On Saturday, December 7th, the UFC will be live from the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., for UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs Rozenstruik also known as UFC on ESPN 7. The main event of the evening is a heavyweight fight between Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
The co-main event of the night is a women’s strawweight clash between Cynthia Calvillo and Marina Rodriguez. Other notable fighters on the card are Aspen Ladd, Stefan Struve, Ben Rothwell, Cody Stamann, Song Yadong, Ricky Simon, Tim Means, and Thiago Alves.
UFC on ESPN 7 features 12 fights and is set to begin at 6 PM on ESPN+ and ESPN. UFC betting sites have released their odds for the full slate of UFC on ESPN 7 fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these current MMA betting lines courtesy of 5Dimes, identify possible betting value or upsets, and KO our picks.
UFC on ESPN 7 Early Prelims
The early preliminary card features two fights and is set to begin at 6 PM ET on ESPN+.
Makhmud Muradov (23-6) vs Trevor Smith (15-9)
Makhmud Muradov (-420)
Trevor Smith (+335)
Muradov comes into this contest having won 12 straight fights and has been deemed the biggest betting favorite at most MMA betting sites. He’s taken this fight on less than one month’s notice after replacing Alonzo Menifield.
Muradov took his last fight on short notice as well and that turned out to be a smart choice as he defeated Alessio Di Chirico via unanimous decision. 18 of his 23 pro wins have come via stoppage with 15 of those by way of TKO/KO.
Smith has dropped three of his last four fights including two straight. However, he hasn’t stepped inside the octagon for a year. He has an overall 5-6 record with the UFC. Nine of his 15 pro wins have come via submission. Smith is more of a grappler than a striker which could get him into trouble in this fight.
Muradov is a superior striker to Smith, but isn’t as capable on the mat as his counterpart. However, he’s stronger and more athletic which bodes well for avoiding or preventing a takedown.
If Smith’s chin holds up then he can take this fight the distance. However, I just don’t see that happening. Smith has four TKO/KO losses on his career and I believe he’s going to pick up a 5th one this weekend.
Take Muradov to win this fight via TKO before the 2nd round ends.
UFC Bet: Makhmud Muradov (-420)
Virna Jandiroba (14-1) vs Mallory Martin (6-2)
Virna Jandiroba (-265)
Mallory Martin (+225)
Martin is the underdog for this contest, but comes into this bout on a five fight winning streak which has spanned LFA, Invicta FC and DWCS. That impressive run has earned her a debut fight for the UFC this weekend.
However, Martin is replacing Livinha Souza who actually replaced Cortney Casey. So, she hasn’t had a great deal of time to prepare for this bout. Five of her eight career fights have gone the distance. She’s 3-2 in those contests.
Jandiroba is a former Invicta FC champion. She lost her UFC debut fight in April after taking it on short notice. However, she did show well in a unanimous decision loss to Carla Esparza. 11 of her 14 pro wins have come via submission.
Neither woman is proficient in striking. They both like to take things to the mat. I expect this to be a ground battle where you have to like Jandiroba’s submission skills to overmatch Martin’s wrestling. I’m taking Jandiroba to win via submission in a lackluster contest.
UFC Bet: Virna Jandiroba (-265)
UFC on ESPN 7 Second Prelims
The second half of the preliminary card features five fights and is set to begin at 7 PM ET on ESPN.
Joe Solecki (8-2) vs Matt Wiman (16-8)
Joe Solecki (-320)
Matt Wiman (+260)
Matt Wiman returned to the octagon in June after a 4 ½ year layoff and suffered a 3rd round TKO against Luis Pena. It certainly wasn’t the type of performance that he or his fans were hoping for. Nevertheless, Wiman is determined to keep fighting despite looking like the sport has passed him by.
Solecki is a large betting favorite and rightfully so. He’s going up against a veteran who should have never returned to the octagon. Solecki had success in regional promotions before a strong showing on the DWCS in July. He will make his octagon debut this weekend.
Solecki isn’t as vicious of a ground striker as Luis Pena is. So, I don’t see him pummeling Wiman as badly as Pena did. With that said, I still believe Solecki will win this fight due to his ground game. I’m just not sure if he will get the stoppage or not.
Either way, take Solecki with confidence and hope that Wiman retires from the UFC.
UFC Bet: Joe Solecki (-320)
Bryce Mitchell (11-0) vs Matt Sayles (8-2)
Bryce Mitchell (-105)
Matt Sayles (-115)
Here’s a close contest on paper and with sports betting sites as both men offer betting value.
