In terms of spectacle and fan interest, 2018 was a thoroughly decent year for boxing and MMA. In boxing, we were treated to some classics: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Mairis Briedis was excellent and arguably the highlight of the successful World Boxing Super Series. Elsewhere, the heavyweight division got a lift. Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz was thrilling, but it was eclipsed by Wilder’s bout with Tyson Fury in December. Canelo vs. GGG’s rematch was also worthy of our attention.
In MMA, most would agree that Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s bout was a damp squib. But the UFC was redeemed with superb fights, like Robert Whittaker-Yoel Romero’s rematch and Dustin Poirier-Justin Gaethje. For the sheer shock of the moment, Amanda Nunes’s knockout of Cris “Cyborg” was also incredible.
What about 2019? Will it match last year in the boxing ring and Octagon? It’s hard to say, but there are some cracking fights on the horizon, some of which have yet to be confirmed. However, bookies have already set out odds for several fights, with some showing a bit of value.
First up is the planned rematch of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. The WBC has sanctioned a direct rematch, the fighters want it to happen and fans want it to happen. The money should also do the talking. The odds on the rematch have been reversed from the first fight, such was the command of Fury’s performance. He is now priced at 4/6 with Bet365, with Wilder at 6/5. Fury might be in even better shape than in the last fight, so those odds look tempting for fans of the Brit.
Another fight that seems inevitable is the rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. This will once again big business and you can find all the details, including options for free bets, in this Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao betting guide. It’s hard to see anything but a Mayweather win though, so you can see why William Hill have gone just 4/11 on him, with Pacquiao back at 2/1. Conspiracy theorists who see the fighters wanting to cash in on a trilogy might be tempted at the 20/1 odds for a draw.
In the UFC, a lot of heads will be turned when Brock Lesnar gets back into the Octagon. Will he fight Daniel Cormier? The bookies reckon he will lose, putting Cormier at 2/5 to take the scalp of Lesnar. Betfair go 9/4 Lesnar, and the WWE star has his backers. It’s easy to forget that he is a freak (in the nicest way possible), who almost does MMA as a hobby. If anyone can shock the brilliant Cormier, it is Lesnar.
We are also told by Dana White that McGregor vs Khabib 2 should occur in 2019. It might be hard for punters to get excited for it though, as Nurmagomedov’s style is so suited to taking advantage of McGregor. Odds of just 2/9 are offered by Sky Bet for a Nurmagomedov victory, with 3/1 cited for McGregor. On the evidence of the last fight, it’s hard to argue with that.
To finish, what could and perhaps should be the boxing highlight of 2019 – the conclusion of the GGG and Alvarez rivalry. Sky Bet are split at 10/11 for both fighters on this one, with 20/1 cited for another draw. Betfair, however, have put 5/4 odds on Golovkin and that might just be one the best boxing bets of the year. He will be gunning for revenge – can he take it?