On Saturday, May 8th, the UFC will be live from Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC on ESPN 24: Rodriguez vs Waterson also known as UFC Vegas 26.
This event has been marred by injuries and last minute changes to the lineup. The original main event was supposed to be the returning T.J. Dillashaw vs Cory Sandhagen, but Dillashaw was injured and forced to withdraw from the bout.
For a few days, there was confusion and speculation over which fight would become the new main event. After plenty of consideration, the UFC decided on having Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson headlining the card.
We’ll get into all of the main card shuffling in our UFC Vegas 26 betting preview below. Prior to the main card, which starts at 8pm ET on ESPN+, there’s a six fight preliminary card that’s also in flux.
UFC betting sites have released odds on most of the main card. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, identify betting value, and knockout these predictions with a spinning elbow.
Amanda Ribas vs. Angela Hill
Amanda Ribas (-175)
Angela Hill (+155)
Over (-215)/Under (+170) 2.5 rounds
This contest is a battle of Top 12 strawweights.
Angela Hill comes into the bout as the underdog and ranked 12th in the division. Hill has fought eight times in the last two years and has gone 5-3 overall. However, she’s 1-2 in her last three fights.
Hill last competed in March and beat Ashley Yoder via unanimous decision. The win snapped a two fight losing streak.
Five of her 13 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. She’s 8-7 when going the distance and has two submission losses.
.@amandaribasufc takes on @AngieOverkill this weekend at #UFCVegas26! Check out these stats!#AmandaRibas #AngelaHill #womensstrawweight #UFCFightNight #UFCApex #LasVegas #ESPN #MMATwitter #Fightlete #MBJProductions pic.twitter.com/IA15eVRpfe
— Fightlete (@Fightlete) May 3, 2021
The 11th ranked Amanda Ribas lost to Marina Rodriguez in her last fight which came in January. She suffered a 2nd round TKO. The loss snapped a five fight winning streak. Ribas is now 4-1 in the UFC.
Seven of her 10 pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. She’s 3-0 when going the distance.
This is going to be a highly competitive matchup that I believe will go Over 2.5 rounds (-215) and the distance (-180). Ribas has gone the distance in two of her last four bouts. Hill has gone to a decision in four straight contests.
Once with the judges, I like Hill to win. As long as she can keep the fight upright, she should be able to outstrike Ribas.
Amanda Ribas vs. Angela Hill –Hill (+155)
Over 2.5 rounds (-215)
Fight goes the distance (-185)
Hill wins via decision (+245)
Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie
Diego Ferreira (+155)
Gregor Gillespie (-175)
Over (-200)/Under (+160) 2.5 rounds
This bout is a battle of Top 14 lightweights as Diego Ferreira is ranked 12th and Gregor Gillespie is ranked 14th.
Despite being ranked higher and having more UFC fights, Ferreira is a sizable underdog for this matchup. Diego started off his UFC tenure going 2-2 before tallying six wins in a row.
He last competed in February and lost via split decision in a rematch to Beniel Dariush. Ferreira is 8-3 inside the octagon.
10 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of submission. He’s 7-2 when going the distance.
Gillespie returns to the octagon for the first time since November 2019. He lost that fight to Kevin Lee via 1st round KO. The defeat was the first of his career. Gillespie is 6-1 in the UFC.
Gregor was set to return to the octagon in March against Brad Riddell, but the fight was called off the day of the event due to his opponent having issues with covid protocols.
11 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-0 when going the distance.
I like this matchup. I believe it’s going to be a thrilling battle. With that in mind, I see Gillespie coming away with the decision win (+125). I give Gregor the advantage in striking, which should be the difference in this contest.
Take the Over 2.5 rounds (-200) and for the fight to go the distance (-180). Ferreira has gone the distance in three of his last four bouts.
Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie –Gillespie (-175)
Over 2.5 rounds (-200)
Fight goes the distance (-180)
Gillespie wins via decision (+125)
Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Maurice Greene (+165)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-190)
Over (-105)/Under (-125) 1.5 rounds
Greene debuted with the UFC in late 2018 and started off 3-0 before dropping two bouts. He’s alternated between wins and losses over the last two fights.
