UFC Fight Night: Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises - MMA Betting & DFS Preview

A lightweight bout featuring Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises headlines this UFC event's main card
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UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moises

#UFCVegas31 MMA Betting Preview

Faster than slamming down a Tai Tuivasa shoey, the UFC is back with another card featuring 11 fights in total with some intriguing matchups. The headliner features Dagestan’s next big thing, Islam Makhachev, as he looks to make it eight straight wins as he continues to impress. Across from him will stand Brazilian submission specialist Thiago Moises who looks to spoil the watch parties going down in Dagestan, with what would be the biggest win of his career if he’s able to knock off Makhachev.

The co-main event features former champion, fan-favorite Miesha Tate making a surprising return to the octagon after five years away, and she’ll be taking on the retiring Marion Reneau, who looks for one last win before her departure from the fight game.

Although the card as a whole doesn’t give us many wagering opportunities to pounce on, expect a sneaky good card by night’s end.

EVENT DETAILS

  • DATE: SATURDAY 07/17/21
  • BROADCAST: ESPN
  • VENUE: UFC APEX
  • LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • # OF MATCHES: 11

MAIN CARD TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS

LIGHTWEIGHT (155 LBS): #9 ISLAM MAKHACHEV (19-1) VS. #14 THIAGO MOISES (15-4)

Khabib’s protégé takes center stage under the main event bright lights Saturday night, and oddsmakers have him a huge favorite, even against a very tough Thiago Moises. Khabib is saying Makhachev is behind on pace of where he should be on his way to the title, and Moises knows how much hype this guy has, that he states a win against Makhachev is worth four wins in his book against unranked UFC opponents. Makhachev is one of the best takedown artists in the UFC, and we will see him go to work here against Moises. I'm surprised Moises sub props sit at +1200 in some spots, as this fight will hit the mat. While standing, Moises has a bad habit of finding himself against the cage at times, and Makhachev will take full advantage of this along the way. Although the odds are insanely wide for this fight, by night’s end, we should see flashes of a future title contender in Makhachev in a big main event spot to close the card, validating his being the biggest favorite on the board.

Prediction: Islam Makhachev (over rounds and gets it done late or via a clear decision)

WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): #12 MARION RENEAU (9-7-1) VS. MIESHA TATE (18-7)

Here we got former champ, Miesha Tate, making her return for the first time since 2016. Tate looks to be making another run for the belt, while Marion Reneau will be retiring after this matchup. Reneau is better than her 9-7 record shows her as, but she is definitely on the downhill slope after dropping four straight while getting taken down in each of those four. Even worse of a story, Reneau has been taken down in her last 10 fights, and against a grappler like Tate, regardless of her time away from the octagon, it's a bad matchup for the 44-year-old Reneau. Tate is one of the better fighters at adjusting game plans when down in a fight, and if she starts off slow here against a motivated Reneau, Tate should get things going and at least take two of three rounds. Tate’s pre-work in getting back into fight shape shows her motives of being a contender down the road.

Prediction: Miesha Tate (via decision)

LIGHTWEIGHT (155 LBS): JEREMY STEPHENS (28-18) VS. MATEUSZ GAMROT (18-1)

It will be interesting to see if Stephens stays on his best behavior during face-offs after that last fiasco with Drakkar Klose. Stephens is a true OG in the UFC, having fought for the organization consecutively now since 2007. Along the way, unfortunately, he holds the record for most losses under the banner across his 33 UFC fights. Most recently, he's dropped four in a row, but against some big names like Calvin Kattar, Yair Rodriguez, Zabit Magomedsharipov, and Jose Aldo. Stephens is always game for a good scrap and is durable, always hanging in fights where he’s down on the cards. In this spot, he’ll face Mateusz Gamrot, who's put together an 18-1 record and most recently finished Scott Holtzman in just over six minutes last April. Before that, he took the first loss of his career in his UFC debut, dropping a split decision to Guram Kutateladze, in a fight Gamrot outlanded while securing five takedowns as well across the three rounds. You’d have to believe Gamrot will look to avoid trading strikes with Stephens here and will shoot for takedowns taking this one to the mat for control early and often.

Prediction: Mateusz Gamrot (plays it smart and gets the judge’s nod)

MIDDLEWEIGHT (185 LBS): RODOLFO VIEIRA (7-1) VS. DUSTIN STOLTZFUS (13-2)

Vieira is a black belt machine, but his last fight was dreadful. He gassed pretty badly and eventually fell to submission as a -500 favorite. Vieira is still trying to find his way here in this MMA world but has shown some decent stand-up while also taking some big shots and still walking forward. He's never been to a decision, and all but one fight have ended inside of two rounds, win or lose. Stoltzfus is more of a grinder and has a grappling base, which he’ll probably want to avoid for the most part against a dangerous submission specialist in this spot. As a reminder, Vieira has a 100-9-1 grappling record with 68 coming by way of submission, coupled with several golds at IBJJF and ADCC. That said, and outside of that last hiccup he had in his last fight, with 15 minutes to work, I see Vieira finding a spot to lock in a submission to hand Stoltzfus his first loss via finish as a pro.

