It’s a terrific UFC 198 card from Curitiba, Brazil, this weekend that will take place at Arena da Baixada, a 42,000-seat soccer stadium. The headline bout is a heavyweight title fight between champion Fabricio Werdum and contender Stipe Miocic. Werdum is a -145 favorite on MMA betting odds to keep the belt with Miocic at +125 and the over/under set at 2.5 rounds.
A Closer Look at the UFC 198 Miocic vs Werdum Betting Pick
Werdum was supposed to defend the belt on Feb. 6 against former champion Cain Velasquez, but he had to pull out due to a back injury. Miocic stepped up and was ready to fight on short notice against Werdum. But then Werdum had to withdraw due to back and foot injuries.
A Cleveland native, Miocic is 8-2 in UFC with five knockouts. He is 14-2 overall with 10 knockouts. Miocic last fought Jan. 2 at UFC 195, beating Andrei Arlovski by first-round TKO. With two short right hands, Miocic put Arlovski down, then a more follow-up punches put him away at the 0:54 mark of the first round. Miocic’s first right hand landed to the left ear of Arlovski, wobbling his legs and nearly dropping him. The second right put him on the floor, and from there it was only a matter of sealing the deal.
The win was Miocic’s second in a row since losing a unanimous decision to Junior dos Santos in December 2014. Arlovski had a six-fight win streak snapped and lost for the first time since his return to the UFC. Miocic demanded a heavyweight title shot after the fight. Thanks to Velasquez, things worked out for him.
Werdum (20-5-1) is on a six-fight winning streak. He beat Velasquez at UFC 188 last June by third-round submission. That was considered an upset. It was Velasquez’s first appearance since October 2013 due to a knee injury. With the win, Werdum unified the UFC’s heavyweight titles and became the promotion’s undisputed champion. He had claimed an interim title by knocking out Mark Hunt at UFC 180.
The victory against Velasquez was almost exactly five years after Werdum earned a stunning upset against all-time heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko under the Strikeforce banner in 2010. Both Emelianenko and Velasquez were widely considered the best heavyweights in the world at the time of their respective losses.
In his current UFC run, Werdum has showed his improved striking. He went toe-to-toe with Hunt and Velasquez on the feet after many wondered if he could hang with two of the top strikers in the division. Needless to say, Werdum will have the crowd heavily on his side as he’s Brazilian.
Miocic’s team is confident that he is a problematic stylistic matchup for Werdum. Miocic’s coach Marcus Marinelli doesn’t take the fight with the champ lightly, but he still believes his man has the edge.
“I have a lot of respect for Fabricio Werdum,” he says. “But I think Stipe’s style matches up very well with him, especially on his feet.”
But Werdum trainer Rafael Cordeiro disagrees: “Stipe has good boxing but, that’s it. I think Fabricio has more skills. Fabricio has Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu. His wrestling is good.”
It’s been the emergence of a crisp striking game to complement a world-class Brazilian jiu jitsu acumen that has propelled Werdum to the top of the ranks. With both Werdum and Miocic owning wins over Hunt, Arlovski, and Roy Nelson, there’s a lot of footage and style matchups to compare. But Werdum has faced a higher level of competition during his 14 years in pro MMA overall.
Expert Betting Prediction
Werdum hangs onto the belt with a second-round submission.