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UFC 226 Predictions and Betting Odds

International Fight Week culminates in UFC 226, one of the best cards on paper we have seen in some time. This card is stacked top to bottom – I would seriously recommend watching nearly all of the bouts on this card – but that does not always lend itself well to bettors. Don’t worry, I am here to bring you an in-depth breakdown and prediction for every fight on the main card of UFC 226.

2018 Prediction Record To Date
Straight UpPicking FavoritesPicking Underdogs

Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier

Miocic (-250) has built his game around his world-class boxing skills. He constantly probes with his long jab as he waits for his opportunity to counter. That being said, Miocic might be better when he is fighting in a phone booth with more power in his short punches than most humans have, period. In addition, the reigning champion is a former D1 wrestler who has adapted his style excellently to MMA. Generally, these skills are used defensively but Miocic will also use them offensively to wear down opponents – see his most recent bout vs Francis Ngannou. If he has one big negative, it is his defense. He has a bad tendency to take a hit to give a hit.

Cormier (+195) is first and foremost a chain wrestling expert. The former Olympian is at his best when he can get his opponent’s back against the cage and start working his vast array of takedowns. If he gets on top, DC is a master at making his opponent work while giving them nowhere to go. His striking is not the sexiest but the meat-and-potatoes approach has become an excellent secondary skill set for Cormier. Though he is proven as a heavyweight – 13-0 at the weight class – his height and reach disadvantage will be pronounced in this one.

Unlike the betting odds, I would not be shocked if Cormier won this fight. The only person to ever beat him is Jon Jones. However, Miocic is an excellent boxer who can utilize his reach advantage over the smaller Cormier and the heavyweight champion’s wrestling background means he won’t be steamrolled by the former Olympian.

Prediction: Stipe Miocic (-250) via decision

Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega

*This fight has been pulled from UFC 226 after Max Holloway displayed concussion-like symptoms. 

Holloway (-150) has a game plan built on great fundamentals and footwork. “Blessed” is constantly angling and moving his feet to find the best opportunity to strike, working a pressure-based style. That being said, Holloway is also plenty capable of using his height and reach advantage that he typically holds to stick-and-move. The Hawaiian loves bullying his opponent against the cage where he can set his feet and throw wicked combinations. Grappling isn’t something that he partakes in voluntarily and his amazing takedown defense means that his opposition rarely has the opportunity to.

Ortega (+120) is an aggressive, forward-moving striker who is built to pressure opponents. His technique is still raw – though it’s becoming more refined every time we see him – but he pressures exceptionally well with his feet, keeping his opponent moving back. “T-City” has pop in his hands and will gladly brawl but can be hittable. The real reason Ortega can move forward on the feet is due to his grappling skills. He is not a good wrestler but he is one of the most lethal fighters in the division working from the guard. Ortega might actually prefer if an opponent takes him down, so he can work his exceptional submissions from the back.

Ortega is the most lethal fighter Holloway has faced since Conor McGregor. However, Holloway is the most composed fighter in the division and will not panic if – that is a very big “if” – Ortega can put the pressure on the champ.

Prediction: Max Holloway (-150) via KO

Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis

Ngannou (-370) is basically the epitome of physical evolution. “The Predator” is a mountain of a man with an 83-inch reach and maybe the hardest natural punching power I’ve ever seen. A lot of people point to his power and natural athleticism but Ngannou’s awareness and feel for when to counter-strike is that of someone well beyond his years. However, his grappling game is terribly underdeveloped and can be exploited – see his fight vs Stipe Miocic.

Lewis (+280) is the definition of a home run slugger. “The Black Beast” has some of the heaviest hands in the UFC and is looking to knock his opponent out. He uses his size, physicality and knockout threat to walk down his opponent with the intent of getting their back on the cage – where he will flurry or clinch up in order to land punches. Lewis isn’t a great wrestler but uses his weight and balance well to get a fight to the mat.

You should not blink during this fight. Both men are powerhouses looking to render their opponent unconscious. I give Ngannou a slight edge in terms of raw power but Lewis has a higher fight IQ and has just enough wrestling ability to take it there if need be.

Prediction: Derrick Lewis (+280) via decision

Michael Chiesa vs Anthony Pettis

Chiesa (-160) is a grappler by trade, desiring to initiate the clinch first and foremost. Once in tight, the long Chiesa puts his typical height and reach advantage to good use by leveraging opponents into bad positions. He is capable of chewing up an opponent in the clinch but also has plenty of techniques to get a fight to the ground. Once on the mat, Chiesa is a killer. His striking is still complementary – but “Maverick” owns a nice straight left and meaty leg kicks.

Pettis (+130) is the most cut-and-dry fighter in the UFC. As a striker, “Showtime” has a vast array of attacks in his arsenal, which includes some absolutely lethal kicks. This style of kick-dependent attack does require space to be properly utilized. Which brings us to his flaws. Pettis is not a good grappler and can be easily grinded out by a simply competent wrestler – either in the clinch or on the mat.

I think Pettis will have plenty of opportunities to counter a raw striking game from Chiesa but “Maverick” is tough enough to blast through them and suffocate “Showtime.” There is a very real chance that Chiesa gets caught and ended but I expect him to get inside and grind away Pettis like so many others have.

Prediction: Michael Chiesa (-160) via decision

Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree Jr.

Saki (-145) is one of the most talented kickboxers in the world but is still untested as an MMA fighter. “The Rebel” was typically the smaller man as a pro kickboxer – he fought at heavyweight – so he is incredibly mobile and adept at avoiding strikes. Pair that with a lethal left hook and leg kick and you have one of the most talented strikers in the division. That being said, we still have next to no idea if he can grapple in the slightest.

Rountree (+115) is a counter-punching southpaw with tremendous raw power in his hands. He is not overly accurate and he is not great defensively but his striking style is one that usually lends itself to exciting – though short – fights. In terms of grappling, “The War Horse” offers next to nothing, never landing a takedown in the UFC and only barely defending any takedown attempts.

Neither man is there to grind out his opponent. Both Saki and Rountree want to strike and have basically no desire to grapple. That plays right into Saki’s hand, as the 34-year-old has more experience and a deeper arsenal on the feet than Rountree.

Prediction: Gokhan Saki (-145) via KO

UFC 226: Miocic vs Cormier Betting Odds
  • Stipe Miocic -250
  • Daniel Cormier +195
Odds as of July 6 at Bovada
  • Francis Ngannou -370
  • Derrick Lewis +280
  • Michael Chiesa -160
  • Anthony Pettis +130
  • Gokhan Saki -145
  • Khalil Rountree Jr. +115
  • Uriah Hall +300
  • Paulo Costa -400
  • Paul Felder -155
  • Mike Perry +125
  • Raphael Assuncao -175
  • Rob Font +145
  • Curtis Millender -170
  • Max Griffin +140
  • Dan Hooker -130
  • Gilbert Burns +100
  • Lando Vannata -175
  • Drakkar Klose +145
  • Jamie Moyle -210
  • Emily Whitmire +170