The UFC has staged 19 events in Canada across eight cities — Montreal has seen seven shows, Toronto four, and Vancouver three. Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax, Quebec City and Saskatoon each have hosted one card apiece. But for the first time ever, the capital city of Ottawa will host a card and it’s Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 89, headlined by a welterweight bout between Canadian Rory MacDonald, the No. 1 contender, and No. 2 Stephen Thompson, an American. MacDonald is a slight -120 favorite on the MMA betting lines and the over/under rounds for the scheduled five-rounder is 2.5.
Taking a Closer Look at the UFC Fight Night 89 Betting Pick on Thompson Vs. MacDonald
“We’ve always wanted to come to our nation’s capital and we know that Ontario is a strong market for us,” said Tom Wright, the UFC’s managing director for operations in Canada. “(Ottawa) is a nice distance between Montreal and Toronto and Kingston, it’s a great sports town, and we can’t think of a better city to mark the 20th UFC event in Canada than our nation’s capital.”
The winner could get a title shot at 170-pound champion Robbie Lawler, who fights at UFC 201 late next month in Atlanta and should handle Tyron Woodley.
MacDonald (18-3), who is from Montreal, has won eight of his last 10 outings. He holds impressive victories over Tarec Saffiedine, Woodley, Demian Maia, Jake Ellenberger and B.J. Penn. At UFC 189 in July, MacDonald came up short in 2015’s Fight of the Year against Lawler. That fight ended in a fifth-round TKO but MacDonald was actually leading on all three judges’ cards entering the round. But the “Red King” eventually succumbed to a straight left hand. The punch didn’t knock down MacDonald, but it appeared to injure him in some way. After a short delay, MacDonald crumpled backward, prompting referee John McCarthy to step in. MacDonald’s nose was so badly broken that he hasn’t fought in 11 months, the longest layoff of his pro career.
The result was somewhat similar to a previous three-round fight between the two. In a split-decision win in November 2013, Lawler overcame a bad second round to knock MacDonald down in the third and take over the end of the fight. MacDonald’s only other loss was in June 2010 at UFC 115 to Carlos Condit. He badly wants another shot at Lawler. This is the last bout on MacDonald’s contract. If he wins, he will become one of the biggest free agents to hit the market in the history of the sport. But it’s almost impossible to think the UFC would simply let MacDonald walk for another organization. He will certainly get a nice raise with a win.
“It’s the biggest fight of my career by far,” MacDonald said. “It’s really going to play out my future for the next few years.”
Thompson (12-1) is from South Carolina and riding a six-fight win streak. During that run he has earned knockout wins over Jake Ellenberger, Robert Whittaker and Chris Clements. In his most recent trip to the Octagon, “Wonderboy” became the first fighter to finish Johny Hendricks by stopping the former welterweight champion with strikes in the first round. Thompson’s only loss was to Matt Brown by decision in 2012.
Both these fighters have reputations for moving forward and going for hard, technical strikes, so there should be plenty of action. That the fight won’t go the five-round distance is a -135 favorite on betting lines.
Expert Betting Prediction
This should be a great fight and I’d say it ends before the fifth round, which is +105. Take MacDonald inside distance at +284.