In an era of MMA void of true crossover superstars, Max Holloway may very well be the next. Sure, Cody Garbrandt brings crazy power and a distinct look, but he’s coming off a second-round TKO loss at UFC 217 to T.J. Dillashaw. And even Dillashaw could be that, but an injury and disputed decision to Dominick Cruz took some of the polish of the 135-pound champ. Elsewhere, Conor McGregor remains inactive, Tyron Woodley has been booed in his last three title defenses (not his fault, but alas), GSP just got back and thinks he might not defend his belt, Daniel Cormier lost to Jon Jones but is champ once again after another failed drug test and Stipe Miocic is playing the waiting game for a new contract.

Outside of Demetrious Johnson, who holds the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history, the list of current champions on the men’s side is in need of star power. Who better than a guy on a 11-fight winning streak? Holloway has gone toe-to-toe with the best of the 145-pound division over the last three years and turned them all away, culminating in his third-round TKO of former champion Jose Aldo in June. Now, after being scheduled to take on Frankie Edgar, Holloway will once again face Aldo, who claims injuries kept him from being at peak performance in the first go-round. 

In the co-main event, two of the world’s best heavyweights collide with one on his way up and the other looking to maintain his position as Alistair Overeem takes on Francis Ngannou in what feels like a No. 1 contender’s match. Ngannou has blown through every opponent placed in front of him since joining the UFC, scoring five knockouts in either the first or second rounds. Will be he able to add Overeem to the list or will the veteran keep “The Predator” at bay?

It all goes down Saturday night in Detroit with UFC 218. Here’s a look at the full main fight card with the latest odds from Bovada.

UFC 218 fight card

Max Holloway (c) -305

Jose Aldo +235

Featherweight title

Francis Ngannou -260

Alistair Overeem +200

Heavyweight

Henry Cejudo -285

Sergio Pettis +225

Flyweight

Justin Gaethje -175

Eddie Alvarez +145

Lightweight

Tecia Torres -240

Michelle Waterson +190

Women’s strawweight

With a big card on tap, our experts took a crack at picking each of the main card fights. Here are your pick makers: Bill Reiter (national columnist), Brian Campbell (combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Michael Mormile (producer), and Brandon Wise (editor).  

Holloway (c) vs. Aldo

Holloway

Aldo

Holloway

Holloway

Holloway

Ngannou vs. Overeem

Ngannou

Ngannou

Ngannou

Ngannou

Ngannou

Cejudo vs. Pettis

Cejudo

Cejudo

Cejudo

Cejudo

Pettis

Gaethje vs. Alvarez

Alvarez

Gaethje

Gaethje

Gaethje

Gaethje

Torres vs. Waterson Torres Waterson Torres Torres Waterson
Overall 13-14-1 16-11-1 17-10-1 15-12-1 17-10-1

Campbell on why Aldo wins: While a fighter can lose his prime seemingly overnight after a tough defeat, it seems too soon for the 31-year-old Aldo. It’s hard to determine how much the post-fight reveal of a leg injury he carried into his UFC 212 loss to Holloway affected his performance. The fact that he failed to use his trademark kicks seems like a telling sign. But even if Aldo simply took the young and aggressive Holloway too lightly, he stumbled into the kind of last-minute second chance big enough to make their first fight go away should he win. Unlike former bantamweight champion Renan Barao, whose issues with weight led to a precipitous fall, Aldo enters this return date as a very live dog because of his legendary skills.

Wise on why Ngannou wins: The man from France, by way of Cameroon, is as terrifying a proposition in the Octagon as any. I know that I’ve been one to hop on the hot fighter because of the win streak or TKOs, but this feels real. This feels like a Mike Tyson- esque mean streak. Volkan Ozedemir is just touching people at 205 pounds and they crumble. Can you imagine what it feels like when Ngannou hits you with that much force? I think Ngannou keeps the TKO streak going with a second-round finish of the former No. 1 contender.


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