On Saturday, August 17th, the UFC will be live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, for UFC 241: Cormier vs Miocic 2. This PPV event features a heavyweight championship fight as Daniel Cormier defends his title against the man he took it from last year in Stipe Miocic. The co-main event is an explosive welterweight clash between Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz.
Yoel Romero returns to the octagon for the first time in a year as he takes on Paulo Costa. Other notable fighters include Raphael Assuncao, Cory Sandhagen, Derek Brunson, and Sodiq Yusuff. In total, there are 12 fights scheduled for UFC 241. The first round of prelims are set to begin at 6:15 PM ET on ESPN+. The main card for this event will begin at 10 PM ET on PPV.
UFC betting sites have released their odds for the entire UFC 241 card. Let’s examine these current betting lines, identify possible betting value or upsets, and KO our picks. All MMA betting odds used in this UFC 241 betting guide are courtesy of 5Dimes.
UFC 241 Early Prelims
The early preliminary card features three fights and is set to begin at 6:15 PM ET on UFC Fight Pass:
Shana Dobson (3-2) vs Sabina Mazo (6-1)
Shana Dobson (-135)
Sabina Mazo (+115)
In the first of the two women’s fights, both women are looking to rebound from a loss and gain some traction in the flyweight division. Dobson is the betting favorite, but is just 1-1 inside the octagon. She last fought in April 2018, and lost via unanimous decision to Lauren Mueller. Dobson is only 3-2 in her career and two of those wins have come via decision. I’m a bit surprised that she’s the favorite for this fight especially not having fought in roughly 16 months.
Let’s be honest, Mazo was a big disappointment in her first UFC fight which took place in the end of March. The “Colombian Queen” lost via UD to Maryna Moroz after debuting with some buzz. Mazo was 6-0 in her career and the former LFA flyweight champ prior to joining the UFC. Four of Mazo’s six pro wins have come via decision.
This fight has “going to the judges” written all over it. Five of Mazo’s seven pro fights have gone the distance and four of Dobson’s five fights have gone to the scorecards. This fight also appears to be Dobson’s punching power versus Mazo’s all-around offense.
Mazo let us all down in her last fight, but I don’t see it happening again. I believe she will mix up the striking with punches and kicks, go to the mat if she has to, and eventually outscore Dobson with the judges. I’m taking Mazo to win via unanimous decision.
UFC Bet: Sabina Mazo (+115)
Kyung Ho Kang (15-8) vs Brandon Davis (10-5)
Kyung Ho Kang (-190)
Brandon Davis (+165)
Davis comes into this bout having won his last fight in April via submission over Randy Costa. It was a solid win that stopped a two-fight losing streak. Davis made his octagon debut in January 2018, but lost to Bochniak. Nicknamed “Killer B,” Davis has gone 2-3 within the UFC. Six of his 10 professional wins have come via stoppage.
Kang looks too big to be a bantamweight. And yet, he’s returned to the 135-pound weight class looking to move up the ladder. Kang was forced to honor his military time and was absent from fighting for 3 ½ years. He returned to the UFC in January 2018, and has gone 2-1 since then. Kang’s lone loss over that span came via split decision to Ricardo Ramos, which some pundits believed Kyung Ho Kang had won. 11 of his 15 pro wins have come via submission.
Davis is a brawler with some striking skills. Unfortunately, he lacks in the grappling department and that’s where he was exposed by Zabit Magomedsharipov and Enrique Barzola last year. I expect Kang to do the same. Nicknamed “Mr. Perfect,” Kang is a superior grappler and the bigger of the two fighters physically. I expect Kang to entertain a striking battle until he finds an opening to take Davis down to the mat. Kang will win this fight via submission.
UFC Bet: Kyung Ho Kang (-190)
Hannah Cifers (9-3) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-5)
Hannah Cifers (-265)
Jodie Esquibel (+225)
In the second of two women’s fights, Hanna Cifers takes on Jodie Esquibel in a strawweight battle. Cifers is the huge betting favorite and rightfully so. She’s considered the better fighter of the two, as she’s won six of her last seven pro fights. Cifers made her UFC debut last November, but lost via TKO to Maycee Barber. She bounced back in March to defeat a tough opponent in Polyana Viana via split decision. Cifers is 1-1 with the UFC and is six years younger than her opponent. Five of her nine pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Esquibel is on her last “life” with the UFC. She’s lost three straight fights and is 0-3 inside the octagon. Although she’s fought some tough competition like Kowalkiewicz and Aguilar, one more loss will most likely result in her release. Jodie is 3-5 in her last eight pro fights and hasn’t won since March 2017. Five of her six pro wins have come via decision.
