UFC 250 Main Card: Nunes vs. Spencer Preview Predictions and Odds
Saturday, octagon action returns from the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, as UFC 250 unfolds. Here are predictions and odds for the lastest ultimate fighting gala.
The main bout pits dual champion Amanda "Lioness" Nunes against long shot challenger Felicia Spencer. Widely considered the greatest female fighter ever, Nunes makes her debut featherweight title defense after outgunning Cyborg Santos for top 145 lb. honors in late 2018.
Additional main card bouts seek to clarify the men's bantamweight division following Henry Cejudo's abrupt retirement. With vacant gold waiting, six leading 135 lb. fighters duel Saturday night. Former division ruler Cody Garbrandt meets longtime contender Raphael Assucao in the co-main.
Though, to lead into that scrap, top-ten bantams Aljamain Sterling and hot prospect Cody Sandhagen duel. With each wielding standup heavy attacks, this pairing could garner Fight of the Night.
The following list examines an explosive card guaranteeing no shortage of fast-paced drama.
Let's dive in.
Amanda Nunes (C) (-630) vs. Felicia Spencer (+465)
As of publication, deep prop odds are unavailable for this weekend's one-sided title match. Trends show Nunes, 32, recently went five rounds with ex-champ Germaine de Randamie: though, her three prior outings saw "Lioness" stop who's who challengers within distance.
Finishing Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg and Raquel Pennington via strikes, Nunes (19-4) boasts16 early wins. The easy play here is Amanda Nunes by either TKO or submission as she makes a seventh UFC championship defense.
Showing no slippage, Nunes has twice defeated fellow belt holders de Randamie and current 125 lb. ace Valentina Shevchenko. Well rounded on the mat or behind concussive strikes, Nunes holds a number of Ultimate Fighting records, including most consecutive title fight wins (seven) and becoming the only simultaneous two-division female champion.
A tough assignment for any opponent, Nunes has earned her reputation. Remaining focused this weekend is vital for the American Top Team member vs. physically overmatched opposition.
Gritty challenger Felicia Spencer was battered last year by Cyborg Santos, but showed admirable fortitude in remaining upright in defeat. After running through the Invicta FC featherweight ranks, durable Spencer isn't a threat to unseat Nunes as much as see the final bell vs. the top pound-for-pound female entry.
At 8-1, the 29-year-old Canadian has never been stopped through her pro career. With that noted, Spencer owns six paid TKOs or submissions while copping Invicta gold. Her come forward style inspired millions while gaining cult following against an on point Cyborg.
After winning her latest octagon appearance via TKO, the BJJ apprentice is set for a defining moment. Currently teaching sixth-grade algebra, Spencer could become the next Holly Holm. Though, such lofty dreams require double-tough Spencer to last 25 minutes this weekend against a punishing force.
The Verdict: Amanda Nunes by second-round TKO
Bantamweights: #5 Raphael Assuncao (+115) vs. #9 Cody Garbrandt (-135)
Much closer in odds than the nightcap, crossroads bantamweights meet to maintain championship relevance.
Cody Garbrandt (11-3)
Once billed among UFC pound-for-pound stars, Garbrandt has taken three consecutive knockout losses since dethroning Dominic Cruz -two from TJ Dillashaw. Many felt the flashy ex-champ would explode in March vs. solid-yet-unspectacular Pedro Munhoz. Instead, Munhoz used the Dillishaw head-kick template to down Garbrandt.
Going on four years since his last, and biggest, octagon win, "No Love" needs a victory Saturday. Blessed with lightning hands, Division II wrestling pedigree and nine professional TKOs, it's crunch time for Garbrandt.
The thinking is Assuncao can't land a roundhouse kick to his 28-year-old challenger's temple -the only technique which has halted Garbrandt.
Highly decorated former title challenger Assuncao is on a two-fight losing streak. Standing 11-4 vs. UFC competition, Assuncao was finished by Marlon Moraes and outpointed by riser Cory Sandhagen last year. The former came as Moraes avenged his 2017 split decision verdict against the BJJ maven.
With reflexes slowing, Assuncao was touched repeatedly by lengthy Sandhagen before pulling the younger man down. In those grappling exchanges, the WEC veteran couldn't notch an 11th submission against his latest foe. While Assuncao looked far from shot vs. legitimate recent competition, he is faded just enough where Garbrandt can wrestle in reverse and land harder through three rounds.
Cody "No Love" Garbrandt is the MMA equivalent of Amir Khan: he has cat-like reflexes and power, but is always in danger vs. top competition due to a suspect chin. If Garbrandt loses focus, Assuncao (4 TKOs) can stun his man and apply a quick submission. Though, if Garbrandt remains focused, using speed and distance, he can earn the unanimous decision nod over Assuncao.
With time to re-think strategy, the former champ will show evolved fight IQ this weekend.
Cody Garbrandt by decision
Bantamweights: #2 Aljamain Sterling (-120) vs. #4 Cory Sandhagen (+100)
Aljamain Sterling (18-3) enters Saturday slightly favored in a probable title eliminator vs. Cory Sandhagen (12-1).
