On Saturday, August 15th, UFC returns to PPV with a historic event – UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier III. This show features the epic trilogy fight between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight championship. Both men have a victory over the other and look to claim GOAT status.
The co-main event of the night is the undefeated rising star Sean O’Malley taking on Marlon Vera. Also on the five fight main card is a heavyweight showdown between ranked fighters as former champ Junior dos Santos takes on Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Also on the main card is a Top 15 bantamweight fight as John Dodson takes on Merab Dvalishvili and the rising light heavyweight contender Magomed Ankalaev takes on Ion Cutelaba in a highly anticipated rematch.
UFC betting sites have released their full slate of odds for UFC 252’s main card. Let’s check out these lines, identify any potential upsets or betting value, and roundhouse kick these UFC predictions.
The PPV will begin with a rematch between these two light heavyweight combatants. The first fight ended in controversy as the ref thought Cutelaba was hurt, but Ion was playing possum instead. Yet, the ref stopped the fight within 38 seconds.
Cutelaba immediately protested and the UFC immediately booked the rematch. However, due to outside factors, this fight was delayed until now.
Nicknamed “The Hulk,” Cutelaba is 4-4 inside the octagon and clearly enjoys fighting. He’s a rugged competitor with a strong wrestling background. His aggression can get him into trouble or finish off an opponent with brute power.
14 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-1 when going the distance. Three of his four UFC wins have come via TKO/KO.
Ankalaev is the 14th ranked light heavyweight and the top rising prospect in the division. He’s on a four fight win streak and has a 4-1 record inside the octagon. His lone loss came via submission to Paul Craig in his UFC debut. He tapped out with one second left in the fight.
Ankalaev is a capable striker from range and it showed in their first fight. Eight of his 13 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 5-0 when going the distance.
The Over/Under is set at 1.5 rounds and are pretty close to even in odds. I’m going with the Over as I don’t see a similar outcome from their first fight. Yet, I do still see Ankalaev picking up the win.
The Russian is a better overall MMA fighter than Cutelaba who is more of a brawler with scary power. I see Ankalaev being tactical in his striking and going for takedowns as well. Eventually, Cutelaba will make a mistake and get caught.
I don’t see this fight going the distance (-350). Instead, I believe Ankalaev will get the TKO in the latter portions of this contest.
The best value for this fight is Over 1.5 rounds. Other than Cutelaba’s “rope a dope” that fooled the ref, he’s never been stopped Under 1.5 rounds.
Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba –Ankalaev (-300)
Over 1.5 rounds (-105)
Fight ends inside the distance (-350)
Ankalaev to win inside the distance (-160)
John Dodson vs Merab Dvalishvili
John Dodson (+170)
Merab Dvalishvili (-200)
Over (-300)/Under (+250) 2.5 rounds
This bantamweight battle pits two Top 15 ranked fighters as #12 John Dodson takes on #15 Merab Dvalishvili. Despite being the higher ranked bantamweight, Dodson is a sizable underdog.
Nicknamed “The Magician,” Dodson has gone 1-2 in his last three fights and has a 10-6 record inside the octagon. Dodson last competed in February when he scored a 3rd round TKO over rising prospect Nathaniel Wood.
“I just want to be more of a destructive factor in this division. I just want people to see more of what I can do. “They’re hyping this dude up, thinking he is going to beat me in embarrassing fashion. But, you can’t beat something that looks so amazing.”
12 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 9-11 when going the distance.
Merab Dvalishvili is on a four fight win streak after starting off his UFC career going 0-2. All four wins have come via decision. He’s 8-3 when going to a decision and only has one stoppage loss which came via submission.
Dvalishvili is a grinder and I see him employing that strategy in this contest. He’s solid in the striking department, but does like to get in close, push against the cage, or takedown. I believe he will get some takedowns and control the fight from there.
Dodson has speed and athleticism, but he’s facing a stronger opponent. Dodson’s best chance at winning is in counterstriking where he could catch Dvalishvili making a mistake.
