The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight division takes center stage for the second week in a row this Saturday (July 17, 2021), pitting surging Dagestani Islam Makhachev against former RFA champ Thiago Moises in the main event of UFC Vegas 31. Twenty pounds south, Miesha “Cupcake” Tate returns after nearly five years away to face fellow veteran Marion Reneau, while Jeremy Stephens looks to snap a five-fight winless streak against Polish standout Mateusz Gamrot at 155 pounds.
If the UFC 264 pay-per-view (PPV) price wiped you out, worry not ... we’re here to remedy that:
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Gilbert Burns’ wrestling proved more potent than expected and I chickened out of recommending a bet on Dricus Du Plessis, but everything else worked out. Michel Pereira, Zhalgas Zhumagulov, Ilia Topuria, Brad Tavares, Tai Tuivasa and Dustin Poirier all came out on top, making for one of the year’s most successful events. Thanks, guys.
UFC Vegas 31 Odds For The Under Card:
Daniel Rodriguez (-270) vs. Preston Parsons (+230)
Amanda Lemos (-500) vs. Montserrat Ruiz (+400)
Khalid Taha (-155) vs. Sergey Morozov (+135)
Miles Johns (-170) vs. Anderson dos Santos (+150)
Francisco Figueiredo (-300) vs. Malcolm Gordon (+250)
Rodrigo Nascimento (-345) vs. Alan Baudot (+285)
Thoughts: This is not a card to invest your 401k into. Sergey Morozov and Miles Johns look like decent bargains, and you can cram Amanda Lemos and Rodrigo Nascimento into parlays at your leisure.
As fun as Khalid Taha is to watch, his takedown defense fails him on a fairly consistent basis. Nad Narimani, Bruno Silva and Raoni Barcelos each put him on his back more than once, and despite getting run over by Umar Nurmagomedov in his Octagon debut, Morozov can put forth a nightmarish grind. Morozov does admittedly struggle with pressure, but he’s worth a look as an underdog just for his ability to exploit Taha’s most pressing issue.
Johns can beat Anderson dos Santos with just his jab. He’s too good a wrestler for dos Santos’ quality ground game to play a factor and he proved his ability to run circles around hook-slinging sluggers in his recent victory over Kevin Natividad. Johns can let fights get closer than they need to be, but he’s skilled enough to be worth a look anyway.
As far as the big favorites, Lemos downright laps Montserrat Ruiz on the feet and has the defensive wrestling to shut down her one-note head-and-arm throw, while Nascimento basically wins his fight with Alan Baudot as soon as it hits the mat.
UFC Vegas 31 Odds For The Main Card:
Islam Makhachev (-600) vs. Thiago Moises (+450)
Miesha Tate (-135) vs. Marion Reneau (+115)
Mateusz Gamrot (-220) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+180)
Rodolfo Vieira (-225) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (+185)
Gabriel Benitez (-170) vs. Billy Quarantillo (+150)
Thoughts: The only real value I see here is Mateusz Gamrot at -220. Jeremy Stephens is winless in his last five and is coming off a horrifically brutal knockout loss, while Gamrot looked better than ever in his stoppage of Scott Holtzman. “Gamer” has the durability and skill to trade with Stephens on the feet and has him badly out-classed on the ground, making him a quality investment.
If you’re willing to take a risk, you could jump on Rodolfo Vieira. Stoltzfus — though a very skilled up-and-comer — simply lacks the tools to stop Vieira’s world-class ground game. I haven’t forgotten that truly spectacular cardio failure “The Black Belt Hunter” suffered against Anthony Hernandez, of course, but I just don’t see it happening twice.
Maybe I’m naive, but I can’t ignore a ground advantage that big.
UFC Vegas 31 Best Bets:
- Parlay — Sergey Morozov and Amanda Lemos: Bet $60 to make $109.20
- Parlay — Miles Johns and Mateusz Gamrot: Bet $100 to make $131
- Parlay — Rodrigo Nascimento and Rodolfo Vieira: Bet $116 to make $100
UFC Vegas 31 ain’t the prettiest card, but there are definitely a few tussles here you don’t want to miss. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 31 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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