UFC Fight Night Best Bets, Picks and Predictions

VSiN Primetime producer Britton Hess offers his UFC best bets for the Fight Night card and puts pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) to hammer out his thoughts on every fight on the docket.

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Alex Perez (+170) vs. Tatsuro Taira (-205)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-145) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+114)

Tatsuro Taira is moving out of the kiddy pool and diving straight into the deep end to take on a guy who has exclusively swam in deep waters for the last several years. At -205, Tatsuro is the shortest favorite of his UFC career, in his five UFC contests, he has routinely been a -500 favorite or greater. To his credit, he has taken care of business as he is 5-0 in the organization and 15-0 as a professional fighter. He wins through a dominant ground game and lethal submission attacks. Two of his UFC victories have come via submission, two have come via decision, and in his most recent bout, he got his first TKO victory in the organization.

However, I do not expect him to rely on striking in this matchup. In his UFC career, he has been in a grappling control position 62% of the time. Considering Alex Perez has never been knocked down in the UFC while dishing out four, he does not want to get into a striking match. The combined UFC record of Taira’s five UFC opponents prior to their fight was just 3-2, a stark contrast to the UFC record of the fighters Perez has beaten at 21-13.

That said there are plenty of reasons to believe Taira is the rightful favorite. Outside of his three finishes, he has had at least one round scored 10-8 in both of his decisions. The domination has been real. He also can look at the success of another young grappler, Muhammed Mokaev versus Perez. In that fight, Mokaev was able to land a takedown in every round and grinded out a three-round decision.

Taira’s undefeated resume is easy to marvel at. You have to dig a little deeper to truly appreciate what Alex Perez has accomplished in the UFC. He is 1-3 in his last four fights, dating all the way back to November 2020. However, the first loss in this span was a title shot vs. Deiveson Figueiredo, in July 2022, he lost to the current flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja. Then, in November of this year, he fought the previously undefeated prospect, Muhammad Mokaev.

Those three losses could have signaled the end of Perez’s career, especially given the injury issues he faced that forced the inactivity. But after losing to Mokaev, Perez came back less than two months later, taking a short-notice fight versus top-five-ranked Mattheus Nicolau. Perez won that fight via KO in the second round, proving that his recent results had more to do with his quality of opponent and health than his ability.

Despite turning pro back in 2011, Alex Perez is still just 32 years old, an age at which numerous fighters have reached the pinnacle of their careers. I am not ready to say Perez has a title run in his future, but I do believe he is a very dangerous opponent with a higher fight aptitude and IQ than anyone Taira has faced.

This is the third scheduled five-round fight for Alex Perez and his third main event. Taira has not had a five-rounder in the UFC, and he has never been a part of the main event in the organization. On paper, Taira has better striking accuracy, but a lot of that has to do with his strength of schedule, he also does not get hit much but again this number is likely a bit misleading. Despite facing tougher opponents, Perez lands more strikes per minute and has a much higher defense rate.

Maybe Taira will fight for the belt in a year, but I do not see him using Perez as a stepping stone. He has seen too much to be overwhelmed by Taira’s style of submission grappling. He also knows that if he can survive early, Taira has slowed down later in fights before, and he will have a shot to win with veteran savvy. He also hits hard, and Taira has been knocked down by a lesser opponent.

UFC BEST BET: Alex Perez (+170) over Tatsuro Taira, Risk 1 Unit to Win 1.7


Miles “Chapo” Johns (-148) vs. Douglas “D’Silva” Silva de Andrade (+124)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-190) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+145)

Miles Johns has put together a solid run in the UFC, and this fight is the organization testing him against a more seasoned gatekeeper. Overall, Johns is 5-2, 1 NC in the UFC after joining the promotion with a 9-0 record. His last fight before getting his contender series shot was a split-decision victory over Adrian Yanez for the LFA bantamweight championship.

Both of his UFC losses are versus bonafide professionals in John Castaneda and Mario Bautista, and the No Contest was initially ruled a win for Johns, but elevated turinabol levels on his drug test caused the result to be nullified. The UFC has since changed regulations, and if he took the exact same test with the exact same turinabol levels today, he would pass.

