On Saturday, December 14th, the UFC will hold one of their biggest PPVs in recent memory as UFC 245: Usman vs Covington will be live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The main card for UFC 245 features three world title fights, numerous pound for pound top MMA stars, and two UFC legends. This portion of the show is set to begin at 10 PM ET live on PPV.
In addition to one of the best PPV lineups I’ve seen in quite some time, the UFC 245 preliminary card can rival most Fight Night events or just about anything Bellator rolls out. There’s multiple Top 10 ranked clashes, number one contender fights, and some of the promotion’s rising stars.
UFC betting sites have released odds for the entire card. Let’s step inside the betting octagon and examine these current betting lines for just the PPV portion of the event, identify possible betting value or upsets, and KO our picks.
Petr Yan (13-1) vs Urijah Faber (35-10)
Petr Yan (-500)
Urijah Faber (+400)
Over (-105)/Under (-115) 2.5 rounds
Petr Yan comes in as the largest betting favorite for the entire event. His odds range from -405 to -555 while Urijah Faber can be found with odds from +285 to +415. If you are going with the upset then make sure you shop for the highest odds.
Yan is on an eight fight win streak and has gone 5-0 since debuting in the UFC 18 months ago. He’s looked like one of the best Russian prospects in the UFC and has quickly shot up the rankings as he now sits #4 in the bantamweight division.
Yan’s only career loss came via decision three and a half years ago. Eight of his 14 pro fights have gone the distance and Yan has showed the ability to finish his fights strong. I have yet to see him tire out late in fights.
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber is taking his toughest fight in over three years. At age 40, it’s hard to imagine that the once retired star is back inside the octagon competing against some of the division’s top prospects. The goal for taking on such a tough opponent is to get back into title contention.
Urijah didn’t return to the octagon for meaningless fights. He wants to be in title contention and that’s what will happen if he can win this bout on Saturday:
“I’m not here to fight every Joe Schmo. This guy is a legit contender, somebody that’s been taking out guys and has a lot of hype behind his name. (UFC president Dana White) actually gave me a couple of different options, and he said, ‘What it looks like for title contention, this is the guy you should fight.’ And I was like, ‘All right, let’s do it.’”
Faber’s return to the octagon in July was a huge success. He took out another rising prospect in Ricky Simon via 1st round TKO in less than a minute in front of his hometown fans. Faber proved he still had the skills to compete at a high level, which is why he’s opening up the UFC 245 PPV portion of the card against Yan.
5Dimes has odds on whether or not this fight will go the distance: Yes (+110) and No (-140). I don’t see it going the full three rounds. Yan’s an aggressive fighter who will push the pace and try to pressure Faber with his striking.
Faber has performed will in the face of pressure and actually prefers it. As we saw in the Simon fight, Faber embraced the pressure and then countered with a looping right hand that finished off Simon. Additionally, Faber also likes to go for double leg takedowns when his opponent is coming straight at him.
Either Yan lands something cleanly to end the fight or Faber is able to counter with a shot that leads to a KO or ground and pound for a TKO. Both scenarios mean that this fight won’t go the full three rounds.
With that said, the O/U is set at 2.5 rounds. Either the fight goes deep into the 3rd round or it’s finished before the halfway mark of the final round. I’m leaning towards this fight going Under 2.5 rounds. These two fighters will be looking for the finish as quickly as possible.
Faber is listed at +770 odds to win inside the distance while Yan is at -112 odds. If you believe Yan will win, it’s probably best to go with the -112 line for Yan to win inside the distance. These odds offer a better payout than his -500 moneyline.
Who Wins This Bantamweight Title Eliminator?
The smart money is on Yan to win. However, Petr does lack big fight experience and his aggressive pressure could play right into Faber’s plans. Faber’s best chance is to get the fight to the mat and control it from there.
Faber struggles the most with fighters who strike from a distance. I don’t see that happening in this contest. Look for Yan to pressure and Faber to counter. For me, I’m going with Faber to win the fight via TKO. How can I not? He’s my favorite fighter and from my hometown. Plus, I’m a sucker for a great story!
