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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:44 PM

UFC Fight Night Makhachev vs. Moises Predictions

July 15, 2021
by Adam Lykkesteen
UFC Expert

UFC Vegas 31 Betting Preview & Predictions

After watching UFC 264 offer an entertaining night of action and highlights last Saturday, the promotion will come back with another card this Saturday July 17 from Las Vegas, Nevada.

UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moises or what's also known as UFC Vegas 31 will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The preliminary action is expected to start at 7:00 p.m. ET while the main card is set for 10:00 p.m. ET.

All the action can be streamed live or viewed on both ESPN+ and ESPN.

Let's break down the main card and start cashing bets!

UFC Vegas 31 Main Card

  • Lightweight Bout: Islam Makhachev (-650) vs. Thiago Moises (+450)
  • Women's Bantamweight Bout: Miesha Tate (-150) vs. Marion Reneau (+125)
  • Lightweight Bout: Mateusz Gamrot (-225) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+180)
  • Middleweight Bout: Rodolfo Vieira (-225) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (+190)
  • Featherweight Bout: Gabriel Benitez (-165) vs. Billy Quarantillo (+135)

Odds per BetMGM - Subject to Change

UFC Vegas 31 Main Event

Lightweight Bout
Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises

Islam Makhachev made his debut back in 2015, and has racked up an impressive 8-1 record ever since. His sole loss in the octagon was a flash knockout against Adriano Martins in his second UFC outing.

Grappling is the bread and butter for both guys in this fight, but watching Makhachev dominate Drew Dober in his last fight, it’s clear to me that Islam has the superior ground game compared to Moises.

Thiago usually struggles to drag his opponents to the ground, evident in his takedown average of one takedown per 15 minutes. Instead, he relies on pulling guard and imanari rolls to secure submissions, yet he has only gotten one ‘sub-win in six UFC outings. Moises has been out struck with punches in four of his six UFC bouts, which is a red flag. Even on the feet, he doesn’t have much to offer a guy like Islam.

It will take a dangerous striker to beat Makhachev - that’s how Martins got it done - but since Moises only has three career knockouts i seriously doubt he will be able to catch Makhachev with his 70% striking defense.

This matchup is heaven for Makhachev, and he gets to lay and pray on top of Moises for 25 minutes to secure another unanimous decision victory on Saturday. Moises’ black belt makes him hard to submit.

Prediction: Islam Makhachev (-650) def. Thiago Moises

Islam Makhachev owns a 19-1 career record and that includes an 8-1 mark during his time with the UFC. (AP)

UFC Vegas 31 Co-Main Event

Women's Bantamweight Bout
Miesha Tate vs. Marion Reneau

On Saturday night we get to witness the return of Miesha Tate who makes her comeback after a four year hiatus. She takes on ‘The Belizean Bruiser’ Marion Reneau who is 5-6-1 in the UFC.

At first, the name recognition for Tate makes you side with her to get the ‘dub, yet diving into this matchup the lean becomes different.

As stated earlier, Tate has been out for over four years. ‘Cupcake’ also gave birth to her daughter last June, which means she’s been training for six months at most, and that’s being generous.

In the meantime, Reneau has had seven fights for the UFC, and despite only picking up two wins in those bouts, the activity really counts here. It’s definitely the X-factor.

The game evolves quickly, and Tate really needs to bring her A-game if she wants to avoid losing her comeback fight.

Reneau is no world-beater, but she always shows up to fight and had a good last fight against a young prospect.

Tate is probably the better grappler, and Reneau will look to remain standing, yet the lengthy layoff for Tate makes me doubt what version of the former champion shows up on Saturday.

The game has evolved a lot since 2016, and Reneau has been there for all of it while Tate has been stuck behind a desk doing analyst work for rivalrous UFC promotion One FC.

Tate has also always been extremely lacking on the feet, and that is a flaw that can’t be fixed coming back after four years. You need consistent work to repair such chinks in the armor.

The layoff is everything in this matchup - the main reason why I’m rolling with Reneau.

Prediction: Marion Reneau (-150) def. Miesha Tate

Lightweight Bout
Mateusz Gamrot vs. Jeremy Stephens

Hard-hitting fan-favorite Jeremy Stephens is back. He faces young prospect Mateusz Gamrot (1-1 in the UFC) this weekend.

Despite losing his debut against Gulam Kuteladze, the hype for Gamrot is totally legitimate.

He got the chance to correct his course himself in his last fight, which he did very well, knocking out veteran Scott Holtzman after a dominant first round.

This fight is the good old veteran vs. prospect matchup, and those are always fun. However, there’s no doubt that the prospect, Gamrot, should win this fight handily.

