Last Updated: 2017-11-30
There are two UFC events coming up this weekend, but our focus is solely going to be on the huge UFC 218 card that features a rematch between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo for the featherweight championship. Little Caesars Arena in Detroit will host its first UFC event and just the third in the Detroit area. This is a really strong card with a long-awaited flyweight match between Henry Cejudo and Sergio Pettis and a possible number one contender matchup in the heavyweight division between Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou.
Thirteen fights are on the card for Saturday night in the Motor City. Per usual, our focus will be on the main card, which features five fights this week, with odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The digital UFC Fight Pass channel will have the first four fights of the evening. Heavyweights Justin Willis and Allen Crowder will slug it out to get things underway. Willis, off of a nice debut win last time out, is a -220 favorite over the promotional newcomer Crowder. Amanda Cooper squares off against Angela Magana in the women’s strawweight division, with Cooper a huge -470 favorite.
Dominick Reyes puts his perfect record on the line in light heavyweight action against Jeremy Kimball. Reyes is a -500 favorite to stay perfect in his second career UFC scrap. Welterweights Sabah Homasi and Abdul Razak Alhassan make up the final Fight Pass bout. Alhassan is a big -245 favorite coming off of his first career loss.
We head to Fox Sports 1 for the second part of the prelim card. Felice Herrig and Cortney Casey meet in the 115-pound weight class, with Herrig a -140 favorite in a fight expected to go to the scorecards. Drakkar Klose, a Kalamazoo native, is a dog with his 8-0-1 record against David Teymur at 155 pounds. Teymur is 3-0 in his UFC career and -185 here.
Two pretty good undercard scraps send us into the main card. Alex Oliveira is a -240 favorite over Yancy Medeiros in the welterweight division. Medeiros is off of a really nice win over Erick Silva, but Oliveira is the chalk in what should be a very active fight. Charles Oliveira, no relation to Alex, is +115 against Paul Felder in a lightweight match. Felder’s original opponent, Al Iaquinta, was hurt during training about a month ago.
Michelle Waterson (+205) vs. Tecia Torres (-245); Total: 2.5 (-330/270)
The judges will be watching this fight closely between Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson. Torres only has one stoppage win in her 10 professional fights, so as you can see, we’re looking for the judges to decide this one. Waterson, a former champion in Invicta, is 2-1 in her three UFC fights. She knocked off Angela Magana at the TUF 21 finale and scored a very impressive first-round submission win over Paige VanZant in the main event of their Fight Night card last December. She lost to Rose Namajunas back in April, but that loss certainly doesn’t look bad now after Namajunas unseated Joanna Jedrzejczyk last month at UFC 217.
Tecia Torres took Namajunas the distance in April 2016, which is the lone loss in her career. She simply controls fights and does enough to win. These aren’t split decisions that we are talking about either. These are unanimous efforts. Torres has wins over VanZant and Namajunas dating back to her Invicta days, so she does have a very impressive resume overall. This fight was supposed to happen in Invicta back in 2015 at UFC 194, but Waterson was forced to back out of the fight with a knee injury. Big fans of the women’s divisions should be excited about this one.
Pick: Tecia Torres (-245)
Waterson is a very dangerous opponent for Torres in this bout, but the way that Torres controls fights and has avoided submissions gives her a leg up in this fight. Waterson has a very good ground game. If she shows the ability to get Torres to get the ground early in the fight, consider a live shot on Waterson. Another way to play this is Waterson by submission to sweeten the price a little bit and then play Torres by decision. It would be quite surprising if Torres wins by stoppage and if Waterson wins by decision, since Torres is 8-1 in decisions in her career.
Eddie Alvarez (+160) vs. Justin Gaethje (-185); Total: 1.5 (-160/140)
If you want action, this is the fight for you. This is a really special pay-per-view card, but this fight could very well steal the show. Seasoned UFC veteran and former lightweight belt holder Eddie Alvarez takes on unbeaten Justin Gaethje at 155 pounds. Alvarez is 28-5 in his career with 22 stoppage wins and four stoppage losses. Gaethje has 15 knockouts in his 18 wins, but this is only his second UFC fight after being a champion in WSOF for a few years.
Alvarez is coming off of a weird fight in Texas. The fight was stopped when Alvarez landed illegal knees on Dustin Poirier. The fight was declared a No Contest. It was the first fight for Alvarez after losing his lightweight title to Conor McGregor at Madison Square Garden at UFC 205. He got beaten up badly in that fight, really for the first time in his career. It was a tough setback after pulling a huge upset over Rafael dos Anjos to get the title. This should be a very good fight and Alvarez certainly has more of a resume with wins over dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, and Gilbert Melendez.
Justin Gaethje is a really hot prospect in the MMA world. He knocked out Michael Johnson in his UFC debut at the TUF 25 card in early July to improve to 18-0. This is a massive step up in class for Gaethje. The only other time he fought a fighter somewhat close to this level or the level of Johnson is when he fought Melvin Guillard to a split decision at WSOF 15 in November 2014. That stands as one of his two decision wins, with knockouts in 15 of his 18 fights.
