As the premium promotion for mixed martial arts, the UFC is where all the best fighters in the world compete.
As such, most bouts are extremely exciting and close, providing plenty of opportunities to take advantage in the betting markets.
Here is a look at five future UFC fights and where the smart money looks to be. While these fights are yet to be finalized, bookmakers are offering odds based on the fact they are likely to happen at some point in the future.
Conor McGregor v Dustin Poirier
Did anyone really believe McGregor’s latest retirement announcement in July was for real? It was the third time the former two-weight champion said he was walking away, but soon after he was clamoring for a return to the Octagon.
The COVID pandemic put paid to his plans for another fight in 2020 but McGregor looks set to take on Poirier early next year, with UFC president Dana White revealing the fight is set to headline UFC 257 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
When this fight takes place, it will be a rematch of their September 2014 clash at UFC 178, which McGregor won via first round TKO. While the original was contested at featherweight, the rematch will be fought at lightweight, which will give the bigger, stronger McGregor an even bigger advantage.
Currently priced at 8/15 to win, take a look at the markets for another McGregor stoppage win closer to the fight.
Kamaru Usman v Gilbert Burns
A bout that was initially scheduled to headline the first Fight Island series in July, Usman instead put his welterweight title on the line against Joge Masvidal after Burns contracted Covid.
White insisted that Burns will still get his title shot and reports have emerged that this fight will be the main event at UFC 258 in February next year. Usman, who is yet to taste defeat in the UFC from 12 fights, is the early favourite with the bookies, with the Nigerian priced at 4/9 to claim victory.
However, Burns is a tough operator and will provide a stern challenge to Usman’s title. While the smart money is on backing Usman, look at the markets for the fight to go the distance. Four of Usman’s last six fights have been decided on the scorecards and this clash looks likely to go the same way.
Leon Edwards v Khamzat Chimaev
No rising prospect has been making as much noise – in and out of the octagon – as Chimaev, who White has described as the most special talent he has ever seen. The fighter from Dagestan, who has won all nine of his pro MMA fights inside the distance, recently entered the top 15 welterweight rankings and has been busy calling out those above him on the ladder.
The big fight most likely to happen for Chimaev is against third-ranked welterweight Edwards, who is on an eight-fight win streak and certainly possesses more experience than Chimaev.
Despite the difference in experience and ranking, it’s Chimaev who is the early bookies favourite, priced at 4/9 for the win. Once this fight is confirmed, seek out markets for Chimaev to claim a stoppage victory. There’s a reason he’s talked about as the UFC’s next big star.
Jon Jones v Francis Ngannou
After dominating the light-heavyweight division and establishing himself as the UFC’s No 1 pound-for-pound fighter, Jones opted to relinquish his title and make the move up to heavyweight.
There remains plenty of questions around who Jones will make his heavyweight debut against but there are only two names on the list UFC fans care about: champion Stipe Moicic and No 1-contender Francis Ngannou.
Miocic and Ngannou engaged in an all-time classic at UFC 220 and experts are calling for a rematch between the two warriors, but the arrival of Jones has made the scene even more interesting.
Considering Miocic is the champion, it’s perhaps unlikely that Jones will get an immediate title shot, so a clash with Ngannou appears the more likely fight in the immediate future.
The bookies can’t separate Jones and Ngannou at present, but it would take a brave person to bet against the best fighter in the UFC.
Jan Blachowicz v Israel Adesanya
The last time both these fighters climbed inside the cage was at the same event, when Adesanya defended his middleweight title with a clinical win over Paulo Costa at UFC 253 on Fight Island. Blachowicz featured on the co-main event where he defeated pre-fight favourite Dominick Reyes with a second-round TKO to claim the light heavyweight title vacated by Jones.
Since then, Adesanya and Blachowicz have been calling each other out and while a bout has yet to be made, it’s a fight the fans certainly want to see.
The early betting markets favour Adesanya, even if the fight would likely be contested at light-heavyweight. The middleweight champion is currently 2/5 to beat Blachowicz.
Despite his slender frame, Adesanya packs plenty of power and his superior skills should take him past Blachowicz, so a win inside the distance looks a solid bet.
Before this year’s atypical situation, UFC was expected to be one of the sports brands with highest growth in the world. Surely Dana White wasn’t expecting that a pandemic would make him lose allegedly over $100 million.
This was the estimated loss by White back in May when he said that it was “a big problem for all sports”. The financial impact that the lockdown measures took on the business is still yet to be confirmed and it might be even more, considering the second wave happening right now.
Nonetheless, even if COVID-19 pandemic will probably make some of these events happen under closed doors, we are certain they will still move around a lot of money.
There are a lot of matches coming up for 2021 UFC calendar that we are eagerly waiting for. If you fancy your chances of betting on any of them, make sure to know how to do it beforehand. Click here to get to know how to bet on MMA according to BetAmerica’s guide.