Max Holloway has the most chalk of any favorite on the main card as he seeks to defend his title against José Aldo, the man he defeated to take it.
Holloway is a -300 favorite on the UFC 218 odds with Aldo coming back at +230 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, in the co-main event. The finale to the main card at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit comes exactly 26 weeks after Holloway defeated Aldo on a third-round TKO at UFC 213 to unify the featherweight title.
In that bout, Holloway was able to weather the storm as Aldo pressed for the early stoppage. It is reasonable to think his footwork and fundamentals will enable him to do so again. The jury is out on whether Aldo, who’s unaccustomed to coming in as a challenger, will be able to adapt his style. Favorites have won 68.3 percent of UFC bouts this year (264 of 386), and taking the chalk could prove wise.
In the co-main event, the line on heavyweight Francis Ngannou (-260) is moving farther into minus money as he gets the biggest test of his career against veteran Alistair Overeem (+200). Ngannou, who has a three-inch edge over Overeem in arm reach, has matchless punching power that gives him huge knockout potential against a 37-year-old opponent with an aging chin.
There is great upset potential in the flyweight bout between Henry Cejudo (-275) and Sergio Pettis (+215) that is likely a title eliminator. In the likely scenario that the fight stays predominantly in the stand-up, Pettis has the more refined striking repertoire, as well as a five-inch arm reach advantage and one inch in legs. Both fighters’ track record suggest this might go to a decision.
Undefeated lightweight Justin Gaethje (-175) is a brawler, while Eddie Alvarez (+145) has spoken openly of resisting the imperative to make a mid-career switch from instinctual fighter to an analytical spot-picker. Until an opponent proves otherwise, one can trust in Gaethje to dictate terms and strike in all kinds of ways until one works. Four of Gaethje’s last nine fights have ended in Round 2.
And Tecia Torres (-240) is favored against Michelle Waterson (+190) in a matchup between women’s strawweight contenders. Torres’ best asset, her kick-reliant striking, also happens to be one of the stronger skills of Waterson, whose skill base is derived from karate. Waterson also has 10 of her 15 career wins by submission, while Torres has only one early finish among her 10 victories, so a betting line upset could happen.