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UFC 196: Betting Odds and Predictions

Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz may not be the superfight we were expecting, but it is certainly one of the most exciting matchups we could have hoped to see as MMA fans. UFC 196 will not only feature McGregor vs Diaz, it will also see Holly Holm put her bantamweight title on the line for the first time when she takes on Miesha Tate.

Conor McGregor (-400) vs Nate Diaz (+300)

We have the featherweight champion taking on the fifth ranked lightweight in a welterweight fight. Yeah, this fight is going to be a little weird.

McGregor makes his first appearance in the Octagon since dusting Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to win the featherweight title. Since joining the UFC back in 2013, McGregor is 7-0 with six of those victories coming via stoppage.

Much has been made of McGregor’s striking style and the devastating knockout power the Irishman possesses. His standup game is based within a vertical stance that allows McGregor to throw his kicks without exerting excess time or energy. He has become an expert at using his kicks to generate the distance that he can use to open his arsenal of attacks. The swiftness and brutality of these attacks are unparalleled in MMA today.

The biggest question mark in this fight is size. McGregor is fighting at 170 lbs for the first time in his career; a jump of 25 lbs compared to his last fight, and will be at a reach disadvantage for the first time within the UFC. ‘The Notorious One’ always held a distinct advantage in size at the lower weight classes, but Nate is about four inches taller and has a two-inch reach advantage.

Diaz possesses a fighting style that is uniquely suited to him and his brother Nick. He is a volume boxer first and foremost on his feet, meaning he throws punches in bunches and loves to be aggressive. The Stockton-native is great at keeping his distance, quickly moving in to throw a flurry and then getting back to distance. Diaz pairs his striking skills with a phenomenal ground game that has resulted in 11 of his 18 career wins coming via submission.

Despite his strong ground game, Diaz is unable to truly utilize it thanks to a poor wrestling game. It seems that Diaz will often try to taunt his opponents into a position where they go for the takedown and he can do his work. Although his striking game is solid, it is far from perfect as it involves a simple attack with few unpredictable elements.

Can Diaz submit McGregor? Yes. Will he get the chance to? Not likely.

This is expected to be a standup affair and though Diaz is a capable striker, he does not possess the same level of skills that McGregor does. Conor has good movement skills, which should help him overcome his reach disadvantage and pick up the win in this one.

Pick: Conor McGregor (-400)

Holly Holm (-300) vs Miesha Tate (+230)

Holm is a flawless 10-0 in her MMA career since coming over from the boxing world. Her last outing saw ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ shock the world and decimate the (once-thought to be) indestructible Ronda Rousey.

Holm has a legitimate claim to saying she is the best striker in women’s MMA (though Joanna Jedrzejczyk may disagree). Her striking skills have been honed through years of world-class boxing and she can unleash picture perfect flurries in no time. You can see when she throws punches that her body stays in a straight line the way only years of proper training can create. Holm is a rare fighter that fights inside out, as she uses her boxing game to create distance to implement her strong kicks. We have also seen through her short UFC career, that Holm is a strong wrestler that allows her to keep a fight standing.

Holm has been getting better with every outing and she has ridiculous cardio from fighting 10 round boxing matches for years. If there is one question mark, it is how she will fare on the ground against a persistent grappler like her next opponent.

Despite being five years the junior to her opponent, Tate has 13 more career fights. ‘Cupcake’ has long been one of the best women’s fighters on the planet and enters this fight riding a four-fight winning streak.

Tate has predicated her career on tenacity and aggressiveness. She does not have the most beautiful striking game, as she comes from a wrestling background, but her tough chin has made up for some of the limitations in that regard when pushing forward. Tate is more of a grinder than anything, as she tends to use her dynamic wrestling skills and strength to wear down her opponents over the course of the fight.

Tate’s biggest limitation is in the standup game. Though she has started to round out that aspect of her game over recent years, it is still a step behind true strikers. In her last fight against Jessica Eye, you can see that Tate was losing most of the technical exchanges, but a few well placed bombs helped her take the fight to the mat. If she has not tightened up her defense this fight could be short.

Tate will need to breach Holm’s desired punching range and make this fight a grind if she wants to win. Holm is a patient puncher and has little problem waiting for Tate to show her chin, something she will certainly do if this fight remains standing. That being said, we’ve seen Tate take some major beatings over the years and keep on coming. I genuinely think that Tate derails the UFC’s plans for Holm vs Rousey 2.

