Freelance: UFC 212 Betting—5 Upsets to Consider Betting On

A key thing to remember when involved with the very lucrative of sports betting is that there is no such thing as a truly safe bet—the old idea of expecting the unexpected. This is especially true when it comes to betting on mixed martial arts, a world of flash knockouts and out-of-nowhere submissions (like Anderson “The Spider” Silva’s fifth-round triangle-armbar win over heated rival Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen.)

With UFC 212 just days away, below are five names you should think about putting money on.

1. Max “Blessed” Holloway Over Jose “Junior” Aldo

Just how big of an upset are we looking at in the main event anyway? Yes, featherweight (145-pound) champion and Brazil’s home country favorite Jose Aldo went unbeaten for a decade and is also the oddsmakers’ favorite as of May 29 at -150 favorite against the +120 underdog interim featherweight champion in Max Holloway. However, the numbers are misleading.

Holloway is riding a ten-fight win streak with seven by stoppage (six not counting a win due to an opponent’s throat injury, with four legitimate KO/TKOs and two submissions.) Aldo was re-awarded champion status after then-champion “Notorious” Conor McGregor left the division for bouts at lightweight and welterweight (155 pounds and 170 pounds respectively) and he beat Frankie “The Answer” Edgar for the initial interim title by unanimous decision at UFC 200.

Being handed the belt back is the entire reason Aldo is still even fighting. Prior to topping Edgar, he had intended to get his release from the world leader in MMA and retire from the sport as a whole.

"Conor himself said before that he wouldn’t give his belt away by any chance and nobody would take it away from him," Aldo said in September of 2016 to months after winning the interim belt.

He continued, "After all this, I see I can’t trust any word from president Dana White, and who’s in charge of the promotion now is Conor McGregor. Since I’m not here to be an employee of McGregor, today I ask to cancel my contract with the UFC. When they offered me a fight with Frankie Edgar, Dana said that the winner would challenge McGregor or win the linear title, that he would lose his belt if he didn’t return to the featherweight division after his rematch with Nate Diaz. After being fooled so many times, I don’t feel motivated to fight in the UFC anymore."

McGregor did eventually give up the featherweight belt post-UFC 205 after becoming the first simultaneous two-division champion (technically, although has yet to make any actual defenses of his remaining lightweight championship,) Aldo got what he wanted and here we are.

The thing is, White has said multiple times that if a fighter is considering retirement, they should just go ahead and do it because with no heart, they’ll just get hurt. That’s where Aldo is right now despite the fact that he is wearing a strap.

Holloway also leads “Junior” in a number of areas statistically. Per FightMetric, LLC, Holloway lands more significant strikes per minute (5.67 to Aldo’s 3.28,) they are even in striking accuracy at 43 percent, and Holloway has a shorter average fight time of 11:40 compared to Aldo’s 13:50. Although that last figure also includes defeats, it also means that the challenger won’t sit back and coast his way to a victory.

The two men are almost identical when it comes to their grappling numbers although the Hawaiian gives up takedown accuracy and defense while there are minute differences elsewhere.

If Holloway doesn’t allow himself to succumb to the leg kicks of Aldo over 25 minutes (in similar fashion to Urijah Faber) he could become the new king of the division and that is why this fight definitely needs to be taken into your consideration.

2. Karolina Kowalkiewicz Over Claudia “Claudinha” Gadelha

Both of these ladies lost to UFC women’s strawweight (115-pound) champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk four rounds to one. While Gadelha’s loss to the champion was a lot more narrow the first time around, she was BLOWN UP in the cardio department when they faced each other in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 23’s finale last July.

Her fellow Polish representative in Kowalkiewicz seemed to hang better against her, so this could be yet another war of attrition, a battle of better cardio. The two are fairly even on the feet but the only plus for the more recent title challenger in grappling is her 87 percent takedown defense rate. Other than that, it’s admittedly Gadelha’s world (and probably why she is the -285 favorite against the +225 underdog.)

She needs to ditch the plan of trying to submit the Brazilian that a coach had mentioned previously and use what had worked against them both in those title fights: volume striking. While Gadelha is no big submission threat, being tactical with her hands could land Kowalkiewicz another title shot, possibly in Poland, in front of a definite sell-out crowd.

3. Nate “The Great” Marquardt Over Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort

If there are two things that a newer MMA fan might say about the legendary former UFC light heavyweight (205-pound) champion Vitor Belfort, it’s that he appears to be nothing without his TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) and that he has a glass jaw.

Belfort is at -130 per Bovada’s odds at this time despite being 1-4 in his last five fights (the most recent loss to Kelvin Gastelum was overturned to a No Contest after Gastelum tested positive for marijuana) with all of those losses coming within the opening five minutes. Thanks to a mixed record as of late, his opponent for UFC 212 in Strikeforce veteran Nate Marquardt is currently even.

Marquardt is also ahead of his opponent in almost every category of the FightMetric bout preview: Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (2.67 to 1.56,) Striking Accuracy (49 percent to 46 percent,) Strikes Absorbed per Minute is close (2.27 to Belfort’s 2.78,) and in Defense (56 percent to 50 percent.) He also edges out his dance partner in grappling in every way with exception to the Takedown Accuracy section, but the fight should be expected to be a boxing match.

The biggest factor in Belfort’s favor should be his home crowd, which is probably why the odds are what they are, because the other numbers don’t point in the legend’s favor.

4. Johnny Eduardo Over Matthew Lopez

Eduardo might not have lit the world on fire to become a household name, but to be blunt, the primary factor in him being the +160 underdog opposite the -200 Lopez is his age (36.) However, while Lopez could be close to getting cut by the UFC for more grooming in the developmental scene, Eduardo’s previously reported 21 finishes (13 submissions) say enough about who the obvious choice is.

5. Jim Wallhead Over Luan Chagas

Chagas may be the -225 favorite with Wallhead at +175 but Wallhead’s edge is not only in experience (29-10 overall in MMA) but in durability (eight decision wins, 13 total) and finishes (21 total.) Chagas' biggest chance seems to be through tiring the Englishman out, other than that, age is just a number and Chagas could very well be back in the mix of his local scene very soon.