UFC 218 Main Card Preview & Expert Picks

UFC 218 Main Card Preview & Expert Picks

Written by Jordan Walters on Wednesday,November 29, 2017 8:26, EDT

Good-looking card for UFC 218 on Saturday night as the organization stages its first event at the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit – home of the NHL’s Red Wings and NBA’s Pistons. It’s headlined by a featherweight title rematch between champion Max Holloway and all-time great Jose Aldo. Here’s a quick look at the main card, along with the latest UFC odds.

UFC 218 Main Card Preview & Expert Picks

When: Saturday, 10 PM ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
TV: PPV
Live Stream: UFC Fight Pass

Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo

UFC 218 Odds: Max Holloway -300

Holloway is -300 to keep the belt and Aldo +240, with the over/under set at 2.5 rounds. Originally, Holloway was to fight former champion Frankie Edgar to headline this card, but Edgar had to pull out with a reported facial injury. Frankly a rematch with Aldo, considered by some a Top-10 pound-for-pound fighter of all time, is better. Aldo (26-3) has been one of the most dominant fighters in the sport during the course of his career, but is just 1-2 in his past three so maybe he’s fading. He lost to Holloway (18-3) by knockout in the third round of UFC 212 in June.

Aldo is known for his devastating leg kick but threw very few in their first meeting. After the fight, Aldo’s team revealed the lack of kicks were due to a leg injury he suffered during camp. Sounds like an excuse? “That was kind of cowardly to me,” Holloway said. “To say something like that and take away from someone’s win. I’ve never taken away from someone’s win. I just thought it was silly. Holloway is riding an 11-fight win streak. His last loss was in August 2013 against Conor McGregor.

Alistair Overeem vs. Francis Ngannou

UFC 218 Odds: Francis Ngannou -235

Overeem is a legendary heavyweight and the No. 1 contender in the division but a +190 underdog against No. 4 Ngannou (-235). The winner here should get a shot at heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Overeem (43-15) is coming off a majority decision win over former champion Fabricio Werdum in July. He came up short in a UFC title bid against Stipe Miocic late last year, but he bounced back with wins over Werdum and Mark Hunt.

Ngannou (10-1) hasn’t fought since a first-round TKO over Andrei Arlovski in January. He was scheduled to face former champion Junior dos Santos in September, but the bout fell through when dos Santos was flagged for a potential anti-doping violation. The African is 5-0 in the UFC but still relatively young in his career. He’s been fighting professionally for less than four years, and more than half of his contests have ended inside the first round. He’s a confident guy, already looking ahead: “I knock Stipe out when we fight. I think under three rounds, I knock him out.”

Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis

UFC 218 Odds: Henry Cejudo -255

Cejudo is -255 for this flyweight bout with Pettis at +205. This was initially scheduled for UFC 211 before Cejudo pulled out with a hand injury. Then, Cejudo’s availability was briefly in doubt as he suffered minor burn injuries to his right foot on the evening of Oct. 9 as he was evacuating his hotel as a result of the Tubbs Fire near Santa Rosa, Calif. But he’s apparently fine. An Olympic gold medalist in 2008 in wrestling, Cejudo lost his medal to the fire when the hotel he was staying in went up in flames. He escaped the area only after jumping out the window of his room on the second floor.

Which fighters are a safe bet in UFC 218?

Many consider this a title-eliminator in the 125-pound division. Cejudo said following his second-round knockout of Wilson Reis at UFC 215 in September that he’s hoping for a rematch with champ Demetrious Johnson, who handed him a first-round TKO loss at UFC 197 in April 2016.

Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje

UFC 218 Odds: Justin Gaethje -180

Alvarez is a +150 dog for this lightweight bout even though he’s a former champion. Gaethje is priced at 180. Alvarez and Gaethje coached against one another on the 26th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. The TUF 26 finale will take place Friday in Las Vegas. Alvarez (28-5) is looking for his first win since taking the lightweight belt with a first-round knockout of Rafael dos Anjos in July 2016. He tried to defend the title last November, but suffered a TKO loss to Conor McGregor. Gaethje most recently defeated Michael Johnson by second-round TKO in what some may consider the 2017 Fight of the Year. Gaethje (18-0) is a former World Series of Fighting champion.

Tecia Torres vs. Michelle Waterson

UFC 218 Odds: Tecia Torres -195

It’s a women’s strawweight bout with Torres at -195 and Waterson at +165. Torres (9-1) has won two straight fights, defeating Bec Rawlings in February and Juliana Lima in July. Her only loss in UFC came against Rose Namajunas in April 2016, though Torres had previously defeated Namajunas in 2013. A karate and Taekwondo black belt, Torres is a high-volume striker and strong athlete. Waterson comes off a second-round submission loss to Namajunas in April. She’s a former Invicta FC Atomweight champion.  Waterson is rangy kicker with some decently fast hands, but she really does most of her work on the mat.

Expert Predictions & UFC 218 Picks

The only underdog I like on this UFC 218 card – I’m tempted on Aldo but no – is Overeem.