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This weekend, we have yet another showdown in the Lightweight division between the protégé of one Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev taking on the surging Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Thiago Moises in what should be a great scrap. The rest of this card brings a ton of excitement with fighters like Jeremy Stephens, fan-favorite Billy Quarantillo and even the return of Miesha Tate after being away from the sport for almost 5 years. We are coming off a great betting weekend, cashing in on 4 of the 5 bets on the main card, and we are looking to keep that momentum going. With that said, let’s dig deep into the odds.
Gabriel Benitez (-194) vs Billy Quarantillo (+154)
To start off the main card, we have a Fight of the Night potential fight in the Featherweight division between Gabriel Benitez and Billy Quarantillo. These two always put on a show for the fans, and this fight will set the tone for the remainder of the main card.
Billy Quarantillo is coming off of a loss for the first time in over 5 years (8-1) with a hard fought loss at the hands of Gavin Tucker. He is a game fighter who has the all-around skillset to beat his opponents on the feet or on the mat. But where he excels is breaking his opponents and just overwhelming them over the course of a 15-minute fight. He packs some power in his strikes and throws a ton of volume that is hard to stack up against. In this fight against Benitez, he’s going to have to be a bit more mobile to avoid the heavy strikes and be vintage “Billy Q” and just put the pace and pressure on him to get back into the win column.
Gabriel Benitez finally got back on track in his most recent fight with a brutal knockout win of Justin Jaynes. Benitez did come in over the Featherweight limit which could pose to be a problem if he does so again. He is an all-action, come-forward striker that thrives in a brawl. If his cardio is able to hold up for the entirety of this fight, he really could put a hurting on Quarantillo to get back on his first win streak since 2019.
This fight comes down to what kind of shape Benitez is in. He was too small for 155 lbs, which made him make the drop in weight, but he’s stuck since he’s still too big to make 145 lbs. Quarantillo should be able to weather the early storm and wear out Benitez with pace and volume and take the win.
The Pick: Billy Quarantillo (+136)
Rodolfo Vieira (-250) vs Dustin Stolzfus (+198)
We have a grappler’s delight in this Middleweight showdown between “The Black Belt Hunter” Rodolfo Vieira and Dustin Stolzfus. Both fighters are looking to get back into the win column which should make for an exciting fight between two very well-versed grapplers.
Rodolfo Vieira is coming off of one of the biggest upsets in 2021 at the hands of Anthony Hernandez as he submitted “The Black Belt Hunter.” Vieira is an absolute monster and a freak of nature, but with the size that he has, he lacks in cardio. If Vieira is able to get top position again as he did against Hernandez, he’s going to need to get the finish, or things could end similarly in the lone loss of his MMA career.
Dustin Stolzfus had a rough go in his UFC debut against Kyle Daukaus. The UFC isn’t doing him any favors in his sophomore fight against Vieira. Stolzfus is a grappler by trade, much like his counterpart, which makes this matchup all that much harder. His best shot is to withstand the early grappling onslaught of Vieira in hopes of him gassing again.
This is a get-right fight for Rodolfo Vieira. As long as he is in top form coming into this matchup, he should have no trouble running though Stolzfus.
The Pick: Rodolfo Vieira (-250)
Mateusz Gamrot (-205) vs Jeremy Stephens (+164)
In the Lightweight division, we have a fight between the always dangerous Jeremy Stephens, who’s moving up to 155 lbs, and surging prospect Mateusz Gamrot. This fight is going to be an absolute barn burner and one that could possibly steal the show.
Mateusz Gamrot came into the UFC with a perfect 17-0 record all while claiming the KSW Lightweight title. He has since gone 1-1 with a questionable loss and a knockout win in the UFC. Gamrot does his best work in the grappling realm as he has numerous accomplishments as a polish grappling champion. Even though he is a grappler by trade, that doesn’t mean he can’t strike as he does have 6 wins via knockout. He is a very well-rounded fighter, and he will need to mix it up and stay out of the power of Stephens to pick up the biggest win of his career.
