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UFC 194: Betting Odds and Predictions

UFC 194 Jose Aldo

UFC 194 is shaping up to be the biggest card in the history of the company. The card features two title fights, a likely title eliminator and two of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters in MMA squaring off. UFC 194 is one of the closest ever in terms of odds, with only one fight on the main card looking like it will close with a favorite bigger than -160.

Jose Aldo (-120) vs Conor McGregor (+100)

Jose Aldo’s standing game is predicated on his jab and his leg kicks. Aldo loves to throw the jab and will often double up on the punch to keep his distance at a safe range.  The leg kick comes in two varieties from Aldo, one more traditional and one based in Dutch kickboxing, but both offer devastating damage if gone unchecked. Perhaps the most interesting part of Aldo’s stand-up game is his head movement, as he rarely allows a clean shot to hit him based on that alone.

Aldo’s hip movement and angle work has created one of the best takedown defenses in the history of the UFC. Rarely has Aldo been taken to the ground unless he wanted to fight there. Scarface is an underrated wrestler and has shown the willingness to take advantage of that when available (ie: not against Chad Mendes).

Conor McGregor’s offense focuses mainly on pressure. ‘The Notorious’ one is aggressive without being stupid and uses a high volume of strikes to force opponents to the cage where he is one of the best at punching around a guard. McGregor loves throwing from the left, using his southpaw stance to his benefit. His punching repertoire is heavily dependant on the left straight, left hook and left head kick—though he uses the right uppercut to set up his powerful left straight.

We have not seen McGregor taken to the ground often, but he usually scrambles quickly to get back to his feet.  Although he’s great on the ground when he’s on top, his defense from his back can be brought into question.

This fight will be a war and it is not an easy one to pick. Ultimately, I think Aldo will be able to use his leg kicks and jabs to keep his distance on the feet long enough to get the fight on the ground, where he holds an advantage.

Pick: Jose Aldo

Chris Weidman (-135) vs Luke Rockhold (+115)

Chris Weidman is crisp and fluid in his striking game while becoming adept at utilizing his reach. However, nobody is going to say striking is Weidman’s number one tool. The former All-America wrestler has transferred his ability well to MMA as he has shown to be equally adept at going for the takedown at the center of the Octagon or along the cage.

Weidman is a naturally gifted grappler on the ground and there is little doubt that he is aiming for a choke when he gets on top. Both of his two submission victories in the UFC have come by headlock style chokes, while he also has the finishing ability to simply ground and pound a victory.

Luke Rockhold is a big middleweight and it shows in his striking, which is incredibly powerful. Rockhold is more of a pressure fighter on his feet and would prefer to work the angles to force his opponent onto the cage. Like most southpaws, he demonstrates a lethal left straight, but also loves working in left leg kicks and body kicks.

Rockhold has used his size and strength to his advantage and shown that he’s a great defensive wrestler, but he is also a fantastic scrambler, which helps him keep the fight where he wants it. Despite preferring to stand, Rockhold is a BJJ black belt.

I will be perfectly honest with you—this is the fight I have had the hardest time predicting. If the fight stays standing I give it to Rockhold, but if it goes to the ground I go Weidman. I believe Rockhold is confident enough in his ground game that he would not shy away from that aspect, which could ultimately be his downfall.

Pick: Chris Weidman

Jacare Souza (-140) vs Yoel Romero (+120)

Jacare Souza is a pressure fighter in most respects and that is no different in his striking game, but his head movement plays a big part in getting in close to fire off tight, powerful punches. While standing, the overhand right is what any opponent of Souza needs to watch out for, as he will happily attempt to land it.

Jacare has a black belt in judo, which has made him one of the strongest wrestlers in the division. Souza will look to back opponents into the cage where he can either work the clinch or use his strong double leg takedown to go to the ground. Once on the ground, Souza’s black belt in BJJ makes him almost unstoppable in the submission game.

Under the tutelage of American Top Team, Yoel Romero has developed from more than just an amazing wrestler. The ‘Solider of God’ has seen a significant improvement in his striking ability. His relatively basic approach allow him to hit at a high rate while conserving energy.

Romero uses his wrestling pedigree to quickly bust out takedown attempts, usually preferring them in the center of the Octagon. His size and strength make Romero hard to contend with in the clinch or on the ground.

Souza is arguably the best middleweight to never hold the UFC belt and although he could very well be manhandled for the first time in recent memory, any fight going to the ground is a fight I favour Jacare in.

Pick: Jacare Souza

Demian Maia (-115) vs Gunnar Nelson (-105)

Demian Maia has taken time to grow his striking abilities over the years after being exposed early in his career. Although his strikes are not overly powerful, his aggression and pawing jab sets up his clinch work well. Maia’s wrestling is all about suffocating his opponent with his extensive training in judo creating some fantastic clinch work.

But at the end of the day, Maia’s bread and butter is his BJJ in which he has a fourth degree black belt. Maia will quickly look to get to guard when he gains top position, as his experience has him constantly striving to attain a back mount. A small but effective part of Maia’s game is body triangles which he used to slowly wear down opponents.

Gunni’s striking game is based in karate, which has given him a unique style that fighters have had difficulties with, however, he can be very inactive on his feet. Nelson has many of the same strengths of Maia, with a black belt in BJJ and some surprising strength in the clinch despite being small for the weight class.

This fight has all the makings of one of the greatest grappling matchups we have ever seen in the UFC, but I believe that Maia is just a little better and more experienced in most areas than Nelson.

Pick: Demian Maia

Max Holloway (-550) vs Jeremy Stephens (+425)

After four of his first six fights in the UFC made it to the judges scorecards, two of which being losses, Max Holloway has decided to start ending fights sooner. The 24-year-old is currently on a seven fight-winning streak with all but one of them being ended prematurely.

Holloway is a technically beautiful striker and has grown to become wearier of all out brawls. ‘Blessed’ also has a variety of strikes and mixes in punches, kicks and knees well. The Hawaiian-native tends to use his wrestling for defense and would rather stand up than be on the mat. Holloway’s most dangerous weapon may be his high elbow guillotine choke, which he has used to win twice in his past seven fights.

Jeremy Stephens has always been known for his knockout power, but Lil Heathen has only tallied two wins by T/KO in his last 10 fights. Stephens is an aggressive striker and offensive wrestler, but has been exposed in both areas in his career.

Holloway should be able to use his technical ability to outstrike Stephens and his takedown defense should hold up, giving him a significant edge.

Pick: Max Holloway

For even more UFC 194 coverage, check out UFC Commentator and Team OddsShark Member Jon Anik’s breakdown of the two title fights on the card.

UFC 194 Odds

Odds as of December 12 at 5Dimes

  • Conor McGregor +100
  • Jose Aldo -130
  • Chris Weidman -135
  • Luke Rockhold +115
  • Jacare Souza -140
  • Yoel Romaro +120
  • Gunnar Nelson -105
  • Demian Maia -115
  • Max Holloway -550
  • Jeremy Stephens +425
  • Urijah Faber -700
  • Frankie Saenz +500
  • Tecia Torres -300
  • Jocelyn Jones Lybarger +250
  • Colby Covington -120
  • Warlley Alves +100
  • Kevin Lee -700
  • Leonardo Santos +500
  • Joe Proctor +315
  • Magomed Mustafaev -380
  • Court McGee -175
  • Marcio Alexandre jr. +155
  • John Makdessi -165
  • Yancy Medeiros +145

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