Best UFC 296 Co-Main Event Bets: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval II Picks

  • What: UFC 296 Co-Main Event
  • Who: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval II
  • Date: Saturday, December 16, 2023
  • Location: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV
  • Time: Early Prelims (6:00 p.m. ET) Prelims (8:00 p.m. ET) PPV Card (10:00 p.m. ET)
  • How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+), Prelims (ESPN2), Main Card (ESPN+ Pay-Per-View)

The final UFC pay-per-view event of 2023 takes place on Saturday, December 16, 2023, from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. In the main event of the ESPN+ streaming fight card, UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards puts his title on the line against former interim UFC welterweight titleholder Colby Covington. While in the co-main event, UFC flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja defends his title against Brandon Royval. Here is some information on Pantoja and Royval before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC 296 PPV card. 

Alexandre Pantoja (26-5) is riding a four-fight winning streak heading into his first title defense. Pantoja captured the UFC’s 125-pound title in July with a split-decision win over Brandon Moreno. 

Brandon Royval (15-6) has won his past three fights. His most recent victory was an April knockout win over Matheus Nicolau. Royval is the No. 2 fighter in the official UFC flyweight rankings.

Before we look at the best bets for the Pantoja vs. Royval II matchup on the UFC 296 PPV, check out the best UFC betting sites and our picks for the UFC 296 main event between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington.

UFC 296 co-main event: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval II betting picks

To Win UFC Flyweight TitleBetOnline ReviewBovadaBetUS ReviewMyBookie ReviewBetNow Review
Brandon Royval+140+150+140+150+145
Alexandre Pantoja-170-180-170-200-170

UFC 296 co-main event: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval II betting breakdown 

The matchup between Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval is a rematch of their August 2021 meeting. At the time of that contest, Pantoja was ranked No. 3, and Royval was No. 6. Royval was the +150 betting underdog to Pantoja, who was the -175 betting favorite. Pantoja won that contest via second-round submission. 

These two match up well against each other, but Pantoja is slightly better than Royval in his striking and grappling, and that will make all the difference in this fight. Where Pantoja has some wiggle room, Royval can’t afford to make a single mistake or miscalculation in this fight. 

If there is a wildcard in this bout, it is Royval’s pace and ability to create openings during wild scrambles. With that being said, Pantoja’s calmness and confidence in those grappling exchanges allow him to search for submissions of his own, which is how he won his first meeting with Royal.

Alexandre Pantoja TO BEAT BRANDON ROYVAL
★★★★★
-170
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UFC 296 co-main event: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval II statistical breakdown

Alexandre dominates Royval in almost every statistic the UFC tracks. He lands more significant strikes per minute, 4.41 vs. 3.45, and he is more accurate, connecting on 48 percent of his significant strikes, while Royval lands at a 38 percent rate. As for defense, Royval gets hit less, absorbing 2.63 significant strikes per minute, while Pantoja gets hit 3.81 times per minute. As for striking defense percentage, Pantoja checks in at 51 percent, while Royval’s defense is 50 percent. 

Pantoja is the more effective grappler. He lands 1.75 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Royval’s takedown rate is .66 per 15 minutes. Pantoja stops 66 of his opponent’s takedown attempts. Royval’s takedown defense rate is 39 percent. 

Brandon Royval TO BEAT ALEXANDRE PANTOJA
★★★★★
+150
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Best Bets: UFC 296 co- main event – Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval II

Judging from their first fight, this should be an exciting and fast-paced matchup. However, I don’t think the outcome will be much different. Brandon Royval is a live betting underdog, and a value bet for him to pull off the upset win is not out of line, but Alexandre Pantoja’s skill set and poise are hard to ignore. The betting pick is for Pantoja to defend his UFC flyweight title with a submission win. 

Best UFC 296 Co-Main Event Betting Pick: Alexandre Pantoja to beat Brandon Royval via submission.

Alexandre Pantoja TO BEAT BRANDON ROYVAL
★★★★★
-170
Bet now

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Trent Reinsmith

Trent is a professional sports journalist specializing in UFC, MMA, and esports coverage. His work has been featured in prestigious publications such as USA Today Sports, Vice, Bloody Elbow, Fight! Magazine, UFC 360, and Narratively. Trent's connection to MMA dates back to the early days when he and his friends pooled their resources to purchase the pay-per-view broadcast of UFC 1. He also has extensive experience in esports, particularly League of Legends and Counter Strike, dating back to the game's launch.