For many years, there were no women fighters in the UFC. Finally, Dana White relented and eventually the biggest star in the UFC became a woman: Ronda Rousey. However, since her retirement from the sport there has been a void on the women’s side.
That could all start to change Saturday night at UFC 224 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – that country might be the most MMA crazy in the world, and the main card is full of Brazilian fighters. Women’s fights now routinely headline cards, and that’s the case Saturday as Brazil’s Amanda Nunes puts her bantamweight title on the line against American Raquel Pennington, the second-ranked fighter in the division.
Nunes opened as a -530 favorite on the UFC 224 betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com but is taking huge action and now is set at -1000. Pennington has moved from +350 to +600.
How might that fight change things on the women’s side of UFC? Because if Nunes wins, she could then take on featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, widely considered the best female pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, in arguably the biggest women’s event in MMA history (post-Rousey, anyway).
Nunes (15-4) enters on a six-fight winning streak. She sent Rousey into retirement with a shocking first-round knockout in late December 2016. Nunes defended her belt last September with a controversial split-decision victory over Valentina Shevchenko. That was only Nunes’ second win by decision in her career – 67 percent of them have come by KO or TKO.
Pennington (9-6) has won her past four fights, last beating Miesha Tate back in November 2016. Pennington has dealt with injuries since then; she and Nunes were originally set to fight last December, but Pennington was hurt in a car accident.
The co-main event at UFC 224 features middleweight contenders in second-ranked Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, a Brazilian, against No. 5 Kelvin Gastelum of the United States. Souza (25-5) is priced at -150 with Gastelum (15-3) at +120. It is expected that the winner will next fight middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, assuming he takes care of business as a solid betting favorite over Yoel Romero at UFC 225 next month.
The biggest fight locally Saturday is between two Brazilian legends and former light heavyweight champions in Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida. The 41-year-old Belfort (26-13) says this will be his last fight, and he’s a +210 underdog against the 39-year-old Machida (23-8), who is -270.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.
Source: Heavy Sports