UFC in Vegas 45: Thompson vs. Muhammad First Look, Betting Picks, Odds, and Predictions

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Stephen Thompson of the United States. Steven Ryan/Getty Images/AFP.

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for the final event of 2021. Welterweight contenders will throw down in the evening’s co-main event, and we’re supplementing all your wagering needs. Read on for our complete betting guide taking a first look at Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad, including the updated UFC odds and our free expert UFC betting picks, predictions, and analysis.

Stephen Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad

UFC Welterweight Co-Main Event Championship Bout

Saturday, December 18, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at the UFC Apex Center

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson

  • Pro MMA Record: (16-5-1) (7 KOs, 1 Submissions)
  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6'0"
  • Reach: 75.0"
  • Training Out Of: Upstate Karate/Tristar Gym
  • Origin Fighting Style: Karate/Kickboxing

The kindest man in MMA, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, also possesses one of the most highly technical striking offenses in UFC history.

Born and raised in South Carolina, Thompson honed his martial arts skillset growing up with a father who owned a karate school. Before Thompson’s move to mixed martial arts, his widely recognized karate style delivered an undefeated kickboxing record with over 50 fights.

Twenty-two years as a professional fighter and now a UFC veteran, age is undeniably catching up with the 38-year-old legend. However, it doesn’t seem like “Wonderboy” is slowing down with a top-10 welterweight ranking that should not be taken for granted. Thompson hasn’t become the division's gatekeeper yet, and his title aspirations are still very much alive.

Stephen Thompson MMA Accomplishments

  • UFC Fight of the Night (Two times)
  • UFC Knockout of the Night (One time)
  • UFC Performance of the Night (Four times)

Stephen Thompson Best Available Odds: -220 at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Belal Muhammad

  • Pro MMA Record: (19-3-0) (3 KOs, 6 submissions)
  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Reach: 71.0"
  • Training Out Of: Roufusport MMA Academy
  • Origin Fighting Style: MMA

“Remember the Name” has been a fitting alias for Belal Muhammad because, alongside his strong social media presence, Belal’s in-octagon toughness and willingness to fight are unforgettable.

As a Chicago-born fighter of Palestinian descent, Belal’s journey into professional mixed martial arts initially began on the wrestling mats of Bogan High School. From a 2-0 amateur record, Belal remained undefeated during his pro MMA tenure between 2012-2016, where his UFC debut delivered his first career loss.

However, he’s since held onto a 10-2 UFC record, elevating his name into the promotion's top-10 rankings.

Belal Muhammad MMA Accomplishments

  • UFC Fight of the Night (One time)
  • UFC Performance of the Night (One time)
  • Titan FC Welterweight Champion (One time)

Belal Muhammad Best Available Odds: +185 at BetOnline

Belal Fight Style and How Can Belal Beat Thompson?

Skilled in both grappling and striking areas of the fight game, Belal has consistently proved his worth as a well-rounded mixed martial artist. With that said, his chance to defeat Thompson will come through eliminating space.

Thompson’s most outstanding success comes from his ability to control range and let off striking combinations at a distance. If Belal can close the distance and outpower Thompson into uncomfortable positions whilst accumulating strikes, his chance of victory will significantly rise.

Thompson Fight Style and How Can Thompson Beat Belal?

Thompson excels with his distance management, precise striking output, sleek footwork, and octagon intelligence. He’ll look to remain on the outside, mix up his strikes, and patiently wait for a potential counterblow to end the fight or simply outstrike Belal to a unanimous decision.

Thompson fared well against the prospect in Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal during his previous wins; Gilbert Burns eliminated his chance of victory via a grappling game plan. But it’ll be difficult for Belal to emulate Burns’ elite-level grappling offense.

Thompson vs. Muhammad Betting Picks and UFC in Vegas 45 Odds

The available odds at Bookmakers Review favor Thompson, and this should come as no surprise.

Unless Belal can consistently take Thompson down and hold him in position, he will struggle to solve the wonderful striking output of “Wonderboy”.

UFC Pick: Thompson to Win on Points (-125) [1.25u to win 1u] at BetOnline

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Thompson to Win on Points (-125)
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*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.