UFC 178: Main Card Betting Odds and Predictions
Although it lost Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, UFC 178 still heads into Saturday as a strong card.
Headlining the event will be a 125-pound championship bout between Demetrious Johnson and Chris Cariaso. While Cariaso is a massive underdog, it's still a meaningful matchup. Should Mighty Mouse win, he'll match UFC legends Tito Ortiz and Matt Hughes with five consecutive title defenses.
In addition to the flyweight championship clash, UFC 178 features numerous bouts that could have title-shot implications.
Donald Cerrone will welcome former Bellator MMA champion Eddie Alvarez to the Octagon. Conor McGregor will receive his first big test in the featherweight division opposite Dustin Poirier. Tim Kennedy and Yoel Romero will jockey for positioning in the Top 10 middleweight rankings. Finally, Cat Zingano will make her long-awaited return against Amanda Nunes.
Here is a look at the current odds, via OddsShark.com, for all the aforementioned bouts and predictions on which fighters might get their hand raised.
Cat Zingano (-270) vs. Amanda Nunes (+230)
Zingano had been promised a title shot following her win over Miesha Tate in April 2013, but injuries and family tragedy led to a 17-month hiatus. Now, Zingano is back to earn the title shot she lost.
With wins in her first two UFC appearances, Nunes looks to be a tough welcoming party. However, she should end up being a tune-up for Zingano.
Nunes is still looking for a Top 10 win, while Zingano is coming off a win over the next best female bantamweight other than herself and Ronda Rousey. There's always some risk betting on a fighter who has been out so long, but Zingano should cruise to a win.
Play: Two percent bankroll on Zingano
Tim Kennedy (+125) vs. Yoel Romero (-145)
Kennedy has been on a roll, but Olympic medalist Romero might be the best athlete he'll have seen in MMA.
Undefeated in four UFC appearances, Romero has mixed world-class wrestling with aggressive striking to become a contender in the middleweight class. With better wrestling than possibly anybody in MMA, Romero matches up well with a grinder like Kennedy.
Kennedy can never be counted out, but his only route to victory might be surviving into the later rounds and hoping that Romero wears down.
With wins in three straight fights that entered the third round, Romero's conditioning should be good enough.
Play: One percent bankroll on Romero
Dustin Poirier (+240) vs. Conor McGregor (-280)
McGregor has looked excellent early in his UFC career. However, he'll be taking a big step up to meet Poirier on Saturday.
A Top Five featherweight with three straight wins, Poirier should be getting the attention. However, McGregor's electric personality has earned him a strong following.
While McGregor has shown to be a dangerous striker, he's still untested by UFC competition on the ground. One of the more well-rounded fighters at 145 pounds, Poirier should be able to get McGregor to the canvas, where the Irishman has been submitted multiple times.
Make no mistake. This is a close matchup, but the more proven Poirier shouldn't be an underdog. The smart money will be on him.
Play: One percent bankroll on Poirier
Donald Cerrone (-110) vs. Eddie Alvarez (-110)
With stoppage wins in four straight fights, Cerrone will be a tough test for Alvarez, who will make his long overdue UFC debut this weekend.
Having beaten a number of ranked UFC fighters, Cerrone has proved he's among the elite on the UFC lightweight roster. He may have some work to do in order to become champion, but Cowboy is always going to be a tough opponent for any 155-pounder in the world.
We know Alvarez is also good. We're just not sure how well he matches up with UFC lightweights.
Alvarez defeated some solid competition under the Bellator MMA banner, including Michael Chandler, Pat Curran and Shinya Aoki. However, it's hard to predict how his performances against that opposition will translate to success against the adversaries he'll meet inside the Octagon.
That's what is so intriguing about Alvarez meeting a contender like Cerrone right out of the gates. It's a great matchup for fans but not a great matchup for gamblers. Shy away from betting for or against Alvarez until it's clearer where he stands in the UFC 155-pound class.
Demetrious Johnson (-1500) vs. Chris Cariaso (+1000)
One doesn't need to check the betting odds to recognize a Cariaso win on Saturday would be one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. However, the current odds do paint a pretty clear picture of the situation.
Not many are giving Cariaso a chance against Johnson, and it's probably for good reason.
With no UFC victories over a current Top 15 flyweight contender, Cariaso hasn't done much more than win three straight fights to earn this shot at the champion. Cariaso is only a few fights removed from a submission loss to John Moraga, a fighter who was dominated and submitted by Johnson 14 months ago.
Cariaso is a capable striker. However, with only one knockout win in 10 UFC appearances, Cariaso lacks the power to be able to stop Johnson.
Unlikely to hurt Mighty Mouse, Cariaso is going to face numerous takedowns. The chances of Cariaso stopping the champion's wrestling, when he's been taken down in nine consecutive fights, are pretty much zero.
These odds aren't going to provide much return on investment, but Johnson is free money. I wouldn't suggest placing money on these odds often, but a bet on Johnson should be as close to a guarantee as it gets in MMA.
Play: Five percent bankroll on Johnson