UFC 206 Odds and Predictions: Anthony Pettis vs. Max Holloway Pick and More

by Kevin Roberts
on December 9, 2016

The UFC returns with a big event this weekend, and yes, it’s still a big deal even with Conor McGregor taking time off.

McGregor’s big win at UFC 205 actually ends up being a huge reason why, as Dana White fulfilled his promise of stripping him of his featherweight title belt, which Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis will fight for on Saturday, December 10th at UFC 206 in Canada:

Holloway vs. Pettis undeniably presents diehard MMA fans with a massive headlining card, and it’s a godsend with light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier backing out of his schedule title bout due to injury.

UFC fans won’t mind, however, as the UFC 206 card is loaded with some killer matchups and a gem of a headlining fight. It’s not really a title fight, but Holloway vs. Pettis undoubtedly decides who will face Jose Aldo for the featherweight title belt in the near future.

With that, let’s take a look at every single fight and see how you may want to be conducting your UFC 206 betting this weekend:

Preliminary Odds and Picks

Zach Makovsky -165 vs. Dustin Ortiz +135

Betting sites like Bovada are giving Makovsky (19-7) the edge here, but it’s a tough one to gauge with a gaudy line of Decisions (12!) ruling in his favor. Makovsky is tough as nails and can bring anyone to the end of the line, but he’s more of a survivor than an elite striker or finisher. He comes in a little sluggish, too, having dropped three of his last four fights.

He is absolutely more disciplined than Ortiz, but the younger fighter could be a problem due to a versatile skill-set that includes some nice striking and the ability to take the fight to the canvas. Ortiz has developed a nice reputation as a tough fighter, too, having lost all six of his fights via Decision. Makovsky isn’t winning this thing in any way other than via Decision, so if there is another play, it’s a surprise KO by Ortiz.

Pick: Ortiz via KO

Jason Saggo +160 vs. Rustam Khabilov -200

Saggo is one of our favorite underdog picks in the Prelims, as he’s a stellar 12-2 to start his young career, with both of his only losses coming via Decision. He’s tough, careful and highly skilled, as he’s destroyed his opponents in the submission game (8 career submission wins).

That will have to be the case again on Saturday, as he faces a solid striker in Khabilov who can also win on the ground or outlast his opponents. Khabilov is physically pretty scary and he doesn’t back down from anyone. However, his lone non-Decision loss of his career came via submission and in this fight, he’s the inferior ground specialist. That alone could make Saggo a worthwhile upset pick this weekend.

Pick: Saggo via Submission

John Makdessi +145 vs. Lando Vannata -175

John “The Bull” Makdessi steps into the Octagon this weekend to put a solid 14-5 record on the line. His raw striking power will be on full display, as he brings 9 KOs to this bout against the 8-1 Vannata. His real blemish here is his recent form, as he’s lost three of his last four fights.

Makdessi is a very dangerous striker and fairly experienced, so the younger Vanatta will have to be weary of an early KO. He’s looked careful enough to avoid such a travesty, however, as his one slip-up was a Brabo Choke against the elite Tony Ferguson. Vanatta had otherwise been on a roll, winning his first 8 pro fights and doing so in eclectic fashion.

Makdessi has the striking/power advantage here and this one could easily go his way if these guys stand up all night. However, Vannata’s versatility and lack of fear may work to his advantage here. Ferguson was a blip on the radar and ultimately a really “good” loss, if there ever was one. He should rebound and make quick work of Makdessi on the ground.

Pick: Vannata via Submission

Mitch Gagnon -155 vs. Matthew Lopez +125

An elite submission expert hits the Octagon this weekend, with Gagnon (12-3) acquiring an astonishing 11 of his career wins by making his opponents tap out. He’s been hit on the other end (two submission defeats), but he’s been quite crafty during his career and has done well to avoid any KOs. He did get submitted by Renan Barao is his last UFC battle, but is otherwise coming in at the top of his game, winning four of his last five.

This trip to the Octagon won’t exactly be easy, of course, as Lopez (8-1) was on quite a roll before getting choked out by Rani Yahya at UFC Fight Night 91. Lopez has a versatile game and could be a nice challenge, but if he’s going to try to win this thing on the ground, he’s bound to lose. Gagnon doesn’t get knocked out and taking him to the ground is a losing battle. In fact, it wouldn’t be shocking for Lopez to lose by submission for the second straight fight.

Pick: Gagnon via Submission

Valerie Letourneau -185 vs. Viviane Pereira +150

Our only women’s UFC bout on the UFC 206 card goes down between Letourneau (8-5) and Pereira (11-0). Letourneau enters as the clear favorite, as she’s a solid striker and is clearly battles tested. No fight she’s had arguably says that more than her ability to go the distance versus undefeated strawweight champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

While Letourneau is scrappy and tough, she has quite the test in front of her in the undefeated Pereira, who has shown to be a borderline elite striker. Pereira really has a full arsenal at her disposal, as she has proven she can win on the ground and also take a beating and get the Decision (5 times). Letourneau shouldn’t be ignored here, but she’s a dangerous favorite to roll with. Instead, we’ll bet Pereira’s streak stays intact as she continues to work her way up to what will eventually be an awesome title fight.

Pick: Pereira via Decision

Olivier Aubin-Mercier -175 vs. Drew Dober +145

The experienced and versatile Drew Dober (17-7) enters UFC 206 as the underdog, as he takes on the rising Aubin-Mercier (8-2). It’s a fun battle of tactical gurus, as both fighters will look to finish this fight on the ground. Dober has proven over his career he can stay up for the full duration of a fight, while he also has enough striking to end fights early.