Sayles earned a shot in the UFC after a 1st round TKO victory over Hajeh on DWTNCS in June 2018. Unfortunately, his UFC debut ended in a unanimous decision loss to Sheymon Moraes. Sayles would bounce back in his next fight by defeating Kyle Nelson via 1st round submission this past May.
Sayles does have some knockout power as six of his eight pro wins have come via TKO/KO. Five of those six wins came in the 1st round.
Mitchell comes into this contest undefeated after winning his first two UFC bouts. He’s also the bigger fighter of the two with a three inch height and two inch reach advantage. Eight of his 11 pro wins have come via submission.
Sayles best chance at winning is by connecting on a power shot. Mitchell is too durable for Sayles to hope he can wear him down with a volume of strikes. More than likely, Mitchell will close the distance and take this fight to the mat.
Mitchell’s last three fights have gone the distance and I expect this one to go the full three rounds as well. With that said, I believe Mitchell will win this fight via unanimous decision due to his superior grappling skills. He’ll be too much for Sayles to handle in a grappling battle.
UFC Bet: Bryce Mitchell (-105)
Jacob Kilburn (8-2) vs Billy Quarantillo (12-2)
Jacob Kilburn (+250)
Billy Quarantillo (-300)
Jacob Kilburn will be making his UFC debut this weekend after fighting in a regional promotion this past year. He lost his DWTNCS fight last year, which delayed his octagon debut. However, he’s taking this fight on less than two weeks’ notice as he replaces Chris Fishgold.
Kilburn has won five of his last six fights. He also has six stoppage victories in his eight career wins. Kilburn is giving up two inches in height and reach to his opponent.
Quarantillo, is on a five fight win streak that saw him earn a 3rd round TKO win on DWCS this past July. That victory earned him a shot in the octagon this weekend. Nine of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage. He’s won four straight fights via TKO/KO.
Quarantillo is fortunate that he’s not fighting Fishgold this weekend because he would’ve been manhandled on the mat. Kilburn is a willing participant in striking battles as he lacks any real grappling skills.
This fight could be filled with fireworks for however long it lasts. Both men will look for the KO, but Quarantillo can also bust out a submission hold or two on Kilburn and end this fight that way as well.
I don’t see a path to victory for Kilburn other than luck. So, I’m sticking with Quarantillo and his better overall game than Kilburn’s one trick pony.
UFC Bet: Billy Quarantillo (-300)
Thiago Alves (23-14) vs Tim Means (28-11-1)
Thiago Alves (+225)
Tim Means (-265)
One of the featured bouts for the preliminary card is an intriguing matchup between two UFC veterans. Combined, these two men have 45 total UFC fights with Alves being with the promotion since 2005.
Speaking of Alves, he’s a sizable underdog largely due to his best days being well behind him. He’s dropped five of his last seven fights including three of the last four. It’s been nearly five years since he’s won consecutive fights and he just seems to be fading in his career.
There was a time when Alves put fear into the hearts of his opponents. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. 13 of his pro wins have come via TKO/KO. Seven of his 14 pro losses have come via stoppage.
Tim Means will step into the octagon for the 21st time in his UFC career. He’s also had a tough streak as of late dropping three of his last four fights and four of his last six. However, two of those split decision losses were controversial (Moraes and Muhammad).
Means is a rangy striker with power and a solid jab. He has 19 TKO/KO victories on his resume and will have the advantage over Alves in this contest. Means was KO’d in his last fight, so it remains to be seen as to how he bounces back after such a crushing defeat to Niko Price in March.
I believe Means will win this fight, but I do feel that his odds are bit high. For someone who’s dropped three of four fights and was knocked out in his last contest, a -265 line is too high. Alves could be worth a very small flier due to the unknown of how Means responds to being knocked out in his last fight.
UFC Bet: Tim Means (-265)
Rob Font (16-4) vs Ricky Simon (15-2)
Rob Font (-135)
Ricky Simon (+115)
In what could be the opening fight of the main card, or the main fight of the prelim card, we have an exciting bantamweight contest between the #10 ranked Rob Font and Ricky Simon. Online betting websites have these two listed at close betting odds with Simon the small underdog.
Simon has gone 3-1 in the UFC and was well on his way up the rankings before he lost to UFC legend Urijah Faber in July. Simon tried to go into Faber’s hometown and pull out the biggest win of his career, but suffered a TKO instead.
Nevertheless, Simon is determined to learn from the defeat and get a statement win this Saturday against a Top 10 Rob Font:
“But I didn’t really allow myself too much time to sulk. I chalked it up to we got some stuff to work on, I’m gonna keep getting better and I’ve got another opportunity to bounce back and prove I belong. It’s a fight we’ve been wanting, and my goal is to make it into the top ten by this year and with a win over Rob Font December 7th, I’m gonna be right there.”
