On Saturday night in the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., history will be made as the co-main event of UFC 232 features the first ever women’s champion vs. champion superfight in UFC history.
The baddest woman on the planet, Cris Cyborg, is defending her featherweight title against arguably the greatest bantamweight of all time and current 135-pound champion, Amanda Nunes. Aside from being the biggest fight in WMMA history, it’s also the second to last chance MMA betting fans will have to cash in before 2019, so here are the best bets to end the year right.
Cris Cyborg is the best female fighter we’ve ever seen, and the only thing standing in the way of her being the unanimous consensus as the WMMA GOAT is that she competes in a threadbare division, bereft of the level of skill that can be found just south at 135 pounds. But as far as ability and aptitude goes, Cyborg has no equals.
She’s a as powerful and athletic a woman as we’ve ever seen in the sport, but she is also a highly skilled striker and, though at first her grappling game appeared to be a weakness, she has since shored that up through diligent training.
Cyborg is lethal in all phases and, perhaps most impressively, we may not have even seen all she has to offer because no fighter has forced her to open up her bag of tricks -- mostly, women across the cage from her end up being cannon fodder.
Amanda Nunes is anything but cannon fodder. The current UFC bantamweight champion is currently in the middle of solidifying her own resume for the title of WMMA GOAT and a win over Cyborg would likely give her those honors.
Nunes’ resume does not have the same near-perfect sheen that Cyborg’s has -- having suffered a handful of losses earlier in her career- - but since moving to American Top Team in 2015, Nunes has been unstoppable, rattling off seven straight wins and three Performance of the Night bonuses.
Like Cyborg, Nunes game is also built around power and aggressiveness, often just running through the women standing across from her.
For a while, Nunes’ biggest perceived weakness was her cardio -- an offshoot of throwing the kitchen sink at opponents early in bouts -- but that issue too has been taken care of, as her five-round fight with the now-flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko showcased.
Though there are noticeable differences in the minutiae of their styles, in broad strokes, Cyborg and Nunes are very similar, only with Cyborg being considerably larger. Moreover, Nunes has been stopped before and Nunes has been out-skilled before; Cyborg has had neither happen.
Add in the fact that Nunes has tended to struggle against fighters she can’t walk right through - and Cyborg does not figure to be that - and this looks like a pretty clear-cut outcome here.
Nunes is certainly game and will be the toughest fight of Cyborg’s career, but at the end of the day, the bantamweight champion is just out-gunned, so taking Cyborg straight at -265 with 888Sport is a great bet.
Cyborg is also good parlay fodder at this price, and if you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, parlaying her with Jon Jones is another nice bet at -117.The Jones-Gustafsson fight follows the Cyborg-Nunes battle.
For the home run hitters out there, I would recommend a couple of big payout props. First: Cyborg by decision at +333 per SugarHouse. The best fighter Cyborg has ever fought was Holly Holm, and that fight went to decision, and was never really in danger of being stopped.
Nunes is as good if not better than Holm and, so long as she doesn’t get reckless, should be able to hang around for the full 25 minutes.
The other prop bet I like is Nunes by KO/TKO at +1000 with SugarHouse. It is incredibly unlikely that Nunes is able to out-point Cyborg and, at this stage of their careers, a submission also seems off the table. So, this bet is essentially getting Nunes at 10/1 instead of the 2/1 she is currently at straight.
Even if you like Cyborg to win, as I do, this is worth throwing a few bucks down on as a hedge.
This one hurts me to write. Carlos Condit is one of my all-time favorite fighters, but he has lost four fights in a row, and has looked increasingly poor each time out. On Saturday he takes on Michael Chiesa, a lightweight submission specialist moving up after years of struggling with the cut down to 155 pounds.
If Condit can turn back the clock for one more showing of violence, that would be spectacular, but the far more likely outcome is that Chiesa gets the tap. So, Chiesa straight at -175 or Chiesa by decision at +200 with SugarHouse are both worthwhile bets.
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