Johns has not had any gimme fights in the UFC, as he has been around a pick ’em in most of his fights, with the one time he was a true underdog being the fight versus Dan Argueta. His greatest strength in the octagon is his defense, avoiding nearly 70% of his opponent’s significant strike attempts, and avoiding 85% of his opponent’s takedowns. Grinding out a decision is his most taken path to victory.

Silva de Andrade is a 38-year-old UFC veteran who has held onto a UFC career since 2014 with a 7-5 record. He has never had back-to-back losses and never strung together more than two wins in a row in the organization. The names on his ledger are impressive: wins versus former title holder Renan Barao and former title challenger Chito Vera, and losses to Rob Font and Petr Yan.

The only issue with this strength of schedule is that he hasn’t faced top-level competition since 2019. He mostly fights on undercards and has not been in the conversation for a ranking in a long time. That said, the fact that he is an experienced fighter could play into his favor, he knows that these co-main event opportunities do not come around often, and he does not want to let it pass by without making a mark. He is 3-1 in his last four fights with two finishes, He has been the underdog in his most recent three. At his age, it is definitely now or never for D’Silva.

This fight opened a straight pick ’em, and I agree with the line movement. Johns is hard to damage, and I think he will have plenty of speed to score with strikes.

UFC BEST BET: Miles Johns (-148) vs. de Andrade, Risk 1.48 Units to Win 1 Unit

Lucas Almeida (+160) vs. Timmy “Twilight” Cuamba (-192)

Over 2.5 Rounds (+110) | Under 2.5 Rounds (-140)

Lucas Almeida is no stranger to being the underdog, as betting markets have expected him to lose his first three UFC fights. Those markets were right in two of those fights, but he did win his debut with a third-round KO as a +185 dog. His second fight was a triangle choke loss in the second round to Pat Sabatini, and his third was a first-round KO loss to Andre Fili. He has not landed a takedown in the UFC and is a stand-up action fighter, landing 5.05 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 5.32.

Timmy Cuamba is 0-1 in the UFC after losing his debut via split decision as a +145 underdog. Prior to that, he was on the regional circuit in a variety of organizations, such as Tuff-N-Uff and Cage Fury. All of his 10 pro fights have been finished via KO or decision. If we include his Contender Series decision win statistics with his UFC debut, he only has landed 2.53 significant strikes per minute. When watching his tape, he, at times, appears tentative, looking for the perfect shot instead of just trying to land.

I give Almeida a real chance in this fight. His volume can stifle the greener Cuamba. There is also a good shot this fight will not last 15 minutes.

FIGHT WINER: Lucas Almeida
UFC BEST BET: Lucas Almeida (+160) vs. Cuamba, Risk 1 Unit to Win 1.6

Garrett Armfield (-198) vs Brady “Bam Bam” Hiestand (+164)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-166) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+130)

Garrett Armfield joined the UFC as a +550 underdog late replacement opponent for David Onama, he ended up losing via triangle choke in the second round. He has since knocked out Toshiomi Kazama and grinded out a decision vs. Brad Katona. He is 10-3 overall with six knockout victories, two wins via submission, and two more via decision. His pre-UFC resume is a bit weak, but the Katona win did a lot in cementing his bonafides.

Brady Hiestand is also 2-1 in the UFC, with his loss coming to Ricky Turcios in the final of Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter. Since then, he has won a decision vs. Fernie Garcia as an underdog, and KO victory over Batgerel Danaa as a short underdog (he was down on all three scorecards before coming up with the finish). As a pro, he is 7-2, with his pre-UFC loss coming to Chad Anheliger who is also now in the organization. If Armfield’s pre-UFC resume is a bit weak, then Hiestand’s strength of schedule is downright despicable. The record of the five opponents he beat before The Ultimate Fighter is 0-25.

