UFC 250: Nunes vs Spencer MMA Betting Preview

SI's UFC Betting & Fantasy Analyst Casey Olson goes through his predictions and best bets for UFC 250; featuring Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer in the main event.
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The UFC heads back to Las Vegas this weekend for UFC 250: Nunes vs Spencer. Amanda Nunes (19-4-0), the women’s pound-for-pound best fighter, looks to defend her featherweight title against former Invicta Fighting champion Felicia Spencer (8-1-0). Nunes enters the match as a a massive favorite at -525.

Since joining the UFC, in about a year’s time, Spencer has established herself as a game challenger, winning twice via finish, and making a name for herself as she took everything Cyborg Santos could throw at her before eventually dropping a decision. Can Spencer shock the world Saturday night by taking down the champ? We’ll find out soon.

Co-headlining the event will be two of the bantamweight’s best, as No. 9 Cody Garbrandt (11-3-0) makes his long awaited return after a year away against No. 5 Raphael Assuncao (27-7-0). Assuncao, a perpetual contender, looks to get back on track after losing a unanimous decision to Cory Sandhagen last August. Garbrandt is heavily focused and motivated to get back to title conversations after losing his last three fights via KO; ending his streak of 11 straight victories to start his professional career.

The entire card will be filled with action, as the UFC continues its use of the smaller, 25’ octagon at the APEX, instead of the standard 30’ cage. The use of the smaller octagon has historically increased fight finish rates, and shortened average fight times. This is due to the ability to create more action and engagement between the two fighters.

The card gets underway at 6pm ET and is scheduled for 12 matches in total. The matches which will air live on ESPN and work its way to Pay-per-view for the main card.

TIME: SATURDAY 06/06/2020

BROADCAST: PAY PER VIEW – PRELIMS: ESPN

VENUE: UFC APEX

LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada

MATCHES: 12

UFC 250 MAIN CARD

WOMEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE BOUT 145 LBS

(C) AMANDA NUNES 19-4 VS FELICIA SPENCER 8-1

BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135 LBS

#5 RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO 27-7 VS #9 CODY GARBRANDT 11-3

BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135 LBS

#2 ALJAMAIN STERLING 18-3 VS #4 CORY SANDHAGEN 12-1

WELTERWEIGHT BOUT 170 LBS

NEIL MAGNY 22-7 VS ANTHONY ROCCO MARTIN 17-5

BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135 LBS

EDDIE WINELAND 24-13-1 VS SEAN O’MALLEY 11-0

PRELIMS:

FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145 LBS

ALEX CACERES 15-12 VS CHASE HOOPER 9-0-1

MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185 LBS

#13 IAN HEINISCH 13-3 VS GERALD MEERSCHAERT 31-12

FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145 LBS

#12 CODY STAMANN 18-2-1 VS BRIAN KELLEHER 21-10

MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185 LBS

CHARLES BYRD 10-6 VS MAKI PITOLO 12-5

FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125 LBS

#4 JUSSIER FORMIGA 23-7 VS #9 ALEX PEREZ 23-5

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205 LBS

ALONZO MENIFIELD 9-0 VS DEVIN CLARK 11-4

CATCHWEIGHT BOUT 150 LBS

EVAN DUNHAM 18-8-1 VS HERBERT BURNS 10-2

Felicia Spencer gets her crack at gold vs Women's MMA Goat Amanda Nunes

In the night’s main event, women’s featherweight champ, Amanda Nunes (19-4) will look to defend her title against former Invicta FC’s champion Felicia Spencer (8-1).

Nunes is riding a 10-fight win streak, and has remarkably defeated every woman who has held the UFC’s bantamweight and featherweight titles. It’s tough to not call her the greatest women’s MMA fighter after viewing her resume. Her last defeat came in 2014, when Cat Zingano was able to stop her late in the fight via elbows and punches. Since that defeat, Nunes has cruised through the “who’s who” in females fighting, and along the way became both the Women’s Bantamweight and Featherweight champion. She has finished seven of her last 10 fights inside the distance, including five KO/TKOs and two submissions.

The fight which many consider the event that put her as the pound-for-pound best, was her 51-second knockout against Cyborg Santos, a common opponent between her and Saturday’s foe Felicia Spencer. Although Spencer lost to Cyborg via decision, many consider her ability to take the thrashing that she did and still come forward to make the final bell a moral victory in a sense.