UFC Bet: Urijah Faber (+400), Under 2.5 rounds (-115), Fight won’t go the distance (-140), Faber wins inside the distance (+770)
Marlon Moraes (22-6-1) vs Jose Aldo (28-5)
Marlon Moraes (-220)
Jose Aldo (+180)
Over (-160)/Under (+127) 1.5 rounds
From one legend in Urijah Faber to another in Jose Aldo, we have a second crucial bantamweight battle that could potentially set up another top contender for Henry Cejudo’s title.
Jose Aldo is one of the greatest featherweights of all-time, but after losing to some of the top stars in the weight class like champ Max Holloway and his UFC 245 opponent Alexander Volkanovski, Aldo decided to drop down to the bantamweight division and make a run at the title.
Fight two on the main card includes a vicious killer and a legend of our game who steps down a weight class.
Aldo has gone 3-3 in his last six fights. However, he’s 10-4 inside the octagon and still has enough left in the tank to be a contender in the bantamweight division. Since Aldo couldn’t secure a fight with Cejudo right away, he decided to fight Marlon Moraes instead. Moraes is the #1 ranked bantamweight in the UFC.
This all-Brazilian battle is going to be intense and it has a big fight feel. In fact, if it weren’t on a card with three world title fights, this matchup could headline a Fight Night show or even be the co-main event of a PPV.
Aldo is an excellent striker with his hands and feet. The same can be said about Marlon Moraes who is very similar in striking skills. These two dangerous strikers will provide fireworks inside the octagon. In fact, Moraes believes this bout will turn into a war:
“I envision many ways, anything can happen. You have to think of a different scenario every time. I’m ready for a lot of stuff, if I say I’m ready for everything, it’s a lie. I’m ready for a war and I can hardly wait to go out there and represent Brazil. Brazilians will be happy about the fight, no matter who wins.”
How Long Will the Brazilian War Last?
Since both men are dangerous strikers and will certainly look to take the other’s head off, one has to wonder how long this war will last. 17 of Aldo’s 28 wins have come via TKO/KO. 10 of Moraes’ 22 wins have come via TKO/KO. Moraes is 4-2 inside the octagon and two of those wins have come in 67 seconds or less.
Online betting sites have listed the Over/Under at 1.5 rounds. For Moraes, three of his six UFC fights have gone beyond 1.5 rounds. For Aldo, eight of his last 11 fights have gone beyond 1.5 rounds.
Oddsmakers believe this fight has a strong chance of going to a decision as it’s favored at -155 odds. Inside the distance is listed at +125 odds. I think this prop is too difficult to choose. So, stick with the O/U and take the Over at -160 as we should see the fight touch the 3rd round.
Which Brazilian Will Be Next to Challenge for the Title?
Although he lost to Cejudo, we can’t forget how solid Moraes looked in that title fight six months ago. He was ahead on the scorecards after winning the first two rounds, but ended up eating a TKO just before the 3rd round was almost over.
In this fight on Saturday, Moraes doesn’t have to worry about getting taken down like he did with Cejudo. So, he will be able to focus on striking and counterstrikes. The same can be said for Aldo.
My biggest concern in this fight is Aldo’s weight cut. There’s been several reports over the concerns about Aldo cutting down to 135 pounds. Other UFC fighters and a few MMA outlets have pointed out this drop in weight becoming a possible issue for Aldo.
Because of this, I have a hard time putting my complete confidence in Jose Aldo. I don’t know how drained he will be. Additionally, if he’s not at full health then I can see him fading late in the fight.
Moraes is the favorite at -220, but I like his odds of +132 to win inside the distance far better than his moneyline. I’m taking Moraes to beat a drained Aldo via TKO in round three.
UFC Bet: Marlon Moraes (-220), Over 1.5 rounds (-160), Moraes wins inside the distance (+132)
(c)Amanda Nunes (18-4) vs Germaine de Randamie (9-3)
(c)Amanda Nunes (-280)
Germaine de Randamie (+240)
Over (+105)/Under (-125) 2.5 rounds
In the first of three UFC title fights, the “champ-champ” Amanda Nunes will defend her bantamweight championship belt in a rematch against Germaine de Randamie. Their first fight took place in November 2013 and Nunes won via 1st round TKO.
