The UFC is always good at giving its fans a Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/etc. gift each year by putting on a stacked fight card in December. This year is no different, as this Saturday’s UFC 245 is the best fight card (on paper) the UFC has put together in over two years (I rank fight cards on my website, The MMA Manifesto, and this Saturday’s event is far and away the top ranked over the past two years).
Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena will serve host to three – count ’em – three UFC title fights. And these are legit title fights, with three legit title challengers.
On top is a welterweight title fight between two guys who are pretty much carbon copies of one another – champ Kamaru Usman (-210) and former interim champ, and MAGA loudmouth, Colby Covington (+170). Both lean on relentless wrestle-heavy fighting styles and both sport identical 15-1 records, which makes this a tough one to predict. Spider-Man meme brought to life.
Before that, long-time featherweight champ Max Holloway (-180) will defend his strap for the fourth time, facing upstart Australian powerhouse Alexander Volkanovski (+150) – more on this matchup in a bit.
The third title fight of the night is G.O.A.T. female fighter Amanda Nunes (-300) putting her bantamweight championship on the line against former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie (+240).
So where’s the smart money going this weekend? Read on.
Alexander Volkanovski (+150) vs Max Holloway
Surprise – I’m predicting an upset in this one.
The 5’6″ Volkanovski might be giving up five inches to the champ, but he’s got arms like an orangutan. His 71″ reach is two inches better than Holloway’s. But the main reason to consider him a live dog in this one is his strength and wrestling.
A former professional rugby league player (when he weighed 214 lbs) and wrestler, The Hulk lives up to his moniker. Holloway’s recent foray up to lightweight showed he wasn’t big enough or strong enough to hang, so despite this fight being at 145 lbs, Volkanovski should still have the advantage in strength. Add in the fact that he also has serious KO power on the feet, and Holloway struggles with his weight cut (which affects a fighter’s ability to withstand strikes), could all lead to a new featherweight champ being crowned on Saturday.
Chase Hooper (-115) vs Daniel Teymur
At 31 years old, Daniel Teymur is in no ways an old man, even in the MMA world. Yet, he’ll seem that way to his opponent on Saturday. Chase Hooper is 11 years his junior.
Nicknamed “The Teenage Dream” (time to update that), the highly-touted Hooper will be making his UFC debut against Teymur after going 8-0-1 in the lower ranks of MMA (including a win on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018 that earned him a developmental contract with the UFC). Hooper is a beast on the ground, earning half of his wins via submission. Three of those submissions have come via rear-naked choke, which is relevant here because Teymur has lost two of his last three fights via that choke. Look for Hooper’s star to start to rise this Saturday.
Overall Results for This Column
Earnings (based on $100 bet per): (-$147.15)
Return on Investment: N/A