Pick: Justin Gaethje (-185)
This is a big step up for Gaethje, but these are the types of fights that you need to win to advance. Alvarez didn’t really look the same in his fight against Poirier after the savage beating he took from McGregor. A lot of time has passed, but we often see fighters struggle when brought down a few pegs. This will be the fifth fight since the start of 2016 for the 33-year-old. Gaethje hasn’t taken much punishment, with only three fights in that span, and a lot of weak fighters that couldn’t get him.
Sergio Pettis (+240) vs. Henry Cejudo (-280); Total: 2.5 (-280/240)
Originally, these two were supposed to fight at UFC 211, but the fight was rescheduled because of an injury to Henry Cejudo. We’ll get that fight this weekend instead and Cejudo is a big favorite over Sergio Pettis. Pettis rides into this fight with four straight wins by unanimous decision, so he has done a nice job to establish himself as a contender in this division, but Cejudo, a former number one contender, is the top guy that he has faced in this division. Pettis is 16-2 in his young career at just 24 years of age, so you know that he has a motor and is in supreme physical shape to fight as much as he has.
Cejudo has declared that he will donate his bonus money to those affected by the California wildfires. He was one of them and actually suffered some burns escaping the blaze from his Santa Rosa home. The fight was temporarily in jeopardy as a result, but a highly-motivated Cejudo was focused on this bout. He is 11-2 in his career, with his UFC losses coming to highly-skilled combatants in Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. His knockout win over Wilson Reis at UFC 215 feels like the type of bounce back effort that he needed to get his confidence back.
Pick: Henry Cejudo (-280)
This is certainly chalky, but Cejudo is just the better fighter. With this fight expected to go the distance, Cejudo’s wrestling background should give him a big edge. He’ll gain top control and ride that out to the finish of this fight. If Pettis had more striking ability, he might be in better shape to grab the upset here, but Cejudo’s ground game is likely to be too much.
Alistair Overeem (+240) vs. Francis Ngannou (-280); Total: 1.5 (110/-130)
Suffice it to say that this is a huge fight for favorite Francis Ngannou. Say what you will about 37-year-old Alistair Overeem and the mileage left on his career, with 58 professional fights completed, but he’s still a supremely-talented fighter. Overeem lost his lone UFC title shot against Stipe Miocic at UFC 2013, but has wins over Mark Hunt and Fabricio Werdum since. What is really interesting is that Overeem had a tremendous ground game in lower promotions, but has been knockout-heavy in UFC. Is this a spot where he turns back the clock and tries to use more of a ground game against a stunningly strong and powerful opponent?
Francis Ngannou, a native of Cameroon, is one of the best stories in UFC right now. He’s 10-1 in his career with nine straight wins and five straight in UFC. He hasn’t fought anybody with the pedigree of Overeem, so this will be a good test for him. He’s won by stoppage in the first round of each of his last three fights against Andrei Arlovski, Anthony Hamilton, and Bojan Mihajlovic. Ngannou was homeless for a period of time and did hard labor at 12. He’s a great success story and has the highest punching power ever recorded. He lost a chance to get a big win against Junior dos Santos at UFC 215, but he has a chance to get a huge one here and possibly a date with Stipe Miocic.
Pick: Alistair Overeem (+240)
This is going to be a tough fight for Ngannou. He is facing a very savvy fighter with tons of experience in avoiding heavy shots from strong dudes. The problem for Overeem here is that he can only hide so much and Ngannou has shown the ability to lock in some subs of his own. Ngannou should win this fight, but the +240 price on Overeem is certainly worth exploring. The line implies that Overeem wins this fight less than 30 percent of the time. That seems a little bit low.
Jose Aldo (+260) vs. Max Holloway (-320); Total: 2.5 (-145/125)
Credit to unknown MMA fighter Luciano Azevedo for being one of the three guys to beat Jose Aldo in the illustrious career of the 31-year-old Brazilian. One of the other guys to beat Aldo is Saturday’s opponent Max Holloway. Aldo will try to get his title back as a fill-in for Frankie Edgar, who was supposed to get the title shot, but backed out on November 11 due to an injury. Aldo and Holloway had a very exciting, back-and-forth fracas at UFC 212. It won Fight of the Night honors, so it is a bit of a surprise to see Holloway’s line this high for the rematch.
Holloway is looking for his second title defense. He grabbed the belt from Anthony Pettis at UFC 206 last December and will be looking to top Aldo again. What is interesting is that Holloway has shown tremendous endurance in these last two fights. He knocked out Pettis with 10 seconds left in the third round and Aldo with 47 seconds left in the third round. Holloway’s only losses are to Conor McGregor, Dennis Bermudez, and Dustin Poirier in what was his UFC debut. He simply controls fights and wears down his opponents. Will that be his strategy again here?
Pick: Jose Aldo (+260)
Once again, like the last fight, the favorite should win, but it’s really hard to say that Aldo wins this fight less than 30 percent of the time. There seems to be some line value on the dog in this one. Holloway had been preparing for his first fight against Frankie Edgar and the late switch means he’ll get a veteran fighter that he just fought six months ago. That seems like an advantage to Aldo, even though he was just tabbed for the fight on November 11. You can bet that he’s been looking forward to this one since that loss.
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