UFC on ESPN 26: Thiago Moises vs Islam Makhachev Picks, Odds, Predictions

Islam Makhachev vs Thiago Moises
July 17, 2021 11:45 pm EDT
The Line: Thiago Moises +450 / Islam Makhachev -700
(Click here for latest betting odds)

Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises fight Saturday in UFC on ESPN 26 at the UFC Apex. Makhachev enters this fight with a 19-1 record and has won 42 percent of his fights by decision. Moises enters this fight with a 15-4 record and has won 40 percent of his fights by submission. 

Makhachev has won each of his last seven fights and is coming off a March win over Drew Dober. Makhachev is averaging 2.00 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 56 percent. Makhachev is averaging 3.46 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 68 percent. Makhachev is coming off a submission win at UFC 259 where he landed 102 total strikes and produced three takedowns. It was Makhachev’s first fight in nearly two years and he was highly impressive. Makhachev is 8-1 under the UFC banner. Makhachev has a background in sanshou, judo and sambo, so he’s highly effective in close range, relentless with his takedown attempts and almost always has the edge on the canvas. Makhachev grew up with Khabib Nurmagomedov, and they often train together, so it’s no surprise he has a similar fighting style and wants to drag his opponent into deep waters. Makhachev has never been submitted in his career and his standup striking is a little more polished than Khabib’s. This will be Makhachev’s third career fight in Nevada.

Moises has won seven of his last 10 fights and is coming off a February win over Alexander Hernandez. Moises is averaging 2.85 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 37 percent. Moises is averaging 1.06 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 33 percent. Moises is coming off a decision win at UFC Vegas 20 where he landed 53 total strikes and 28 percent of his significant strikes. Moises now looks for four straight wins for the first time since 2015-16. Moises is now 5-2 under the UFC banner. Moises is a tricky southpaw who isn’t afraid to let his hands go on his feet and has three career knockouts. All four of Moises’ losses have come by decision. Moises is a black belt in BJJ and has six career submission victories, and three of those wins have come via armbar. Moises fights well off his back and can turn a fight on its head out of nowhere. This will be Moises’ fourth career fight in Nevada.

Who did our Experts Pick?
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Moises is a creative fighter with a high level BJJ, so I wouldn’t completely rule him out at this price. There’s some value to it if you want to take a shot in the dark. However, there’s no betting against Makhachev in his current form, as he’s a monster on the ground and his standup striking is more than good enough to get by. At 29 years old, Makhachev is putting himself in really good company.

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I’ll back Makhachev, and I’ll predict a finish to shave down the ML price.

Randy Chambers's Free Pick:
Islam Makhachev By Finish
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Randy Chambers

Randy has covered sports betting since 2014 and writes about everything from NFL to WNBA.

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