Stipe Miocic will attempt to become the ninth man to successfully defend the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight crown when he faces Alistair Overeem in the UFC 203 main event (offshore sportsbooks) on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and he will do so with the odds on his side.
Bovada.com lists Miocic as a -145 favorite against Overeem (+115) less than a week out from their five-round showdown. The incumbent champion will enter the cage on the strength of three consecutive finishes: Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski and Mark Hunt were the victims. Miocic, 34, last appeared at UFC 198 on May 14, when he knocked out Werdum 2:47 into the first round to capture the heavyweight title in front of 45,207 fans at the Arena de Baixada, in Curitiba, Brazil.
Overeem landed his long-sought title shot on the heels of four straight wins over Arlovski, Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve. A former Dream and Strikeforce champion who also won the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix, the 36-year-old Dutchman boasts 37 finishes among his 41 career victories. Wins over Werdum, Hunt, Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar and Vitor Belfort (twice) anchor Overeem’s MMA resume, which dates back to his October 1999 debut.
Other betting favorites at UFC 203 include Werdum (-225) over Travis Browne (+175) and Mickey Gall (-325) over former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Phil Brooks (+265), aka “CM Punk.”