Since then, GDR has won five straight fights including victories over Holm, Pennington and Ladd. Her win over Ladd was via TKO in 16 seconds. Ladd was undefeated, but was drained from her weight cut. Four of GDR’s nine pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Nunes has gone 9-1 since fighting GDR the first time and has defeated every top female star in the sport like: Shevchenko, Rousey, Tate, Cyborg and Holm. Nunes is the greatest female fighter of all-time and she will put both her legacy and title on the line this weekend against a formidable foe.
13 of Nunes’ 18 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. Four of her last five victories have ended via TKO/KO with three of them in the 1st round.
Will Nunes Stand and Strike with DE Randamie?
This is the question a lot of fans and pundit are asking. GDR is credited with being one of the best strikers in women’s MMA. She was a former kickboxer who was baptized into MMA with the loss to Nunes. It forced her to become more of a well-rounded fighter and not just a kickboxer.
Despite focusing on her other skills, GDR still has the knockout power and the striking abilities to finish this fight with one punch. Three of her five fights following the loss to Nunes have ended via TKO/KO. GDR believes that Nunes won’t stand and strike with her:
“I think the most thing I learned about it and the thing that will happen Saturday is she’s not going to stand with me. She’s going to shoot on me.”
Just like with her counterstrikes inside the octagon, Nunes was quick to fire back at GDR by saying she will capitalize on her opponent’s mistakes just like she did in the first fight:
“I think what I’m going to wait for is she’s going to make a mistake. I know she’s going to make mistakes. Like the first time. I’m going to capitalize. The takedown for sure is something that I look for. But I don’t know when it’s going to happen. I know I’ll be able to strike with her. I know I believe I can knock her out.”
I don’t think you can count out Nunes’ striking skills. Yes, she will have the advantage on the mat, but Nunes can stand and strike with anyone. Just ask Holm, Rousey and the previously unbeatable Cyborg.
Will the Legend of Amanda Nunes Continue to Grow?
Nunes is too smart of a fighter to recklessly stand and strike with GDR. Instead, she will be smart about getting inside on GDR and not staying at a distance. Additionally, Nunes will be cautious when closing the gap. Or she will wait for GDR put the pressure on and counter like she did with Cyborg.
The champ can then use striking exchanges to set up a takedown whenever she sees an opening. Upright, GDR has a chance. On the mat, GDR is outclassed. Either way, I will never pick against Nunes for the rest of her career. We are watching the GOAT in her prime.
Like with Nunes, let’s takedown some of these props for this fight.
I do not see this fight going the distance, so take the “no” at -300 odds via 5Dimes. We have two options for Nunes winning inside the distance: via TKO/KO at +137 or via Submission at +325 odds.
Nunes’ last submission win came against Miesha Tate in July 2016. And, she only has three submission wins for her career. The smart play is on the TKO/KO option.
The O/U of 2.5 rounds is a tough one to choose. Oddsmakers think that it could go into the 3rd round, but not the 4th round. I’m not sure the fight will go that long. Nunes has finished off her last three opponents that were considered pure strikers in the first round.
I don’t see GDR getting put away in the 1st round again, but I have a hard time envisioning her making it past the 2nd round. I’m going with the Under at -125 odds.
I’m taking the GOAT to win via TKO in round two.
UFC Bet: Amanda Nunes (-280), Wins via TKO/KO (+137), Under 2.5 rounds (-125), Fight won’t go the distance (-300)
(c)Max Holloway (21-4) vs Alexander Volkanovski (20-1)
(c)Max Holloway (-170)
Alexander Volkanovski (+150)
Over (-210)/Under (+175) 4.5 rounds
If it wasn’t for the bad blood between Usman and Covington, this UFC featherweight title fight would be the main event due to Holloway being the best pound for pound fighter of the three. Nevertheless, we get one of the best co-main events of the last few years.
Volkanovski has earned a title shot after blitzing his way through the UFC with a 7-0 record. His last two wins saw him defeat Chad Mendes via TKO and Jose Aldo via unanimous decision. Those are two victories that definitely boost his stock. Not to mention, he’s on a 17 fight win streak.