Greene was victorious over Gian Villante in June 2020 via 3rd round submission, but lost to Greg Hardy last October via 2nd round TKO. He’s 4-4 in the UFC overall.
Seven of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. He’s 2-2 when going the distance.
Maurice Greene will fight Marcos Rogerio de Lima at UFC event on May 8th. (per @MMAjunkie) #UFC #MMA #UFCESPN pic.twitter.com/aEDL97At1s
— MaRCeL DoRFF ???? (@BigMarcel24) February 24, 2021
Marcos Rogerio de Lima is 6-5 in the UFC since joining the UFC in 2014. He’s alternated between wins and losses over the last seven years.
MRDL went 1-1 last year with a win over Ben Sosoli via 1st round TKO in February and a 1st round submission loss to Alexander Romanov last November.
15 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-1-1 when going the distance.
Combined, these two men have gone the distance in just eight of their 39 total fights. I see this fight going Over 1.5 rounds (-105), but it will end inside the distance (-310).
As for the winner, I am going with Marcos Rogerio de Lima. I believe he will score a TKO win somewhere in the late 2nd to early 3rd round.
Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima –Lima (-190)
Over 1.5 rounds (-105)
Fight ends inside the distance (-310)
de Lima wins inside the distance (-125)
de Lima wins via TKO/KO (+135)
Neil Magny vs. Geoffrey Neal
Neil Magny (+165)
Geoffrey Neal (-190)
Over (-150)/Under (+120) 1.5 rounds
There was speculation that this Top 10 welterweight battle could end up as the main event for UFC on ESPN 24. Although the UFC decided to go with the women’s fight, this bout certainly was a worthy candidate.
These two were first scheduled to fight last august, but Neal had to pull out of the bout due to health issues.
The 9th ranked Neil Magny comes in as the large underdog and looking to get back into the win column. He lost to Michael Chiesa in January which snapped a three fight win streak.
I mean this has to be the new #UFCVegas26 headliner right? #UFC #MMA #MMATwitter https://t.co/LgHIru5hNP
— Ryan Truland (@RyanTruland) May 3, 2021
Magny has been with the UFC for eight years. He’s compiled a 17-7 record inside the octagon. 10 of his 24 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 14-2 when going the distance.
The 10th ranked Geoff Neal earned his UFC contract with a 1st round TKO win over Chase Waldon on DWCS in July 2017. The then went 5-0 inside the octagon with solid wins over Belal Muhammad, Niko Price and Mike Perry.
However, Neal stumbled in his last outing which came in December when he lost via decision to Stephen Thompson in a five round battle.
10 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-1 when going the distance.
Neal made the following comments about his upcoming fight with Magny:
“As far as his chin concern, anybody can get knocked out. You can have a great chin and get slept in the first 10 seconds of a fight. That doesn’t mean anything. Every time I fight, I go for the finish. The first or second round ideally is when I try to get the job done, but if I don’t it will be a three-round grind and I’ll have to withstand his cardio. The goal is to knock him out in the first or second.”
It’s certainly possible that either man ends up eating a TKO/KO loss. But, I feel more confident on this bout going the distance instead of ending in the first or second round like Neal predicts.
Magny has gone the distance in his last four bouts. Neale went the distance in his last bout. Take the Over 2.5 rounds and for the fight to go the full 15 minutes.
As for the winner, I am taking Neal to win via unanimous decision. I like what I’ve seen from him over the last few years even in the loss to Thompson. I believe he’s ascending in his career whereas Magny feels more like a gatekeeper for the Top 10.
Neil Magny vs. Geoffrey Neal –Neal (-190)
Over 2.5 rounds (-150)
Fight goes the distance (-130)
Neal wins via decision (+220)
Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Morono
Donald Cerrone (NA)
Alex Morono (NA)
We found out on Monday, May 3rd, that Alex Morono agreed to fight Donald Cerrone on less than one week’s notice.
