It's Fight Week in Las Vegas and Stipe Miocic will face Daniel Cormier in a superfight for the UFC heavyweight title on Saturday night.
Every year around the American Independence Day, the UFC stages an International Fight Week in Las Vegas that culminates in what is usually the best UFC card of the year. And it’s a fabulous one Saturday night with two title fights. 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 MMA odds.
UPDATE: Max Holloway is OUT of UFC 226. Holloway’s manager, Brian Butler, said in a statement. “Max’s team and UFC staff noticed Max was not normal since late last week. This became obvious to many watching his interviews and public appearances the past few days. He was showing concussion-like symptoms before he even started his weight cut and was rushed to the ER on Monday where they admitted him over night.”
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
Records: Miocic (18-2), Cormier (20-1)
UFC Odds: Miocic -245, Cormier +185
Prediction: Miocic by KO/TKO
Miocic looks to successfully defend his heavyweight title for a fourth time (three is already a division record). He originally won it at UFC 198 by first-round knockout of Fabricio Werdum. First-round victories over Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos (payback for a loss in December 2014) followed until Miocic was in a battle back in January against Francisco Ngannou, winning by unanimous decision. Miocic has been called the “baddest man on the planet” and when he’s not fighting/training works part-time at the Valley View Fire Department in Cleveland. There’s some talk that Miocic is eyeing a big-money fight with former UFC champion and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar with a win here – assuming Lesnar gets eligible off a drug suspension.
Cormier tries to join Conor McGregor as the only fighters to hold belts in two divisions simultaneously. Cormier is the light-heavyweight champion. At age 39, he knows the clock is ticking and has said he doesn’t want to fight past his 40th birthday. Cormier actually lost a light-heavyweight title fight to Jon Jones last July, but that was changed to no-contest because Jones failed another drug test. A Jones-Miocic matchup also has been rumoured, but, again, there are issues to be worked out with Jones’ eligibility.
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega
Records: Holloway (19-3), Ortega (14-0)
UFC Odds: FIGHT CANCELLED
Prediction: Holloway by submission
Holloway defends his featherweight belt for a second time. He won that with a third-round TKO over division all-time great Jose Aldo at UFC 212 and then proved that was no fluke with another third-round TKO victory over Aldo at UFC 218. After Ortega, there’s probably little for Holloway to prove in the division and in fact he has made it clear a move to lightweight is coming.
Holloway hasn’t fought this year because he had to pull out of a March fight with Frankie Edgar due to injury. In April he was set to step in on short notice to fight rising superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title, but Holloway wasn’t able to make weight. His last loss was back in 2013 to Conor McGregor. Ortega stepped in for Holloway at UFC 222 and beat Edgar by first-round knockout. Ortega is the No. 1 ranked contender in the division.
Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou
Records: Lewis (19-5), Ngannou (11-2)
UFC Odds: Ngannou -330, Lewis +235
Prediction: Ngannou by KO/TKO
Ngannou was the rising star in the heavyweight division, a lot like a young Mike Tyson in terms of devastating power. The “Predator” entered his January bout against Miocic having won 10 straight fights, all by knockout or TKO and no later than the second round. However, Miocic showed his veteran guile and a better grappling game with the unanimous decision win. Ngannou is still the No. 1 ranked heavyweight and could get another shot later this year at Miocic if both win. Lewis, ranked No. 5, has won 17 of his fights by KO or TKO so it would be a major upset for this to go the distance. Lewis is off a third-round KO of Marcin Tybura in February.
Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa
Records: Pettis (20-7), Chiesa (14-3)
UFC Odds: Chiesa -170, Pettis +130
Prediction: Pettis by submission
Fringe contenders in the lightweight division with Chiesa ranked No. 9 and Pettis at No. 12. The two were to fight at UFC 223 in Brooklyn earlier this year, but Chiesa suffered facial lacerations when Conor McGregor infamously threw a dolly through the window of a bus carrying Chiesa and other fighters from media day. Chiesa hasn’t thus fought since last June, a first-round submission loss to Kevin Lee. Pettis, a former UFC and WEC lightweight champion, is trending the wrong way with five losses in his past seven.
Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Gokhan Saki
Records: Rountree Jr. (7-3), Saki (1-1)
Division: Light heavyweight
UFC Odds: Saki -165, Rountree +130
Prediction: Saki by KO/TKO
Both these fighters are looking to make a name for themselves in the division with neither yet ranked. Rountree won his first two fights since joining the UFC from RFA and then lost his next two. He most recently fought in December against Michal Oleksiejczuk and was beaten fairly soundly by unanimous decision, but that was changed to a no-contest with Oleksiejczuk testing positive for a banned substance. Saki has just two MMA fights under his belt at age 34 but was a legendary kickboxer. His UFC debut was in September, a first-round knockout of Henrique da Silva.