The UFC announced on Tuesday that it would be canceling its next three events, beginning with UFC Fight Night 171 which was originally booked for London this coming weekend. UFC on ESPN 8 and UFC Fight Night 172 booked for March 28 and April 11, respectively, have also been canceled as the UFC joins the rest of the sporting world in response to regulations and restrictions amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.
UFC Fight Night 171 was almost a sure goner after it lost its main event with Leon Edwards pulling out due to the coronavirus outbreak. Former interim welterweight king Colby Covington had volunteered to fight Tyronn Woodley on short notice and the latter was adamant on fighting this weekend. In the end, the Nevada State Athletic Commission decided to suspend all combat events until March 25 which finally forced the UFC to cancel its next three events.
But bettors, don’t despair, there are still betting lines available for UFC betting. If you’re in quarantine at home, you can look up the top online betting sites like BetOnline and SportsBetting and find out that there are still MMA matches on their books which you can bet on.
UFC Fight Night 171 would have been a betting haven had the UFC agreed to let Colby Covington step in for Leon Edwards. Covington and Woodley have been on a long-time spat and without much to bet in, bettors would have rushed to make wagers on a Woodley vs Covington bout and its prop bets. UFC on ESPN 8 would have been another barnburner with a heavyweight war between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik booked as its main event and Cody Gabrandt making his return. UFC Fight Night 172 was also going to be headlined by a heavyweight clash between Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris. But those events are now put on hold.
The UFC 249 showdown between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson is one of the most anticipated UFC bouts in years. This is a fight that has been postponed four times before due to various reasons and these two are arguably the top two best lightweight fighters on the planet. Nurmagomedov has been unstoppable inside the octagon, mauling his opponents with a dominant wrestling style. Ferguson is on a 12-fight winning streak and has looked unstoppable in recent years. The Khabib vs Ferguson betting line is still up in the sportsbooks and according to BetOnline as of 3/17/20, Nurmagomedov is a -285 favorite against Ferguson who came back at +245. If there are no changes, this bout will happen on April 18, 2020, in Brooklyn, although it could be moved to Las Vegas if the NSAC lifts the suspension of combat events after its March 25 meeting.
Former lightweight title challengers Anthony “Lionheart Smith” will take on Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC on ESPN + 31 or UFC Fight Night 173 which is currently booked for Saturday, April 25, 2020, at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. This one is currently a pick ’em fight with Smith a slight -175 favorite over Texeira who is now at +145 at SportsBetting as of 3/17/20.
On May 2, 2020, a middleweight clash between former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and Jack Hermansson will headline UFC Fight Night 174. Hermansson is a former Cage Warriors and Warriors Fight Series middleweight champion and the 6th ranked middleweight in the UFC today. Weidman has lost five out of his last six bouts and is desperately looking for a win. According to BetOnline as of 3/17/20, this is another 50-50 bout with Hermanson currently a -145 favorite against Weidman who came back at +115.
The big event is UFC 250 which is currently booked for May 10, 2020, at the Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Right now, two title fights have been added to that fight card. These are the UFC women’s featherweight title showdown between Brazil’s double champion Amanda Nunes and former Invicta FC featherweight queen Felicia Spencer. Nunes is a -450 favorite while Spencer is a +350 underdog at SportsBetting as of 3/17/20.
Another title fight involving champ-champ Henry Cejudo against former featherweight king Jose Aldo is in the fight card. Cejudo won the flyweight championship and then added the bantamweight belt to his trophy case. The champ is currently a -190 favorite against the ex-champ who is now at +165 at SportsBetting as of 3/17/20.
I know that there is no definite date when sporting events will be allowed again. But if you look at the big picture, MMA is one of the sports that has the biggest possibility of coming back earlier. The NBA involves so many essential people: players, coaches, trainers, staff and all. So does the NFL, NHL, and most especially baseball. Team sports involve more people and more people means more persons to monitor. Individual sports like fight sports involve fewer people. A UFC corner usually has three cornermen and one fighter so it’s not as much a gathering as there is when there are team games.
While the NBA has been talking about a possible three-month hiatus, the UFC is merely trying for a location to allow them to fight. As UFC President Dana White said: “We’re not stopping, we will keep finding a way to put on the fights.” That’s music to their fans’ ears. I know this pandemic has nearly shut down all of the sports but Dana White is one tough SOB and a shrewd businessman. It’s not putting his fighters at risk because we know they practice preventive measures. It’s about keeping that fire burning and carrying the torch of sports in these trying times. So don’t just bet on the fights, you can bet that the UFC will be the first organization to return to action.
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