Following that loss, which was first in her professional career, Spencer got right back on track and finished Zarah Fairn dos Santos in less than a round. With a division carrying less than 10 active fighters, Spencer’s the rightful next contender for the belt. However, on paper, this is the equivalent of a college football team stepping up to compete against an NFL squad. Spencer has a substantial skillset (BJJ - black belt, Tae Kwon Do - black belt), proven durability, and is hungry to shock the world. But to be able to dethrone the champ, it's going to take a very special performance from her on Saturday night.

Nunes’ only weakness, which we’ve seen well in the past, has been her occasional suspect cardio. In her last fight she went five rounds with no issues, but with the pandemic and inability to train consistently, and her partner Nina Ansaroff pregnant with their first child, I wonder if we will see Spencer impress more than expected. All things considered, this is a sizable mismatch. If Spencer can get it done, it will be comparable to Matt Serra defeating Georges St. Pierre back in 2007, considering the upset of the decade.

PREDICTION: AMANDA NUNES

Can vet Eddie Wineland put the breaks on the rise of the Suga Show?

Kicking off the pay-per-view Saturday night, the first match on the main card features uber-popular, 25-year-old Sean O’Malley (11-0) taking on the inaugural WEC bantamweight champ Eddie Wineland (24-13-1).

Wineland, a full-time firefighter had been training to take on Marlon Vera back in March, had his match scrapped due to the pandemic, putting his return to the Octagon temporarily on hold until this rebooking with O’Malley for UFC 250.

O’Malley, currently ranked just outside of the top 15, is calling for a title fight by the end of 2021. After a couple key wins, he’ll look to validate the hype and should do so if he impresses against the veteran. Wineland is versed, intelligent and won’t go away quickly in this matchup. He understands he is positioned as a possible name to continue the rise of the new generation of fighters, one being O’Malley.

As O’Malley is the rightful favorite, I see a position where he can survive and get this into the “over” on rounds set at 1.5.

Wineland will have several disadvantages on the feet, where O’Malley will have the height and reach advantage, coupled with the fact that O’Malley carries a +3.04 strike differential, and will control the octagon the majority of the fight.

I suspect the large duration of the fight will be on the feet, as the 38 fight veteran Wineland, brings to the table an 86% takedown defense and prefers getting into striking wars himself.

The fight could turn into something similar to what we saw when O’Malley faced Soukhamthath, eventually winning via decision and completed his post fight interview on his back, not being able to walk after taking massive damage via legkicks.

Though Wineland hasn’t been overly active over the last 10 years or so, he’s respectfully balanced fighting with his firefighting gig, taking 17 fights over the last decade. In that time, he’s only lost twice in less than 7.5 minutes.

The smaller cage is in action yet again this week, but Wineland’s no stranger here.

PREDICTION: WINELAND/O’MALLEY OVER 1.5 ROUNDS -125

Chase Hooper locked in as my favorite play of the night.

Alex Caceres is in for a tough test Saturday as the 15-12 vet takes on 20-year old rising star Chase Hooper (9-0-1). The match will be a part of the headliner fight on the ESPN preliminary broadcast.

When I saw Hooper open at -120 I jumped all over it. With only one fight so far in the UFC, we haven’t had a chance to see much of what Hooper can offer at the sport’s top tier. But we have seen enough of his strengths, along with Caceres’ weaknesses, which make for a stylistic advantage for the kid.

Caceres has been submitted seven times in his career and not helping the cause will be a small cage and a submission artist standing across from him. Last week we recommended Mackenzie Dern via Submission which came through with ease, and this could come through as a re-run. While the rising Hooper is undefeated in his first 10 fights as a pro, Caceres is 5-7 in his last 12, and in a rare case, enters as the fighter lacking both size and reach in the matchup. Hooper stays undefeated and celebrates with some M&Ms and quite possibly a $50K bonus by night’s end.

PREDICTION: CHASE HOOPER -120

Cody Stamann Gets the Job Done Honoring Death of his Brother

Even before news broke just about a week ago where Cody Stamann’s 18-year-old brother Jacob suddenly passed away, we sided with the favorite to win decisively against Brian Kelleher, another winner from just three short weeks ago.

I’m big on a fighter’s mentality heading into a fight, and something like this typically would pull me off the fight. But when I saw Stamann’s motivation to honor his late brother Saturday, along with the added fuel to the fire to get the job done, I’m sticking with the -285 favorite. With the elevated line, I will wager via decision at -137.

