Bet of the Card: (3u) Fight to Go to Decision @ +125 (to Return 6.75 Units)
Main Card – Lightweight (155lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:15 p.m. EST.
- 11 of Jeremy Stephens’ last 14 losses have come via decision, and he’s only won 2 fights inside the distance over the past 6 years (per Tapology.com).
- 9 of Mateusz Gamrot’s 19 career fights have gone the distance (per Sherdog.com), with arguably all coming against lessor competition than Stephens.
Jeremy Stephens is a man who loves violence (pictured above), but that doesn’t always translate into his fights ending inside the distance. For starters, he’s insanely tough, and I’m well aware he’s been stopped twice in his last five fights, but I see those as anomalies that came against high level, and extremely instigative strikers. Afterall, prior to that, he’d only been KO/TKO’ed once in his 42 career fights, and no one has submitted him since Joe Lauzon in 2009. Stephens does have the ability to finish fights due to his pressure and power, but with him only securing 4 stoppage wins in his last 21 fights, it’d be hard to argue that he’s been doing so effectively over the past decade (per Tapology.com).
Gamrot is an extremely good fighter, and his wealth of five round experience as a two-division champ in Polish MMA promotion, KSW, should serve him well in the UFC, especially if he starts main eventing cards. In his last fight, he showed that he’s capable of knocking out a man that I thought was impossible to separate from consciousness in Scott Holtzman, and although that was impressive, you have to question how much that was down to Holtzman’s defensive missteps and advanced age.
All in all, I do expect this to be somewhat of a war, potentially even a “fight of the night” contender, but that doesn’t mean I see plenty of opportunities for the finish to come. Stephens, despite now being 35, is still one bad dude, and Gamrot, has never been finished in his 19-fight MMA career. I expect to see Gamrot looking to be the more technical fighter, sticking at range, and trying to out-manoeuvre Stephens as he looks to crash forward and trade in the pocket. There is always potential for a finish with Stephens’ power and his madman style, but even so, plus money on a fight between two dependable, tough guys to go to decision? I’ve got to take it.
(2u) Islam Makhachev To Win And Over 2.5 @ -200 (to Return 3 Units)
Main Event - Lightweight (155lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 12:15 a.m. EST.
- Islam Makhachev has won 4 of his last 7 fights via decision, the other 3 were wins inside the distance, but those came against fighters who have at least 5 stoppage losses to their names (per Tapology.com).
- Thiago Moises has never been finished, and 5 of his last 6 fights have gone to a decision (per Tapology.com).
I feel pretty confident in saying that Islam Makhachev is going to win this fight, and with his moneyline (ML) sitting at -625 (best price), it’s not exactly an outlandish claim. That said, there’s a very finite number of spots a year when I look to lay my money on a favorite that big, and this isn’t one of them.
I see Makhachev utilizing his range striking and relentless chain-grappling style to great effect. For anyone who hasn’t seen him fight before, just picture a discount version of Khabib Nurmagomedov, and I mean that with the greatest of respect.
Thiago Moises is a well-rounded and proven fringe top 15 lightweight. He’s durable, has a solid and improving striking game, and yields tricky, but not quite elite-BJJ skills. Moises has a record of 15-4, with all of his losses coming via decision, further emphasising that he’s not going to be put away easily. He can present some issues to Makhachev with his power, but with only 3 KO/TKO wins on his record (none coming in the UFC), it’s not something you can put too much stock into. As I’ve already said, his ground game is good, and he’s capable of catching people on the mat, but with Makhachev’s grappling prowess, this too, seems like a low outcome possibility.
Makhachev can be caught and hurt, just see his sole career loss to Adriano Martins way back in 2015, but outside of that, he’s comfortably risen to all of his other challenges. His style, much like Khabib, is designed to drown and overwhelm his opponents, and because of that, it’s highly unlikely someone will beat him on the scorecard, leaving them needing to secure a finish, which is also no easy task.