Simon is hoping that this win will help him get back toward the Top 10 and back on track with his goals of becoming a future UFC champ. The 27-year old has all of the tools to make a run in the division especially if he’s truly learned from his loss to Faber.
For Font, he’s won six of his nine UFC fights and looks to get number seven this weekend. However, it wasn’t easy to even get a fight in the first place. He wanted to fight Cody Stamann, but Cody took a fight with Yadong on the same card instead.
Font’s been out of action for 12 months despite trying to get a fight. He’s publicly expressed his frustrations over how Cody basically ghosted him and never really wanted to fight him. Font then described how only Ricky Simon was willing to take a fight:
“The whole time, getting the negotiations, we got the contract, and two weeks later there was no word. I slid in his (Instagram) DMs, and he didn’t respond. I hit him up on Twitter, and he finally responded. Even when I spoke to his manager, and I could tell it was Ricky Simon that wanted to fight. He was like, ‘Simon will fight.’ Cody, you could tell, he didn’t really want to fight. I don’t understand how that fight didn’t happen. But whatever. I’m not going to force the kid to fight. So it’s Ricky.”
Despite Simon not being Font’s first choice, this matchup is one of the most exciting bouts on the entire card. It features two solid bantamweights looking to rise to the top of the division. Font has the experience advantage and he also two inches in height and reach on Simon.
Simon has been more proficient at takedowns than Font, but he has less submission wins. Font has the advantage in striking, but Simon is nearly as dangerous. This matchup could end up being a fight of the night candidate.
Additionally, it’s tough picking a clear cut winner. Both men have value, but I’m leaning towards Font getting the win. I think his experience and size advantage will be the difference in this fight. We haven’t seen Simon bounce back from a loss yet, but we have seen Font bounce back.
I’m taking Font to win via split decision.
UFC Bet: Rob Font (-135)
UFC on ESPN 7 Main Card
The main card of the event features five fights and is set to begin at 9 PM ET on ESPN.
Cody Stamann (18-2) vs Song Yadong (14-4)
Cody Stamann (+170)
Song Yadong (-200)
This bantamweight clash is a battle of two Top 13 ranked contenders in the division. However, the #13 ranked Song Yadong is a sizable betting favorite over the #9 ranked Cody Stamann.
Yadong is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC and has three stoppages over that span. He’s won seven straight fights and hasn’t lost in over three years. Eight of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage. Yadong has shown a solid blend of fighting skills, but is more proficient standing up than on the mat.
Stamann is the veteran of the two and is reportedly eight years older than Yadong, although some people question how old Song really is. Cory is 4-1 in the UFC with his lone loss coming against Sterling 15 months ago via 2nd round submission.
With only one loss in his last 12 fights, Stamann remains very confident in his skills and his trajectory. Yet, he’s frustrated with being treated as an underdog and is out to prove that he’s the real contender in this fight not Song:
“It’s another position they’re putting me in where I’m fighting another top contender. He’s the next big thing, same as Tom Duquesnoy. I find myself in this place where I have this chip on my shoulder because I’m an underdog and I’ve been an underdog in five of six fights. So, for me, it’s kind of the norm, but I’m getting tired of it. They’re saying (Song is the) next champ, I’ve heard this before so it’s time for me to make a statement that I’m that guy. I’m the contender.”
The keys to this fight are pretty simple. Song is going to look to take Stamann’s head off and Cody is going to try and get this fight to the mat where he can control the action. Additionally, I suspect Stamann will also try to test Yadong’s endurance and stamina.
I don’t know what it is about Stamann, but the guy just rubs me the wrong way. He’s a good all-around fighter, but he’s not great at any one thing. I also don’t see him becoming a future world champion no matter how much he claims it will happen.
Song still has room to grow, but I like what I’ve seen so far. Additionally, he represents Team Alpha Male from my hometown of Sacramento. I think Stamann will be humbled in this fight as Song gets a big win and moves up into the Top 10 of the bantamweight division.
UFC Bet: Song Yadong (-200)
Yana Kunitskaya (12-4) vs Aspen Ladd (8-1)
Yana Kunitskaya (+135)
Aspen Ladd (-155)
This is a battle of two Top 7 fighters in the women’s bantamweight division. Aspen Ladd is ranked 5th and Yana Kunitskaya is ranked 7th.
Last time out, Ladd suffered the first loss of her career against Germaine de Randamie. It was a shocking surprise considering how well Ladd had looked inside the octagon prior to the GDR fight. Ladd was 3-0 and dominated some tough competition.