The striking isn’t something we’ve really seen out of Aubin-Mercier, who is on quite the tear with seven submission victories in just nine tries. He will undoubtedly be looking to pull off his coined rear-naked choke, which not so surprisingly has been the more experienced Dober’s specialty, as well. We like the young kid to continue his rise.

Pick: Aubin-Mercier via Submission

Nikita Krylov EVEN vs. Misha Cirkunov -130

Our last fight of the preliminary rounds is a tight one according to Vegas, as Krylov (21-4) brings a dangerous blend of striking and ground game up against Cirkunov (12-2). Krylov has proven over time he’s among the best in the business, as he carries 8 career KOs and an impressive 13 submissions into this bout. He’s also red hot, having won each of his last five fights.

Cirkunov is ablaze, too, as he’s won seven straight and has proven to be about as versatile as Krylov in less action. Cirkunov is a tough challenge and actually comes in as the ever so mild favorite, but Krylov’s record speaks for itself. The crazy part is he’s still just 24 and is only trending upward. Given how skilled both of these fighters are on the ground, however, it’s quite likely we come to a Decision. Not all that surprisingly, that would mean either Krylov or Cirkunov get the first Decision loss of their impressive careers.

Pick: Krylov via Decision

Main Card Odds and Picks

Jordan Mein -160 vs. Emil Meek +130

The first fight on the main card is easily the weakest in terms of star power, but we still get a nice bout between a well traveled Mein (27-10) and Meek (8-2-1). Mein without a doubt has the superior experience and can often look like one of the most dangerous strikers in the game with an impressive 16 knockouts on his resume.

Mein has really been strong for a while now, as he’s 11-3 in his last 14 fights, with his losses being very respectable against the likes of Thiago Alves, Matt Brown and Tyron Woodley. He got blasted by Brown and Alves, but his ability to go the distance with Woodley showed his toughness. That could be key now more than ever, as he gets a very explosive striker in Meek, who has provided MMA fans with 7 KOs in just 11 career fights.

Both of these guys crave the knockout and due to not having the most discipline, can also be vulnerable to it. Mein is the more experienced and polished fighter, so the edge goes to him, just as Vegas suggests. An early KO would make good sense.

Pick: Mein via KO

Tim Kennedy -150 vs. Kelvin Gastelum +120

Kennedy’s last fight was a laugher, as he got brutalized by Yoel Romero. Romero is no punk, though, so we needn’t disrespect the 37-year old Kennedy too much. After all, he’s a stout 18-5 in his career and owns stellar wins over Michael Bisping and Robbie Lawler. He even went toe to toe with Luke Rockhold and pushed the fight to a Decision.

Kennedy can get popped if he’s not being careful, though, which is why the odds are so close for his bout with Gastelum. Unlike Kennedy, Kelvin is a little more well rested after backing out of his would-be fight with Donald Cerrone due to injury. Gastelum has yet to taste the devastating sting of a KO defeat, and he fared well in his bout with Tyron Woodley. He’s a little bit of a sleeper pick here with Kennedy potentially reeling from his last loss.

Pick: Gastelum via KO

Cub Swanson +175 vs. Doo Hoi Choi -225

This is without a doubt one of the funnest fights of the night, as Cub Swanson can be feisty and Doo Hoi Choi is just ridiculous. Hoi Choi is not a big guy, but he packs a serious punch and exceptional athleticism. He’s really on a tear, having gone 14-1 with just a Decision as his lone blemish so far. More impressively, he owns an astonishing 11 KOs already in just 15 bouts.

That’s bad news for Swanson, who isn’t nearly as explosive and has fallen to the submission game quite a bit during his career. That isn’t how Hoi Choi kills you, though, so if Swanson can stay up and protect himself, we could have a bit of a fight on our hands. Hoi Choi is just insanely deadly due to his quickness and uncanny ability to land a perfect strike from unorthodox settings, however.

It’s really tough to go against Hoi Choi here, so we won’t.

Pick: Hoi Choi via KO

Donald Cerrone -275 vs. Matt Brown +215

In a lot of ways, you could argue this as the top fight for UFC 206, as Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is one of the best fighters in the game and has ridden a hot streak lately, having won three in a row and 14 of his last 14. He’s a dominant striker that can also destroy opponents on the ground, so you really never know what you’re going to get with this guy.

These odds are very tricky, as Cerrone had his last bout cancelled at the last minute and not too long after sustained a disgusting eye injury. That could make this a fun spot to bet on the powerful Brown, who has taken his lumps in MMA (15 career losses), but is a skilled striker with 12 knockouts to his name. While we wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Brown pull off the upset with a KO, we should probably consider that Cowboy has been KO’d just twice in his career and just once in his last 15 fights.

That being said, if you’re looking for a fun bet, Brown is it.

Pick: Cerrone via Submission

Max Holloway -190 vs. Anthony Pettis +155

The headlining act isn’t a true title fight, but it’s still a massive fight in all regards. If nothing else, we’re getting a gem featherweight bout between two elite fighters who haven’t faced off yet somehow. Holloway enters as the obvious favorite, as his last loss came to McGregor and he’s since rattled off nine victories in a row.

Pettis is no pushover, though. He’s highly skilled and can mix it up as a striker and canvas artist. He’s never been knocked out (neither fighter has) or submitted, which makes this one a little tricky. There is a first time for everything, but we doubt a KO or submission come down here. These are two gritty fighters that will go tooth and nail to the bitter end.

Pick: Holloway via Decision
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