By Josh Beasley
For the Leader-Call
When I started writing this column a few weeks ago, I was concerned. It was the dog days of summer, and as anyone in the sports journalism business knows, it is the worst time to find sports-related topics to write about.
Luckily, there are some good betting lines that come out extremely early and I have been able to string together some decent material that has been both informational and entertaining. However, the meat of what I know you all want to read about is on the way. So, football fans just wait a couple more weeks and we will have some great games to bet on.
In the meantime, we have the best UFC card of the year coming up Saturday, so let’s break down some lines.
UFC 241: Yoel Romero (13-3) vs. Paulo Costa (12-0)
In this middleweight tilt of top contenders, it may be better to bet on when one of these savages will be unconscious than who will be the winner.
Both fighters are so evenly matched and have a combined 22 TKO victories. Romero has won most of his fights as soon as he walked into the cage just by being the UFC’s residential boogeyman, and Costa is a precision striker who can string together combos in a seamless fashion.
Romero opens at a -165 favorite, and that is probably fair. In a fight this hard to call, you will not win a lot of money either way you bet. If I had to bet with my gut feeling, I would say Costa gets the TKO. Just make sure you call an early round either way you go.
Beasley’s bet: Paulo Costa (+135) via TKO in under 1.5 rounds.
UFC 241: Anthony Pettis (22-8) vs. Nate Diaz (20-11)
This fight is a gift from the UFC to mixed martial arts purists everywhere. Pettis and Diaz are two true fighters. When I think violence, attitude and toughness, these welterweights are two names that immediately pop in my head.
When we last saw Diaz, he was fresh off of a two-fight series with Irish superstar Conor McGregor. After submitting to the Irishman in their first contest and losing a questionable decision in the second, Diaz took a three-year hiatus from the sport.
On the other hand, Pettis is fresh off of a knockout victory in his welterweight debut against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
The thing that makes this fight so compelling is how well-rounded both men are. They both lay claim to top-tier boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blackbelts and exceptional clinch work.
Pettis opened as a slight -130 favorite, but that is probably factoring in Diaz’s layoff from competition. Much like the Romero/Costa matchup, this one will be a barn-burner that will be hard to make a pick on.
If there is an advantage to be had by either man, I would give it to Diaz due to his high volume striking and ability to get better as the fight goes on. Also, the Stockton native is a natural southpaw, and that has given Pettis some trouble in his career.
If you want to bet, go with the +100 underdog Diaz, and I would bet a lot of money that this fight goes the distance.
Beasley’s bet: Diaz (+100) via majority decision.
UFC 241: Daniel Cormier (22-1) vs. Stipe Miocic (18-3)
In a rematch for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, Miocic (+125) looks to avenge the first-round knockout loss that he suffered at the hands of Cormier (-155) at UFC 226.
As intriguing as the first fight was, this one returns all of that intrigue with the added twist that Miocic has had 15 months to constantly prepare for Cormier. Meanwhile, Cormier has been injured, had a title defense against Derrick Lewis and underwent back surgery at the age of 40.
With all that being said, the only man to ever best Cormier is possibly the best mixed martial artist to ever live, Jon Jones. That is why he has opened as a favorite over the former champ.
I expect a five-round war here and, unless Cormier can take down the challenger and keep him there for some significant minutes, Miocic will point his way back to a championship reign.
The underdog is the bet in this main event.
Beasley’s bet: Miocic via unanimous decision