The UFC returns to the UFC Apex and ESPN this weekend for UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Thiago, which gets underway with the prelims starting at 7 PM EST. Originally supposed to be a featherweight bout between Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodríguez, Holloway had to withdraw due to injury. Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises was promoted to the main.
With just under a month’s worth of notice and neither fighter having gone five rounds in their UFC career, will one have an edge over the other from the last-minute change?
Let’s take a closer look.
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Betting Profile: Islam Makhachev (19-1-0)
Last Five Fights
Formerly trained by the late great Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Khabib’s father, Islam is trained by Javier Mendez, Khabib’s trainer, and Khabib himself. Islam and Khabib are more than just current training partners. In fact, they grew up together and have come up in the same camp.
While there will always only be one Khabib, his style is strikingly similar, with a propensity for grappling at the most elite level. Coming into this fight, he’s averaging 3.46 takedowns per 15 minutes and a stager 69% takedown accuracy. Not only does that put up 9% higher than the next losest lightweight (and 19% higher than the current champ Oliviera), but #3 among all active fighters.
Betting Profile: Thiago Moises (15-4-0)
Last Five Fights
While Islam has dominated much of the conversation this week, Moises comes into this one on a three-fight win-streak of his own, starting with a submission win over Michael Johnson in May of 2020. A Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Moises also has a propensity for grappling and should be Islam’s toughest test to date.
Where Moises does have the advantage from a metric standpoint is striking, where he lands 2.47 per minute (vs. 2), with 62% (vs. 56%) of those strikes being significant.
In addition to the takedown numbers we mentioned earlier for Islam, he also comes into this fight with a 93% takedown defense, having been taken to the ground just once in his time with the UFC. While the odds are juicy, I don’t see a scenario that Islam loses this fight and will be adding him to parlays as the week progresses.
Pick: Islam Makhachev -670
Top Prop Bet
While Islam called his shot this week, saying he’d like to end it in the 2nd or 3rd round, I could see the first just as likely as either of those. Regardless, I like this one ending inside the distance in one form or another and am betting accordingly.
Pick: Islam Makhachev by KO/TKO or Submission +140
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TJ Perun is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from TJ, check out his archive and follow him @JohnnyCovers.
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