UFC 250 features the women's featherweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer, but there are important matches scattered on the card, especially in the bantamweight division.
The co-main event between Cody Garbrandt and Raphael Assuncao is just one important bout between 135ers. Perhaps even more important is the other main-card offering of Cory Sandhagen and Aljamain Sterling.
Both have a good case for a title shot with a win, and the Colorado native's rise will face its toughest opposition to date.
Then there's the return of prospect Sean O'Malley. He'll be taking on longtime veteran Eddie Wineland, with an opportunity to showcase his dynamic skill set and get back on the radar for contention.
Here's a look at the entire card with odds and predictions for some of the more important fights taking place before we get to the main event.
- Amanda Nunes (-650; Bet $650 to win $100) vs. Felicia Spencer (+475; $100 bet wins $475)
- Raphael Assuncao (+125) vs. Cody Garbrandt (-145)
- Aljamain Sterling (-115) vs. Cory Sandhagen (-105)
- Neil Magny (-145) vs. Anthony Rocco Martin (+125)
- Eddie Wineland (+400) vs. Sean O'Malley (-500)
- Alex Caceres (+140) vs. Chase Hooper (-160)
- Ian Heinisch (-130) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (+110)
- Cody Stamann (-270) vs. Brian Kelleher (+230)
- Charles Byrd (-170) vs Maki Pitolo (+150)
- Jussier Formiga (+120) vs. Alex Perez (-140)
- Alonzo Menifield (-230) vs. Devin Clark (+190)
Author's picks in italics; odds via Caesars Palace
Undercard Bouts to Watch
Garbrandt vs. Assuncao
This is going to be an important night for the bantamweight division. After Henry Cejudo walked away from the sport and left the division without a champion, the hierarchy is up for grabs and several fighters have the opportunity to make a statement Saturday night.
Among those men are Cody Garbrandt and Raphael Assuncao.
Both are on thin ice as contenders in the division, though. Garbrandt is a former champion but hasn't fought in over a year and is riding a three-fight losing streak. All of those losses have come by knockout.
Assuncao never quite got a title shot but it isn't because he never earned one. He was 11-1 from August 2011 to July 2018. That streak included wins over T.J. Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes and Sterling.
However, the book on the Brazilian is that time might be catching up to him. He's been on the losing end of back-to-back fights against Moraes and Sandhagen recently. A defeat to Garbrandt would likely seal the deal on the 37-year-old ever getting a title shot.
It's a classic striker vs. grappler matchup between the two. Garbrandt hasn't been taken down in his UFC career while Assuncao does most of his damage on the ground.
A fight between two highly skilled fighters who desperately need a win to stay relevant in a suddenly competitive division is a recipe for a highly entertaining showdown.
Prediction: Garbrandt via TKO
Sterling vs. Sandhagen
Sterling and Sandhagen might not have co-main event billing, but theirs is the most important fight on the card outside of Nunes' title defense. The winner of the fight will likely have first dibs on a title shot.
While the UFC is reportedly targeting a clash between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo for the vacant championship both Sterling and Sandhagen could have just as easily been put in that fight right now. A win for either of them makes the clear-cut contender.
Sterling has been in the UFC since 2014 and has evolved from a pure grappler to a dangerous submission artist who can hold his own as a striker. After dropping back-to-back fights against Bryan Caraway and Assuncao, he has gone 6-1 with wins over Renan Barao, Jimmie Rivera and Pedro Munhoz.
Sandhagen hasn't been around nearly as long. He made his UFC debut in January 2018 but has made his presence felt. He is 12-1 for his career and 5-0 with the promotion. The last of those wins have come against increasingly difficult competition in the form of John Lineker and Assuncao.
Sandhagen does a great job of building behind his jab. He attacks all levels off of it with leg kicks, body blows and a quick right hand. At 5'11" with a 70" reach, the 28-year-old is a long and lanky bantamweight who uses that to his advantage.
Sterling, 30, is a tricky submission grappler, and his striking has come a long way. He's going to need to be crafty to deter the volume that Sandhagen brings to the table, though.
This is going to be a chess match that fans will wish was five rounds when it's over.
Prediction: Sandhagen via decision
O'Malley vs. Wineland
While Garbrandt, Sandhagen, Assuncao and Sterling will battle to find out what the present order of bantamweights should be, Sean O'Malley might just be the future of the division.
The 25-year-old made a triumphant return from more than two years away from the cage with a first-round TKO win over Jose Alberto Quinonez in March. Now he's back just three months later to fight Eddie Wineland in a bout that should be a tuneup if he continues his upward trajectory.
O'Malley has star potential in the UFC. From his unique look to his exciting style and outlandish personality, all that needs to fall into place is the winning.
So far he's been a perfect 11-0 in that department. Much like Sandhagen, he's tall for a 135er at 5'11" and even has a slightly bigger reach at 72". He also is adept at using that reach to unleash devastating striking.
His flashy striking has led to seven knockout wins in his 11 fights, but he'll be facing a durable opponent in Wineland. The former WEC champion has achieved middling results in the UFC but hasn't been knocked out since 2014.
All toughness and durability guarantees for the veteran is that he shouldn't be a victim of a first-round knockout. From an athletic and even technical standpoint, O'Malley appears to have all of the advantages and the odds reflect that.
This should be one-sided even if O'Malley can't get the finish.
Prediction: O'Malley via decision