UFC 264 probably didn’t work out the way that everybody wanted, but the outcome of the Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier fight sure seemed like it was going to reach that conclusion at some point anyway.
Less-heralded fighters will take center stage for this week’s event at the UFC Apex with a main event between Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises. That is the main event of this card known as UFC on ESPN 26 on Saturday July 17.
Eleven fights are scheduled in total for this card, which will go back behind closed doors at the UFC’s training facility. We’ll look at the odds from BetOnline Sportsbook to see if we can find some good wagers.
Alan Baudot (+285) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (-350); Total: 1.5 (115/-145)
The lone heavyweight fight of the evening is the lead-off match, as Alan Baudot looks for his first UFC win. The 33-year-old Frenchman lost to Tom Aspinall back in October by first-round knockout to fall to 8-2. His other loss was to Dalcha Lungiambula, so his two losses are to the two best fighters he has faced.
Rodrigo Nascimento also lost that night, but to Chris Daukaus in just 45 seconds. It was the first career loss for Nascimento, who is more of a grappler and a submission artist than a striker. Daukaus was going to keep that fight upright. Baudot probably won’t have as much success.
Pick: Rodrigo Nascimento
Malcolm Gordon (+250) vs. Francisco Figueiredo (-300); Total: 2.5 (120/-150)
Another big underdog in an early fight as Malcolm Gordon looks for his first UFC win. Gordon is 0-2 with losses to Su Mudaerji and Amir Albazi. He was 12-3 prior to that. Francisco Figueiredo, a former Jungle Fight competitor, won his debut fight over Jerome Rivera back in January. He should get another win here.
Pick: Francisco Figueiredo
Anderson Dos Santos (+145) vs. Miles Johns (-170); Total: 2.5 (-205/165)
Miles Johns rebounded nicely from his first career loss with a knockout win over Kevin Natividad on Halloween. Now the 27-year-old Johns faces Anderson Dos Santos, who is 1-2 in his UFC career. Dos Santos is 21-8 and has a strong ground game, which seems concerning for Johns, who has won six of his 11 fights by decision. This will be a good test of his takedown defense.
Johns is the taller fighter, which should help him hold serve here as a favorite, but this fight looks a lot more competitive and is a tougher handicap than the first two.
Pick: Miles Johns
Sergey Morozov (+118) vs. Khalid Taha (-138); Total: 2.5 (-220/180)
Sergey Morozov lost his UFC debut to Umar Nurmagomedov back in January, but the former M-1 bantamweight champion will get another shot here. It was Morozov’s first fight since October 2019, so some cage rust was to be expected and that was certainly the case, as he was very efficient with his strikes and takedown defense.
Khalid Taha, who is 1-2 with a No Contest in four UFC fights, does have nine knockouts to his name, but we haven’t seen as much of that striking power at this level. Morozov should look better in this spot than he did in his last fight and is an intriguing upset candidate.
Pick: Sergey Morozov
Montserrat Conejo (+400) vs. Amanda Lemos (-600); Total: 2.5 (-145/115)
Mexican strawweight Montserrat Conejo will look to improve to 2-0 in the UFC with this fight against Amanda Lemos. Conejo was a winner over Cheyanne Buys with an impressive debut on March 20, but this is a big step up in class against a bigger fighter in Lemos. It was a big win for Conejo, who entered on short notice and won the fight easily.
Lemos is 3-1 in UFC, with a loss to Leslie Smith in her debut back in 2017. Otherwise, she’s won three times since December 2019 and hasn’t really broken a sweat in any of those fights. She’s -600 for a reason here, but that does seem like a bit of a big price to bet. Lemos has won eight of nine by stoppage, so the under 2.5 isn’t a bad look here if she’s that heavy of a favorite to win.
Pick: Under 2.5
Preston Parsons (+275) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (-335); Total: 1.5 (-135/105)
The UFC debut for Preston Parsons comes against Daniel Rodriguez at 170 pounds. The welterweight is 9-2 in his career and has won four straight fights by submission. All nine of his wins have been via submission. It is a huge opportunity for the 26-year-old to go up against Rodriguez, who has fought five times in the last 17 months with a 4-1 record.