FIGHT WINNER: Garrett Armfield
UFC BEST BET: Parlay piece, see below

Asu “Zulfikar” Almabayev (-520) vs Jose “Lobo Solitario” Johnson (+390)

Over 2.5 Rounds (+105) | Under 2.5 Rounds (-135)

This fight has the appeal of the early PRIDE freakshows, Jose Johnson is a 6’ tall and stepping into the octagon as a 125 pounder for the first time (after going 1-1 at 135). He has a 71.5” reach. Asu Almabayev is 5’4” and has a 65” reach. This fight definitely has the makings of a spectacle. Almabayev is 2-0 in the octagon and 19-2 as a pro. He debuted in the organization versus two pros, Ode Osbourne and CJ Vergara, and took care of business. He is a wrestler, as most fighters from the Eurasian region are, and has landed 7.12 takedowns per 15 minutes in the octagon in his short stint. He is not simply a position grappler though, as he has nine career submission finishes and three knockouts. He is currently riding a 15-fight winning streak and saw some very solid competition before joining MMA’s top organization.

Jose Johnson has fought all the way up at lightweight in his career, 155 pounds. Somehow, he made it on the scale at the flyweight limit of 126 pounds on Friday. He is 1-1 in the UFC, but his journey to the organization is a bit longer, as he lost his first Contender Series fight in 2020, before winning his second in 2022 and stepping up to the big show. He lost his debut to Da’Mon Blackshear as a late replacement opponent. He won via rear naked choke vs Chad Anheliger as a -190 favorite.

On paper, both guys are accurate strikers, and both have mediocre striking defense despite getting hit less than two times per minute in the cage. This fight is going to be about takedown defense for Johnson and then threatening with submissions if he is taken down. I think this fight could be closer than the line.

FIGHT WINNER: Asu Almabayev

Adam Fugitt (+105) vs Josh “Bushido” Quinlan (-125)

Over 2.5 Rounds (+114) | Under 2.5 Rounds (-145)

Adam Fugitt has been an underdog three times in the UFC and has a 1-2 record. Eleven of his 13 pro fights have finished before the final bell. Josh Quinlan also has two UFC losses, but zero victories. Quinlan has only seen scorecards once in nine pro fights. I foresee Fugitt testing Quinlan’s takedown defense, and Quinlan trying to test Fugitt’s chin. Both of these guys are active with strikes, and both guys eat a lot of shots.


Nate “Mayhem” Maness (-550) vs Jimmy “The Brick” Flick (+425)

Over 1.5 Rounds (+140) | Under 1.5 Rounds (-180)

Jimmy Flick won his UFC debut as a -155 favorite and has been the underdog in his three successive fights with the only win coming in January as he caught Malcolm Gordon in an arm triangle choke. Flick is a multi-organization fighter with a 17-7 record. Fifteen of his wins are via submission, two are via decision. He has been knocked out six times which puts a spotlight on his glaring weakness, striking. In the UFC octagon, he has only landed 1.7 significant strikes per minute while eating 5.20, a differential that is a real statistical outlier.

Nate Maness is 15-3 as a pro and 4-2 in the UFC. Like Flick, he was a slight favorite in his first UFC fight, which he won, and has only been an underdog the rest of the way. Somehow, at 5’10”, he is only the second-tallest flyweight on the card. Maness has bad striking metrics, almost as bad as Flick, but a lot of that has to do with him facing Umar Nurmagomedov and Tagir Ulanbekov in suggestive fights, he was overwhelmed with grappling early and never got his offense started. That said he has real KO power, as evidenced by his finishes versus Tony Gravely and Mateus Mendonca.

Maness’s range will be a problem for Flick on the outside, but his long limbs could be a detriment if they get into grappling exchanges. Overall, I think this price is a bit steep on Maness.