I don’t see a scenario where Esquibel wins this contest. She’s taken a beating in her last three fights and is unable to hang with better strikers, which is exactly what Cifers is. I give Jodie props for being tough enough to eat hundreds of punches to the face and going to the scorecards in all three UFC fights, but that won’t help her win this battle. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cifers gets the TKO win here as she does have knockout power. However, I will give Esquibel the benefit of the doubt and say that she survives another octagon outing. Cifers wins via UD.
UFC Bet: Hannah Cifers (-265)
UFC 241 Prelims on ESPN
The second preliminary card of the night features four fights and is set to begin at 8 PM ET on ESPN.
Manny Bermudez (14-0) vs Casey Kenney (12-1-1)
Manny Bermudez (-130)
Casey Kenney (+110)
Bermudez is the slight betting favorite in this matchup as he brings his undefeated record into this bantamweight bout. Manny joined the UFC in February 2018 and has gone 3-0 since then. He last fought six months ago and won via submission over Benito Lopez. 11 of his 14 pro wins have come via submission. There’s no doubt that Bermudez will look to lock in a submission as quickly as possible to remain unbeaten for his career. However, that might be easier said than done.
Kenney comes into this bout on a five-fight win streak and last fought in March where he surprised many fans and pundits by defeating Ray Borg. It was his UFC debut, and he looked solid against a reputable fighter. Casey showed toughness, endurance, striking skills, and a strong takedown defense. And he did that on less than two weeks’ notice. Six of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage.
This is a close fight. Both men have enough firepower on their feet and skills on the mat to counter each other’s strengths. For me, I can’t seem to get Kenney’s victory over Borg out of my head. It’s more impressive than any of Bermudez’s UFC wins. Furthermore, I think Borg is better than Bermudez, whereas, Kenney is arguably Manny’s toughest opponent.
I’m taking Kenney to win this fight via UD. I think his striking, scrambling, and takedown defense will be enough to score more points with the judges and win. Eight of Kenney’s 14 pro fights have gone the distance. Casey has a record of 6-1-1 in those fights.
UFC Bet: Casey Kenney (+110)
Christos Giagos (17-7) vs Drakkar Klose (10-1-1)
Christos Giagos (+160)
Drakkar Klose (-185)
Giagos enters the fight as a sizable underdog, but having won two straight contests. This is his second stint with the UFC as he went 1-2 from October 2014 to late 2015. He was let go by the UFC then returned to regional promotions. Over the next two and a half years, Giagos would put together a respectable run where he went 4-2 overall. The UFC called him back on short notice to take on Charles Oliveira 11 months ago. As expected, he came up short in a spirited contest. Since then, Giagos won his last two fights via decisions and is now 3-3 inside the octagon for his career. 10 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage.
Klose surprised many by upsetting Diakiese and Vannata in the last two years. He showed strength, power, and an aggressiveness inside the octagon. Klose has gone 4-1 in the UFC with his lone loss coming to David Teymur via decision. Six of his 10 pro wins have come via decision. In total, eight of his 12 pro fights have gone to the scorecards where he has a record of 6-1-1 in those contests.
I believe Klose is the better fighter in this matchup and should win based on sheer power alone. I see Drakkar smothering Giagos in this fight and pummeling Christos inside the proverbial phone booth. Look for this contest to be an ugly affair of punches and kicks.
UFC Bet: Drakkar Klose (-185)
Raphael Assuncao (27-6) vs Cory Sandhagen (11-1)
Raphael Assuncao (+160)
Cory Sandhagen (-185)
This is the most exciting fight on the prelims, as two ranked bantamweights battle it out for the chance to move back into the title scene.
Assuncao first joined the UFC in March 2011, losing in his debut. He would then go on to win seven straight fights including defeating T.J. Dillashaw and Pedro Munhoz. In a rematch against Dillashaw (2016), Raphael came up short and lost his second fight inside the octagon. Once again, he would go on a winning streak of four straight fights that saw him defeat Sterling and Moraes. Assuncao last fought in February against Moraes for the second time in less than two years. Unfortunately, Moraes got the better of him.
For his career, Assuncao is 11-3 inside the octagon and a former title contender. He’s currently ranked #3 in the division. 14 of his 27 wins have come via stoppage with 10 of those 14 by way of submission.
Sandhagen has one loss on his pro career and that was years ago. Cory joined the UFC in January 2018 and has gone 4-0 inside the octagon. Over that span, he’s earned victories against Arnett, Alcantara, and John Lineker four months ago. Seven of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage. Sandhagen is ranked 9th in the division and has a 3.5-inch reach advantage. He’s also six inches taller and 10 years younger than Assuncao.
