UPDATED: Best value bets for UFC Vegas 31

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In the main event, I have landed on Makhachev ITD + 150. I handicap the unrelenting forward pressure and striking advantage as too much for the Brazilian in a five-round affair.

Tate -150 vs. Reneau + 130

I like the Tate -125 released on Wednesday (see above). At Tate -150, this fight is correctly lined as I handicap it. If you are late to the cupcake party, you may give

Tate via decision + 150 a roil as the over 2.5 Rds. Is line -295.

Gamrot -210 vs. Stephens + 185

Gamrot is a legit talent in this division and Stephens is moving up because he can no longer make the 145lnb. Weight limit as well he’s lost to all the elite talent in that division. While his aggression and power will translate well early his lack of three round 155lb. cardio and his slight size in the end will land him on his back where the naturally larger wrestler will thrive from top position.

Gamrot -210 leg 1

Two fighter parlay leg two open

Taha -145 vs. Morozov + 125

Each has competed well against top end competition. Taha’s the more explosive man while the more diligent steady grinder is Morozov. In a fight I line as pick-ep I’ll take a half unit on

Morozov + 125

Benitez -165 vs. Quarantillo + 145

Benitez is tough, aggressive and a forward pressing boxer/striker. Q will be the taller, longer fighter with perhaps a more well-rounded fight arsenal. I look for Q to make a fine showing off his loss to Tucker. Look for a tight fight early then Quarantillo to separate himself late in this fight. Half unit on

Quarantillo + 145

==PREVIOUS STORY==

In terms of profitable sports gaming, UFC 264 was tainted by unfavorable favorite results as chalk finished 11-1 on the night.

In the main event, favorite Dustin Poirier showed up to do a job, and the way he did it in the first five minutes of the bout made me think Conor McGregor had nothing but a one-trick sodbuster’s shot to beat the larger, more durable athlete. That McGregor broke his left tibia and fibula only expedited what was transpiring in the fight as Poirier was administering a good old-fashioned whuppin’ on McGregor. 

In the co-main event, Gill Burns looked outstanding in his defeat of Stephen Thompson. He did what few others have been able to do in cutting the cage down then forcing Thomson to compete off his back. I had released Thompson as leg one of a parlay and was very confident of the position. Burns earned that victory, and I go back to the task of grinding for improvement.

This week’s UFC Las Vegas 31 is a card for the hardcore because there are very few recognizable names. That said, there are a couple of fascinating matchups that warrant discussion.

ISLAM MAKHACHEV -750 VS. THIAGO MOISES + 500

Men’s lightweight (155 pounds), Main Event

This main event was going to feature the dismemberment of Yair Rodriguez by Max Holloway, but because of its cancellation, we get a fascinating clash of fighters whose forte is competing from the mat. Makhachev is a Sambo master of sport from Russia and Moises is a Black belt in BJJ from Brazil.

Makhachev is ninth ranked in the division. He’s a master of sport in Sambo, a designation that is not easy to earn. Machachev’s application of constant forward pressure Sambo makes him Khabib Nurmagomedov-like in his unrelenting force.

Makhachev’s fight style mirrors Nurmagomedov’s in that he’s an unrelenting pressure wrestler. The difference is that Makhachev’s striking is more developed and refined than his teammate’s. 

His biggest challenge has been that he struggles to find athletes willing to compete with him in the cage. No one in the division will fight this vise grip and those who have represent a smattering of forceful styles and body types that have been dominated by the man from Dagestan.

Fourteenth-ranked Moises steps in with Jiu-Jitsu black belt pedigree on par with Makhachev’s Sambo. Fans of world-class ground fighting will relish this match provided it hits the floor. Often athletes with similar styles race directly to their strength or they settle on a competition outside each’s expertise. 

If they decide to stand and fight outside their normal realm, Makhachev’s more basic yet perfectly executed power striking will have the advantage. Moises has developed his striking at ATT in Florida but it’s not what he wants to rely on to compete in this bout.