With that said, I expect this fight to go Over 2.5 rounds (-300) and go the full distance (-285). Dvalishvili will wear down Dodson in the latter portions of this fight and pick up an ugly decision victory (-150).
John Dodson vs Merab Dvalishvili –Dvalishvili (-200)
Over 2.5 rounds (-300)
Fight goes the distance (+205)
Dvalishvili wins via decision (-150)
Junior dos Santos vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Junior dos Santos (+125)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (-145)
Over (-105)/Under (-115) 1.5 rounds
This is an exciting heavyweight showdown between Top 6 ranked combatants who both like to strike.
The #5 ranked Junior dos Santos is the underdog in this contest as he enters this weekend on a two fight losing streak. However, those losses were to Top 3 ranked fighters Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou. Yet, JDS lost both fights via TKO/KO.
Nicknamed “Cigano,” dos Santos won his first nine UFC fights and became the world champ. Unfortunately, he’s 6-6 since that streak and is nowhere in sight for another title shot. Both Blaydes and Ngannou are above dos Santos in the rankings and also in front of him in the line for a title fight.
“I don’t really care who’s gonna be next. Of course the goal is the belt, and I don’t think it’s gonna take very much long for me to be fighting for the title. This victory with another one or one or two more, I’ll be fighting for the title again.”
16 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage with 15 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 5-1 when going the distance.
The 6th ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik suffered the first loss of his career in May when he was KO’d by Ngannou in 20 seconds. The loss dropped his octagon record to 4-1. Rozenstruik enters this fight with a sense of urgency and knows how important it is to get the win:
“I have to make things right for myself, for my family, for my fans. I want to secure the win no matter what. It’s really important, I’m coming off a loss. I have a statement to make. I want to go in there and show my best side.”
Rozenstruik has only gone the distance in one pro fight. Nine of his 10 victories have come via TKO/KO. Both men are similar in build, so there’s no real advantage here. JDS still has crisp boxing skills at 36 years old, but Rozenstruik is a more powerful striker and has the advantage with kicks.
This is JDS’ last chance at contending for a title. If he can win then he will be poised for a big fight next year. If he loses, then he’s relegated to the role of gatekeeper.
Both men suffered defeats to Ngannou, so it’s hard to gauge them based off that. Rozenstruik last fought Overeem and was losing on all scorecards via four rounds to zero before getting the knockout. JDS beat the #4 heavyweight Derrick Lewis 17 months ago via 2nd round TKO.
Call me crazy, but I like JDS in this matchup. He’ll have the advantage if this fight goes to the mat and his experience level should be the deciding factor in this contest. I don’t see the fight going the distance (-290), but I do see it going Over 1.5 rounds (-105), which is the one wager that offers the best value.
I’m taking JDS to win via TKO in the late-second or early-third round of this contest and stave off all talks of retirement, that he’s just a gatekeeper and that “Cigano” is past his prime.
Junior dos Santos vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik –Dos Santos (+125)
Over 1.5 rounds (-105)
Fight ends inside the distance (-290)
Junior dos Santos wins inside the distance.
Sean O’Malley vs Marlon Vera
Sean O’Malley (-310)
Marlon Vera (+255)
Over (-130)/Under (+110) 2.5 rounds
The co-main event features a bantamweight battle as the Sean O’Malley hype train rolls into Vegas to take on the unranked, but rugged Marlon “Chito” Vera.
“Yeah. 100% toughest fight to date. He’s won his last six fights with five finishes. And he’s never been finished and he’s got a good amount of fights in UFC. So not being– not ever being finished in the UFC and having as many fights as he has, you know, he’s going to be hard to put away.”
O’Malley is unbeaten in his career. And, after returning from a two year absence, his popularity has soared. O’Malley has fought twice in 2020 already with TKO/KO wins over Jose Alberto Quinonez in March and Eddie Wineland in June.
Nine of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-0 when going the distance.
“This is just how I feel, I could be right or wrong, but he hasn’t fought nobody. The last couple of guys he fought, they haven’t done anything. He beat [Eddie Wineland] who’s past his prime multiple years ago, he’s been not fighting really. He’s coming in with one win against a newcomer and it took him a lot of damage to win the fight.”
