The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 240 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
UFC 240 on Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta, proved to be an interesting event for fans and bettors, as nine of the 11 betting favorites on the card prevailed. The two upsets -- both minor +120 underdogs -- and one unexpected result give us plenty of material for this edition of Beating the Books.
Cristiane Justino vs. Felicia Spencer Goes to Decision (+450)
We start not with a specific upset but with one of the most unlikely occurrences, according to the oddsmakers, as the co-main event between Justino and Spencer reached the scorecards.
An unscientific, impromptu poll of Sherdog.com staff members covering this event unanimously declared that this fight would not go the distance. While most said it would end in the first round, popular thought at best had Justino stopping her opponent in Round 2. The only staff member to pick Spencer over Justino -- Mike Sloan -- specifically predicted that Spencer would get the tap at exactly 2:40 of the opening stanza. While that upset pick did not materialize for Sloan, neither did any finish.
Justino outstruck Spencer by a rate of over 3-to-1, hammering her with brutal knees from the clinch, kicks that would have taken out the legs of previous opponents and a Superman punch that the Canadian took flush almost without issue. Spencer’s durability was on full display, as two of the Sherdog judges gave Justino a 10-8 in the final round, even though “Cyborg” failed to pick up the stoppage win. In fact, of the two fighters, the one more likely to have scored a finish was Spencer. In the first round, Spencer landed a slicing elbow that opened a nearly two-inch vertical cut on Justino’s forehead, but other than some minor bleeding, it proved to be a non-factor. Overall, if a rare bet was placed that this fight went the full 15 minutes, that bettor came out on top.
Gavin Tucker (+120)
In the Prime Picks piece previewing this card, we picked Sung Woo Choi to score what at the time was a small upset. As the betting line shifted closer to the fight, Tucker, who opened as a -215 favorite, closed as the +120 underdog.
In that preview, we discussed the sizeable reach advantage that Choi held over his Canadian counterpart and how his striking would be the difference maker in their confrontation. Tucker proved us all wrong when he shot for takedowns repeatedly -- he landed two after several attempts in the opening round -- and did not relent as the fight progressed. Tucker’s wrestling nullified the rangy striker, and the man who had accounted for exactly one takedown after 30 minutes in the Octagon came in and spammed 13 attempts while landing five of them.
Sensing his opponent was tiring and knowing he could not allow him to win the last round, Tucker continued to pour on the pressure. As Choi attempted a takedown of his own, Tucker took his back and flattened him out, only to grab the neck and force the tap. The strategy Tucker followed was similar to that of Movsar Evloev, who beat Choi in the South Korean’s Ultimate Fighting Championship debut by landing five takedowns in 16 attempts and outworking him. After a lengthy layoff, Tucker rebounded from the first loss of his career with a dominant win and gave us one of the only betting upsets of the event.
Deiveson Figueiredo (+120)
Alexandre Pantoja opened as the betting favorite for his fight, but about two weeks before it took place, the line shifted and he gained the upper hand in the bookmakers’ eyes. As the event approached, the lines stabilized and Pantoja closed right around where he opened at -140. In a highly competitive 15-minute battle that earned “Fight of the Night” honors, Figueiredo surprised Pantoja with his power early and often.
It was Figueiredo’s power that made the difference, as he often stunned his fellow Brazilian with a right hand counter. As the fight wore on, Pantoja showed more damage on his face and could not give it back to his opponent. Although the strike totals and takedowns were equal, Pantoja attempted many more unsuccessfully, giving Figueiredo the upper hand. It was a memorable encounter between two of the UFC’s best flyweights, but unfortunately, it was buried on the preliminary portion of the card. Figueiredo picked up a significant win and, more importantly, the first betting upset of the event.
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