On Saturday, September 25th, the UFC will return to PPV live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega. However, before we can take a look at the PPV lineup for this event, we must first examine the nine fight preliminary card.
In traditional fashion, the UFC will have two preliminary card portions of this event. The first set of prelims features five bouts and a start time of 6pm ET.
The second set of prelims features four bouts, a start time of 8pm ET, and a host of notable fighters that are ranked within their respective divisions. In fact, this preliminary card is so stacked that it could easily be a UFC Fight Night event.
Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine the latest UFC 266 betting odds for the Preliminary Cards and KO these predictions with a flying knee.
The UFC 266 ESPN prelims could be a legit fight night.
The first Preliminary Card features five bouts with a 6pm ET start time and air live on ESPN+.
Omar Morales vs. Jonathan Pearce
Omar Morales (-150)
Jonathan Pearce (+130)
Over (-145)/Under (+115) 2.5 rounds
Pearce rode a four fight winning streak into a DWCS appearance in July 2019 where he beat Jacob Rosales via 3rd round TKO. Unfortunately, he would lose his UFC debut three months later via 1st round TKO to Joe Lauzon.
His next trip inside the octagon came in November 2020 where he defeated Kai Kamaka III via 2nd round TKO to improve his UFC record to 1-1. That’s the last time that Pearce has fought.
Nine of his 10 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.
Morales started off his career going 7-0 and scoring an appearance on DWCS in August 2019 where he defeated Harvey Park via 2nd round TKO.
His octagon debut came in December 2019 and he defeated Dong Hyun Ma via decision. Omar followed that up with a decision win over Gabriel Benitez in May 2020.
However, he ran into the buzzsaw Giga Chikadze in October 2020 and lost via decision. His most recent bout came in March 2021 and he defeated Shane Young via decision.
Seven of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. He’s 4-1 when going the distance.
I’m taking this bout to go Over 2.5 rounds (-145) and the full 15 minutes (-150). I believe that Morales will push this the distance and most likely get the decision victory due to his takedowns. His best chance at winning is avoiding a prolonged striking battle with Pearce.
Omar Morales vs. Jonathan Pearce –Morales (-150)
Over 2.5 rounds (-145)
Fight goes the distance (-150)
Morales wins via decision (+165)
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano
Matthew Semelsberger (-525)
Martin Sano (+400)
Over (+115)/Under (-145) 1.5 rounds
According to UFC betting sites, this bout has the largest disparity in betting odds for the Preliminary Card.
Sano is making his UFC debut this weekend after a 4 ½ year hiatus from MMA. His last official bout came in February 2017 for Bellator where it ended in a Majority Draw. Prior to that, Sano dropped two fights in a row with Bellator and WSOF.
All four of his pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. He’s 0-1-1 when going the distance.
Semelsberger landed in the UFC after three straight wins on the regional scene. He debuted in August 2020 and defeated Carlton Minus via decision. Matthew followed that up with a 1st round KO over Jason Witt that lasted only 16 seconds.
His most recent bout came in June 2021 where he ended up losing via unanimous decision to Kalinn Williams.
Six of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-1 when going the distance.
I see this fight ending one of two ways: Semelsberger via first round TKO/KO or a decision. With that said, I’m taking the first scenario where Semelsberger blasts Sano and scores the TKO/KO Under 1.5 rounds. I will be surprised if this makes it to the 2nd round.
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano –Semelsberger (-525)
Under 1.5 rounds (-145)
Fight ends inside the distance (-155)
Nick Maximov vs. Karl Roberson
Nick Maximov (-120)
Karl Roberson (+100)
Roberson enters as the slight underdog with a 4-4 record inside the octagon. He debuted in November 2017 and has alternated wins and losses until the last two years where he won two fights in a row and then most recently dropped two bouts in a row.
Roberson’s latest contest came in April 2021 where he lost to Brendan Allen via 1st round submission. That was the same result in his June 2020 bout against Marvin Vettori.
Six of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 3-0 when going the distance.
