Elsewhere on the fight card, Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas will defend her title in a scintillating rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Featherweight prospect Calvin Kattar will try to extend a 10-fight win streak when he faces Renato Moicano, who will be looking to rebound off a loss to Brian Ortega.
How the bookies see it
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- Khabib Nurmagomedov is the most feared man in the UFC right now. The Russian Sambo practitioner and freestyle wrestler will carry an undefeated record of 25 wins and 0 losses into the Octagon at UFC 223. His aggressive style has proven to be too much for many top lightweights, including Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson and former champ Rafael dos Anjos, and he will look for another dominant win at UFC 223.
- Max Holloway has proved himself a worthy Featherweight Champion, gaining wins against former champs Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis on the way to the title. The step up to fight Khabib at Lightweight on six days notice, however, is a huge one, and it’s reflected in the odds, which are heavily weighted in the Russian’s favour. Mixed Martial Arts is an unpredictable sport, though, and if anyone can pull off the upset of the century, it’s Max Holloway.
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk will be out for revenge when she faces Rose Namajunas for the UFC Strawweight Championship. The pair fought previously at UFC 217, where Namajunas snapped Jedrzejczyk’s 14-fight undefeated streak to take the title. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is widely considered one of the UFC’s most dominant champions, so it’s not too surprising to see the betting odds still slightly in her favour for the rematch. Namajunas, however, has beaten Jedrzejczyk once, so she will no doubt head into the Octagon with her confidence high.
- Featherweight Calvin Kattar will look to extend a healthy win streak when he faces Brazilian Renato Carneiro, whose last fight ended in a submission loss to Brian Ortega, handing him the first loss of his professional career. However, Carneiro, who holds a split decision win over top 10 Featherweight Jeremy Stephens, has proven that he’s no pushover, and he will be looking to crack the top tier himself with a win over Kattar.
- In another exciting matchup, highly-regarded Lightweight Al Iaquinta will face ‘The Irish Dragon’ Paul Felder, who is coming off an impressive win against Charles Oliveira. Bookies have given Iaquinta the slightest edge for what is sure to be a competitive fight.
Tony Ferguson’s withdrawal from the UFC 223 main event was met with disappointment from fans everywhere, but there was a sense of crushing inevitability about it. This is the fourth time a planned fight between Ferguson and Khabib has fallen through, and after receiving the news, UFC President Dana White is quoted as saying he will ‘never book the fight again.’
Max Holloway’s willingness to step up and fight at short notice saved the event, but he has what looks like an insurmountable task ahead of him. Will Holloway’s recent injury affect his performance? We’ll see for sure on Saturday night, but the bookies certainly think Khabib is a shoo-in for the win, with odds on the Russian at around 1/ 5 heading into the event.
The event’s other title fight isn’t such a foregone conclusion. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is still a narrow favourite to take the win, despite going into the fight as the challenger, but the bookies odds reflect how tight it could be, with Ladbrokes offering 20/23 on Jedrzejczyk and 20/21 on Namajunas. Jedrzejczyk partly blamed a bad weight cut for her loss last time round, so if she gets it right this time, she could regain the Strawweight title at the first attempt.
Sports.net's Top Tip
Any bet on Khabib Nurmagomedov to win is not going to get you much of a return, as the odds on him grabbing the title are very short. But could Max Holloway pull off the unthinkable and win it? It's unlikely you'll ever get odds as long as this again on the Featherweight champ, so it might be worth taking advantage.
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