The UFC is taking a rare breather this week after hosting the return of Conor McGregor last weekend at UFC 257 (where he got knocked out by Dustin Poirier, which I sadly didn’t predict). They will now relocate from UFC Fight Island back to the comfy confines of their home gym in Las Vegas – the UFC APEX – for a run of events. And it’ll be quite the run of fight cards, at least the pay-per-view portion.
UFC 258: Usman v Burns
The first PPV in this run will be UFC 258, scheduled for February 13th (next weekend is UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs Volkov, which I’ll preview in my next column). Headlining this will be a UFC Welterweight Championship fight between champion Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns.
I wrote about this fight previously, and here’s an excerpt:
“I agree that Usman is the pick to win this one, as he’s too big, too strong, and too good of a wrestler for the BJJ wizard to compete with. But, with The Nigerian Nightmare having only lost once in his career, seven years ago in his second pro fight, the champ is my pick to win pretty much any matchup he’s put in at this point.”
My opinion hasn’t changed since that time; however, the lines have. Loads of people seem to agree with my assessment of this fight, as the line has moved from 5/11 for Usman a few weeks ago to
20/59. I’ll preview this card in depth in a couple of weeks.
Stacked Card at UFC 259
Things really kick into gear proper with UFC 259 on March 6th. While it hasn’t been announced for the UFC APEX yet, it more than likely will be there (or back to UFC Fight Island). This card is STACKED (one of the benefits of being able to put Conor McGregor atop a PPV card without any champions on it is that it leaves more big names free for upcoming events). How does THREE UFC title fights sound?!
The main event will be a champ vs champ battle, as newly crowned UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz defends his title against UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. The Mansion books are leaning heavily towards Izzy becoming a double champion, having him currently at
1/3. While the Polish champ has that one-touch knockout power, I probably agree that Adesanya is the pick here (but perhaps not at a number that high).
UFC Featherweight Championship Bout
Speaking of high numbers, how about UFC Featherweight Champion Amanda Nunes at
2/35 for her title defense against Megan Anderson?! Here’s what I wrote about this a few week’s back when Nunes was “just” a
“While Anderson, standing 6’0” with a 72.5-inch reach, will be the bigger of the two combatants, that is pretty much the only advantage she’ll have once the cage door slams shut. The Aussie hasn’t exactly set the UFC world aflame, going 3-2 in the promotion and having lost both times she’s gotten a step up in competition. However, she is a legit featherweight and is on a two-fight winning streak, which is good enough to get a title shot in the women’s 145-pound division, which really isn’t a division at all.”
The third belt contested this night will be the UFC Bantamweight Championship, as Petr Yan will be making his first title defense against top challenger Aljamain Sterling. This is the closest fight on the board, with the champ coming in at
5/7 compared to Sterling at
1/1. Again, I agree with this being the closest fight of the three, with Yan having a slight edge.
Two Title Fights at UFC 260
UFC 260 is looking to be stellar as well, with two title fights. The top fight will be a massive heavyweight rematch, with champ Stipe Miocic making his return to defend against Francis Ngannou, who he bested back in February 2018. But get this – the champ is the underdog going into this battle, currently sitting at
6/5, with Ngannou coming in at
20/33. While Miocic was able to avoid The Predator’s insane punching power the first go-around, the thought must be that Ngannou will catch him this time.
The second title fight of the night will be UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski defending against former title challenger (while Max Holloway was champ) Brian Ortega. The champ is at
4/9, which looks right to me, perhaps setting up a third battle between him and former champ Holloway.
*All odds correct at time of writing