I’ve gone back and forth as to who I’m picking to win this bout. The safe play is Sandhagen who has the tools to win this fight. However, Assuncao is the veteran with plenty of firepower on his feet or the mat. He’s worthy of a flier in a fight that’s closer than what the odds say.
Clay Collard (+525) was originally scheduled to face Smith, but he was removed during the middle of the week for undisclosed reasons. Khama Worthy (+550) will make his UFC debut on short notice.
I respect Worthy’s willingness to take a fight on just a few days’ notice, but he’s going up against a tough prospect that the UFC is pushing. Worthy has won five straight fights all on the regional circuit. 10 of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight of those 10 by way of TKO/KO.
Devonte Smith was a big favorite against Collard and saw his odds increase against Worthy. Smith earned his contract last August with a win on DWTNCS. He’s gone 2-0 inside the octagon since then. Both wins have come via TKO/KO in the first round. Nine of Smith’s 10 pro victories have come via TKO/KO. All of his victories have been via stoppage, as he’s yet to go the full distance in a fight.
I don’t understand how this fight is the main bout of the prelims when Assuncao versus Sandhagen is not only a better matchup, but it’s also a battle between two Top 10 fighters in the division. As for the Smith fight, “King Kage” will get another TKO victory this weekend over Worthy who has suffered five KO/TKO losses in his career.
UFC Bet: Devonte Smith (-800)
UFC 241 Main Card
The main card of UFC 241 features five fights and is set to begin at 10 PM ET on PPV.
Derek Brunson (19-7) vs Ian Heinisch (13-1)
Derek Brunson (+125)
Ian Heinisch (-145)
This is going to be an explosive middleweight contest. Maybe even more exciting than the Romero versus Costa fight in regards to action. Both Brunson (#8) and Heinisch (#10) are ranked in the Top 10 of the division. A win for either man could help boost them up the ladder and into another big payday.
Brunson is the underdog despite being a former title contender. He’s a long time UFC vet having debuted in December 2012 with a victory over Chris Leben. Brunson has 15 fights inside the octagon with a record of 10-5. Derek has some big wins over opponents like Machida, Hall, and Herman in the UFC. However, he has lost to the top fighters in the division like Romero, Whittaker, Silva, Souza, and Adesanya.
Brunson last fought in May and defeated Theodorou to prevent his third straight loss. The win also kept Brunson in the Top 10 and lined up for this big fight. 11 of his 19 pro wins have come via TKO/KO, but don’t let that fool you. Brunson is an excellent Division II wrestler.
Heinisch has been a fighter I’ve covered in previous UFC betting previews. He has a “raw” past that includes going to prison. Ian also has a solid wrestling background, but hasn’t had as much MMA experience as Brunson has. Nicknamed “The Hurricane,” Heinisch lives up to that billing with his aggressive pace and smothering attacks. He’s showed good stamina and endurance as he’s earned seven wins via decision.
As for this fight, Heinisch believes he will finish off Brunson and score the biggest win of his career to date:
“I think I can get him emotional and, with the pressure I bring, we will go in the middle and I’ll get him in one of those fights where he swings with his chin up. Those don’t go his way usually. I’m going to try and bring him into that state of chaos and I’m comfortable in that fight. I believe this will be a great fight for the fans. My last two fights, I wanted to stand and bang, and they are trying to get me down. He is coming for the knockout, I’m coming for the knockout.”
The two fights Ian referred to was against Carlos Jr. and Cezar Ferreira. Both fighters are strong on the mat and they both were favored over Heinisch. His victories against them is what earned this fight against Brunson. And I believe he will win this fight as well. Heinisch is going to do exactly what he stated in those comments, he will turn it into a controlled chaos that he thrives in. Heinisch has the wrestling skills and the striking skills to outlast Brunson in what should be a fight of the night candidate.
UFC Bet: Ian Heinisch (-145)
Gabriel Benitez (21-6) vs Sodiq Yusuff (9-1)
Gabriel Benitez (+235)
Sodiq Yusuff (-275)
This featherweight clash is between two fighters looking to climb into the rankings with a big win on Saturday. Between the two men, Yusuff is the competitor that most pundits and fans feel has a realistic shot at becoming a contender within the division. He’s also the man that MMA oddsmakers see as the clear-cut favorite for this bout.
