UFC 223: Odds Preview and Predictions
UFC 223 Preview And Predictions
The intrigue around UFC 223 is closing in on fever pitch this week, as Conor McGregor was stripped of his lightweight title. The belt was up for grabs between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway. However, Holloway was deemed medically unfit to fight. The more significant story may surround what happened Thursday night. McGregor did not deal well with his belt being taken, as him and a crew of friends attacked the bus containing Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov was involved in a minor incident with Artem Lobov on Tuesday. Lobov was involved in the incident on Thursday and will no longer fight at UFC 223. Some wonder if this fight was staged. However, with three matches now off the card due to the incident on Thursday, the likelihood of what transpired on Thursday being anything but a malicious act seems unlikely.
The women’s Strawweight Title is also in play this weekend (now the sole main event), a rematch between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The fight between Zabit Magomedsharipov and Kyle Bochniak moves up to the main card (to fill the absence left by Pettis-Chiesa fight).
Pettis is now slated to fight Nurmagomedov. However, it is almost too late to make any rational prediction on that fight, although Nurmagomedov should win and is a good pick once the odds are available. Overall, the last 24 hours in the UFC will not soon be forgotten.
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder
Starting the main card off is a fight between two lightweights trying to climb the rankings. The odds for this fight are even as both fighters have similar styles, success in the UFC. Felder has a height advantage, but the two fighters are even in reach and leg reach.
Iaquinta is a quicker striker, but weaker at defending strikes. Neither fighter relies on submissions or the ground game. With these two fighters matching up so evenly, a three-round fight decided by decision is a good wager. Iaquinta has more momentum, winning five straight contests to climb to 11th in the lightweight rankings. Look for Iaquinta to control the match and win by decision.
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Kyle Bochniak
No fighter is a more significant favourite on Saturday night than Zabit. The 14-1 Russian has the majority of advantages in the fight, including six inches in height and three inches in reach. Zabit has a complete fight repertoire, efficient in striking and the ground game.
Bochniak is a reasonable defender but lacks the accuracy to score enough points to pull off the upset. Bochniak is a known for his stamina and ability to last three rounds. However, as mentioned earlier, he just will not have a good enough fight against Zabit to win on Saturday.
Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar
One of the best fights on the card features two ranked featherweights trying to move into the title fight conversation. Kattar enters as a small favourite over Moicano. Kattar is 18-2 in his MMA career and undefeated in his two UFC bouts. Kattar is an excellent striker, although he does sacrifice some defence to land a higher amount of significant strikes.
Moicano is coming off his first professional loss (losing by submission to Brian Ortega at UFC 214). Moicano’s style is based on stamina and takedowns. Moicano is a better defender than Kattar. If he can withstand the barrage of strikes Kattar throws at him, he has a good chance at winning.
Arguably, the toughest fight to predict, Kattar’s ability to stay on his feet may be the biggest factor to consider. In Kattar’s last eight professional fights (all wins), Kattar won seven by decision and one by TKO. If Moicano were a better striker, he would be able to open up Kattar’s body more for takedowns. However, his style is not built for great success against a fighter like Kattar.
Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
In a rematch from UFC 217, Rose Namajunas makes her first title defence, against the woman she beat to win the Strawweight Championship. Namajunas won the last fight in the first round by TKO (punches). The odds are about even in this fight, with Jedrzejczyk being the slightest of favourites (-120 odds to win, Namajunas -110 odds to win) to recapture the title.
Jedrzejczyk only professional loss came against Namajunas at UFC 217. Prior to the defeat, Jedrzejczyk defended the title five times (with the last four coming through unanimous decisions). Jedrzejczyk should take a different approach against Namajunas on Saturday night, with a focus on protecting much better against her significant strikes.
Namajunas will likely need to utilize her ground game if she wants to retain the championship. In her UFC career, three of Namajunas five victories have been by submission. Jedrzejczyk’s overall success in MMA points towards a much better performance on Saturday night.
Namajunas caught Jedrzejczyk off guard at UFC 217 and will likely not be able to employ the same strategy on Saturday. Take Joanna Jedrzejczyk to have a much better outing in the octagon and recapture the championship.
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