UFC 230: Four fighters to fancy at MSG this weekend

UFC 230 punches its way onto our screens in the early hours of Sunday morning and Simon Head is here to wrestle with the odds…

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UFC 230 brings a packed card to New York City on Saturday night, as double world champion Daniel Cormier puts his UFC heavyweight title on the line against Derrick Lewis.

We’ve given you the back-story ahead of the main event and run through the middleweight matchups set to feature on the main card.

But who should you be paying the most attention to when they step into the octagon on Saturday night? Here are my four fighters to follow…

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Daniel Cormier

The UFC heavyweight champion has effectively saved the show at UFC 230 after agreeing to step in and face Derrick Lewis in a hastily-arranged main event.

And with “DC” set to relinquish his light-heavyweight title on December 29 when his nemesis Jon Jones returns to face Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232, Cormier knows defeat to Lewis is unthinkable.

Cormier has a megabucks superfight with former UFC heavyweight champ and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar seemingly all lined up for early next year. But that could evaporate into thin air – and, even worse, it could end up going to Jones – if he loses to Lewis on Saturday night.

In many ways, Cormier is ripe for an upset. He’s coming in on short notice, in a bout where many are viewing his victory as a foregone conclusion.

But “DC” is too much of a professional to allow complacency to creep into his game. Lewis’s punch power is real, and Cormier knows that. He knows he can win the fight easily and relatively quickly by going to his bread and butter – his wrestling.

Expect Cormier to push Lewis up against the cage, take “The Black Beast” off his feet early and grind him down before eventually finishing him via submission (17/10).

Cormier v Lewis odds

Daniel Cormier

To win: 1/7
To win by KO/TKO: 11/1
To win by decision: 11/1
To win by submission: 17/10

Derrick Lewis

To win: 4/1
To win by KO/TKO: 6/1
To win by decision: 20/1
To win by submission: 30/1

Chris Weidman

New Yorker Chris Weidman was planning to avenge his title loss to Luke Rockhold this weekend, but after Rockhold was replaced by Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, the former UFC middleweight champion now faces a very different type of challenge, but one who is every bit as dangerous.

Former BJJ world champ “Jacare” is arguably the best grappler in the UFC today and the Brazilian carries formidable punch power to back up that grappling excellence, too.

Weidman will have to be on his game, but he looked in fine form in the open workouts this week, and he seems in a determined frame of mind ahead of the bout.

With a possible shot at the UFC middleweight title awaiting the winner, Weidman has the chance to earn an opportunity to win back his title, and he’ll look to make his home advantage pay on Saturday night, most likely with a decision win – a 15/8 shot.

Weidman v Souza odds

Chris Weidman

To win: 8/15
To win by KO/TKO: 23/10
To win by decision: 15/8
To win by submission: 14/1

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

To win: 11/8
To win by KO/TKO: 7/1
To win by decision: 6/1
To win by submission: 4/1

Israel Adesanya

“The Last Stylebender” announced himself on the UFC stage with a brilliant display in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter Finale back in the summer, and now Israel Adesanya is looking to claim a Top 10 scalp and surge towards title contention.

Adesanya is undoubtedly more technical than his opponent, Derek Brunson, and he should have a significant speed advantage in the cage on fight night.

He’ll need to be wary of Brunson’s wild style and heavy hands, but Brunson’s approach leaves sizeable gaps in his defence that Adesanya should be able to exploit.

This is a huge fight for Adesanya, and a stoppage victory over a dangerous contender like Brunson should catapult him to stardom in the UFC’s middleweight division.

The knockout is priced at 10/11, but Adesanya showed in his last fight that he is more than capable of dominating his opponent all the way to the scorecards. And if Brunson takes a less gung-ho approach, the bout could make it all the way to the judges where the 11/4 on an Adesanya win looks an attractive price.

Brunson v Adesanya odds

Derek Brunson

To win: 9/4
To win via KO/TKO: 6/1
To win by decision: 6/1
To win by submission: 16/1

Israel Adesanya

To win: 2/7
To win via KO/TKO: 10/11
To win by decision: 11/4
To win by submission: 18/1

Jason Knight

There are few more entertaining fighters in the UFC than Jason Knight, and the Mississippi mauler will return to action against Jason Rinaldi in a must-win fight.

Knight’s bouts always excite the fans, but he heads into Madison Square Garden this weekend riding a three-fight losing streak.

His stoppage loss to Ricardo Lamas came against one of the best featherweights in the world, but his decision losses against Gabriel Benitez and Makwan Amirkhani will have frustrated him hugely. Now lined up against Rinaldi, Knight will look to take the fight to his opponent in search of a much-needed win.

He’s odds-on to succeed, but there’s a big question mark over just how he’ll get it done, with value in each selection in the ‘Method of Victory’ market. Rinaldi was stopped by strikes in his most recent outing, and Knight is 21/10 to repeat the feat on Saturday night.

Knight v Rinaldi odds

Jason Knight

To win: 1/3
To win via KO/TKO: 21/10
To win by decision: 16/5
To win by submission: 10/3

Jordan Rinaldi

To win: 2/1
To win via KO/TKO: 12/1
To win by decision: 7/2
To win by submission: 12/1

UFC 230: FIGHT CARD

Main Card

Daniel Cormier vs Derrick Lewis (UFC heavyweight title)
Chris Weidman vs Ronaldo Souza (middleweight)
David Branch vs Jared Cannonier (middleweight)
Karl Roberson vs Jack Marshman (middleweight)
Derek Brunson vs Israel Adesanya (middleweight)

Preliminary Card

Jason Knight vs Jordan Rinaldi (featherweight)
Sijara Eubanks vs Roxanne Modafferi (women’s flyweight)
Julio Arce vs Sheymon Moraes (featherweight)
Ben Saunders vs Lyman Good (welterweight)

Early Prelims

Matt Frevola vs Lando Vannata (lightweight)
Shane Burgos vs Kurt Holobaugh (featherweight)
Brian Kelleher vs Montel Jackson (bantamweight)
Adam Wieczorek vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (heavyweight)

Find the latest MMA and UFC odds over at paddypower.com