Moises has not faced as strong a level of competition as Makhachev has, but he arrives with momentum and on a three-fight winning streak over solid stand-up-based fighters. It must be noted that Moises’ last two losses were against opponents with world-class ground attacks, one to a Russian Sambo fighter and the other to Beneil Dariush, who is a top-three talent in the division with brilliant ground acumen and striking prowess.

Machachev may look to keep this standing for his striking is levels beyond Moises. I believe Moises sees his ground game as superior to Machachev’s Sambo. I look for Moises to engage in grappling with Makhachev, and that’s where this fight will get very interesting.

If they hit the floor, Makhachev likely will take top position and Moises will accept competing off his back. I can’t see how this is a strategic idea for Moises, nor can I see him really competing against Makhachev in a standing bout.

Machachev will be the taller, larger man who will be more deliberate in approach while Moises will try to use athleticism and movement to gain positional advantage over the Russian.

If fans get to experience these two rolling on the mat, the clash in styles highlighted by submission attempts and ground and pound will make this a fascinating fight.

I regard Makhachev as a worthy favorite and will search for props to uncover value in this fight.

Total for this fight: 4.5 rounds Over -135

MIESHA TATE -125 VS. MARION RENEAU + 115

Women’s Bantamweight (135 pounds), Main Event

Reneau is 44 and tougher than a three-dollar steak. Ranked 14th in the division, she has faced all the elite fighters in this weight class. She is a black belt in BJJ and a blue belt in Muay Thai, so she’s got a well-rounded fight arsenal, has abundant experience and is trying to win this, the last fight of her career as she’s set to retire.

Retirement fights are always dangerous for fighters to publicize, but I don’t believe Reneau is putting herself in any jeopardy by making the announcement. Reneau getting handpicked by the organization and her opponent for this comeback may just motivate her to spoil the plans of those outside of her camp.

Tate retired after a tough loss to Raquel “Rocky” Pennington in late 2016, but it was a savage beating by Amanda Nunes that led Tate to take time off. She also was overcoming a rocky relationship with a UFC fighter and meeting her current husband and father of their two children. Tate is past those tumultuous days and has had time to get away from fighting, be a wife, mother and mentally refresh.

Tate has a solid wrestling base and a more complete fight arsenal. She’s in position to fire fresh in this return. Reneau is one tough, durable and well-rounded fighter, but I handicap this as Tate’s fight to lose.

Tate -125*

This price is rising so I’ll take it now and then look into the props as they are released later this week.

Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -295

MATEUSZ GAMROT -200 VS. JEREMY STEPHENS + 180

Men’s lightweight (155 pounds)

Stephens, formerly a ranked featherweight, steps up to the lightweight division to battle unranked Gamrot.

Motivations for the 34-year-old Stephens revolve around his difficulty making 145 pounds, coupled with the fact that he’s been beaten in his last four bouts, albeit by competent featherweights.

Moving up in weight can actually contribute to the success of fighters as they’re able to work on game plan and conditioning instead of grappling through a weight cut, then an opponent the next day, yet I sense more desperation in this case.

Stephens’ style is one that makes for great watching, but it’s not conducive to career longevity as he’s a basic power striker who stalks opponents to knock them out. In the process he has dished out plenty of drubbings, but he’s also undertaken more than his share.

Stephens’ power will be enhanced at this weight, which is scary. He’ll be looking to engage with the Polish fighter and stand toe to toe where he is his most comfortable. Stephens will be explosive and powerful early, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to remain active at a high pace for all 15 minutes especially against an opponent with as formidable a wrestling base as Gamrot.

Gamrot, 1-1 in the UFC, enters with everything to gain. He’s a couple of inches taller than his opponent, five years younger and he’ll have leg and arm reach advantages. These physical traits will enable Gamrot to cope with Stephen’s pressure striking and meet it with his own forward pressure.

Gamrot’s a legitimate lightweight by size. His advanced wrestling base will allow him to more effectively control Stephens, the slighter man, and allow him to work from the top position once they hit the mat. Once this bout does hit the floor, Stephens will be forced to defend Gamrot’s top control and ground and pound.

I want to use Gamrot here but will wait for prop options later in the week.

Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds Under -115

 

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