Stephens is moving up in weight which is never a good sign once you’re 34 years old and winless in five fights (three years). It’s a sign of desperation.

While it has worked out for some, Edson Barboza for instance, Stephens isn’t the kind of fighter that has a technical game to work on. He usually comes into a fight with the same approach. Pressure and try to get a knockout. If that fails, there really isn’t any contingency. He doesn’t throw a lot of kicks, nor does he grapple to win. He is all about knocking guys out, and when that fails he usually loses.

While Stephens’ grappling abilities have been put on display, most recently against Yair Rodriguez, it is worth noting that Gamrot is a very good wrestler himself, probably much better than Stephens’. If someone takes this fight to the ground it’s probably going to be Mateusz which leads me to my next point. Gamrot has a thousand ways to win while Stephens has an overhand right.

Prediction: Mateusz Gamrot (-225) def. Jeremy Stephens

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Middleweight Bout
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Dustin Stoltzfus

Prior to Vieira’s last bout I’d have him as a -700 favorite over a guy like Dustin Stoltzfus. However, what we learned in his fight against Anthony Hernandez is enough to make me doubt his chances against most half-decent competition in the UFC. Rodolfo is a one-trick pony. He is the definition of ‘submission-or-bust’.

Looking through his resume it’s clear that grappling is Vieira’s bread and butter. The guy is 7-1 with six submission wins and one knockout. However, despite only losing one fight, having eight pro fights is not good in the UFC when you’re still as one-sided as Vieira is. I reckon you’d need at least 10 additional pro bouts to fix the cardio and striking issues that are missing from The Black Belt Hunter’s game.

Dustin Stoltzfus’ resume speaks more well-roundedness, as he can boast about 5 submissions, 5 decisions, and 2 knockouts to go with his 13-2 record.

Dustin was outworked on the ground in his last fight against Kyle Daukaus, but that was over three rounds. Vieira lacks the composure to consistently win rounds with control time as he is more of a submission grappler.

Based on the change in demeanor from round one to round two in Vieira’s last fight, I can’t see how he is the favorite in this fight. Stoltzfus is a great grappler himself and has never been submitted. What happens if the third round starts and Vieira still hasn’t secured that submission? I’ll tell you what happens, Vieira will get finished again.

When fatigued, Vieira has no defensive skills to keep him from getting stopped. The striking skills seen from him boggles my mind. There is a minimum skill level you need to possess in every area of fighting to make it in the UFC, an ‘entry barrier’ if you will. Vieira has amazing grappling, but can you actually call him a mixed martial artist?

As long as Stoltzfus avoids the submission he should win handily. Not unlikely considering he’s never been submitted. Sure, Dustin has never faced an ADCC world champion before, but there are so many little things you can do to avoid getting submitted in MMA. Especially when you’re looking out for it.

Prediction: Dustin Stoltzfus (+190) def. Rodolfo Vieira

Featherweight Bout
Gabriel Benitez vs. Billy Quarantillo

The first fight on the UFC Vegas 31 main card is between two game opponents at 145 lbs.

Team Alpha Male fighter Billy Quarantillo is predominantly a striker, but he can stick to opponents like glue if push comes to shove. He is certainly adept in the ground game.

Benitez is a bit of a veteran in the UFC and originally signed with the promotion back in 2014. He has racked up a few wins here and there since and has a UFC record of 6-4. Not bad, not particularly great either.

So who wins?

On paper the matchup favors Quarantillo. He grapples more and has a much higher striking output. Benitez is tricky to take down due to his sharp submission skills. However, in spite of said submission skills, he rarely shoots for takedowns to try and win that way. His submission abilities only come into play when his opponent takes him down, or if he gets a knockdown. His wrestling skills are lacking.

Quarantillo is hard-headed and has good hands on him. Benitez can take a punch too but has been cracked in the past, despite having a 70% striking defense. With the volume and tenacity that Billy brings, some shots are bound to get through that defense.

As long as Quarantillo is mindful of the submission threat, he can take down Benitez comfortably. After all, the guy only defends about half of the takedowns attempted against him. On the feet, Quarantillo’s volume could also lead him to victory, but he’ll have to incorporate a well-rounded game plan to beat the more experienced Benitez.

Regardless of what the +180 price tells you, I think Quarantillo can get it done. He’s hungrier and has better wrestling and that is a big advantage at this level in MMA. More so when you’re a sizable underdog.

Prediction: Billy Quarantillo (+135) def. Gabriel Benitez

Odds & Bouts Subject to Change - per BetMGM

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