and Spencer are at (+300) and (+400) respectively.
Do the oddsmakers and betting clients elsewhere see a pair of “squashes” for a main event? I’m checking BetOnline right now, and it’s got the weirdest presentation of UFC odds ever. One must search through “other sports” alongside snooker, pinball, Australian cow herding or whatever-the-heck else is listed in the riff-raff to find “MMA,” and eventually “UFC 240 Game.”
But if you can find them, the BetOnline markets are interesting – Edgar is even more of an underdog at (+340), and Spencer is a whopping (+500). I think I smell a rat…but all Vegas oddsmaking “rats” are a 2-way street when there’s a 2-way market to take advantage of.
Finally, on to MyBookie, where our friends from Costa Rica have the good sense to offer advance “UFC LINES” right along their main menu. What a concept!
MyBookie has placed far-and-away the shortest line on Frankie Edgar to-win by KO, TKO, submission or decision at (+280). Yet at the same book, there’s another 5-to-1 payoff moneyline on Spencer.
Maybe the managers at BetOnline and MyBookie don’t mind seeing such a discrepancy between the 2 main-event underdog lines for Saturday night in Alberta.
The Higher-Payoff UFC 240 Moneyline Might Be For Suckers
As the British Open tees off at Royal Portrush this week, I’m struck by at least 1 weird similarity between golf and cage-fighting. (“Golf is like fighting,” Lee Trevino said once.) Each is a sport of forgetting and remembering.
You can do pretty well at a sportsbook by remembering what others forget. Frankie Edgar’s recent smattering of losses (only 2 since 2013, to be precise) is assumed to be due to the fighter’s advanced age of 37. But once again and all together now: UFC. is. not. Boxing. Veteran UFC combatants do not get “killed off” by a monumental knockout or savage beating late in their careers. Gerry Cooney was not a UFC fighter. Older martial artists continue to develop, train, and work on counter-attacks, especially after a loss. They’re no more to be counted-out than a football team led by old pros.
Edgar has had losing streaks before, long prior to age becoming a factor. He lost to Benson “Smooth” Henderson twice in a row in Lightweight Championship bouts that took place in 2012, then went on to lose to Jose Aldo after transitioning to the featherweight division.
Did the pundits count-out a light-footed, driven technician out then, at 15-4-1? They shouldn’t have. Edgar used a blend of tenacity, finesse and vicious grapping to dismiss 5 opponents in a row.
The UFC has put out a free HQ-version of Edgar over Chad Mendes, but as exciting as that KO may be, I prefer watching dynamic mat-brutality in the Octagon, and thus this clip of Edgar over Cub Swanson:
There can be no denying Max Holloway’s credentials. The champ can see Frankie and call his recent unbeaten streaks with a 2014-2019 doozy, and his previous loss to Conor McGregor involved Holloway dodging or blocking most of McGregor’s vicious hooks and uppercuts. He has beaten Ortego and Aldo, fighters who have plagued Edgar, with brutal mid-fight beatdowns.
But by putting the distaff underdog at (+500) and letting the other main-event ‘dog at 3-to-1, betting sites are hoping to catch underdog-ML hounds thinking of the potential payoff, the percentages, and their bankrolls – not the reality of the situation.
Edgar has a better chance to beat Holloway than Spencer has to knock-off Cyborg. Cyborg may have recently gotten clipped in Round 1 by Amanda Nunes, but Holloway actually lost his most recent bout as well, a Lightweight title fight against Dustin Poirier. The loss underscores that the co-main event favorite has not otherwise lost a bout in nearly 15 years. She’s great at taking advantage of any kind of weakness or tactical mistake in the cage.
Spencer is a newcomer who has a perfect record in preliminary bouts and is a versatile, confident combatant who could develop into a star. She’s a Canuck who will be cheered from pillar to post at Rogers Place, but too green to avoid quick doom vs superior power and precision.
Don’t take the longer-payoff line – head to BetOnline and grab that (+340) market on Frankie Edgar, the underdog with a realistic chance on a Saturday night north of the border.
Now, as promised – some tips on the UFC 240 undercard.
Geoff Neal vs Nico Price
Neal is a (-240) favorite in this bout, curious considering that he’s giving up a few inches in height and a tiny bit of reach to the underdog Price. Bookmakers and the gambling public are valuing Neal’s convincing head-kick KO of Frank Camacho at UFC 228 and a series of consecutive TKOs prior to that.
- Lean: None
Arman Tsarukyan vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier
How much stock is Las Vegas putting in young Armenian-Russian MMA fighter Arman Tsarukyan? The (-230) Saturday night favorite is only 22 years old, but already has as many major-league results and only half as many losses as the veteran Aubin-Mercier. The powerful and versatile newcomer has knocked-out 5 opponents and tapped 5 others.
- Lean: Tsarukyan
Krzysztof Jotko vs Marc-Andre Barriault
Finally a closely-handicapped and tight-action bout as Jotko is only a (-161) favorite at BetOnline. Barriault lost his most-recent bout (a weird theme among favorites and highly-touted ‘dogs at UFC 240) but is a physical rock and a strong technical fighter.
Jotko is a Jiu-Jitsu expert and typically a solid favorite, but he’s also coming off a losing streak, having just started crawling back into elite form with a decision-win over unheralded Alen Amedovski.
- Lean: Barriault
2 Betting Tips on the Preliminary Card
Alexis Davis is an Ontario girl who should also get a rousing ovation in Canada, but she’s a (+225) underdog against 7-1 combatant Viviane Araujo. Have boxing-to-UFC bettors not learned that losses-against aren’t as big of a deal as they were when Iron Mike was king?
Davis has won and lost some recently, but she’s a still-nimble veteran and dangerous ‘dog who won with terrific grappling at her last UFC Pay-Per-View in Canada.
Yoshinori Horie is another tempting underdog ML at (+320), but nowhere near as valuable a play on the betting board as Edgar at nearly 3 and ½ to 1.