Holloway might have a five inch height advantage, but Volkanovski has a near-three inch reach advantage. He’s also the more powerful striker and the stronger fighter of the two.
Max Holloway will probably go down as the greatest featherweight of all-time once he’s wrapped up his career. Holloway has beaten the man that most people claim is the greatest featherweight – Jose Aldo. In fact, Holloway beat Aldo twice via TKO.
Holloway’s lone blemish over the last six years is a unanimous decision loss to Dustin Poirier when Max went up to the lightweight division and fought for the interim lightweight title. The move up in weight showed that Holloway isn’t big enough to compete in the division.
So, the current featherweight champ appears to be destined to stay in this weight class and continue to dominate the competition. 10 of his 21 wins have come via KO/TKO.
Can Volkanovski Dethrone Holloway?
Over the last year, there’s been one name that has continued to be whispered as the man who could possibly dethrone the champ and that’s Volkanovski. Alexander has showcased his skills inside the octagon and beat top level fighters along the way. Some fans and pundits believe it’s his time to shine.
“Honestly, I really do believe I can finish him. He is tough, and I respect him as a fighter. But, I’m going to win them early rounds and I reckon I can get a finish. But, if he is as tough as everyone says, I’ll get a decision win. I’m too good to slow down and I set a good pace. If he can keep up, he’ll be a step behind the whole fight, I believe.”
For Holloway, he sees the challenges that Volkanovski poses like his strength, power, speed and so forth. However, the champ is confident that he will have the solutions to these challenges. Max isn’t just fighting to retain the title, but he’s also fighting for his legacy.
Is Volkanovski the biggest threat to Holloway’s legacy and title?
On paper, Alexander certainly poses a big threat. He has the reach, power and ground advantages over Holloway. Volkanovski’s top control could dictate this fight if he gets Holloway to the mat. Additionally, he has the power to hurt Holloway.
Holloway Will Be “Blessed” on Saturday
Max “Blessed” Holloway is a striking machine with crisp punches, smooth combinations, and a volume that overwhelms just about every opponent. Yes, Volkanovski poses certain challenges for Holloway, but the champ has the skills to overcome them and I believe he will.
Holloway has a fantastic takedown defense, which we saw in his last fight against Edgar. Additionally, he has the counterstriking skills to blast Volkanovski in exchanges. Plus, his angles are just on another level in the standup department.
I believe Holloway is going to win this fight and add another chapter to his legacy. With that said, the question now turns to whether or not this fight goes the distance.
5Dimes favors the fight to go the distance with -205 odds compared to +165 odds that it doesn’t. I bring that up because it goes along with the Over of 4.5 rounds being the betting favorite at -200 odds.
Four of Volkanovski’s seven UFC fights have gone the distance. 12 of Holloway’s 25 pro fights have gone the distance including two straight. I think this fight is going into the 5th and final round, which means it should hit the Over and have a great chance at going the distance.
Since the odds favor the fight going the distance, and I think it will as well, we can now turn our attention toward who will win this fight via the scorecards. Holloway is favored at +139 and Volkanovski comes in at +259 to win via decision.
I believe Holloway will get the decision victory in a close fight. This will be a solid co-main event with plenty of action.
UFC Bet: Max Holloway (-170), Over 4.5 rounds (-200), Fight goes to decision (-205), Holloway wins via decision (+139)
(c)Kamaru Usman (15-1) vs Colby Covington (15-1)
(c)Kamaru Usman (-185)
Colby Covington (+160)
Over (-240)/Under (+200) 4.5 rounds
The UFC 245 main event is a welterweight title fight as Kamaru Usman defends his belt against Colby Covington in a grudge match that has fans, pundits and fighters all buzzing over it. Usman is the favorite with odds between -170 and -200 while Covington is an underdog of odds ranging from +130 to +170.
Covington turned his career around two years ago when he defeated Demian Maia in front of Maia’s fellow Brazilian countrymen. Covington blasted the fans and a “heel” was born. From there, Colby shot up the rankings and has become one of the most hated fighters in all of MMA.
