- What: UFC Vegas 81 Co-Main Event
- Who: Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo
- Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023
- Location: UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV
- Time: Prelims (4 p.m. ET) Main Card (7:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: ESPN+
The main event of UFC Vegas 81 features two featherweight competitors looking to break into the top 10 of the division. In one corner, UFC veteran Edson Barboza looks to capitalize on his April “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning knockout of Billy Quarantillo. In the other corner is Sodiq Yusuff, who is coming off a layoff of more than a year. Before that fight, Jennifer Maia faces Viviane Araujo in the evening’s co-main event. Maia is the No. 9 fighter in the official UFC flyweight rankings, while Araujo checks in at No. 11. Below is some information on the Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo matchup before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC Vegas 81 fight card.
Jennifer Maia (21-9-1) is riding a two-fight winning streak heading into UFC Vegas 81. The 35-year-old Brazilian has back-to-back decision wins over Maryna Moroz and Casey O’Neill. A former Invicta FC champ. Maia has never won three in a row with the UFC.
Viviane Araujo (11-5) enters UFC Vegas 81 on the first two-fight losing skid of her career. In her past two outings, the 36-year-old Brazilian dropped decisions to now-UFC champion Alexa Grasso and Amanda Ribas. Her most recent win was a May 2022 decision over Andrea Lee.
UFC Vegas 81 co-main event: Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo betting picks
|To Win UFC Vegas 81 Co-Main Event|
UFC Vegas 81 co-main event: Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo betting breakdown
Jennifer Maia is slowly making her way back to title contention. Maia fought then-UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in November 2020. Shevchenko won that contest by decision. Since then, Maia has gone 3-2. Her losses, both via decision, came in back-to-back matchups against Katlyn Chookagian and Manon Fiorot. Her two recent wins have helped her, but Maia needs a few more wins to get back in the title mix.
Viviane Araujo has struggled over the past two years, going 1-3, but her losses have all been via decision and come against tough opponents in Katlyn Chookagian, Alexa Grasso, and Amanda Ribas, all of whom are in the top ten. If Araujo hopes to make a run at UFC gold, she needs a statement win against Maia.
Maia is a savvy veteran who has expanded her skillset throughout her career. A very good grappler, Maia has elevated her striking skills and is now a threat on her feet as well as on the ground. She throws her strikes with a great deal of power, but Maia is not a one strike at a time fighter, she is comfortable and confident with her combinations. Her right hand is especially potent.
Like Maia, Araujo is known for her grappling, but she has added a striking aspect to her repertoire over the years. However, Araujo still feels more comfortable on the mat than she is standing.
UFC Vegas 81 co-main event: Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo who has the edge
Maia has been a much more active striker in her past two fights. Her ability to put combinations together has helped her a great deal and that could be the key to victory in this matchup, as Araujo is a fighter who tends not to utilize combination striking. Expect Maia to rely on her strikes in this matchup and look for Araujo to get in close and fight from the clinch, and work to get the action down onto the mat.
One thing that stands out in this matchup is the amount of strikes Araujo absorbs. She gets hit with significant strikes, on average, 5.45 times per minute. That number exceeds the number of strikes she lands, which is never a good sign. With Maia being an active striker, that’s a visual Araujo needs to overcome when it comes to the judges.
As for the grappling, Araujo lands 1.81 takedowns per 15 minutes. If she gets the fight to the mat, she must do damage or work very hard at picking up submission attempts because Maia is the better striker of the two.
Best Bets: UFC Vegas 81 co-main event – Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo
Neither of these women has picked up a finish in quite some time. They have combined for just two stoppages in their UFC careers. With that, expect this matchup to go the five-round distance. I expect a competitive fight, but the betting pick for the co-main event of UFC Vegas 81 is for the betting favorite, Jennifer Maia, to leave the octagon with a decision win thanks to her striking advantage.
Best UFC Vegas 81 Co-Main Event Betting Pick: Jennifer Maia to win via decision.
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