Maximov landed on the doorstep of DWCS in November 2020 after starting his career 5-0. He scored a decision win over Oscar Cota on DWCS and earned a UFC shot. This will be his official octagon debut.
Five of his six pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. He’s 1-0 when going the distance.
Combined, these two men have just four bouts go the distance in 19 total fights. I’m taking this fight to end inside the distance and for The Diaz Brothers’ teammate Maximov to secure a submission victory. All four of Roberson’s losses have come via submission.
Nick Maximov vs. Karl Roberson –Maximov (-120)
Fight doesn’t go the distance (-180)
Maximov wins inside the distance (+170)
Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
Manon Fiorot (-240)
Mayra Bueno Silva (+205)
Over (-125)/Under (-105) 2.5 rounds
A 4-0 start to her career earned Silva a shot on DWCS in August 2018 where she beat Mayana Souza dos Santos via 1st round submission. She followed that up with another 1st round submission in her UFC debut in September 2018 against Gillian Robertson.
Silva wouldn’t return to the cage until March 2020 where she lost via decision to Maryna Romero Borella. Mayra would follow that up with a 1st round submission over Mara Romero Borella in September 2020.
Her most recent bout took place in February 2021 where she fought to a Majority Draw against Montana De La Rosa.
Six of her seven pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. She’s 1-1-1 when going the distance.
Fiorot lost her MMA debut in June 2018 and then proceeded to win the next fight fights before joining the UFC in January 2021. That month she fought against Victoria Leonard and defeated her via 2nd round TKO. Her most recent bout came in June where she defeated Tabatha Ricci via 2nd round TKO.
Six of her seven pro wins have come via TKO/KO. She’s 1-1 when going the distance.
This bout is a tough call. It’s a striker versus grappler where either won can win based on her strength. Fiorot will look to use her striking advantage to score a TKO/KO, while Silva will shoot for a takedown and lean on her grappling advantage for the submission win.
Neither woman has been stopped in a pro fight and I’m going to say that trend continues. Look for this contest to go the full 15 minutes (+115) and Over 2.5 rounds (-125).
Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva –Fiorot (-240)
Over 2.5 rounds (-125)
Fight goes the distance (+115)
Fiorot wins via decision (+200)
Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner
Uros Medic (-115)
Jalin Turner (-105)
Turner has been with the UFC for three years after winning on DWCS in July 2018 via TKO against Max Mustaki. Since then, he’s gone 4-2 inside the octagon.
“The Tarantula” has won two straight fights and three of his last four UFC bouts. His two fight winning streak includes a 2nd round TKO win over Joshua Culibao and a 2nd round submission victory over Brok Weaver.
All 10 of his pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 0-2 when going the distance
Medic started off his MMA career going 5-0 and landing on DWCS 13 months ago where he defeated Mikey Gonzalez via 1st round TKO. He followed that up with another 1st round TKO in his UFC debut six months ago against Aalon Cruz.
All seven of his pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. He’s never gone the distance.
I don’t see this bout going the distance (-185) and as of this writing there isn’t a list O/U.
Combined, these two have 13 TKO/KO wins and I see that being the outcome for this contest. Turner has three TKO/KO losses in his career and I see him picking up a 4th as Medic outworks him on the feet and eventually rocks him with a TKO by the midway point of this bout.
Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner –Medic (-115)
Fight doesn’t go the distance (-185)
Medic wins inside the distance (+140)
Medic wins via TKO/KO (+150)
UFC 266 Regular Prelims
The second preliminary card features four bouts with a start time of 8pm ET live on ESPN+ and ESPNews.
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos
Roxanne Modafferi (+300)
Taila Santos (-400)
Over (-275)/Under (+215) 2.5 rounds
This is a battle of Top 12 ranked women’s flyweights as the #9 Roxane Modafferi is a huge underdog to the #12 Taila Santos.
Modafferi has made 10 trips inside the octagon but has come away with a 4-6 losing record. She has alternated between wins and losses since returning to the UFC in late 2017.
In the last two years, Roxanne has gone 2-3 with losses to Jennifer Maia, Lauren Murphy, and Viviane Araujo. She’s also defeated Maycee Barber and Andrea Lee. All of those bouts ended via decision.