For these reasons, I have to look to Makhachev’s props to find a more playable bet than his eye-watering -625 ML. This is where I stumbled upon “Islam Makhachev To Win And Over 2.5” rounds (-200) at BetAmerica. Makhachev isn’t a perennial finisher, or at least not against tough and durable fighters. He likes to drag his opponents deep into fights, largely utilizing his risk adverse and positionally dominant style. And, as I’ve already stated, Moises isn’t someone who’s going to be put away easily, and Makhachev would do well to be the first to do so.
I’m taking Islam Makhachev to secure the win in the latter half of the fight or the scorecards. I strongly believe he wins a lopsided decision, but I like bagging the last 2.5 rounds too, just in case Moises succumbs to the pressure.
(1.5u) Billy Quarantillo Moneyline @ +154 (to Return 3.81 Units)
Main Card Opener - Featherweight (145lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 10:15 p.m. EST.
- Gabriel Benitez has a takedown defense percentage of just 56%, and although this stat is slightly distorted due to the 9 takedowns Enrique Barzola landed against him (per UFCStats.com), it still isn’t a good look for a fighter whose success relies upon him keeping fights standing and at range.
- Billy Quarantillo has landed an incredible 7.03 significant strikes per minute across his 4 UFC and 1 DWCS fights, and should he have enough UFC fights to be eligible, this would rank him 6th in this category amongst the entire active UFC roster (per StatLeaders.UFC.com).
My final bet of the card is on Billy Quarantillo. He’s not a fighter who’s particularly elite in any one discipline, but his balanced skillset, volume, and cardio, make him a solid and trustworthy fighter to lay your money on. When on the feet, his pressure, forward motion, and takedown threat, make him a nightmare for many fighters, and that’s what I see giving him the edge in this fight.
Gabriel Benitez, although a talented and aggressive striker, isn’t the best off his back foot, and is also prone to fatiguing late in fights, two things that are not ideal when fighting against a guy with Quarantillo’s skillset. Benitez will always be a danger with his evasive and powerful kicks but should his kicking game be stifled by Quarantillo’s forward motion, we could quickly see Benitez’s offense being shut down, and consequently out-landed or clinched up along the cage. And, if Quarantillo looks to take the fight to the mat, he will likely have some success with his top game, potentially forcing a finish late on, or at the very least, draining the gas tank of Benitez.
Benitez does have strong paths to winning this fight, either by responding well to Quarantillo’s pressure and out-striking him, by catching Quarantillo with a fight ending blow, or scoring a TKO due to a barrage of leg kicks. With this in mind, however, I still don’t see these paths being quite strong enough to have him chalked up as this big of a favorite, if even a favorite at all. So, for that reason, I’ve taken a shot on Quarantillo as the moderately-sized underdog, as I see some clear value there.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moisés / UFC on ESPN 26 / UFC Vegas 31 / #UFCVegas31
Location & Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2021
Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 7 p.m. EST.
Where to watch: Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+, Prelims on ESPN+
UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moisés Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moisés Main Event Prediction
Lightweight (155lbs): Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moisés – Makhachev via Decision
UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moisés Main Card Predictions
(W) Bantamweight (135lbs): Marion Reneau vs. Miesha Tate – Tate via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Jeremy Stephens vs. Mateusz Gamrot – Gamrot via Decision
Middleweight (185lbs): Rodolfo Vieira vs. Dustin Stoltzfus – Vieira via Submission
Featherweight (145lbs): Gabriel Benítez vs. Billy Quarantillo – Quarantillo via Decision
UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moisés Prelim Card Predictions
Welterweight (170lbs): Daniel Rodriguez vs. Preston Parsons – Rodriguez via Decision
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Amanda Lemos vs. Montserrat Ruiz – Lemos via Submission
Bantamweight (135lbs): Khalid Taha vs. Sergey Morozov – Morozov via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Miles Johns vs. Anderson dos Santos – Johns via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Francisco Figueiredo vs. Malcolm Gordon – Figueiredo via KO/TKO
Heavyweight (265lbs): Rodrigo Nascimento vs. Alan Baudot – Nascimento via Submission
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.