- Date & Location: Saturday, July 17, 2021, @ UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Odds: Islam Makhachev (-700) vs. Thiago Moises (+450) via BetOnline
- Prediction: Makhachev via decision
The UFC moves from the T-Mobile Arena where it held UFC 264 back to the cozy confines of the UFC Apex for the UFC Vegas 31 fight card.
The main event of this fight card features a lightweight matchup between Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises. Makhachev is the No. 9 ranked fighter in the official UFC lightweight rankings. Moises is ranked at the No. 14 position at 155 pounds.
Makhachev is on a seven-fight winning streak entering this matchup. The 29-year-old suffered a knockout loss in his second UFC contest in 2015. Since then he has been steadily climbing the lightweight ranks with four decision wins, two submissions, and one knockout. He is coming off a March submission win over Drew Dober.
Moises has not been as successful as his opponent. The 26-year-old is 4-2 in the UFC. Moises is on a three-fight winning streak. He is coming off a decision win over Alexander Hernandez in February.
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MAKHACHEV vs. MOISES PREDICTION & PICK
Makhachev is a teammate of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The younger fighter has been compared to the retired Nurmagomedov. He has also been the fighter Nurmagomedov has said will be a champion in the UFC lightweight division one day.
Nurmagomedov said the deal Makhachev had with the UFC said he would get a top-10 opponent after the Dober fight. That didn’t happen, according to Nurmagomedov, because no top-ranked lightweight was willing to face Makhachev.
Makhachev deserves an opponent who is higher ranked than Moises, but Moises gets some respect for being a fighter who took a matchup many would avoid. However, that will not change the outcome. Makhachev should win this scrap with not much difficulty.
Pick: Makhachev -700 via Bovada.
BETTING VALUE WITH MAKHACHEV
I have incredibly high confidence that Makhachev is going to win this fight. However, there is not much value in Makhachev at -700. I would instead look at a prop on the number of rounds or how the contest will end for value. Moises is a tough customer and a game opponent. He has never been knocked out or submitted and I don’t think Makhachev is the fighter who will get the first finish on him. All but three of Makhachev’s 11 stoppage wins came before he joined the UFC. With that, I see the fight going five rounds and Makhachev winning via decision.
Prediction: Makhachev via decision -665 via Bookmaker.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Makhachev, like Nurmagomedov, is superb at taking his opponents down and keeping them down. He has scored 20 takedowns in the UFC and his top position time of 40:20 ranks him eighth among active UFC lightweight fighters. His top position percentage of 46.5 is second among active 155 pounders. If Moises wants to stand any chance in this matchup, he needs to concentrate on takedown defense and getting off the mat if he gets taken down. That’s going to be a struggle.
FIGHT STATS: MAKHACHEV vs. MOISES
|Islam Makhachev||Category||Thiago Moises|
|2.00||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||2.85|
|0.77||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.88|
|3.46||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.06|
|1.0||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||1.2|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
As mentioned above, Makhachev is a potential future champion. This fight won’t get him a title fight, but it will hopefully earn him a contest against an opponent who is at least ranked between No. 5 and No. 10 in the lightweight division. A slow climb up the lightweight ladder is only a good thing for Makhachev, but the UFC might need to make it worth it for those fighters to face Makhachev.
As for Moises, an upset here would be an enormous boost for his profile.
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