Molly McCann (-250) vs. Diana Belbita (+220)
There is perhaps no fighter, especially on the women’s side, that the UFC is more desperate to be a star than Molly “Meatball.” Unfortunately for her and the powers that be, she’s failed almost every test they’ve put in front of her. Now 4-4 in the UFC, she comes in on the heels of two losses, and desperately needs a win in this spot to stay relevant.
As the UFC likes to do, they’re doing their best to accommodate that need. In steps a fighter in Diana Belbita who since joining the UFC in 2019, is just 2-4 with the promotion, which includes a debut loss to Meatball. The talent discrepancy in this one is gaping, as Meatball comes in with 2x the takedowns, 5x the submissions, and edges across the board in striking.
For those who don’t like to lay big numbers, look for a parlay with Natalia Silva who currently sits at -350 and growing.
Pick: Molly McCann (-250 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Randy Brown (-220) vs. Muslim Salikhov (+195)
We’ve already seen some buyback on Salikhov, as he opened well over +200, but I still think there’s some value at this number. The 40-year-old comes in following a win over 29-year-old Andre Fialho to end 2022, before he lost a decision to Nicolas Dalby in his only fight of 2023 (June). Competitive in both fights, I think he surprises many people in this one, including Brown, who has some wear of his own, joining the UFC in 2016 and partaking in some wars along the way.
Relatively even in striking, Salkhov’s advantage comes on the ground where he’s averaging 65% more takedowns per 15 minutes. Both strikers, Salikhov’s durability at this level has come from his defense, with a 62% striking defense clip as of Saturday.
While Brown’s youth certainly gives him an edge in some categories, I have this fight much closer to a coin flip and will gladly take the nearly 2/1 number here.
Pick: Muslim Salkhov (+195 at BetMGM Sportsbook)
Renato Moicano (-140) vs. Drew Dober (+120)
This co-main event pits two lightweights just inside the rankings, as Drew Dober (#15) takes on Renato Moicano (#13). In what is arguably the most crowded division in the UFC, both of these guys need a win to get a top 10 guy in their next fight.
Admittedly, Dober comes in the much more active fighter, which is cause for concern, fighting three times since we last saw Moicano in the octagon. 2-1 over those three fights, all finished within two rounds, with the loss coming against Matt Frevola in May.
For Moicano, he was supposed to fight Arman Tsarukyan in April before being forced to withdraw following an injury in camp. In retrospect, it was the right move, as anything less than 100% would have spelled disaster against a guy of that caliber. I do think the long layoff is making people forget just how talented Moicano is, as he comes in 3-1 over his past four fights with all three wins coming inside the distance; all against quality foes.
The metrics, however, are what seals things for me, as he comes in with 7x the submission average, 1.5x the takedown average, and about break-even striking metrics. In a bout that has Fight of the Night potential, I expect Moicano to remind everyone just how good he is in this return.
Pick: Renato Moicano (-140 at DraftKings Sportsbook)