Prediction: Rodolfo Vieira (via sub)

FEATHERWEIGHT (145 LBS): GABRIEL BENITEZ (22-8) VS. BILLY QUARANTILLO (15-3)

Kicking off the main card will be a solid fight between Gabriel Benitez taking on Billy Q. Both guys love to bring it, and after getting his eight-fight win streak snapped, Billy Q will be looking to get back into the win column in an impressive way. Benitez recently snapped a two-fight skid with a finish of Justin Jaynes last December. After a couple of fights up at 155, Benitez is cutting back to 145 here even on short notice, which tells me he's confident he can come in ready to roll. I’m a fan of Billy Q, but if you go back and watch his latest run, he's been in legit danger in multiple fights and rebounded with his cardio edge. From a power perspective, he reminds me a little bit of Youseff Zalal. He’ll stay busy peppering and snagging a TKO, but not much of sleeping his opponents on his record. When in danger on the feet, he also can go to the takedowns, which we saw when he faced Spike Carlyle. Benitez will look to chop him down with those nasty leg kicks, and from a cardio perspective, he's been able to hang till the final bell if needed, though he may fade with the cut back to featherweight. Benitez will probably be the guy early, but as long as Billy Q avoids the power shots, he should be able to take over with the volume and cardio. He's looked pretty well-prepared coming into this fight week. Not many good 'dog spots this week, but this price is worth a look.

Prediction: Billy Quarantillo (29-28 type fight)

PRELIMS TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS

WELTERWEIGHT (170 LBS): DANIEL RODRIGUEZ (14-2) VS. PRESTON PARSONS (9-2)

Rodriguez welcomes in the cards only debuting fighter Preston Parsons in what looks to be an under-the-radar matchup. Parsons comes in as a replacement on short notice. Of note, all nine of his victories came via submission. Rodriguez, which will be a tough debut, has never been finished, and since joining the UFC, he’s racked up wins against Mike Perry (who KO’d Parsons in 2015), Dwight Grant, Gabe Green, and Tim Means. His only loss was against Nicolas Dalby, in a fight that Rodriguez outstruck and out-landed him in every round. Mysterious. Parsons is making his debut and probably watching how Kris Moutinho hung in there last weekend against O'Malley. He will more than likely look to press the pace fast, attempting to control out of the shoots. Rodriguez isn't a guy that you want to get into a war against, and trading blows. Parsons may have his moments, but if Rodriguez doesn’t catch him early, I suspect the adrenaline dump and Rodriguez’s offense will slow Parsons eventually, and the vet will take control. You can’t tell me Rodriguez beats guys like listed above but comes in here and loses to Parsons, right?

Prediction: Daniel Rodriguez (good shot at a finish)

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT (115 LBS): #14 AMANDA LEMOS (9-1-1) VS. MONTSERRAT RUIZ (10-1)

Montserrat spoiled the UFCs “script” last fight taking out the young up and comer from DWCS Cheyanne Buys, where Buys and her husband were featured on the UFC ESPN card in March. Montserrat completely smothered Buys with takedowns and top control to the tune of four takedowns leading to almost 10 minutes of control time in that fight. In this matchup, she'll take on a more experienced UFC fighter, Amanda Lemos, who is on a little run, winning her last three, two of which ended inside the distance. I can see Montserrat going back to what worked for her against Buys, but Lemos won’t be having any of that, and we will rather have Lemos getting off on the feet, potentially stopping Montserrat, who seems to look like a one-trick pony.

Prediction: Amanda Lemos (I like her chances at a TKO)

BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): KHALID TAHA (13-3) VS. SERGEY MOROZOV (16-4)

Khalid Taha hasn’t had it easy since joining the UFC. He’s been matched up against some tough opponents, which has led to a 1-2-1 run with the org. His lone win was a 25-second knockout against Boston Salmon a few years back while dropping decisions to Raoni Barcelos and Nad Narimani, two tough outs. Morozov got the call after a pretty successful run with M-1, though Umar Nurmagomedov subbed him inside of two rounds in his debut. Neither guy has any takedown defense to tout, and both prefer standing, which will make for a good scrap here. Taha will be the more explosive guy, landing bigger shots, while Morozov will be the more technical of the two, probably attempting takedowns to avoid getting cracked.

Prediction: Khalid Taha (close fight)

BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): MILES JOHNS (11-1) VS. ANDERSON DOS SANTOS (21-8)

Dos Santos has been the underdog in all three of his UFC bookings coming into this one but has hung in there and ripped off a submission win in his last outing against Martin Day as a +150 dog. Johns suffered his first pro defeat back in February of 2020, a flying TKO knee followed with punches against Mario Bautista, but quickly got back in the win column with a KO himself of Kevin Natividad last October. Dos Santos is always in a fight but has limited accuracy on the feet and gets hit a lot. That said, Johns doesn't want to get into a war with Dos Santos and should play it smart and hit some takedowns along the way. Johns should have an endurance edge if this fight goes over the halfway point.