Sodiq Yusuff is on a four-fight win streak, including his two bouts in the UFC where he defeated Mokhtarian and Sheymon Moraes. He’s a talented 26-year-old who has the potential of scoring a TKO/KO with his striking, but sometimes isn’t as aggressive as he should be. Nevertheless, Yusuff believes he will get the win this weekend and hopes that the UFC will believe in him to continue this push up the featherweight ranks:
“When I get a big win on Saturday, it’s just to let the company know to put stock in me. I could care less what the other fighters think about me. The way I fight is just naturally going to attract fans, so I’ve never had a problem with that, so it’s just about the company. The company, they see something if they put me on the spot that they did for this fight. It’s just I want to confirm whatever they think, like, ‘Hey, he’s worth it.’”
For Benitez, a win over Yusuff would really boost his stock. Gabriel has won two straight fights and has a record of 5-2 inside the octagon. However, he’s had trouble against talented fighters like Fili and Barzola. Benitez lost both of those fights. 17 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 of this by way of submission.
I haven’t been impressed with Benitez over his last few fights. However, I do see the potential with Yusuff, and I believe he will win this bout via TKO.
UFC Bet: Sodiq Yusuff (-275)
Yoel Romero (13-3) vs Paulo Costa (12-0)
Yoel Romero (-150)
Paulo Costa (+130)
The winner of this middleweight fight will most likely end up the #1 contender for a future title shot. Currently, both men are ranked in the Top 7 of the division with Romero ranked second and Costa ranked seventh.
Costa is a hulking middleweight who went from power lifting to MMA. He has power, strength, and raw brutality. Costa isn’t incredibly skilled in any discipline, but he appears to have excelled in knocking out opponents. Costa, age 28, has 11 KO/TKO wins in his career. He has never gone the distance in a pro fight, and he will look to use that strength and power against his opponent this weekend.
Yoel Romero might be 42 years old, but he looks 20 years younger. In fact, if anyone can give Costa a run for his money in physiques, it’s Romero. The longtime contender has knockout power and elite wrestling skills. He joined the UFC in April 2013 and won eight straight fights over a four-year period. His first loss came against Robert Whittaker, the middleweight champ, in July 2018. Romero would bounce back with a KO over former champ Luke Rockhold nine months later, which earned Romero a rematch against Whittaker 14 months ago. Unfortunately, Yoel lost that one via split decision in a fight of the year candidate.
Romero’s only two UFC losses were to the champ Whittaker and most people would love to see a trilogy fight. The only thing standing in the way of that happening is Costa. Paulo can certainly hang with Romero’s punching power and overall strength, but if this fight goes to the mat, then Costa is in trouble.
In my opinion, I believe that Costa took this fight too soon in his MMA career. It certainly will boost his stock if he wins, but I have a hard time thinking he will win this weekend. Romero can bang with Costa on their feet then dominate him on the mat. Romero will have to work to get Costa to the mat and that might be something he doesn’t do enough of. In the past, Yoel has shown a contentment for standing and striking with his opponents despite a wrestling advantage.
I believe Costa is a risky flier, but an option for the UFC betting risk takers out there. For me, I’m siding with the better overall MMA athlete and veteran fighter in Yoel Romero.
UFC Bet: Yoel Romero (-150)
Nate Diaz (19-11) vs Anthony Pettis (22-8)
Nate Diaz (+110)
Anthony Pettis (-130)
I’m actually more excited for this fight than the main event. I might not always agree with what Nate Diaz has to say before, during, or after a fight, but I do enjoy his fights. And this one is going to be exciting. There’s a history of bad blood, which will add to the overall drama of this welterweight clash.
Diaz hasn’t fought in three years. His last bout was a loss to Conor McGregor and a split in their head-to-head matchups. Nate almost came back a few times to fight guys like Poirier, but it never materialized. Now, he’s excited for a clash with Pettis, because he knows it will be an entertaining and challenging contest. Diaz is 3-2 in his last five fights and 14-9 with the UFC.
Anthony Pettis has been more active than Diaz, as he has fought six times since Nate last stepped inside the octagon. Over that span, he’s taken on Holloway, Miller, Poirier, and Tony Ferguson. Eventually, Pettis made the move up to welterweight this year and defeated Stephen Thompson via KO in March. 18 of his 22 victories have come via stoppage with 11 wins by KO/TKO.
This is going to be a battle wherever the fight ends up. On their feet, both men like to strike, but I give the advantage to Pettis especially with the leg kicks. On the mat, Pettis is underrated, but I still give the advantage to Diaz.
I have flip-flopped on this one several times. Pettis has looked like the “Showtime” of old with a strong performance against Tony Ferguson last October and the KO win over Thompson in March. Diaz comes in with plenty of questions due to his long layoff. However, by all accounts, Nate was training the entire time and will be in top shape. I have a hard time picking against Diaz who has the skills to win this fight. I’m not sure I believe Pettis is 100% back to being the great fighter he once was. I would prefer to see a draw in this contest, but I’m going to take Nate Diaz to win.