Jeremy Stephens comes into this fight not tasting victory since 2018. Known for his vicious knockout power, Stephens hasn’t had a knockout or even a knockdown in almost 4 years. Stephens is making the move back up to 155 lbs for the first time since 2012. He has had troubles in the past against strong grapplers, which was the ultimate reason why he dropped to 145 lbs. It’s going to be interesting to see how his power translates up a weight class because that seems to be his only path to victory.
Mateusz Gamrot looks like a true contender in the Lightweight division. Getting this win certainly can put him in the mix to fight a ranked opponent in his next fight. This is just a bad matchup for Stephens for his first fight back in the Lightweight division. As long as Gamrot can avoid getting clipped, he should have no trouble landing with volume and mixing in the takedowns to get his first win streak in his UFC career.
The Pick: Mateusz Gamrot (-205)
Miesha Tate (-138) vs Marion Reneau (+112)
In the co-main event, we have a showdown in the women’s bantamweight division with the return of “Cupcake” Miesha Tate after an almost 5-year layoff and “The Balizean Bruiser” Marion Reneau.
After a tough loss to Raquel Pennington way back in 2016, Tate abruptly retired. Fast forward 4 years and 8 months later, and Tate is looking to make a comeback. Still in her prime at 34 years old, it’s going to be interesting to see what she has left in the tank. If even half of the old Miesha Tate comes back, she should have no trouble picking up a win here against the retiring Marion Reneau.
Marion Reneau is coming off of 4 consecutive losses and hasn’t won a fight since 2018. At age 44, Reneau’s best days are behind her, and it has shown in her recent performances. Reneau has also made it clear that this will be her last and final fight inside the octagon.
This is a very winnable fight for Tate as a comeback fight, as long as the ring rust isn’t too much to overcome. Tate shouldn’t have much of an issue winning this fight at distance or in the grappling exchanges. She must not get stuck in the clinch against the cage for long periods of time. With that said, Tate should cruise to a unanimous decision victory in her return fight.
The Pick: Miesha Tate (-138)
Islam Makhachev (-850) vs Thiago Moises (+540)
After our original main event fell through due to Max Holloway getting injured, we now have a 5 round scrap in the Lightweight division between one of the most feared men in the division #9 Islam Makhachev and the surging Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt #14 Thiago Moises. These two are some of the division’s best grapplers, so we should be in for a treat in this matchup.
Islam Makhachev has been on an absolute tear riding a 7 fight win streak. The Khabib Nurmagomedov protégé has emulated a very similar style of fighting, which is one that is hard to compete against. Some have even argued that Makhachev has the better stand up of the two fighters. Nonetheless, you know what you are getting from him, which is a heavy dose of grappling, control and vicious ground and pound. Makhachev should have no trouble taking this fight to the mat, and as long as he doesn’t get caught in a submission from the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, he should be able to dominate via top control.
Thiago Moises has looked the best he ever has coming off of a dominant performance against Alexander Hernandez. Moises is the only one who was willing to step up against one of the most feared men in the Lightweight division. Even though he is normally known for his ground game, his striking has looked much improved, and he will need to utilize that to keep Makhachev from shooting for takedowns. This is a very tall task at hand for Moises, and he is going to need to dig deep to come away with the colossal upset.
Most of Makhachev’s fights are pretty straightforward. He needs to initiate the grappling early and often and break down his opponents, all while not getting caught on the feet or on the mat. It’s hard to see Moises catching Makhachev with anything that will hurt him or deter him from his game plan. Ultimately, Makhachev will take down Moises repeatedly racking up control and dominating him over the course of the 25 minutes.
In this fight between two highly skilled bantamweights, Sergey Morozov and Khalid Taha are very evenly matched. Both are technical strikers who have some pop in their hands, but Morozov has a clear advantage in grappling. Taha has shown he is susceptible to the takedowns, and that is an area where Morozov excels. The fight will be competitive on the feet, but Morozov will ultimately win the grappling exchanges and get his first UFC win.