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UFC 220 Preview – Can Cormier, Miocic Defend Their Titles?

UFC 220 is one of the harder cards to handicap given that most of the favorites seem like the best bets. The light heavyweight and heavyweight straps are up for grabs in two scintillating matchups, and the odds are extremely curious given those involved.

Let’s see where your money in as Boston gets ready for Saturday, January 20th as a warm-up for the AFC Championship in Foxboro. It’s going to be a hell of a weekend up in Massachusetts.

Odds per

UFC Heavyweight Championship
Francis Ngannou -170 over Stipe Miocic +145

I could write psalms about how much I love Stipe Miocic, but all of those could be burned by how amazed I am by Ngannou. There is a part of me that thinks that Ngannou seems “too obvious”. Almost everyone believes that he’s going to win. But he’s exactly the type of heavyweight that brings the house down. That uppercut he tosses can literally come out of nowhere. Miocic is an amazing, amazing champion but I’m sticking with the oddsmakers here. Ngannou is just too fun not to stand behind.

Light Heavyweight Championship
Volkan Oezdemir +263 over Daniel Cormier -313

Normally I’d tout the fact that Cormier’s odds are just too steep to make money off of. This is exactly the type of traditionally lopsided, championship fight where I normally advertise a flier play on the underdog. I’m putting my chin out there for this one, though. I believe very much in Oezdemir.

When two contenders are really good at what they do, the tie usually goes to the better grappler and Cormier is far and away the guy with the edge in this fight. He’s a bigger body with a tactical knowhow when it comes to throwing opponents to the ground and keeping them there. The only guy he loses to is Jon Jones, and we’re not going to be talking about those fights in this space.

Oezdemir has exactly one win via submission, but is an absolutely hellacious knockout specialist. Eleven of his fifteen wins have come thanks to his fists. He’s just an exciting guy to watch and has rocked Jimi Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov out in his last fight. His split decision win over Ovince Saint Preux deserves some criticism, but it was also Oezdemir’s first fight in the UFC.

Cormier is by and large the better fighter here. He’s tough as nails and again, he really only ever loses to one guy. But Oezdemir here as a +263 dog is still a solid play from my point of view. It’s always hard to assess a fighter who got knocked out in his last fight so badly he doesn’t even remember losing it. Oezdemir would be an absolute idiot to not rehearse his takedown defence like his life depended on it.

Expect a revamped challenger to bring the fight to Cormier and put the champion on the ropes. I still expect Cormier to win in my heart of hearts, but my handicapping brain is screaming at me to leverage some good money on Oezdemir. A puncher like him always has that coveted puncher’s chance.

Shane Burgos -190 over Calvin Kattar +165
Burgos isn’t just undefeated, he’s someone who has knocked out four opponents, submitted four more and won two decisions. His masterful win over Godofredo Pepey at UFC on Fox 25 solidified him as one of the promotion’s newest potential stars. Kattar is fine fodder, but that’s it. Burgos represents a relatively strong value given that he’s more than likely to win the fight.

Gian Villante -160 over Francimar Barroso +140
This bout has the makings of a “loser leaves town” match, and it’s really hard to tell which fighter has his feet firmly planted in the UFC. Villante is the younger of the two at 32 years old, and while he’s just 1-3 SU in his last four fights, his last two losses have been to Mauricio Rua and Patrick Cummins. Those are somewhat excusable given the caliber those two represent overall.

Barroso has been a mainstay in the UFC for what seems like ages, and at 19-6 (1) he’s certainly been around the world and back. Where I worry about Barroso is his penchant for pushing fights to a decision, allowing his opponents to stay in matches for longer than is healthy. Villante has a lot of shortcomings, but he also has great knockout power.

While Villante has plenty to prove overall, the hope has to remain that his defence has been polished since his last outing. It’s also worth pointing out that Barrosso hasn’t knocked anyone out in over five years.

Thomas Almeida -112 over Rob Font -108
Almeida’s 21-fight win streak came to a screeching halt in the first round against Cody Garbrandt last May. He bounced back with a solid knockout of Albert Morales but lost a unanimous decision to Jimmie Rivera. Let’s just say that he’s started to meet his match as he floats close to the top of the bantamweight division.

That’s why the match-up against the thirty year old “Times Roman” Font (an actual nickname!) is a perfect litmus test for Almeida. Font can really bring out the best in his opponents, and while he’s 4-2 SU since migrating to the UFC way back in 2014, he doesn’t have true superstar potential.

Anything can happen over the course of three rounds, but the odds are close enough here to bank on Almeida getting the best of Font in an opener that’s meant to get the crowd hot. Almeida re-establishes himself in the division while Font hangs tough and helps put on a show.

UFC 223 has been announced in Brooklyn and it is an absolutely slobber knocker of a card! Bet future cards and UFC 220 at right now!

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