This week we stay put on Yas Island, and the UFC looks to clear the clutter in the upper ranks of the Bantamweight division as it hosts UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen, Saturday, October 10th. Follow along as we look at each of the main card matchups, give the current betting odds, and give our picks and predictions for how we see each of those fights going down.
Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs. Ilia Topuria (8-0)
Bovada betting odds as of 10/5/20: Zalal (-185), Topuria (+150)
Kicking off the main card is Morocco’s Youssef Zalal vs. the Georgian, Ilia Topuria. Zalal made his way to the UFC through 6 appearances with LFA. He made his UFC debut in February of this year, and since then he’s fought twice more. He’s currently 3-0 with the organization, and all 3 of Zalal’s wins have come by way of decision. Hoping to end Youssef Zalal’s UFC unbeaten streak is Ilia Topuria. Topuria will be making his UFC debut by way of Bahrain’s Brave Combat Federation. Topuria is undefeated, and he’s only gone the distance once in his professional career.
Our pick: Zalal, decision
Tom Aspinall (8-2) vs. Alan Baudot (8-1)
Bovada betting odds as of 10/5/20: Aspinall (-400), Baudot (+300)
Next up, Tom Aspinall enters as the largest betting favorite of the night as he takes on UFC newcomer Alan Baudot. Even though Aspinall is the heavy favorite, he will be making only his 2nd UFC appearance. His debut, however, was a sensational first-round knockout of Jake Collier back in July. Added to that, Aspinall has 6 more 1st-round finishes on his resume. Alan Baudot, the Frenchman fighting out of Japan, has fought professionally only 9 times since 2013. Compounded with that sluggish pace, most of those fights were either in Japan or South Korea, and the level of competition that Baudot has faced is questionable. Thus, Baudot comes into this one with the slightly better record, but as a serious underdog.
Our pick: Aspinall, 1st-round KO/TKO
Markus Perez (12-3) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (14-2)
Bovada betting odds as of 10/5/20: Perez (+115), Du Plessis (-145)
Third up on the main card is Brazil’s Markus Perez vs. the South African Dricus Du Plessis. Perez, the UFC veteran, will be making his 6th walk to the Octagon. After going 10-0 to start his career and signing with the UFC, Perez has gone 2-3 since. Perez defeated Anthony Hernandez by Anaconda choke in February of last year, but lost his last one to Wellington Turman that November. Even though he will be making his UFC debut, Dricus Du Plessis enters this fight as the favorite. Du Plessis is making his way to the UFC by way of KSW, he’s 14-2, and he’s won 10 out of his last 11. What’s more, in his 16 professional fights, Dricus Du Plessis has not once been in a fight that went to a decision.
Our pick: Du Plessis, 2nd-round KO/TKO
Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs. Marcin Tybura (19-6)
Bovada betting odds as of 10/5/20: Rothwell (-170), Tybura (+140)
In our second Heavyweight matchup of the main card, Ben Rothwell is set to square up with Marcin Tybura. Both fighters are long-time UFC vets, and they are both currently riding 2-fight win streaks. Rothwell has arguably faced the tougher competition in those two fights, however, with wins over Stefan Struve and Ovince St. Preux, compared to Tybura defeating Sergey Spivak and Maxim Grishin. Rothwell also has been marginally better than Tybura as of late – Rothwell is 6-3 in his last 9 (with losses to JDS, Blagoy Ivanov and Andrei Arlovski), and Tybura is 6-4 in his last 10.
Our pick: Ben Rothwell, 3rd-round KO/TKO
Edson Barboza (20-9) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (16-4)
Bovada betting odds as of 10/5/20: Barboza (-260), Amirkhani (+200)
In the co-main event we’ve got what should be a great matchup in Edson Barboza vs. Makwan Amirkhani. There’s no denying that Edson Barboza’s career, which is approaching its 10th year anniversary in the UFC, has seen better days. After amassing a record of 13-1, Barboza has gone 7-8 in his last 15 since 2013. More recently, Barboza is currently on a 3-fight skid, and he’s lost 5 out of his last 6 since 2017. Those losses, however, have not come against easy opponents: Donald Cerrone, Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Justin Gaethje, to name a few. And, he’s lost razor close split-decisions in his last two (Dan Ige & Paul Felder). Barboza is currently ranked #14, and he is in desperate need of a win to not only maintain his rank, but possibly also to maintain his spot on the UFC roster.
Even though Makwan Amirkhani enters this fight as a sizeable underdog, he is a more-than-game opponent, even for a desperate Edson Barboza. Amirkhani has won 7 out of his last 9, and he’s coming off of an Anaconda choke victory over Danny Henry back in July. Although Amirkhani hasn’t fought quite the level of competition that Edson Barboza has, this would be a great opportunity for Makwan to put the Barboza feather in his cap, and to call out another named and ranked opponent, should he win.
Our pick: Barboza, decision
Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs. Cory Sandhagen (12-2)
Bovada betting odds as of 10/5/20: Moraes (+115), Sandhagen (-145)
In the main event, the UFC will attempt to sort out the top ranks of the Bantamweight division as #1 Marlon Moraes faces #4, Cory Sandhagen, with the winner vying to make their best case to leapfrog Aljamain Sterling and get a crack at Petr Yan for Bantamweight gold. Moraes enters this fight as the slight underdog, and if you’re looking for an upset on this card, I would have to imagine that your search stops here. Before joining the UFC, Marlon Moraes ran through the WSOF, winning each of his 11 appearances there. Moraes lost a split-decision in his UFC debut to Rafael Assuncao (a fight that he would avenge a year-and-a-half later), but has since gone 5-1, including his last fight – a decision win over Jose Aldo in December of last year.
Cory Sandhagen will be making his 7th walk to the Octagon this Saturday night by way of LFA. Like Moraes, Sandhagen is also 5-1 in his last 6, but he’s coming off of a disappointing 1st-round submission loss to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 250 in June. Sandhagen, however, was on a 7-fight tear before that (5-0 in UFC). It would appear that both momentum and Father Time are on Sandhagen’s side here, but to help put things in better perspective – Marlon Moraes is 18-2 in his last 20, and he faces Cory Sandhagen, who is is 12-2 in his career.
Our pick: Marlon Moraes, decision
Tell us what you think! Where do we have it right, and where do you think we got it wrong? Comment with your picks, and don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more predictions and fight coverage. If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Twitter & Instagram @fightsportfocus. Also, subscribe to the Fight Sport Focus podcast on Anchor.fm, Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!