This is a rematch from their first fight in July of 2018 where Cormier defeated Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title. If you listen to Stipe in recent interviews and press conferences, it’s as if he believes Cormier was more lucky than good in their previous fight. In fact, Miocic chalks the loss up to a mistake he made and not necessarily due to Cormier being the better fighter:
“Yes, 100 percent I made a mistake, but this sport is all about mistakes. Every fighter who has ever set foot in the [Octagon] has made mistakes. He makes mistakes, too, and does the same ones over and over. I don’t spend much time thinking of that because it’s just all talk that doesn’t mean anything. Not just this last fight, but every fight, we go through it, and we see what I did wrong and we try to figure how we can fix it and how we can be better the next time. I just laugh when I hear stuff like this. It’s not like he knows something about me that I don’t know or that my coaches don’t know. I just picked a bad time to make a mistake, and he capitalized on it.”
Since their first matchup, Cormier went out and defeated a tough opponent in Derrick Lewis last November. Miocic hasn’t fought since he lost the title 13 months ago. Miocic is the better boxer with a 7.5 inch reach advantage and a 6 inch height advantage. However, those advantages didn’t help him in their first contest. And, I really don’t see them helping him in this fight either.
Cormier is a powerhouse who can get low on Miocic, which is tough for a tall fighter to handle. Miocic is 6’5” tall and will struggle to defend takedowns. Miocic has grown as a fighter on the mat, but DC is still superior in wrestling and grappling.
14 of Miocic’s 18 wins have come via KO/TKO. That’s his best chance at winning this weekend. He needs to pepper Cormier from a distance and set up some combos where he can land power. Cormier proved he has the power by scoring the KO against Stipe last year. However, it’s his wrestling skills that should be the difference in this fight.
I think whenever DC feels that the stand-up exchanges are not working in his favor, then he will take this fight to the mat and control the action. With plenty of time spent in top control, I would bet that Cormier grinds out the unanimous decision win. For this fight, I believe Cormier offers value and I’m taking him to win. Stipe is a former world champ with knockout power, so he is also worthy of a flier.
UFC Bet: Daniel Cormier (-135)
Betting Value for UFC 241
The following UFC 241 fighters offer betting value based on their current UFC betting odds, matchups, and career success.
Sabina Mazo (+115) is an underdog at the time of this writing. I would expect these odds to shift due to oddsmakers coming to their senses. Dobson hasn’t fought in 16 months and isn’t nearly as talented as Mazo. As long as Mazo’s odds are anything less than -135, then she offers betting value in my opinion.
Casey Kenney (+110) is the underdog in his fight against Manny Bermudez (+130). However, both men do offer betting value with Kenney providing the larger return. So, not only can you make more money on Kenney, but he also is the better all-around fighter in this matchup. I think Kenney will outlast Bermudez to win this fight via decision.
Raphael Assuncao (+160) is a contender for upset of the night. He’s listed as the underdog, but is the higher ranked fighter in the division and has been a former title contender before. This will be Sandhagen’s (-185) toughest test. I’m taking Cory to win, but Assuncao is worthy of a flier.
Nate Diaz (+110) and Anthony Pettis (-130) both offer value in this close contest. Because they’re evenly matched, I like Diaz’s value better. I also think Diaz has a better chance at winning the fight on the mat.
Stipe Miocic (+115) and Daniel Cormier (-135) both have value in their fight. However, I believe Cormier has already cracked this code and will be able to do it once again. Whether it’s landing more power shots or taking the fight to the mat, I’m picking DC to win. With that said, Miocic is worthy of a flier.
Final Thoughts on UFC 241
UFC 241 is a stacked lineup. This PPV event is loaded with fights from the prelims through the entire main card. Both main event bouts will be exciting and so will the Romero vs Costa and Brunson vs Heinisch fights. In the prelims, I’m most pumped up for Sandhagen vs Assuncao. I believe UFC 241 offers both betting and entertainment value, and it’s arguably one of the top two or three cards of 2019 to date.
UFC 241 Betting Recap
Sabina Mazo (+115)
Kyung Ho Kang (-190)
Hannah Cifers (-265)
Casey Kenney (+110)
Drakkar Klose (-185)
Cory Sandhagen (-185)
Devonte Smith (-800)
Sodiq Yusuff (-275)
Ian Heinisch (-145)
Yoel Romero (-150)
Nate Diaz (+110)
Daniel Cormier (-135)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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