UFC 277 Picks and Predictions: Hot Prospect of the Week Michael Morales

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Michael Morales of Ecuador celebrates. Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP

Join us as we preview a hot UFC prospect from this week’s UFC 277: Pena vs. Nunes II pay-per-view event. 

Read on for our complete UFC 277 betting guide – taking a first look at our hottest prospect of the week, Michael Morales, and his opponent Adam Fugitt, including UFC odds, our free expert UFC picks, predictions, and analysis.

Michael Morales vs. Adam Fugitt

UFC Welterweight Preliminary Bout

Saturday, July 30, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at American Airlines Center

Michael Morales (13-0-0)

As one of the two Ecuadorian-born UFC fighters on the roster – alongside Marlon Vera – Michael Morales received a key to the city and a trophy upon returning to his hometown of Pasaje after dominating in his UFC debut. 

Maintaining his undefeated record, now 13-0, Morales lived up to the hype when facing a problematic promotional debut versus Trevin Giles. Critics were skeptical whether the 23-year-old could deliver the same performances he’d previously achieved on the regional scene; however, he quickly silenced his doubters at UFC 270 with a first-round finish over a well-experienced UFC competitor who’s also a former LFA champion. 

Morales, 23, is a Judo brown belt, BJJ brown belt, and a member of the Ecuadorian national wrestling team. To achieve such diverse and extensive accolades within martial arts at such a young age is genuinely impressive. 

Aged 18 years old, Morales skipped the amateur MMA process entirely and jumped straight into the shark-infested waters of the professional MMA scene. Extending his impressive resume, the Ecuadorian has remained unbeaten, with eleven of his past 13 pro bouts ending via knockout or submission. 

Morales' coming-out party was on Dana White's Contender Series, where he faced the dangerous sambo skillset of Nikolay Veretennikov – a dangerous Kazakhstan-based fighter who was the betting favorite and many expected to win. However, an impressive unanimous decision earned Morales his UFC contract.  

Michael Morales Fight Analysis

Morales' parents were judokas, and his mother even reached an Olympic level, a martial arts style that he's thrived with as a base skillset in MMA. In addition, he's the wrestling champion of Ecuador, 

As a wrestling champion of Ecuador and the son of two judokas – with his mother reaching an Olympic level in the sport - Morales offers up an unorthodox approach inside the cage. From suplexes, body lock takedowns, and various trips & takedowns, it’s easy to neglect how talented he is on the feet.  

Grappling prowess aside, he’s carefully evolved his striking style under the tutelage of Entram Gym's elite coaches. He possesses a notable lead jab as his setup and a newfound ability to string combinations together rather than the single shots he'd headhunt with during his early professional MMA tenure. 

Morales is an exciting prospect taking his second UFC contest on back-to-back pay-per-view cards; he boasts fight-ending power with a dangerous finishing rate and an excellent cardiovascular. He’s also a top-tier grappler with BJJ qualities; all that’s missing from his skillset is an elite level of experience that we’re fortunate enough to witness him collect in 2022 and beyond. 

Morales vs. Fugitt Betting Pick and Odds

Adam Fugitt (8-2-0) will make his UFC debut as a short-notice replacement for Morales’ original opponent, Ramiz Brahimaj. 

Primarily a grappler, most of Fugitt’s career success has been achieved with the assistance of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Notably, he’d taken a two-year absence before fighting Solomon Renfro in LFA earlier this year. Aged 33, I’m not confident that Fugitt can hang with the UFC’s finest, and the current betting lines suggest my hunch is correct.   

Sportsbooks' opening line has placed this fight with Morales as the significant betting favorite at -650, but this isn’t a viable way to approach the betting odds.  

Fugitt has already proven in his past bouts that durability is an issue, and he’ll now be faced with a proven finisher on short notice. Morales will struggle to submit the black belt, but the speed and power of Ecuador’s finest will prevail on the feet.   

UFC 277 Pick: Michael Morales by KO/TKO (-150) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Michael Morales by KO/TKO (-150)
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UFC 277 Main Card and Odds

UFC 277 Preliminary Card and Odds

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.