You'll have to wait until Saturday, September 25 to watch (and hopefully, make money on) UFC 266. It's almost a seven-week layoff from the most recent UFC 265. But hey, it's never too early to start planning your bets! Here's how you should approach the top-three fights:
Main Event: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Betting Pick
The featherweight title matchup is a close affair among online bookies. At the moment, the champion, Volkanovski, is the slight favorite to win:
The combined record for both fighters in the UFC is an astounding 16-1-1 (both the loss and draw belong to Ortega). It's a collision that's been years in the making, especially after each were coaching opposites on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
We'll be honest, we don't think Volkanovski is getting a fair shake from oddsmakers and fight fans, alike. His last win, over Max Holloway (for the second time), was highway robbery in the eyes of most. Maybe it was, but pin the blame on the judges that scored it, not the champ. Either way, that controversial win has helped peg Volkanovski's odds lower than it should be for an undefeated title champion in the UFC. Getting the champ at -175 is a steal in our mind.
Bet Volkanovski to triumph, and for the prop bettors, wager him to win by decision. Ortega has an iron jaw. We saw that in his one career loss — to Holloway, ironically — when he took a beating before the referee called it. Volkanovski will again win on the judges' scorecard, albeit more convincingly than last time out.
Semi-Main Event: Shevchenko vs. Murphy
No, the above betting lines are not typos. The women's flyweight title-holder really is -1000 to win — meaning there's about zero betting value in this matchup.
We think Shevchenko steamrolls to victory once again. Since a split-decision loss to Amanda Nunes, she's rallied off six straight wins, with three of those by stoppage. However, we wouldn't advise you to bet her moneyline. There's not much money to be made there whatsoever.
Like the main event, you should consider the method of victory prop. Murphy has a 15-4 record all-time, but none of those defeats have been by stoppage. Then again, she's never faced an all-timer quite the caliber of Shevchenko. Our money is that the referee calls this match long before the fifth and final round. Bet Shevchenko to win by submission or knockout.
Diaz vs. Lawlor Betting Pick
He's back. Of course, we are referring to Nick Diaz — the older brother of Nate — after a six-year ban from the sport for smoking pot. In his return duel, he draws a familiar face in the 39-year-old Lawler. These two have faced before, only it was 17 years ago. Back in 2004, Diaz second-round KO'd Lawler. That was ages ago and neither man, nor the entire MMA sport, is remotely the same.
Given the age of both fighters and Diaz's long layoff from fighting, no one really knows how to wager this. It's probably why each fighter has minus odds to win.
But here's how we look at it: in this matchup, Diaz's time off actually helps him. Yes, he's 38 years old, but he doesn't have the same wear-and-tear as similarly-aged fighters that have racked up in-ring damage over the years. In fact, Lawler falls into that very category. He's been pummelled in four of his last five bouts.
Our money is on Diaz to win a bowling-shoe-ugly fight. It's a five-round matchup — only the second time that's happened for a non-title or non-main event matchup in UFC history — which is a lot given the circumstances (age and layoff). It won't be pretty, but Diaz will complete his comeback story.
How To Bet On UFC 266
You know who we're backing come UFC 266, but the question is are you heeding our advice or fading it? That decision is all yours and it can be made in minutes by visiting one of the online sportsbooks below! These bookmakers have all the UFC 266 odds, from the prelims to the main card, and it's all bet-able!
Better yet, these same betting sites currently have sign-up bonuses available to those that have never wagered there. With the bonus, new players could earn hundreds to thousands of dollars in free play, which you can use to make your UFC bets "on the house!"
To earn this bonus, just hit the "play now" button in the table underneath. You'll be led to the betting site where you can sign up for an account, which begins the bonus process. You're minutes away from free money so get started right away!