Rodriguez has fought a lot of staples in the welterweight division and his additional experience at the upper levels seems to be a big deciding factor in where this is lined. Rodriguez has never tapped out in 16 career fights and it seems like it will be a challenge for Parsons to win a decision against such a proven, savvy fighter.
Pick: Daniel Rodriguez
Billy Quarantillo (+140) vs. Gabriel Benitez (-160); Total: 2.5 (-170/140)
The main card begins with Gabriel Benitez, who is an injury replacement for Herbert Burns, up against Billy Quarantillo. Quarantillo, a favorite on the Dana White Contender Series, is coming off of a loss to Gavin Tucker, which is just the third of his career. The 32-year-old former KOTC champ had won eight straight prior to that fight.
Benitez scored a nice bounce back win over Justin Jaynes last time out after back-to-back losses. The 33-year-old has a very versatile skill set with the ability to win in a lot of different ways. So does Quarantillo, so this has Fight of the Night potential on what is an otherwise weak card.
It seems hard to trust Benitez here, as the first four minutes with Jaynes were pretty even before the knockout shot to the abdomen.
Pick: Billy Quarantillo
Dustin Stoltzfus (+185) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (-220); Total: 1.5 (-130/100)
This is a big opportunity for Dustin Stoltzfus, a Dana White Contender Series find that lost a little over two months after getting his contract. It was a unanimous decision loss at UFC 255 for Stoltzfus, who was 13-1 coming into that match against Kyle Daukaus. It is Daukaus’s only UFC win in three tries. The 6-foot-3 Daukaus did have a size edge over Stoltzfus and used that effectively in the fight.
Rodolfo Vieira will not, but he is still a big favorite here at 185 pounds. Vieira lost to Alexander Hernandez last time out by second-round submission after winning his first two UFC fights. Stoltzfus has never lost via stoppage. Vieira has seven stoppage wins, so maybe this is an all-or-nothing fight, but the juice on the over 1.5 is not terribly prohibitive and a better way to bet on this fight rather than trust two fighters still finding their way in the promotion.
Pick: Over 1.5
Jeremy Stephens (+178) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (-208); Total: 2.5 (-130/100)
If it feels like we haven’t seen Jeremy Stephens in a while, that’s because we haven’t. Stephens fought at UFC 249 in May and suffered his fourth loss in five fights. It would probably be five in a row, but an accidental eye poke from Yair Rodriguez resulted in a No Contest. Stephens is a shell of the fighter that he used to be, now 35 years of age. He’s fought much better competition than Mateusz Gamrot has, but that’s about all we can say in favor of Stephens here.
Gamrot, the former KSW champ, is 1-1 in UFC. He just won in April over Scott Holtzman after losing his debut fight to Guram Kutateladze. As bad as Stephens has been lately, Gamrot is not at all experienced against fighters like this. If Stephens has anything left in the tank, we should see it here. If nothing else, Gamrot is not a big finisher, so the over 2.5 is very much in play.
Pick: Over 2.5
Marion Reneau (+125) vs. Miesha Tate (-145); Total: 2.5 (-300/240)
Well then. Miesha Tate has not fought since November 12, 2016 when she lost to Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision and then retired from MMA. She’ll make her return here to take on Marion Reneau. The fact that Tate hasn’t fought in 4.5 years and is still a favorite seems to say a lot about Reneau, who is 9-7-1 in her MMA career.
Reneau will be retiring win or lose here at the age of 44. Tate has stayed around the sport in an executive role for ONE Championship, but getting back in the cage is an altogether different feeling. She’ll turn 35 in August, so she isn’t old by fight standards, but rust could be a huge factor.
That being said, Reneau has lost four in a row and she’s on her way out the door.
Pick: Miesha Tate
Thiago Moises (+450) vs. Islam Makhachev (-700); Total: 4.5 (-150/120)
Except for women’s title fights, it is hard to remember a line this high for a UFC main event. Islam Makhachev can move to 20-1 with a win here over Thiago Moises. The 26-year-old Moises has been impressive in UFC to this point and has fought some more accomplished competition than Makhachev, so maybe he will have a puncher’s chance in this fight.
It is hard to take +450 to fade Makhachev, who only has the one loss, but taking a -700 seems challenging here as well. This will be the first fight set for championship rounds in either guy’s UFC career. Moises went into the fifth round three times during his stints in RFA and LFA.
This one will likely go the full 25.