We found out after the GDR fight that Ladd had a scary issue with cutting weight to even be eligible to compete. She ended up gaining 24 pounds back between the weigh-ins and the fight. Afterwards, she was temporarily suspended by the California Athletic Commission due to health concerns.
Eventually, the suspension was lifted. Ladd learned a tough lesson and is a lot healthier heading into this contest.
Kunitskaya has won two straight fights since losing to Cyborg in March 2018 via TKO. She’s 2-1 inside the UFC and has a reputation for being a solid striker. Seven of her 12 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. However, both of her UFC wins have come via decision.
Kunitskaya will have a two inch height and reach advantage, but she’s going up against a younger fighter with more power and strength. Not to mention, Ladd is also the better grappler and will most likely get the win by mauling her opponent on the mat.
I think Ladd has a lot to prove after her first career loss and she’s going to do that this weekend with an impressive win over Kunitskaya.
UFC Bet: Aspen Ladd (-155)
Ben Rothwell (36-12) vs Stefan Struve (29-11)
Ben Rothwell (-140)
Stefan Struve (+120)
In the first of two heavyweight showdowns, unranked veteran Ben Rothwell takes on a former contender in Stefan Struve. Combined, these two men have participated in 88 professional fights.
Struve is an interesting story as he retired in February only to find himself wanting to come back to the UFC and fight again. Struve stated he realized that he just needed time away and wasn’t as ready to retire as he initially thought:
“I just needed some time off, you know – to really dig deep into my own mind to see what’s going on, just being away from everything a little bit. I wasn’t even under contract with the UFC. I had nothing going. There was no pressure for a fight or whatever. After four or five months, I was like, ‘I’m doing so well still against these top level guys. I’m feeling so good and I’m having fun with it.”
Struve won his last fight, which was in February against Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Struve captured the victory with a 2nd round submission. It also snapped a three fight losing streak, which was the driving force behind Struve’s retirement.
Despite being the tallest fighter in UFC history at seven feet tall, Struve is more adept on the ground than standing up. 18 of his 29 pro wins have come via submission. Only eight wins have come via TKO/KO. However, he does have seven losses via TKO/KO.
For Rothwell, the 38-year old fighter just loves to fight. He’s frequently said that even after he retires he will still be fighting and training like he’s still a professional MMA fighter. It’s something he loves and never wants to stop doing. That’s the opposite of where Struve was nine months ago.
Rothwell is a heavy hitter with 27 TKO/KO victories on his resume. However, he’s dropped three straight fights after winning four in a row against big names like: Overeem, Mitrione and Barnett. His last fight was in July and he lost via unanimous decision to Arlovski. Struve also lost to Arlovski 15 months ago.
At this stage of their respective careers, I don’t have a lot of confidence in either. Rothwell will look to punch his way to victory while Struve will look to take the fight to the mat. Neither has shown a great deal of success over the last two years.
I think Struve will be rejuvenated from his time off and that should make a huge difference in this fight. His renewed focus should be the springboard he needs to win this fight and move back up into the Top 15. I’m taking the underdog Stefan Struve to win via decision.
UFC Bet: Stefan Struve (+120)
Cynthia Calvillo (8-1) vs Marina Rodriguez (12-0-1)
Cynthia Calvillo (+110)
Marina Rodriguez (-130)
The co-main event is a battle of two Top 10 women’s strawweight competitors. Cynthia Calvillo is ranked 10th and is the slight underdog to the 9th ranked Marina Rodriguez. The winner will take a huge step toward the Top 5 in the division.
It should also be noted that Rodriguez stepped in for an injured Claudia Gadelha. It’s not often we see a higher ranked fighter fill in as a replacement on short notice, but that’s another reason why Rodriguez has a lot of buzz surrounding her. However, she wants to win more than get all of this attention:
“For us it doesn’t really matter if we are being shown a lot in media, being on magazine covers, that kind of thing; what matters is that we put in consistent and substantial work in training and then in competition. The main focus will always be to work, train, and compete well.”
Rodriguez is the slight favorite with an unbeaten record. She’s 2-0-1 inside the octagon with decision victories over Torres and Aguilar. She can stand and strike while also holding her own on the mat. She’s unbeaten when the fight goes the distance with a record of 6-0-1.
As for her opponent, Rodriguez had the following comments:
“Calvillo is a very tough and resilient fighter. I imagine that her plan, as with most of my opponents, will probably be to take me down, but the defense to that is something we have been working to the extreme and is slowly becoming one of my most substantial skills.”
Calvillo is a grinder who doesn’t need to stand and strike with Rodriguez. She’s better at searching for a submission or a ground and pound TKO than standing and exchanging shots with a top notch striker.
