UFC champ Miocic opens as underdog vs. Ngannou

UFC heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic will make his third title defense vs. Francis Ngannou at the UFC 220 headliner on Jan. 20 in Boston. Miocic opened as a +130 underdog.

Published on Thursday, 12/7/17, at 9:52 a.m. Eastern.

After destroying Alistair Overeem with a vicious left hook that put the perennial heavyweight contender asleep via first-round knockout in this past Saturday’s UFC 218 co-main event at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou is next in line for a title shot against UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.

This scrap has been targeted for the UFC 220 headliner on Jan. 20 at TD Garden in Boston. Daniel Cormier is expected to defend his light-heavyweight strap against Volkan Oezdemir in the co-main event.

On Monday (12/4), 5Dimes.eu sent out Ngannou at -160 for the opening line (risk $160 to win $100). The number rose to -170 and dipped to as low as -130 but as of Thursday morning, it was back at -160. This leaves the reigning champ as a +130 underdog (risk $100 to win $130).

The total is 1.5 rounds with a -145 price tag attached to the ‘under.’ Bettors on the ‘over’ can earn a +105 return.

I cashed easily with the ‘under’ 1.5 rounds (-130) on Overeem-Ngannou when ‘The Predator’ scored his KO win in only 108 seconds. However, the ‘under’ will be tricky with this matchup, because I would think that Miocic will want to use his wrestling to take this fight to the ground.

Although Miocic has great striking and scary power like Ngannou, the champ has vastly superior wrestling and that plan — if it works effectively — would keep him away from Ngannou’s terrifying hands.

Ngannou, the 31-year-old from Cameroon, has an 11-1 career record. He is 6-0 in the UFC with five knockouts and one submission. Ngannou has four consecutive first-round KOs, with all four coming in less than two minutes.

Miocic, 35, is 17-2 overall and 11-2 inside the Octagon. He won the belt from Fabricio Werdum with a first-round KO at UFC 198 in Brazil. The Cleveland St. product who is a firefighter back home in Ohio has twice successfully defended his belt with first-round KO wins vs. Overeem and Junior dos Santos. Furthermore, Miocic has garnered fight-night bonuses in six of his last last outings.

Since we’ve been focused on the late stages of football season and the early portion of hoops, we haven’t touched on much MMA here recently. On that note, let’s get you up to date on a Bellator Heavyweight Tournament organized by Scott Coker, who had great success with a similar tourney under the Strikeforce banner that was eventually won by Cormier.

This Bellator 8-man tourney features a lot of big names and gets started at Bellator 192, which falls on the same day as UFC 220. The first bout of the tourney will feature former UFC 205-pound champ Rampage Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen, who once challenged for the UFC’s light-heavyweight belt and twice battled for Anderson Silva’s middleweight crown.

Most books have Jackson as a -140 favorite, while Sonnen is +110 on the comeback. Sonnen has never fought at heavyweight in his professional career.

There will be three tournament fights on the Bellator 194 card on Feb. 16. The headliner pits Matt Mitrione up against Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson, who scored a first-round KO win over Mitrione back in December of 2012 at the TUF16 Finale. The 41-year-old Nelson owns a 23-14 career record and won a unanimous decision over Javy Ayala in his Bellator debut this past September.

Mitrione is a -180 favorite, while Nelson is the +140 ‘dog. Mitrione, 39, is 12-5 overall and 3-0 under the Bellator banner. The former Purdue Boilermaker football player has three KOs during his Bellator tenure, including a 74-second KO of Fedor this past June at MSG in NYC.

Fedor is a +155 underdog to Frank Mir, the former two-time UFC champion who will be fighting for the first time in his career outside of the Octagon. Mir is the ‘chalk’ in the -185/-200 range. Finally, Bellator 205-pound champ Ryan Bader will take on Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal as a -260 ‘chalk.’ King Mo is the +200 ‘dog.

It’s starting to look like GSP doesn’t want to defend the middleweight title he recently won from Michael Bisping. In fact, reports this week indicated that the UFC is considering booking former champ Luke Rockhold against interim middleweight champ Robert Whittaker.

Although the fight hasn’t been booked yet, there are early odds out for a potential flyweight title fight between Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson and current bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw. Johnson has been installed as a -140 ‘chalk’ at 5Dimes, leaving Dillashaw at +110 on the comeback.

The Octagon will be in Fresno on Saturday for a 13-fight card headlined by undefeated Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega vs. veteran Cub Swanson. Ortega was a -120 favorite this morning with Swanson at even money. Ortega, a notorious slow starter like Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, will benefit from being in the first five-round fight of his career.

Brian thinks former Alabama football player Eryk Anders will score a KO over Markus Perez on Saturday in Fresno, but Anders’ price (-285ish) is too expensive. He prefers UNDER 2.5 rounds (-140).

Eryk Anders, the former Alabama football player who played a key role in the BCS Championship Game win over Texas earlier in Nick Saban’s dynastic tenure, is poised for his second career fight against UFC newcomer Markus Perez, an unbeaten Brazilian. Anders sent veteran Rafael Natal into retirement with a first-round KO in his Octagon debut.

Anders is favored in the -280/-300 neighborhood, but that’s entirely too expensive to bet. However, I’m bullish on UNDER 2.5 rounds at a -140 price with the expectation being a first or second-round KO from Anders.

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