Pick: Miesha Tate (+230)

Ilir Latifi (-200) vs Gian Villante (+160)

Latifi is a scary man. ‘The Sledgehammer’ has won his past two fights in a combined one minute and 26 seconds. Each of his last four victories have come within the first round. The Swede is an aggressive fighter on his feet and will constantly throw flurries at his opponent. Latifi was primarily considered a wrestler when he entered the UFC, with international wrestling experience before he joined MMA, but the power in his strikes have proven to be a big difference maker in the UFC.

Despite his power, Latifi is still a technically underwhelming striker. He has a tendency to not set up his offense and his footwork leaves a lot to be desired. It does concern me that he may be a little overconfident in his striking skills given his past two fights and that could result in a bad ending for Latifi.

Villante is an athletic fighter that primarily relies on his kickboxing skills. He has won three of his past four fights in the Octagon, with two of those victories coming via T/KO. Villante is a finisher, with 11 of his 14 career wins coming via stoppage.

Villante is simply an adequate light heavyweight fighter. There is nothing about him that is spectacular and many of his career finishes have come against less than good talent.

I’ll be honest; I view this fight as a bit of a cool down before the two big fights on this card. Ultimately, neither of these fighters will likely crack the Top 10 fighters in the division and this fight is likely on here to showcase Latifi’s power.

Pick: Ilir Latifi (-200)

Corey Anderson (-325) vs Tom Lawlor (+250)

Anderson is still fairly green in the MMA world as the 26-year-old only has eight career fights. He has shown a great ability to grind out victories due to his wrestling, with four of his seven career victories coming via decision. This does not detract from his punching ability though, as ‘Beastin 25/8’ (my nomination for worst nickname in MMA history) has flashed some pop in the early days of his career.

Anderson’s striking is still a work in progress and he will freely admit that. His lone career loses came largely due to his inability to defend himself on the feet or implement proper head movement.

Lawlor has demonstrated a well-rounded skill set throughout his career with four wins via T/KO, four via submission and two by decision. ‘Filthy’ has won his past two fights by stoppage and is coming off a T/KO victory over Gian Villante. Lawlor was a collegiate wrestler and has relied on that within the Octagon when all else fails.

One of Lawlor’s biggest flaws is his lack of refinement in the standup game. He is strong and has shown that he can end a fight with his punches, but he is technically lackluster. This leaves many holes that fighters are able to capitalize on.

This fight could be very intriguing for hardcore fans with both fighters showing some very good wrestling prowess. Both fighters are flawed in the striking game, so if it stays standing up then I tend to believe that both fighters could win or lose within an instant. However, I think Anderson’s athleticism and constant growth will give him the edge in this bout.

Pick: Corey Anderson (-325)

Amanda Nunes (-165) vs Valentina Shevchenko (+105)

Nunes is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. ‘Lioness’ has excellent wrestling ability and possibly the best ground-and-pound in the division. Nunes has won nine of her 11 fights via T/KO and has picked up each of her past four wins via stoppage within the first round. Her violence and brutality on the ground is as beautiful as it is scary.

Nunes has one major flaw and that is her cardio. She has ended so many of her fights early and she is so aggressive that she has little reserves left in the tank if it goes past the first round. It was very evident in her loss to Cat Zigano as Nunes looked good until she got finished late.

Shevchenko is a deadly fighter who has shown the ability to be a dangerous opponent to anyone in the division. She has spent years training in kickboxing and Muay Thai, which has given her some exemplary kicking combinations and reflexes. Shevchenko’s Muay Thai experience means she is also adept at working in the clinch, as well as possessing good takedown defense so she can dictate where the fight goes.

Shevchenko has yet to fully develop her boxing ability and can struggle to throw combinations with her hands. She is still a relatively green face within the Octagon with this being her second fight in the UFC and she didn’t have an easy first task in Sara McMann.

This fight is Shevchenko’s to lose. As long as she can handle the initial storm from Nunes while not getting too shellshocked, Shevchenko should be able to utilize her offense and grind out the quick-to-slow Nunes.

Pick: Valentina Shevchenko (+105)

UFC 196: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada

Odds as of Match 4 at Bovada

  • Conor McGregor -400
  • Nate Diaz +300
  • Holly Holm -300
  • Miesha Tate +230
  • Ilir Latifi -200
  • Gian Villante +160
  • Corey Anderson -325
  • Tom Lawlor +250
  • Amanda Nunes -135
  • Valentina Shevchenko +105
  • Brandon Thatch -325
  • Siyar Bahadurzada +250
  • Erick Silva -235
  • Nordine Taleb +185
  • Vitor Miranda -300
  • Marcelo Guimaraes +230
  • Chas Skelly -170
  • Darren Elkins +140
  • Jim Miller -150
  • Diego Sanchez +120
  • Jason Saggo -205
  • Justin Salas +165
  • Julian Erosa -205
  • Teruto Ishihara +165

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