With three title fights this weekend at the blockbuster UFC 259, we have a diverse mix of championship betting scenarios. The women’s GOAT will be a runaway favorite. The middleweight champion will be a clear but reasonable betting favorite while moving up a division for a champ-vs.-champ cross-divisional mash-up. But first, there’s a coin-flip title fight in the competitive bantamweight division.
Co-main event spoiler: The numbers clearly favor Amanda Nunes in her featherweight title defense against Megan Anderson. That’s even though Nunes will be competing in her ninth straight title fight, amassing her impressive performance metrics (and plenty of bonuses) against the best that two divisions have to offer. So unless she shows up suddenly out of shape, she is likely to get past Anderson, who poses no superlative threat on the ground or on the feet. The real question for most bettors is how long the fight will last. Nunes by submission is actually plus money, making it an attractive prop.
In the main event, Israel Adesanya moves up a division to take on Jan Blachowicz. Although the numbers favor Adesanya’s long-range striking ability, the change in weight class makes this tricky. Adesanya has racked up knockdowns at middleweight, but when they don’t come, his style has led to some disappointingly slow-paced fights. And if Blachowicz stands in the pocket and lands anything cleanly, it could be the hardest Adesanya has ever been hit. Blachowicz’s striking stats might be inflated by cruising through some opponents past their prime, but his performance against Dominick Reyes shows what he can do against elite talent. The uncertainty of Adesanya’s move up in weight makes the confidence on the favorite here less bankable. If he looks great at the new weight, back him. But don’t be afraid to back off given the uncertainty and hype involved.