The UFC will travel way down south to Brazil, as the famed MMA outfit will stage UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro this coming Saturday. Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington will banner the event as the latter tries to snatch the former’s bantamweight title. Read on for an overview for each bout in the main card.
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Betting Preview for UFC 224 Featuring Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington
Where: Jeunesse Arena, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: Saturday, May 12, 2018
TV Broadcast: Pay-Per-View (PPV), FOX Sports 1
Raquel Pennington (+500) vs. Amanda Nunes (-800)
Nunes is going to defend her women’s bantamweight title for the fourth time this Saturday, and oddsmakers are definitely liking her chances of successfully retaining her belt. For one, the fight will be in her native country of Brazil. Also, Nunes is a powerful striker who could rock anyone inside the octagon. Nunes enters the fight with a 15-4-0 record and riding a momentum coming from a split-decision win over Valentina Shevchenko in September of last year. Prior to that, Nunes took down Ronda Rousey with a knockout win in the first round back in December of 2016. Meanwhile, Pennington is a well-rounded fighter who owns a 9-6-0 record. She has not lost in her last four fights, dating back to 2015. She has one win by way of knockout and three via submissions.
Nunes wins via decision.
Kelvin Gastelum (+115) vs. Ronaldo Souza (-145)
Ranked fifth in the middleweight division, Gastelum could climb a few notches higher if he manages to defeat Souza in Brazil. Gastelum was last seen inside the octagon eking out a huge win over Michael Bisping last November, knocking out he former champion in the first round and earning Performance of the Night honors. Against Souza, Gastelum will look to use his striking power, as he has seven knockout wins to go with four submissions. He’s also 12 years the junior of Souza so stamina might also be on his side against the Brazilian. While Souza is already 38, he showed there’s a lot left in his tank when he knocked out Derek Brunson in the first round of their fight back in January. Expect Souza to use his reach advantage over Gastelum. Souza has a penchant for finishing fights early as he has finished 18 opponents in the first round.
Souza wins via submission.
Amanda Cooper (+210) vs. Mackenzie Dern (-280)
As the favorite in this fight, Dern is expected to dictate the pace of the bout early, though, Cooper could also force his will right from the get-go. Dern is undefeated with a 6-0-0 record. She is a pretty accurate striker with 48.95 accuracy percentage on his strikes. Dern could win fights via submission with two wins via rear-naked chokes and one by way or an armbar. As for Cooper, the 26-year-old Bath, Michigan native is coming off a knockout win over Angela Magana in December. A win over Dern should catapult her higher in the rankings, and key for her to do just that is her striking and takedown defense. Cooper lands 3.7 strikes per minute on 44.32 percent accuracy. She’s also defended 20 percent of her opponents’ takedown tries.
Dern forces Cooper to tap.
Brian Kelleher (+190) vs. John Lineker (-250)
Lineker is not nicknamed “Hands of Stone” for nothing. This dude boasts of a 30-8-0 record with 13 knockout victories. That said, he only has a knockout win in his last four fights. Ranked sixth in the division, Lineker has emerged the winner in seven of his last eight bouts. His relentless striking style could play well against Kelleher, who absorbs 5.37 strikes per minute compared to just 3.98 of Lineker. Kelleher, however, is an energetic fighter that seems incapable of tiring out. He is 19-8-0 with seven wins via knockouts and eight by submissions, meaning he’s more than just a stand-up fighter looking to land a haymaker to get a win. Kelleher averages 1.37 takedowns per fight with a success rate of 37.5 percent.
Kelleher frustrates Lineker and wins via submission.
Vitor Belfort (+200) vs. Lyoto Machida (-260)
These two bad boys don’t need any more introduction. They’re former UFC champions that maybe past their primes but could still promise a good fight. Belfort is 41, but got a win in his last fight, a unanimous decision over fellow UFC vet Nate Marquardt last year. When at his best, Belfort can win standing up and on the ground, but it’s by using his striking skills where he’s at his most dangerous. Belfort is 26-13-0 with 18 knockout wins. Of his last 12 wins, nine were via knockouts. Machida, on the other hand, snapped a three-fight losing skid by earning a split decision win over Eryk Mendes last February. Machida is still an accurate striker with 53.3 percent success rate on his strikes, landing 2.61 per minute. Machida is 4-4 in middleweight fights.
Machida wins via decision.
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