This entire ordeal has been confusing. Cerrone was set to face Diego Sanchez, but the UFC abruptly removed Sanchez from the event and released him from the promotion. Sanchez had been with the UFC for 16 years and tallied 32 fights. It was a crazy week for Sanchez and the drama still continues to unfold.
Donald Cerrone remains one of the longest tenured fighters in the UFC and one of its most popular athletes. He’s 29-15-1 inside the octagon and will make his 47th trip into the cage this weekend.
Cerrone last fought in September against Niko Price and lost via decision, but that result was overturned later due to Price failing a drug test due to marijuana. Cerrone has lost four straight fights not including the bout against Price.
27 of his 36 pro wins have come via stoppage with 17 by way of submission. He’s 9-7 when going the distance.
.@CowboyCerrone has a new dance partner. With Diego Sanchez off the roster, @AlexMoronoMMA has stepped in. ?#UFCVegas26 | Full story: https://t.co/WOsVauJlU4 pic.twitter.com/YmhGrk39FH
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) May 3, 2021
Morono last competed in December and lost to Anthony Pettis via decision. The loss dropped his overall record to 7-4 inside the octagon. He’s 4-2 in his last six bouts.
11 of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He’s 6-5 when going the distance.
Morono made the following comments about landing this fight against Cerrone:
“Coming to crack! Always excited to get into a gun fight, who better with than Cowboy. I’ve been training my ass off helping teammates prep for their fights and was very happy to be able to take this on 6 days notice! Kill or be killed!!! Catch it on ESPN+ Saturday night, May 8th. @ufc #ko #ufcfightnight #gbthewoodlands #fortismma”
This will certainly be a gun fight and a fun fight for the fans. I like Cerrone to win this matchup as I believe he will finish off Morono via TKO during the middle portions of the bout.
Unfortunately, online betting sites haven’t released odds for this bout as of this writing.
Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Morono –Cerrone (NA)
Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson
Marina Rodriguez (-215)
Michelle Waterson (+170)
Over (-285)/Under (+170) 4.5 rounds
On May 3rd, the UFC announced that Top 9 strawweights Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson will headline the UFC on ESPN 24 event. However, because the two have only six days until they fight, the UFC will allow them to compete at flyweight instead.
This just in! ? #UFC #MMA #UFCVegas26 (via @ColeShelton91) https://t.co/1ienj14I4r
— bjpenndotcom (@bjpenndotcom) April 29, 2021
Waterson explained the craziness of how this fight came together:
“The lesson that I am taking away is I just realized in life there will always be opportunities but the question is are you ready if the opportunity comes? I was supposed to fight, then I wasn’t then I got this opportunity on Monday and it’s not something I had to do, and I don’t think you should take a fight because you had to, but because you want to and I wanted to. I was excited about the challenge, I was excited for the opportunity to step up to the plate, go into Vegas, five rounds, 125, let’s go.”
The 9th ranked Michelle Waterson last competed in September 2020 and defeated Angela Hill via split decision. The win snapped a two fight losing streak where she dropped bouts to Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk via decision.
12 of her 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission. She’s 6-4 when going the distance.
The 6th ranked Marina Rodriguez last fought in January and defeated Amanda Ribas via 2nd round TKO. Since earning a contract with the UFC in the summer of 2018, Ribas has gone 3-1-2 inside the octagon.
Seven of her 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. She’s 6-1-2 when going the distance.
This bout will go Over 4.5 rounds (-285) and the full distance (-275). For Rodriguez, 10 of her 14 fights have gone the distance including five of her last six bouts. Waterson has gone the distance in seven straight contests.
This bout comes down to whether or not Waterson can get Rodriguez to the mat. On their feet, Marina has the slight advantage in striking, but Michelle has the advantage on the mat.
Markos, Calvillo and Esparza all did well against Rodriguez due to their grappling. Marina went 0-1-2 in those three contests. I’m taking Waterson to win this fight via split decision due to her grappling advantage at UFC betting sites.
Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson –Waterson (+170)
Over 4.5 rounds (-285)
Fight goes the distance (-275)
Waterson wins via decision (+235)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …
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