The UFC is in action Saturday, with an 11-bout Fight Night card scheduled. Two streaking lightweights — Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moisés — will go head to head in the main event.
So, where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew is focusing on three fights in particular and see a few bets with value in those matchups. You can find their analysis and picks on those confrontations below.
UFC Betting Odds
Billy Ward: Gabriel Benitez vs. Billy Quarantillo | Amanda Lemos vs. Montserrat Conejo
Contributor at The Action Network
Usually in this space we give our single best bet, but I thought I’d double up this week. So, you’re welcome.
First up is Billy Quarantillo vs. Gabriel Benitez. Quarantillo lost for the first time in the Octagon his last time out, dropping a decision to Gavin Tucker. In contrast, Benitez stopped a two-fight losing streak by defeating Justin Jaynes.
There’s a lot working in Quarantillo’s favor here. His only UFC loss was against a much higher-ranked (No. 29) opponent than he’s currently facing (Benitez is No. 59 in the lightweight division).
This is also something of a late-notice fight for Benitez, who stepped up in early June after Herbert Burns tore his ACL. Benitez is also returning to featherweight for the first time in almost two years, which I expect to be difficult given the relative short notice of the fight.
None of these factors alone would make me confident enough to bet Quarantillo, but together they add up. The smart money seems to be on him as well. He was as high as +180 odds earlier in the week, but the current best line is +140 at DraftKings. I would bet him down to about +120 odds.
Next up is Amanda Lemos vs. Montserrat Conejo. This is more of a long shot, but the odds (+410 at DraftKings) are just way too long here. Both women have one loss each in their respective 11-fight careers, but this is only the second UFC bout for Ruiz.
Ruiz was impressive enough in her UFC debut that I’m going to take a swing here. She dominated the capable Cheyanne Buys with four takedowns on five attempts, plus more than 10 minutes of control time in a 15-minute fight.
What stood out to me was her use of the Kesa Gatame (scarf hold) position. It’s not utilized frequently in mixed-martial arts, but the modified side-control can be extremely difficult to escape from, especially with a shorter opponent on top (Ruiz is 5 feet tall).
Ruiz is also a decorated wrestler, plus a seven-time national champion in her native Mexico. I’m not sure how deep the female wrestling talent pool is there, but it still counts for something. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ruiz rattle off a few wins in a row before the division starts to figure her out, so let’s get in now while the price is still insanely cheap.
The Pick: Quarantillo ML +140 | Ruiz ML +410
Erich Richter: Jeremy Stephens vs. Mateusz Gamrot
Contributor at The Action Network
Jeremy Stephens returns to the UFC lightweight division, but his welcome is not a warm one by any means. He will face off against the Polish grappling savant Mateusz Gamrot.
Gamrot is an impressive 18-1 and averages 4.91 takedowns per 15 minutes. He does a good job pushing the pace and doesn’t get hit too often either (+2.26 striking differential).
Stephens is one of my favorite fighters of all time and refuses to quit. He has an unbelievable 33 UFC fights. However, his last four bouts show he has been regressing rapidly as the damage begins to wear him down.
Stephens made his UFC debut in 2007 against Din Thomas and has faced some of the best UFC fighters in the companies history. Unfortunately, he’s running into an extremely strong grappler who will likely make it difficult for him to get going early.
Stephens has a solid guillotine that he consistently pulls during his fights. That isn’t a particularly good MMA strategy, despite how tempting it might feel at the time (ask Conor McGregor).
Gamrot should have a solid grappling advantage in this fight, plus we know that Stephens has a suspect chin at this point. Gamrot has a few knockout wins under his belt, but his win condition surely is by decision. He should be able to out grapple most of his opponents, including Stephens.
If Stephens pulls guard for a guillotine, we should see Gamrot settle and land some solid ground and pound.
Gamrot to win by decision is +225 on BetMGM, which I would bet down to +185. Any lower than that and you’re better off playing the moneyline (up to -230) in the event that Stephens’ chin truly cannot hold up.
The Pick: Gamrot by decision +225 (down to +185)
Sean Zerillo: Jeremy Stephens vs. Mateusz Gamrot
Betting Analyst, The Action Network
I’m with Erich here. I was high on Gamrot coming into the UFC, and I’ll continue to back him until the market properly reflects his talent level.
The Poland native was undefeated in KSW, holding titles in two divisions, but ran into a stiff test in his UFC debut against Guram Kutateladze, a training partner of Khamzat Chimaev. If it had been a 25-minute fight, I’m confident that Gamrot would have pulled away.
However, by nature of round-by-round scoring, he dropped the opening 10 minutes and surged to the bell too late (won, 52-37, on significant strikes; landed five of 16 takedowns).
Gamrot can be a bit of a slow starter as he figures out his opponents, but he has skills everywhere, and once he decides to ramp up the pressure, he can be a real problem for most lightweights.
He’ll draw former featherweight Jeremy Stephens in his third UFC fight. “Lil Heat-hen” was large at 145 pounds and his size should translate well to the 155-pound division, but his takedown defense (65%) could get exposed here. And his best skill — power — won’t translate as well after moving up a weight class.
Fighting at your natural weight generally helps durability and cardio, and Stephens can undoubtedly make this a dog fight. However, smaller men than Gamrot have controlled Stephens in the past and there’s a good chance that the 33-fight UFC veteran spends most of this matchup on this back.
I show slight value on Gamrot’s moneyline projected at -238 odds and used him as a parlay piece with Daniel Rodriguez, but I prefer the value on his decision prop (projected +184; listed +210) and I would bet that down to +200 odds in this spot.
The Pick: Mateusz Gamrot Wins by Points (+225)