You can sign up for a free seven-day trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC on ESPN+ live on your computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship holds its fourth of five events in March Saturday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s your standard Fight Night event, with little in the way of star power booked. However, there are a number of quality matchups featuring lesser-known fighters still set to take place. The sportsbooks are offering odds for all 12 fights on the card, and below are my top picks for the UFC Fight Night 148 edition of Prime Picks.
Maycee Barber (-250)
One of my top picks is women’s flyweight prospect Barber, who is likely to defeat J.J. Aldrich. Just 20-years-old, Barber’s nickname of “The Future” is perfect for her considering she has the potential to be a future champion at flyweight. She’s already 6-0 as a pro with five finishes. This includes a knockout win over Hannah Cifers in her Octagon debut. The cut to strawweight was too much for her, and she decided to move up to 125, where I expect her to have a long and successful career. The promotion is very high on Barber and has given her a favorable matchup against Aldrich. Though her opponent is 3-1 with the company, all of her fights have gone the distance. Despite winning most of her bouts, she’s been less than impressive in victory. Yes, she can grind out low-quality opponents, but I see her having serious issues while attempting to take down Barber. Even worse, the bout won’t even be close on the feet. Look for “The Future” to keep this fight standing and batter her foe. At -250, go with Barber to pick up the win.
Deiveson Figueiredo (-145)
The UFC flyweight division appears to be going extinct, but before it gets shut down we’ll get to see a quality matchup between two of its top contenders in Figueiredo and Jussier da Silva. Nashville seems to be a strange place for a fight between two Brazilians, but I’m just glad we get to see this fun bout. That being said, I like Figueiredo quite a bit here. He’s 15-0 in his pro mixed martial arts career, and that includes 13 stoppage wins. That’s an absurdly high finish rate for a flyweight. "Deus da Guerra" is already 4-0 in the UFC with three knockout wins, including a TKO over John Moraga in his last fight. He’s a very impressive fighter, and if the flyweight division somehow sticks around then he could be a future contender for champion Henry Cejudo. Before that, he’ll have to get by “Formiga,” who is the ultimate gatekeeper at 125. He’s 8-4 inside the Octagon and is currently riding a nice three-fight win streak that includes a decision win over Sergio Pettis. Da Silva is a ground ace and could potentially put Figueiredo in a bad spot if it hits the mat, but I think “Daico” can keep this on the feet and batter his experienced foe for a TKO win. At -145, I see serious value in Figueiredo as a small betting favorite.
Marlon Vera (-150)
Earlier this month a bantamweight bout set for UFC 235 between Frankie Saenz and Vera was scratched the week of the fight. It’s been re-booked for this card, and I expect Vera to get his hand raised. This is one of my more confident plays on the card as I’m very high on Vera. Saenz is also fade material, so this is the perfect recipe for a play on Vera as a small favorite. “Chito” is just 26-years-old and has really come into his own as a fighter, having won five of his last seven contests. In his last two outings, he brutally finished Wuliji Buren with a body punch and submitted Guido Cannetti, bouncing back nicely from consecutive decision losses to John Lineker and Douglas Silva de Andrade. Nearly all of his UFC wins have come by stoppage, making him a tough out for anyone at 135. Credit Saenz for saving his job in the UFC with back-to-back wins over Enrique Briones and Merab Dvalishvili, but prior to that he had lost three straight fights. This included a vicious knockout loss to the fading veteran Eddie Wineland. At 37, Saenz is on his last legs. While the veteran might be the better wrestler, I believe Vera can stop his takedowns and should light Saenz up on the feet. Give me Vera by knockout or decision, and I like the -150 odds on him to get his hand raised.
Jordan Espinosa (+165)
For a dog pick, I’m taking Espinosa to have a successful Octagon debut against Eric Shelton. This is more of a fade on Shelton, as well as an opportunity to get plus-money on a promising prospect in Espinosa. Shelton is just 2-3 inside the Octagon and barely clung onto his UFC roster spot with a close split decision win over Joseph Morales (who has since been cut). There’s just nothing impressive about Shelton’s game and the fact he’s gone the distance in all five of his UFC bouts shows that he doesn’t have the ability to finish fights at this level. Conversely, Espinosa is riding a four-fight win streak right now that includes two stoppage wins on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He’s still unproven at the highest level, but by all accounts, he’s a solid prospect that should have success in the UFC. At +165 odds, I think you have to fade Shelton and take a stab at the dog in this spot.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
« Previous Fight Odds The Insane Prop Bets of UFC Fight Night 147 Next Fight Odds Parlaying and Praying: UFC Fight Night 148 ‘Thompson vs. Pettis’ »