Winner of four straight, Sterling unloaded volume output during his recent unanimous decision win over Pedro Munhoz. The reflexes and speed of the former Division III wrestler and BJJ black belt are at peak form.
Not needing a takedown to outpoint elite striker Munhoz, Sterling showed growth while flashing unorthodox, effective boxing to earn #2 contender status. After added wins vs. Jimmie Rivera, Cody Stamman and Brett Johns, it appears Longo-Serra tutelage has rounded Aljamain Sterling into a viable championship threat.
If the former Cage Fury ruler can hold Sandhagen off, a likely rematch versus Marlon Moraes for the vacated title awaits.
Holding Cory Sandhagen off, however, is easier said than done. Undefeated at 5-0 vs. UFC opponents, the BJJ purple belt recently outstruck Raphael Assuncao while defending world class submission attempts.
Prior, to breakthrough wins against Assuncao and John Lineker, Sandhagen exhibited finishing ability stopping Mario Bautista (armbar), Luri Alcantara (TKO) and Austin Arnett (TKO). In total, from Oct. 2017 through Jan. 2019 the #4 rated bantam ended five fights early.
Sandhagen can claim to be the hottest fighter among 135 lb. competitors.
To cancel Sandhagen's four-inch height edge, Sterling owns a one-inch reach advantage. In this clash between the most evenly matched main card fighters, Sterling can let speed be his ticket toward championship dreams.
While Sandhagen is excellent from every angle, Sterling is faster, more elusive and a bit better in all departments. Expect the 30-year-old octagon vet to be first on the feet and score takedowns while earning a split decision nod.
This is an excellent pairing between versatile mixed martial artists.
Aljamain Sterling by split decision
Breaking from the 135 lb. scene, veteran UFC Welterweights Neil Magny (22-8) and Anthony Rocco Martin (17-5) face off.
With 21 octagon walks to his credit, Magny has experienced the highs and lows associated with longtime UFC employment. Having won three of four, including a sharp March 7 return vs. Jingliang Li, Magny seeks another quality outing opposite tough competition.
Blessed with an 80' reach, the well-versed 32-year-old carries lanky power. Known for cardio, Magny uses range to establish a crisp jab before forcing his man to the cage where Thai clinches and takedowns are common. Upon his octagon return, the seven year UFC fighter rag dolled Li.
Since 2013, a generally ranked welterweight, Magny boasts wins vs. Tim Means, Kelvin Gastellum, Hector Lombard, Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit.
Magny's main weakness, however, is his upcoming opponent's greatest strength. Four of the Elevation Fight Team member's seven losses come via submission.
A gamer that never shies from fight action, Rocco Martin has found his groove going 5-1 since April 2018. While no massive wins jump off the Martin record, there's something to be said for his continued six-year UFC run.
Hooking up with MMA's front runner back in 2014, Martin has stood 9-4 while adding a recent close call loss vs. Demian Maia. However, the 30-year-old just knocked Ramazan Emeev from the ranks of UFC unbeaten.
Employing balanced technical standup with educated grappling, Martin is a sound martial artist. However, his fighting spirit makes the Bostonian a tough out on any given night.
Magny enjoys a seven-inch reach advantage which will allow him to pop jabs at Martin and land varied kicks. Though, when the taller, longer man hits the inevitable takedown to back Martin off, the underdog's counter submission chances remain ever-present.
And while Martin has nine pro tapouts, only three of those come in his UFC fights. That stated, expect tactical nip tuck action for 15 minutes as Magny keeps range using sizable leg and arm length.
Also, experienced at a higher level, and in five-round wars, Magny will use situational understanding to eke past Martin's determined challenge.
Neil Magny wins by decision
Finally, the UFC 250 main card opens with a classic riser vs. gatekeeper 135 lb. war as unbeaten Sean O'Malley (11-0) meets former contender Eddie Wineland (24-13-1).
Eddie Wineland (+360)
Like featured Raphael Assuncao, Wineland headlined WEC cards well over ten years ago. Now, fighting for just the fifth time since 2016 the standout vet looks to chase a recent KO win over Grigorii Popov with an unexpected odds spoiler.
The last thing to go on a fighter is power, and Wineland proved that adage last June. Unfortunately, versus heartier competition the Houston native dropped consecutive decision nods.
Synonymous with the lighter weight classes, Wineland will carry his punching chance in vs. dynamic O'Malley.
Sean O'Malley (-450)
After impressing Dana White on DWCS to earn UFC employment, O'Malley outpointed his first two octagon assignments before blitzing Jose Alberto Quinonez. Regarded as blue chip material, O'Malley is gifted from all positions.
The BJJ stylist has ended one pro fight by submission while gaining seven TKOs. Picking up the fight game at age 18, O'Malley holds three inches of arm and leg reach over Wineland. On the biggest stage, with youthful adrenaline pumping, look for O'Malley's speed edge to produce a late first round stoppage of vet Eddie Wineland.
A massive odds favorite take Sean O'Malley via TKO.
Check back soon for a detailed UFC 250 undercard preview with updated odds. And for in-depth discussion of this weekend's card, click here.