Some luster has been stripped from UFC 200, with news that Jon Jones has been suspended and will not be fighting Daniel Cormier in Las Vegas on Saturday night. But the fights go on, and so does the betting around it, so Jones’ absence won’t deter us from handicapping the card and making our hopefully-profitable wagers.
Here’s a look at some of the night’s key fights
Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva – an MMA legend in his own right – is UFC president Dana White’s 11th-hour replacement for Jones. Silva, once one of the best fighters in the world, has not won since October 2012 and has three losses and one ‘no contest’ in his last four fights. But is there really any shame in losing to Chris Weidman (twice) or Michael Bisping?
Silva, who had surgery to remove his gall bladder about two months ago, is rightfully priced as the big underdog at 4/1 odds, and Cormier is deserving of his status as the -500 favorite. But don’t count out a guy just because he’s a last-minute replacement (just ask Conor McGregor), and with this being a three-round affair, Silva is savvy enough to take two of them.
Pick: With a chance to quadruple our money, Silva is worth a few bucks. Silva +400.
Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
UFC 200 also features the return of Brock Lesnar in a heavyweight bout against Mark Hunt.
The betting on this fight has been fascinating, as Lesnar opened the -200 favorite, with Hunt originally getting +175 odds on the takeback. The early money was all on Hunt, and the price shifted 180 degrees, with the price completely flipped to Hunt -200/Lesnar +175. There’s been some buyback on Lesnar since, with the price coming back to Hunt -170/Lesnar +150.
This bout marks Lesnar’s first in UFC since December 2011, and he sports middling 5-3 career MMA record. The big-hitting Hunt, though, is vulnerable, too, with just a 12-10-1 lifetime record, and he’s not nearly as athletic as the freakish Lesnar.
Pick: We’re all about value when it’s time to head to the betting window, so we’ll snap up the 3/2 odds with the wrestler Lesnar.
Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo
Ladies and gentlemen, the best fight on the card. Edgar vs. Aldo II is a de facto featherweight division semifinal, as White has promised the winner a title unification bout against McGregor.
The betting odds support our notion that this bout figures to be the highlight of UFC 200. Bookmakers opened this fight around a coin-flip, but action on Edgar has nudged his price to -135 at MGM, with Aldo offered as the +105 dog.
Aldo took the first meeting via unanimous decision at UFC 156 in February 2013 in the midst of his 18-fight win streak. That run came to an end when McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds in his most recent bout last December.
Edgar is 5-0 since losing to Aldo.
Pick: Plenty of pundits wonder how Aldo will respond to the loss against McGregor. We see him coming back just fine and will take a shot at him at plus-money to get the better of Edgar on Saturday.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Of all the bouts in Las Vegas this weekend, why are we discussing this one (after all, we’re passing on Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes, which is being billed as Saturday’s main event)? Because someone we know who is in-the-know insisted we include it in this write-up because it’s his best bet on the card.
Pick: To be clear, we’re borrowing this pick, but it’s one our friend really likes, so we’ll ride with it. Jedrzejczyk -145.