Prediction: Miles Johns (takes this one via decision)

FLYWEIGHT (125 LBS): FRANCISCO FIGUEIREDO (12-3-1) VS. MALCOLM GORDON (12-5)

Figueiredo needs a dominant win here after looking pretty flat in his last matchup, though getting the win over Jerome Rivera. In that fight, Rivera out-landed Figueiredo, though Figueiredo secured four takedowns leading to over seven minutes of control time. Gordon's job is most likely on the line after getting finished in his last two fights, both in the first round. Gordon is a "finish or be finished" type of fighter, only going to a decision twice across 17 fights. His submissions are a strength, and I just don't see him having success with it here against Figueiredo. I just don't see a path to victory here, unfortunately for Gordon.

Prediction: Francisco Figueiredo (good shot at ITD)

HEAVYWEIGHT (265 LBS): ALAN BAUDOT (8-2) VS. RODRIGO NASCIMENTO (8-1)

It seems like a setup fight for Nascimento to get back on track here against Baudot, who's fought most of his fights down at light heavyweight. Both are coming in off knockout losses and have a history of finishing fights early. Neither of these guys has ever gone to a decision, with 15 of their 19 combined fights ended under 1.5 rounds and only two other fights making it out of the 2nd round. Nascimento was a -310 favorite in his last fight when he took the first loss of his career at the hands of Chris Daukaus, who’s looked great himself since signing with the UFC, rattling off three straight KO wins. After suffering his first loss after getting cracked by Daukaus, I expect him to come in a little more tactical here, not getting into a firefight and getting this one to the ground where he can work on the quicker Baudot. Nascimento is a black belt and when on the ground, he is pretty slick with back takes and getting into position where he’ll sink in a choke. Baudot has a pretty padded record, with his wins against opponents with a combined record of 49-51 and two of them with no pro fights. His two losses are against guys with UFC experience, which brings questions about his success at this level.

Prediction: Rodrigo Nascimento (most like via submission, under 1.5 rounds.)

BET RECAP

  • Makhachev/Moises OVER 3.5 rds -175
  • Tate -130 (consider via DEC +138)
  • Quarantillo +165
  • Johns -175 (consider via DEC +140)
  • Baudot/Nascimento UNDER 1.5 rds -137

PARLAY

  • Rodriguez/Johns +108
  • Add Figueiredo +175
  • Add Makhachev +213

FULL CARD PREDICTIONS

  • ISLAM MAKHACHEV defeats THIAGO MOISES
  • MIESHA TATE defeats MARION RENEAU
  • MATEUSZ GAMROT defeats JEREMY STEPHENS
  • RODOLFO VIEIRA defeats DUSTIN STOLTZFUS
  • BILLY QUARANTILLO defeats GABRIEL BENITEZ
  • DANIEL RODRIGUEZ defeats PRESTON PARSONS
  • AMANDA LEMOS defeats. MONTSERRAT RUIZ
  • KHALID TAHA defeats SERGEY MOROZOV
  • MILES JOHNS defeats ANDERSON DOS SANTOS
  • FRANCISCO FIGUEIREDO defeats MALCOLM GORDON
  • RODRIGO NASCIMENTO defeats ALAN BAUDOT

UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY

  • 2021 predictions: 147-105-5 (58%)
  • 2021 wagers: 77-72-2 (52%)

Overall record on SI

  • Predictions: 528-304-16 (63%)
  • Wagers: 287-159-8 (64%)

DFS PLAYS & STRATEGIES

  • Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on their way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
  • Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
  • Try always to include the main event or title fights. Five-round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
  • Don't get excited and rush a pick based on stats; consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
  • Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in more, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.

As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC Vegas 31. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are in MMA DFS. Take a glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.

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Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents; watch your points rack up quickly. Here's my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.

Screenshot (1)
Screenshot (2)

Below is the differential for strikes landed vs. strikes absorbed per minute.

Screenshot (3)

Here is the takedown average per 15 minutes, along with the opponent’s takedown defense percent.

Screenshot (4)

UFC DFS RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above)
  • Fights projected to NOT go to a decision
    • Stephens/Gamrot -162
    • Stoltzfus/Vieira -250
    • Rodriguez/Parsons -300
    • Figueredo/Gordon -162
    • Baudot/Nascimento -350
  • For the main event, Makhachev should score well. Although with a price of $9400, he should hit value with the takedowns and five rounds to work.
  • Top-tier fighters to build around include: Nascimento, Lemos
  • Mid-tier fighter considerations are: Rodriguez, Vieira, Johns, Tate
  • Live 'dogs that could score: Quarantillo, Stephens with a puncher’s chance.
  • Highly owned fighters will be: Makhachev, Rodriguez, and Quarantillo (based on limited dog options)

Good luck, everyone. I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter @Y2CASEY

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