This hatred is something that Usman talked about during his media rounds:
“I will give him props, I don’t think in the history of the sport—it’s almost like the history of combat sports period—I don’t think there’s ever been a guy universally hated this bad. In the last couple of months, I’ve been in maybe five or six different countries, and I can’t tell you how many people would come up to me and say ‘I can’t wait for you to kill this guy.’ It’s overwhelming with an alarming amount. He’s done something right, because to be hated by the world, that’s tough to do.”
Other than the loyal Covington supporters, most MMA fans and UFC fighters dislike Covington. However, this hatred toward Covington has made him a must see fighter. Additionally, his “bad guy” persona has helped him get paid more and stand out from the rest of the pack.
Covington embraces the fans’ hatred as it motivates him even more to win his fights:
“[There’s] a unique element to it where I do actually enjoy and thrive in people wanting to see me get knocked out, people wanting to see me lose and fail. There’s something really nice that I like about it that makes me want to just prove them all wrong and shut them all up.”
Can Usman Shut Covington’s Mouth on Saturday?
Covington has done something right because he’s the star of the main event for one of the biggest UFC PPVs in recent years. However, he’s also turned this fight into a grudge match for Usman. The welterweight champ has grown tired of Colby’s insults and disrespect.
Although Covington is playing up his role as the bad guy, Usman isn’t playing. He wants to destroy Covington this weekend. It’s a sentiment that many other UFC fighters hope to see as well.
But, Can Kamaru Usman Actually Destroy Covington?
Both men have had similar success in MMA as they’re each 15-1 overall. Additionally, both men have solid wrestling backgrounds. However, Covington lands more takedowns per 15 minutes than Usman does. He also attempts more overall takedowns and has had more success striking from a distance than Usman has.
Additionally, both fighters also have big gas tanks and can keep up a high pace for five rounds. Pundits tend to give Covington the advantage in this area as well.
Usman is more efficient with his takedowns and top control than Covington is. This is an area where he can dictate the pace of the fight. Also, if Usman can pin Covington near the cage while they’re standing up and try for some dirty boxing then he has a chance of winning rounds and the fight.
Covington vs Usman Prop Bets
In addition to the moneylines, there are a few prop bets to explore. In what will be a close fight, it might be more financially beneficial to wager on a prop and not an outright winner.
The Over/Under is set at 4.5 rounds with the Over at -240 and the Under at +200. MMA betting sites have favored this fight going to a decision with -250 odds compared to the +190 odds of it finishing inside the distance. Additionally, Usman is a +105 favorite to win by decision while Covington is at +298.
If the fight doesn’t go the full five rounds then oddsmakers have Usman winning inside the distance listed at +399 while Covington winning inside the distance is at +485.
The smart play is on the Over as these two guys are evenly matched and have seen the scorecards in numerous fights. In Usman’s 10 UFC fights, he’s gone the distance in eight of them. Covington has also gone the distance in eight of his pro fights.
Each man has a perfect 8-0 record when going to the judges. Covington has won five straight fights via decision while Usman has won four straight fights via decision. Covington has the better value of +298 odds if the fight goes to a decision.
I think this fight comes down to Covington’s striking at a distance versus Usman’s top control or leverage against the fence. Either strategy could sway the judges to score the round for a fighter.
With that said, I’m picking Covington to win via split decision. I believe his pace, striking volume from a distance, and takedown defense or scrambling ability will be the difference in this fight. He’ll take the 5th and final round due to his cardio level and win the fight three rounds to two.
UFC Bet: Coby Covington (+160), Over 4.5 rounds (-240), Covington to win via decision (+298)
Final Thoughts on UFC 245’s Main Card
I can’t wait for this event. From the prelims to the main event, this card is stacked. UFC 245 is an early Christmas present for us MMA fans. I’ll be rooting for Faber to win his fight and hoping that the three world title fights live up to their potential.
As for betting value, there are numerous UFC betting options to wager money on from outright winners to prop bets.
Will Covington turn the sport upside down with a win? Will Nunes and Holloway continue to build their legacies? Can the two UFC legends Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo show that they’re title contenders?
All these questions and more will be answered on Saturday.
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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