UFC BEST BET: Parlay: Garrett Armfield to Win + Maness/Flick No Distance (-137), Risk 1.37 Units to Win 1

Carli “Crispy” Judice (+140)  vs Gabriella “Gabi” Fernandes (-166)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-230) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+175)

This fight lacks pedigree, to put it lightly. Judice is 3-1, with the loss coming in Contender Series. But she is getting a shot in the UFC anyway. She is probably getting this shot because, before the split decision loss, she had three first-round knockouts. Fernandes is 8-3 as a pro, and 0-2 in the UFC. She was an interim LFA champ before joining the UFC and did fight current UFC fighter Iasmin Lucindo in her pro debut in 2018. I actually think the value in this fight is in the Under. It could be a boring, methodical fight, but I think there is a good chance someone makes a terrible mistake.

FIGHT WINNER: Gabriella Fernandes
UFC BEST BET: Fight Does Not Go The Distance (+150), Risk 1 Unit to Win 1.5

Jeka “Si Tendangan Maut” Saragih (-355) vs Westin Wilson (+280)

Over 1.5 Rounds (+210) | Under 1.5 Rounds (-280)

Saraghi is a Road to UFC veteran who fizzled in his UFC debut but made a statement in his sophomore performance with a first-round KO. Overall, he is 14-3 with nine KO victories, four submissions, and one decision. He has been knocked out once and submitted twice. He is an electric striker who uses spinning attacks to excite crowds.

Westin Wilson was a +800 underdog in his UFC debut and +625 in the follow-up. He was knocked out in the first round of both of those fights. He is a true NFL member of the UFC roster (Not For Long). I am going to take the low-hanging fruit, and if it backfires, I will live with it.

FIGHT WINNER: Jeka Saragih
UFC BEST BET: Seragih to win via knockout (-200), Risk 1 Unit to Win 0.5

Melquizeal “Melk Cauthy” Costa (-198) vs Shayilan “Wolverine” Nuerdanbieke (+164)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-135) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+105)

Melky Costa is another fighter with a losing record (1-2) in the UFC after having a solid regional career. He is 1-0 as a favorite, and 0-2 as an underdog in the organization. Costa is very well-rounded with solid striking metrics, but he is a bit sloppy in grappling. He lands 2.5 per 15 minutes in the cage, but his accuracy rate is just 27%, and his defense rate is just 42%.

Nuerdanbieke is only 30 years old, but he has 50 professional fights and a 39-11 record. In the UFC, he is 3-2 and coming off a loss versus the same fighter who beat Costa in his last fight, Steve Garcia. In the UFC, he mostly goes to decisions, but he does have 19 knockout victories on his pro resume. He is 2-1 as an underdog in the UFC and 1-1 as a favorite.

Costa will have a reach advantage but will need to avoid the takedown. If Neurdanbieke can get the fight to the ground once per round, he has a shot to grind it out.

FIGHT WINNER: Shayilan Nuerdanbieke

Julia “Psycho” Polastri (+160) vs Josefine “Thunder” Knutsson (-192)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-425) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+300)

Polastri is making her debut after a rear naked choke victory in Contender Series last September. That was her second trip to the Apex for a tryout after she lost her first attempt to Jasmine Jasudavicius via decision. Her first attempt was at flyweight, but now she has settled back at flyweight and put together a four-fight win streak. As a pro, she is 13-3 with four KOs, three submissions, and five decisions to go with her three decision losses.

Josefine Knutsson is part of the famed MMA team at AllStars Training Center in Sweden. She is 7-0, 1-0 in the UFC. She has six wins via decision with one KO from the regional scene. This fight will boil down to takedowns vs. takedown defense, and those metrics favor Knutsson on paper.

FIGHT WINNER: Josefine Knutsson

UFC Best Bets Recap

Alex Perez (+170) over Tatsuro Taira, Risk 1 Unit to Win 1.7

Miles Johns (-148) over de Andrade, Risk 1.48 Units to Win 1 Unit

Lucas Almeida (+160) vs Cuamba, Risk 1 Unit to Win 1.6

Parlay: Garrett Armfield to Win + Maness/Flick No Distance (-137), Risk 1.37 to Win 1

Fernandes/Judice Fight Does Not Go The Distance (+150), Risk 1 Unit to Win 1.5

Seragih to win via knockout (-200), Risk 1 Unit to Win 0.5