Vera would also go on to say that O’Malley needed this Saturday’s fight to stay relevant and to keep the hype going. Chito is 5-1 in his last six bouts. He lost to Yadong Song in May via unanimous decision, which Vera believes the judges got the decision wrong.
It’s hard to argue against Vera on this matter because his very next fight is a co-main event bout on a massive PPV and against one of the sport’s rising stars.
Vera’s path to victory is on the mat. He’s a better grappler than O’Malley despite “Sugar’s” claim that his jiu-jitsu is on point. Eight of Vera’s 15 pro wins have come via submission. He’s 2-6-1 when going the distance.
Vera has never been stopped in his career and I have a hard time putting my confidence in O’Malley getting the TKO/KO win. With that said, I think this fight will go Over 2.5 rounds (-130) and go the full distance (-135).
As for the winner, I still have to side with O’Malley. I think he picks up the biggest win of his career, but he will have to work for it. I’m taking Sugar to win via decision in a competitive, entertaining contest.
Sean O’Malley vs Marlon Vera –O’Malley (-310)
Over 2.5 rounds (-130)
Fight goes the distance (-135)
O’Malley wins via decision (+125)
Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier
Stipe Miocic (+100)
Daniel Cormier (-120)
Over (-150)/Under (+130) 2.5 rounds
Cormier is the challenger, but he comes into this trilogy fight as the slight betting favorite despite losing his last fight, which was the rematch against Miocic. Prior to that loss, DC was unbeaten in eight fights. That includes his bout against Jon Jones being overturned due to Jones failing a drug test.
Cormier is arguably the best heavyweight of all-time and can definitely cement that legacy with a win over Miocic this weekend. 15 of his 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. In addition to heavy hands, Cormier is also a great wrestler.
“I think I fought the dumbest fight I’ve ever fought. My hands were low. I was still a bit injured after back surgery [in December 2018]. There was a lot of comfort in my training camp. And because of that comfort, I wasn’t in shape. I had to have some real serious questions about myself recently with Bob Cook. I got hurt to the body, then I got hurt to the head. And one of the reasons I fell was because I was fatigued.”
With a win on Saturday, Miocic could also go down as the greatest heavyweight of all-time. He would have two wins over Cormier and victories against Ngannou, Junior dos Santos, Werdum and Overeem. Additionally, he holds the record for most consecutive heavyweight title defenses at three.
15 of his 19 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 4-1 when going the distance. Neither of their first two fights have gone the full five rounds. So, I doubt this one will as well. However, it would be fitting if the fight did.
I’m not going to recreate the wheel in the betting preview as we pretty much know what we’re getting in this third fight: history, GOAT, wrestler vs striker, and excitement.
It doesn’t matter that the fight will be in an empty APEX center and in a smaller octagon. All that matters is that we’re seeing two men fight for the title and all-time greatness.
It’s believed that DC will retire if he wins this weekend. I’m still holding out for a trilogy fight with Jon Jones, but in the heavyweight division and not light heavyweight as the previous two were. With that said, Cormier has pretty much confirmed he’s done after this.
Before I pick a winner, let’s get some other business finished first. I see this fight going Over 2.5 rounds (-150) as we have two evenly matched fighters. However, I do not see this contest going the distance (-210).
I really like the prop bet of this bout starting the 4th round (+100). That’s great value for a matchup that went to the 4th round in the last fight.
Now, for the winner. I think we’re going to get the MMA version of a “John Elway” moment. Where an all-time great retires after winning a championship. I see DC winning this heavyweight bout due to his wrestling. I believe he will rely heavily on it instead of striking like the first two meetings between these two.
I believe Cormier will wear down Miocic and eventually find a TKO victory with some ground and pound. That means you can also take the prop bet that Cormier wins inside the distance at +160 odds, which is a great return on investment.
Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier –Cormier (-120)
Over 2.5 rounds (-150)
Fight ends inside the distance (-210)
Fight starts the 4th round (+100)
Cormier wins inside the distance (+160)
Cormier wins via TKO/KO (+195)
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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