UFC on ESPN 26: Makhachev vs. Moises Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2021

UFC on ESPN 26: Makhachev vs. Moises Odds, Schedule, Predictions

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    The continued ascendance of Islam Makhachev and the return of Miesha Tate headline the latest UFC on ESPN offering from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas.

    Makhachev will get the first headlining event in his career, but if his time in the Octagon is any indication, it won't be his last. He comes in as a massive betting favorite to dispatch Thiago Moises and extend his winning streak to eight in the UFC.

    Tate's return will come in the co-main event. The former bantamweight champion hasn't fought since 2016 but will see Marion Reneau in an attempt to kickstart a comeback.

    It's an interesting matchup and storyline for a division that is having a hard time coming up with contenders for champion Amanda Nunes.

    Here's what the card looks like, along with odds and a closer look at the biggest fights.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—July 17

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    Main Card (ESPN/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Islam Makhachev (-760) vs. Thiago Moises (+525)
    • Marion Reneau (+125) vs. Miesha Tate (-145)
    • Mateusz Gamrot (-220) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+180)
    • Dustin Stoltzfus (+180) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (-220)
    • Gabriel Benitez (-165) vs. Billy Quarantillo (+145)

                             

    Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET)

    • Preston Parsons (+270) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (-350)
    • Amanda Lemos (-575) vs. Montserrat Ruiz (+410)
    • Sergey Morozov (+115) vs. Khalid Taha (-135)
    • Anderson dos Santos (+150) vs. Miles Johns (-170)
    • Francisco Figueiredo (-310) vs. Malcolm Gordon (+245)
    • Alan Baudot (+280) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (-365)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Makhachev vs. Moises

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    Islam Makhachev's game plan is pretty simple. He puts unrelenting pressure on his opponents with takedowns, followed by suffocating top control. As his friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov would say: smash.

    Much like his compatriot, he can use his submissions as his opponent becomes exhausted as well. But the modus operandi is to break his opponent's will and look for the finish.

    Moises is a nice matchup for Makhachev. He's on a three-fight winnings streak of his own, including a submission win over Michael Johnson. His jiu-jitsu and submission game is formidable enough that it forces Makhachev to show he can beat someone capable of forcing a tap.

    Yet it's likely not good enough to pose a risk to someone who appears destined to enter the title picture.

    Moises is not an elite striker by any stretch, and his takedown defense isn't close to where it needs to be to keep the fight standing. That spells a fight wherein Makhachev gets to go right where he wants and will just have to be sure to stay out of any Hail Mary submission attempts to win.

                          

    Prediction: Makhachev via second-round TKO.

Tate vs. Reneau

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    This might be the most interesting matchup of the night. Miesha Tate didn't end her UFC career on the most positive of notes and her form at 34 after a five-year layoff is one of the biggest questions of the night.

    If she has anything left to give, this will be a good opportunity to get it in the spotlight.

    She is still 10 years younger than Marion Reneau. The Belizean Bomber is well beyond her peak and on a four-fight skid that goes back to 2018.

    The style matchup favors Cupcake too. Reneau has always had enough pop to be dangerous in the standup game. Five of her nine wins have come by way of knockout. However, her takedown defense has left a lot to be desired—she gives up 50 percent.

    That's not a great sign for her to upset Tate's return. Tate should have enough ground game and clinch work to bully Reneau for the win, even after five years off.

                       

    Prediction: Tate via decision.

Stoltzfus vs. Vieira

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    This card was hurt by the loss of its original main event. Max Holloway was supposed to meet Yair Rodriguez, but Holloway was forced to pull out of the fight with an injury.

    That's why a fight between two unranked middleweights coming off losses can be considered one of the biggest fights of the night.

    There's still a lot of intrigue in Rodolfo Vieira. The Black Belt Hunter is coming off a perplexing loss to Anthony Hernandez. Vieira is a serious jiu-jitsu player with multiple world championships, yet he was submitted last time out.

    That was a product of his conditioning, though. He lost control of the pace, wore out and found himself in a bad position.

    Dustin Stoltzfus was unsuccessful in his UFC debut against Kyle Daukaus. But he showed enough on Dana White's Contender Series to get at least two UFC fights. This fight should show us whether Vieira has the ability to manage his gas tank.

    If he does, his submission game will make him a prospect worth keeping an eye on.

               

    Prediction: Vieira via first-round submission.

                     

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