Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises 👊

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Mar 6, 2018

Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises​


It may be a pay-per-view hangover card, but the main event this week will provide momentum to a new contender into the upper echelons of the lightweight division. A division with Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira will battle for a title and then look for new blood.

Prelims start at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, and the main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+.

Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.

Lightweight main event: No. 9 Islam Makhachev (-650) vs. No. 14 Thiago Moises (+475)​

Tale Of The Tape​

Last fight weight classLightweightLightweight
Analyzed minutes8780
Stand-up striking offense
Total knockdown ratio (scored:received)2:10:1
Distance knockdown rate2.1%0.0%
Head jab accuracy16%20%
Head power accuracy39%28%
Total stand-up strike ratio1.00.7
Striking defense
Total head strike defense89%82%
Distance knockdown defense ("Chin")90%98%
Wrestling and grappling
TD attempts per min standing/clinch0.700.31
Takedown accuracy69%33%
Advances per takedown/top control1.50.7
Opponent takedown attempts1522
Takedown defense93%64%
Share of total ground time in control89%38%
Submission attempts per trip to ground0.290.50
The odds make this look like a squash match, but the paper stats aren't nearly as lopsided. Yes, Makhachev is trying to emulate his training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he has the ground stats to prove it. He attempts takedowns frequently and lands them with above-average success. And once on the ground, he has held on to opponents leading to nearly half of all Octagon minutes being in control on the mat. That's a deep hole for any opponent to come out from.

So Moises needs to either have competent ground defense or reversals and/or threaten on the feet to have a chance for the upset. While his stand-up stats aren't unusual, he has actually faced the stiffer competition to date compared to Makhachev. And somehow, Moises tends to get things done, even as a frequent underdog. So we should expect him to outperform relative to Makhachev. And yet at these odds, even that may not be enough.

The price inflation has already been extreme and could now draw additional parlay action on Makhachev. The numbers support Makhachev as a clear favorite, but not nearly as high as the current price. So it's underdog or pass, because Moises is still a dangerous guy who can hang around in a grinder, and in MMA there's always a new way to lose a fight you're winning.

E+ recommends: Small money-line stab at Moises at around +450 or better. Over 1.5 rounds for parlays.

Best bets elsewhere on the card​

Opening the main card, we have two scrappy featherweights facing off in a matchup that has seen flipped odds since opening. While the striking accuracy of underdog Billy Quarantillo (+150) is great, his defensive avoidance is a liability against Gabriel Benitez (-175) early in the fight.

But Quarantillo also has an aggressive wrestling attack, and the takedown defense of Benitez is average at best. That could open the door for the underdog to stifle the rounds on the ground and steal the upset.

E+ recommends: Money-line play on Quarantillo at clear plus money.

For a worthy favorite to back, look at Miles Johns (-175), who faces Anderson dos Santos (+150) at bantamweight in the prelims. Johns has superior technical striking, with far better accuracy and defense. And while dos Santos will attempt frequent takedowns, his success rate is poor, while the takedown defense of Johns is strong.

These dynamics could force dos Santos into an uphill battle against a better boxer, making the juice on Johns worth paying.

E+ recommends: Money-line play on Johns.

For a wild-card pick, look at the return of Miesha Tate (-130) after a multiyear retirement. She already would have had the grappling advantage over Marion Reneau (+110) but now adds evidence of resurgent conditioning entering a fight against one of the oldest fighters in the UFC.

Tate is an affordable favorite and worth a small premium if she sticks to her moniker of "Takedown Tate" by using her wrestling to own rounds and set up submissions.

E+ recommends: Small money-line lean on Tate, prop stab on Tate by submission at +800 or more.
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