Stamann is a well rounded fighter, former NCAA Division II wrestler, and BJJ blue belt to boot. He should be able to get Kelleher to the mat and control. While on the feet, he should continue to expose Kelleher’s unfortunate ability to get hit, as he absorbs 6.02 strikes per minute, nearly double that of Stamann.

Stamann’s last five wins all came via decision against a tough schedule of respectable opponents. On the flip side, Kelleher has only heard the final bell once in his last 10 fights, where he won via finish on six occasions. I just don’t see him finishing Stamann, and even though Kelleher has only gone to decision in 22% of his fights, adding risk to this prop bet, I’ll take a shot.

PREDICTION: CODY STAMANN VIA DEC -137

QUICK PREDICTIONS ON THE MATCHUPS:

(C) AMANDA NUNES defeats FELICIA SPENCER

  • Nunes 10-fight winning streak.
  • Nunes 80% takedown defense.
  • Spencer has never been finished.
  • Spencer has only gone into the championship rounds once.

#5 RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO defeats #9 CODY GARBRANDT

  • Garbrandt is back after a year layoff, after losing three straight via KO.
  • Assuncao leads on large majority of both striking and grappling statistics.
  • Garbrandt has 100% takedown defense.
  • While mma math is not a thing, I’ll still note Garbrandt has been KO’d by both TJ Dillashaw and Pedro Munhoz, while Assuncao has beat them both.

#2 ALJAMAIN STERLING defeats #4 CORY SANDHAGEN

  • Sterling hasn’t lost a round in his last four fights.
  • Sandhagen has never been finished.
  • Sandhagen is on a 7-fight winning streak.
  • Sandhagen has been taken down by his opponent in all five of his UFC fights.

NEIL MAGNY defeats ANTHONY ROCCO MARTIN

  • Magny will have a 6.5 inch reach advantage.
  • Magny was a main training partner for Justin Gaethje in his title winning camp.
  • Martin has not landed a takedown in his last seven fights.

SEAN O’MALLEY 11-0 defeats EDDIE WINELAND 24-13-1

  • O’Malley is 10 years younger, and will have size advantage across the board.
  • O’Malley is undefeated in 11 fights, with seven finishes in the first round.
  • Seven of Winelands last eight victories have come by way of knockout.

CHASE HOOPER 9-0-1 defeats ALEX CACERES 15-12

  • Almost 60% of Caceres’ losses have come by way of submission.
  • Hooper has a +3.27 strike differential, and lands 5.16 per minute.
  • Caceres is 2-2 against southpaws.
  • Caceres is 5-7 in his last 12 matches.

#13 IAN HEINISCH defeats GERALD MEERSCHAERT

  • Heinisch leads across the board in all striking stats.
  • Heinisch has only been submitted once, which happens to be Meerschaert’s strength.
  • Meerschaert has a considerable experience edge, with 27 more professional fights.

#12 CODY STAMANN defeats BRIAN KELLEHER

  • Kelleher with a quick turnaround, after winning via KO on May 13th.
  • Stamann’s last five victories have come by way of decision.
  • Kelleher absorbs 6.02 significant strikes per minute.
  • Stamann has never been finished by strikes.

CHARLES BYRD defeats MAKI PITOLO

  • Byrd leads in all grappling stats.
  • Pitolo’s return fight to 185 lbs.
  • 70% of Byrd’s wins have come in the first round.

#4 JUSSIER FORMIGA defeats ALEX PEREZ

  • Formiga is coming off of back to back losses for the first time in his career.
  • Three of Perez’s last four fights have ended in the first round.
  • Formiga has faced a higher tier of opponents in comparison to Perez.
  • Formiga has outstanding grappling, and is a BJJ and Judo Black belt.
  • Formiga hasn’t been taken down in his last eight fights, dating back to 2015.

ALONZO MENIFIELD defeats DEVIN CLARK

  • Menifield is undefeated in nine fights, and have never gone to the decision.
  • Clark on the other hand, has gone to the final bell in his last five victories.
  • Menifield is very explosive, and his career average fight time is 3:24.

EVAN DUNHAM defeats HERBERT BURNS

  • Burns leads in all grappling stats, though Dunham has an 80% takedown defense.
  • Burns has never been finished, and Dunham’s last five wins have come by decision.
  • Dunham with a considerable experience edge.

Last event prediction recap: 8-3

Fight card predictions overall: 167-89-6 (65%)

Targeted matchups (wagers): 61-24-2 (72%) Avg. odds -107

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