The UFC annually stages one of its best cards of the year on New Year’s Eve weekend, and it’s a spectacular event on December 29th.
A light heavyweight title bout and rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson headlines UFC 232. The five-fight main card is expected to begin at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view. Here’s a look at those bouts and their Sports Interaction UFC odds.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Records: Jones (22-1), Gustafsson (18-4)
Division: Light heavyweight
Prediction: Jones by decision
Daniel Cormier is the light heavyweight champion, but will be stripped of that due to inactivity (at least in that division) with Jones ranked No. 1 and Gustafsson No. 2 and the winner claiming the belt. One doesn’t want to compare apples and oranges, but Jones is somewhat similar to New England Patriots receiver Josh Gordon, who recently left the team and will be suspended again for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Gordon had the talent to be an all-time great but couldn’t get his head on straight and his career is likely be over now.
Jones has the talent to be the greatest MMA fighter in history. He just can’t get out of his own way sometimes in terms of begin caught using performance-enhancing or other drugs, or having legal issues. Jones, a 31-year-old American, already has beaten Cormier twice. However, their last bout in July 2017 was ruled a no-contest because Jones tested positive after for two banned substances. Jones is just now coming off suspension. Before beating Cormier in their first meeting at UFC 182, Jones also tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine. When right, Jones is incredible and the greatest light heavyweight ever.
Gustafsson, a 31-year-old from Sweden, has dropped three of his past six. That streak started with an epic fight against Jones at UFC 165, which Jones by unanimous decision. Many put that on the short list of best UFC fights in history. Since losing to Cormier at UFC 192, Gustafsson has beaten Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira. Most believe if Jones wins that he could fight Cormier, also the heavyweight champion, yet again. That’s if Jones doesn’t test positive for something after Saturday’s fight.
Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes
Records: Cyborg (20-1), Nunes (16-4)
Division: Women’s featherweight
Prediction: Cyborg by KO/TKO
Cyborg vs. Nunes would headline most cards and will stamp the winner as the best female MMA fighter on the planet as Cyborg is the UFC’s featherweight champion and Nunes its bantamweight queen. It’s truly the first-ever women’s super-fight between division champions. This technically will be for Cyborg’s 145-pound title. Cyborg, from Brazil, is ranked at the UFC’s No. 11 pound-for-pound fighter overall. She rarely goes to the judges, with 17 of her 20 wins by KO or TKO. She is 2-for-2 in title defences, beating former champion Holly Holm and Yana Kunitskaya.
Amanda Nunes, ranked as the No. 14 pound-for-pound fighter and also from Brazil, is on a seven-fight win streak, including notable victories over current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey.
Carlos Condit vs. Michael Chiesa
Records: Condit (30-12), Chiesa (14-4)
Prediction: Chiesa by submission
Neither fighter is ranked in the division, with Chiesa making his 170-pound debut. The 31-year-old American apparently had enough at lightweight following back-to-back losses to Anthony Pettis (in which Chiesa actually missed weight) and Kevin Lee – Chiesa had been ranked No. 7 in that division.
Condit, a 34-year-old American, looks rather shot as he has lost four straight and seven of nine. Condit has fought some of the best that the UFC has to offer in that stretch, including Tyron Woodley (lost) and Canadian legends Johny Hendricks and Georges St. Pierre (lost both).
Ilir Latifi vs. Corey Anderson
Records: Latifi (14-5), Anderson (11-4)
Division: Light heavyweight
Prediction: Latifi by KO/TKO
The winner here could get into the conversation for a title fight in the division perhaps late next year with Latifi ranked No. 5 and Anderson 10th. Latifi, a 35-year-old Swede nicknamed the “Sledgehammer,” has won back-to-back fights since a second-round knockout loss to Ryan Bader in September 2016. He beat Ovince St. Preux by first-round submission in February.
“Overtime” Anderson, a 29-year-old from the USA, comes off a unanimous decision victory over Glover Teixeira in July. Anderson’s last loss was to St. Preux by third-round knockout in November 2017.
Chad Mendes vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Records: Mendes (18-4), Volkanovski (18-1)
Prediction: Volkanovski by decision
Max Holloway is the featherweight champion with Mendes ranked fifth and Volkanovski 10th. Mendes, a 33-year-old American, has only lost to the best of the best: twice to Jose Aldo as well as to Conor McGregor and Frankie Edgar. Only one of those four went to the judges. Mendes didn’t fight for more than two years after the loss to Edgar in December 2015 due to a drug suspension. Mendes returned to the Octagon with a first-round TKO of Myles Jury in July.
Volkanovski, a 30-year-old Aussie, suffered his lone loss in May 2013 in the Australian Fighting Championship. He’s 5-0 in the UFC and also last fought in July, beating Darren Elkins – a teammate of Mendes — by unanimous decision.