It’s International Fight Week, and that means the UFC will feature their biggest and best stars here in Las Vegas, Nevada. The UFC 226 main card is jam-packed with outstanding fights, and the preliminary card is good enough to be a main card on any other day!
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
Stipe Miocic is a moderate betting favorite at -240, while Daniel Cormier sits at +230.
Superfights don’t come around often in mixed martial arts. In fact, we might not have ever seen one of this quality before. The UFC heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic, will defend his strap from the challenging Daniel Cormier, who currently reigns over the UFC’s light heavyweight division. It’s a winner-takes-all matchup for Daniel Cormier, who could go home as a two-division champion after UFC 226.
However, to say that Cormier is going to be tested is a vast understatement. Cormier is going to need to bring the very best version of himself if he wants to hang in there with Miocic, who is currently regarded by some as the best heavyweight mixed martial artist of all-time. Add to that, Miocic is running wild at the moment and steps into the cage this weekend on a six-fight winning streak that was most recently capped with a dominant five-round battering of Francis Ngannou. Before that, he defended his title successfully against heavyweight greats Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos.
The challenger, Daniel Cormier, recently scored a significant victory of his own when he stopped Volkan Oezdemir inside two rounds. Cormier made sure to showcase his strengths and dismissed of Oezdemir with relative ease after grounding him and finishing the fight with many unanswered shots.
Now, at UFC 226, these two giants will collide. Will Cormier’s pressure and clinch work be effective against the heavyweight champion, or will Miocic’s strength and size prevail?
Prediction: Stipe Miocic to win by KO/TKO
Bet: Stipe Miocic to win
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega
Max Holloway is a slight betting favorite at -145, and Brian Ortega is great value at +138.
Moreover, if that spectacular main event isn’t enough, it’s backed by a fantastic co-main event that will see featherweight champion Max Holloway defend his title from Brian Ortega. This matchup between two young stars who are just hitting their peak is likely to be one of the most anticipated title fights in UFC featherweight history.
Holloway earned his belt by defeating Jose Aldo, the greatest UFC featherweight of all-time. To cement his case as the best featherweight in 2018, he then defended the title from Aldo not long after. Holloway’s striking precision, power, and determination to finish fights before the final bell have proved to be not just incredibly exciting, but also very dangerous for his opponents.
At UFC 226, Holloway will be facing another entertaining fighter who has made a career out of finishing opponents. Brian Ortega, who trains under the renowned Rener Gracie, has possibly the most creative arsenal of submissions and jiu-jitsu techniques in the UFC. We’ve seen this on display when he wrapped up the neck of Cub Swanson and submitted him with ease. However, then, Ortega did something that none of us expected and flattened Frankie Edgar with a series of punches that was enough to earn him a shot at Holloway and the title.
Max Holloway is a remarkable athlete and a very dangerous featherweight, but it’s hard to see how he can contain the many weapons of Brian Ortega at UFC 226.
Prediction: Brian Ortega to win by submission
Bet: Brian Ortega to win
Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis
Francis Ngannou is a significant betting favorite (-345), while Derrick Lewis hasn’t been given much chance (+325).
Francis Ngannou, who might just be the hardest-hitting fighter in the UFC, will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing effort against Stipe Miocic earlier this year when he faces Derrick Lewis at UFC 226 this weekend.
You might have heard it before: “Francis Ngannou hits harder than a Ford Escort going at full speed…” Those were the words of UFC President Dana White in the build-up to that fight with Stipe Miocic, and while that is clearly an exaggeration, not many fighters would be willing to step in there after seeing what “The Predator” did to Alistair Overeem last year.
There is one man who has wanted to get his hands on Ngannou for a long time now, though, and that’s Derrick Lewis. Lewis has made a career out of crushing skulls with his hands and is not one to care for a grappling match.
So, it looks like Ngannou and Lewis will be operating in their desired territory and they’ll be able to exchange heavy punches for as long as they remain conscious. And although the blueprint to defeating Ngannou is out there for the world to see, we’re not sure whether Lewis is capable of meeting the requirements.
Prediction: Francis Ngannou to win by KO/TKO
Bet: Francis Ngannou to win
Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis
Michael Chiesa is the favorite in this one (-147), while Anthony Pettis comes in as the underdog (+150).
Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis is a lightweight fight that holds plenty of significance within the division. It’s a fight that was initially scheduled to take place a couple of months ago, but the impacts of Conor McGregor’s latest rampage forced Chiesa out of the event due to injury.
Now, these two will be able to step into the cage for the first time in 2018 as they lock horns in what could be the ‘Fight of the Night.’ Chiesa enters this contest after claiming to be robbed by referee Mario Yamasaki in his fight with Kevin Lee. The lightweight looked to be seconds away from being choked unconscious, but Yamasaki stepped in and stopped the bout before Chiesa had a chance to submit.
And Anthony Pettis, a former champion, desperately needs a win at UFC 226 to move past what has been a recent struggle for him. Having won just two of his last seven fights, Pettis has shown just glimpses of his potential and hasn’t managed to put together a complete performance.
Prediction: Michael Chiesa to win by submission
Bet: Michael Chiesa to win
Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.
Gokhan Saki is the favorite in this opening fight (-145), while Khalil Rountree Jr. sits at +138.
To get the UFC 226 main card started, Dutch-Turkish former kickboxer Gokhan Saki will stand toe-to-toe with Khalil Rountree Jr.
Saki, who is a former Glory Light Heavyweight Champion, has recently made the switch over to mixed martial arts and made a successful UFC debut in September last year by defeating Henrique da Silva in an entertaining scrap. Fans witnessed some of Saki’s high-level striking combined with fight-finishing power, as he ended Silva’s night with 15 seconds remaining in the first round.
He’ll be facing Rountree Jr, who made a name for himself during The Ultimate Fighter 23 and has recently been in decent form. Yes, his last contest was a unanimous decision defeat (later overturned to No Contest), but before then he had crushed Paul Craig and Daniel Jolly with his powerful strikes.
Although Rountree is the more experienced mixed martial artist, it’s difficult to see how he will have an advantage against Gokhan Saki for as long as this fight remains standing.
Prediction: Gokhan Saki by KO/TKO
Bet: Gokhan Saki to win
UFC 226 fight card
UFC 226 begins on UFC Fight Pass from 6:30 pm ET (10:30 pm GMT) on Saturday, July 7.
Pay-per-view (10:00 pm ET / 2:00 am GMT)
- Stipe Miocic [-240] vs. Daniel Cormier [+227]
- Max Holloway [-145] vs. Brian Ortega [+138]
- Francis Ngannou [-345] vs. Derrick Lewis [+325]
- Michael Chiesa [-147] vs. Anthony Pettis [+150]
- Gokhan Saki [-145] vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. [+138]
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8:00 pm ET / 12:00 am GMT)
- Uriah Hall vs. Paulo Costa
- Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry
- Raphael Assuncao vs. Rob Font
- Curtis Millender vs. Max Griffin
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 pm ET / 10:30 pm GMT)
- Dan Hooker vs. Gilbert Burns
- Lando Vannata vs. Drakkar Klose
- Jamie Moyle vs. Emily Whitmire