With that said, Calvillo will get smothered in the striking department, so her best chance is to get the fight to the mat. However, that’s easier said than done. Rodriguez has shown a great deal of takedown defense which has helped her remain unbeaten in the UFC.
I like this fight a lot as both women are true competitors. It’s a tough call on who will win, but I’m going with Rodriguez despite emotionally rooting for Calvillo. Take Rodriguez to win via decision.
UFC Bet: Marina Rodriguez (-130)
Alistair Overeem (45-17) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (9-0)
Alistair Overeem (-120)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+100)
In the main event of the evening, the 6th ranked Alistair Overeem takes on the 14th ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a heavyweight clash.
Overeem is the slight favorite and the MMA veteran. He’s won two straight fights and four of his last six. Overeem has been a heavyweight mainstay for many years now and is a tough out for anyone. No matter how many times critics claim he’s done, Alistair always bounces back.
Overeem has many big victories in his career including over Werdum, Hunt, Struve, Nelson, Lesnar and Junior dos Santos. He has struggled against explosive strikers over the last few years which is evident in his losses against Ngannou and Blaydes.
40 of his 45 pro wins have come via stoppage with 23 of them by way of TKO/KO. However, he does have 13 losses via TKO/KO. It’s led to many pundits to question his chin. At 39 years old, Overeem still looks in great shape, but his chin shows signs of wear and tear.
Rozenstruik may only have nine professional fights on his resume, but don’t let that fool you. He had a lengthy kickboxing career prior to MMA. Rozenstruik went 76-8 as a kickboxer with 64 knockouts. He’s currently racked up eight knockouts in nine pro MMA fights.
At 31-years old, the man from Suriname looks poised to continue his rise up the heavyweight division. His explosive power and highly technical striking skills make him dangerous against any fighter.
Overeem also has a kickboxing background, but he’s a step slower than Rozenstruik and doesn’t have the same scary power that he once used to. I don’t see Overeem retiring anytime soon, but I also don’t see him winning this fight or competing for a title again.
This is Rozenstruik’s time to shine and I believe he will eventually blast Overeem’s chin and put him out cold in the octagon. Overeem is more of a name now than a Top 5 heavyweight. Rozenstruik has all of the potential to get into the Top 5 next year.
I’m taking Rozenstruik to win via TKO/KO in this main event fight.
The following UFC fighters offer solid betting value based on their current MMA odds, their UFC on ESPN 7 matchups and career success:
Bryce Mitchell (-105) and Matt Sayles (-115) both provide betting value for whichever fighter you think will win. I’m going with Mitchell in this contest due to his size and grappling advantages. He’s strong, durable and should win this fight via his grappling skills.
Rob Font (-135) is a small favorite over Ricky Simon (+115) in a bantamweight battle. Font’s looking to close in on the Top 5 while Simon wants in the Top 10. It will be an exciting fight, but I’m taking the more proven Font to win via decision.
Stefan Struve (+120) is the underdog against Ben Rothwell (-140), but he has the height, reach and age advantages over his opponent. Furthermore, he seems rejuvenated from a brief retirement and he should have the stamina to win this fight via decision.
Marina Rodriguez (-130) is a betting favorite over Cynthia Calvillo (+110) in what should be a very competitive fight. It’s one that I’m looking forward to. I feel that Rodriguez’s takedown defense and striking skills will propel her to a decision victory.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+100) is the underdog to Alistair Overeem (-120), but he’s also eight years younger and far more of an explosive striker these days than the aging Overeem. I’m taking Rozenstruik to pull off the betting upset and get the biggest MMA win of his career.
UFC on ESPN 7 Final Thoughts
At first, I wasn’t overly excited about this event especially since it was a week prior to the huge UFC 245 PPV. However, after analyzing the card and making predictions, I really like this lineup. And, to make it even more appealing, it’s free for those of us with ESPN+.
As for the card itself, there are numerous fights to look forward to. Other than the Struve vs Rothwell fight, the entire main card has solid matchups. Additionally, the prelims feature at least two or three topnotch fights that could steal the show like Font vs Simon.
UFC on ESPN 7 also offers a wonderful blend of betting value and potential betting upsets. It’s a great opportunity to make some money this weekend for those looking to place UFC bets.
UFC on ESPN 7 Betting Recap
Virna Jandiroba (-265)
Makhmud Muradov (-420)
Joe Solecki (-320)
Bryce Mitchell (-105)
Billy Quarantillo (-300)
Tim Means (-265)
Rob Font (-135)
Song Yadong (-200)
Stefan Struve (+120)
Marina Rodriguez (-130)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+100)
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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