The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday night for UFC 230. In the main event, double-champ Daniel Cormier will defend his heavyweight belt for the first time against Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis.
As of early Friday night, most books had Cormier (21-1-1 MMA, 10-1-1 UFC) installed as an enormous favorite in the -650 range. Lewis can be had for a +505 return (risk $100 to win $505). The total was 1.5 rounds (‘under’ -140, ‘over’ +120).
This headlining bout came together quickly. The promotion was left scrambling when its fans erupted with dismay over a women’s flyweight championship scrap briefly being booked in this slot.
When Lewis rallied to finish Alexander Volkov with a thrilling third-round knockout at UFC 229 on Oct. 6, the organization went to Cormier and offered him Lewis at MSG. Even though Cormier is admittedly not at 100 percent after injuring his hand in his win over Stipe Miocic to win the heavyweight strap, he accepted. Even though Lewis doesn’t feel like he’s necessarily ready or deserving of this opportunity, he wasn’t about to turn it down.
So here we are. Lewis (21-5-1 MMA, 12-3 UFC) is on a three-fight winning streak and is 9-1 since October of 2015. He has 10 knockouts to his credit in the Octagon. His best wins have come over the likes of Gabriel Gonzaga, Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson, Travis Browne, Marcin Tybura, Francis Ngannou and Volkov. But Cormier represents a big step up in competition.
Cormier has never lost to an opponent not named Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and he’s never tasted defeat in the heavyweight division. His victims are a list of some of the sport's greatest such as ‘Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Nelson, Dan Henderson, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson (twice), Alexander Gustafsson, Anderson Silva, Volkan Oezdemir and Miocic.
-- If the term “a puncher’s chance” is really a thing, then Lewis has that opportunity for more than any other. The dude can finish any human on earth with one of his big right hands. That alone is worth risking one unit on ‘The Black Beast’ for the +505 payout.
-- Chris Weidman, the defending middleweight kingpin who ended the reign of the great Anderson Silva, is 1-3 in his past four fights. He’s looked slower each time out and now the 34-year-old has been out of action for 16 months. Jacare Souza is 8-3 in the UFC and two of his L’s came via split decisions against former title challenger Yoel Romero and future title challenger Kelvin Gastelum. The only time Souza has been finished in the Octagon came against current champ, Robert Whittaker. I like Jacare Souza for two units as a +160 underdog.
-- In the opener of the main card, I’ll go with Derek Brunson for one unit as a +260 underdog vs. Israel Adesanya.
-- Best of luck with your wagers and enjoy the show!
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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