- What: UFC 296
- Who: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson
- 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. Before those fights, Shavkat Rakhmonov meets Stephen Thompson in a welterweight scrap. Here is some information on Rakhmonov and Thompson before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC 296 PPV card.
Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0) opened his UFC career with five wins and five finishes. He is coming off a March submission win over Geoff Neal.
Stephen Thompson (17-6-1) is a two-time UFC welterweight championship challenger. Thompson is coming off a December 2022 TKO win over Kevin Holland.
Before we look at the best bets for the Rakhmonov vs. Thompson 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: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson betting picks
UFC 296: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson betting breakdown
This is an enormously important fight in the UFC welterweight division. For Shavkat Rakhmonov, who is the No. 5 fighter in the official UFC welterweight rankings, a win will move the betting favorite into elite status. As for the No. 6 ranked Thompson, a victory against the rising Rakhmonov will keep him inside the top five of the division.
This is the biggest test of Rakhmonov’s UFC career, which began in October 2020. He has never faced a fighter as experienced or who is as defensively sound as Thompson. With that, expect Rakhmonov to be a little more cautious in the early going of this matchup.
Rakhmonov struggled at times with Geoff Neal’s boxing, which is something that an elite striker like Thompson could exploit. However, to succeed, Thompson needs to make sure he stays at distance and employs effective kicks, while avoiding the clinch game and power punches of his foe. That will be a test since Rakhmonov is the bigger fighter in this matchup.
Rakhmonov is the more aggressive of these two fighters. He has a great deal of power and does an excellent job of mixing up his targets and techniques to keep his opponent guessing what’s coming and where it is coming from. Where Thompson is best at fighting at distance, thanks to his kickboxing background, Rakhmonov is good everywhere, but he is especially effective in close and in the clinch.
UFC 296 Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson statistical breakdown
Look for this to be an active striking matchup, as Shavkat Rakhmonov lands 4.45 significant strikes per minute, and Stephen Thompson connects with 4.20 of his attempts per minute. As for striking accuracy, Rakhmonov’s 59 percent rate dwarfs Thompson’s 45 percent. Rakhmonov is also better than Thompson defensively, getting tagged 2.61 times per minute as opposed to Thompson’s 3.04 significant strikes absorbed per minute.
Rakhmonov attempts more takedowns than Thompson and lands an average of 1.49 takedowns per 15 minutes. Thompson rarely pursues takedowns and hits an average of .27 per 15 minutes of UFC action. Rakhmonov’s takedown defense stands at 100 percent, while Thompson’s is 64 percent.
Thompson is 40 years old, while Rakhmonov turned 29 in October, which is also something to consider when wagering on this matchup.
Best Bets: UFC 296 – Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson
The first thing to note about this contest is that it is scheduled for three rounds, and that makes a stoppage only likely if one of these men can catch the other slipping defensively, and that is not a likely scenario.
Shavkat Rakhmonov is the overwhelming betting favorite in this scrap. With that, Thompson presents some betting value as a pick to pull off the upset win, which will most likely be a tight decision victory. I don’t see that happening. My betting pick is for Rakhmonov to pull off the decision win thanks to being more well-rounded and powerful than Thompson.
Best UFC 296 Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson Betting Pick: Shavkat Rakhmonov to win via decision.
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