Nine of her 25 pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. She’s 16-14 when going the distance.
Santos started off her MMA career with an impressive 14-0 record before appearing on DWCS in August 2018 where she defeated Estefani Almeida via decision.
Her octagon debut came in February 2019 where she lost via split decision to Mara Romero Borella. Taila bounced back from her first pro loss to beat both Molly McCann and Gillian Robertson via unanimous decision.
12 of her 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. She’s 5-1 when going the distance.
Let’s get this out of the way first. This contest will go Over 2.5 rounds (-275) and the full distance. Santos has gone the distance in four straight bouts. For Modafferi, she’s gone the distance in 30 of her 43 pro fights which includes seven in a row.
As for the winner, I’m taking Taila Santos to pick up the decision victory. I really like what I’ve seen from her in the last two UFC fights especially her dominant performance over McCann. Santos will smother Modafferi to pick up the unanimous decision win.
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos –Santos (-400)
Over 2.5 rounds (-275)
Fight goes the distance (-230)
Santos wins via decision (-135)
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus
Shamil Abdurakhimov (+180)
Chris Daukaus (-210)
This is the third time that the UFC has scheduled this Top 10 heavyweight clash. The first attempt came at UFC Vegas 32 where the bout was pulled due to covid protocols with Abdurakihimov.
The second attempt came at UFC Vegas 33 where Shamil once again withdrew, but this time it was for undisclosed reasons.
The 7th ranked Abdurakhimov has run into several issues with making fights over the past year. Hopefully, there are no last-minute issues with this bout on Saturday.
Abdurakhimov has been with the UFC for over six years and has a 5-3 record inside the octagon. All three losses have come to top striking heavyweights in Timothy Johnson, Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes.
However, he does have a solid resume of victories with wins over Walt Harris, Andrei Arlovski and Marcin Tybura. His most recent bout came in September 2019 where he lost to Blaydes via 2nd round TKO.
13 of his 20 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-1 when going the distance.
Daukaus is a perfect 3-0 inside the octagon after debuting with the UFC in the summer of 2020. He’s quickly picked up TKO/KO wins over Parker Porter, Rodrigo Nascimento, and Alexey Oleynik.
10 of his 11 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 1-0 when going the distance.
These two men have gone the distance in just nine of their 39 pro bouts. I see this contest ending inside the 15 minute time limit (-190).
As for the winner, I’m taking Daukaus to pick up the TKO/KO victory. He’s nine years younger, has been more active, and has the advantage in knockout power over his opponent Abdurakhimov.
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus –Daukaus (-210)
Fight ends inside the distance (-190)
Daukaus wins via TKO/KO (+120)
Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Dan Hooker (-135)
Nasrat Haqparast (+115)
Over (-145)/Under (+115) 2.5 rounds
For Haqparast, this is the biggest fight of his career to date. He made his UFC debut in October 2017 and has gone 5-2 since then. His two losses came against Marcin Held via decision and Drew Dober via 1st round KO.
Nasrat enters this contest having won two straight bouts with his most recent fight coming in March 2021 where he beat Rafa Garcia via unanimous decision.
Nine of his 13 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Hooker is the 8th ranked lightweight and is taking a big risk here by fighting someone outside of the Top 15. Yet, “The Hangman” needs to get back in the win column after two straight losses.
Big love to both Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast for making this fight happen.
Nasrat committed to fight while dealing with the loss of his mother; Dan faces the most hectic fight week schedule ever, arriving about 12hrs before weigh-in.
He dropped his last fight to Michael Chandler via 1st round TKO in January 2021. Prior to that, he lost to Dustin Poirier in June 2020 via decision. That bout was a fight of the year candidate for 2020.
17 of his 20 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-6 when going the distance.
I’m still a believer in Dan Hooker. He was paired up against two elite strikers in his last two bouts, which ended up not going his way. I see this fight going Hooker’s way as I believe he’s a step higher on the ladder than his opponent.
It’s a tossup whether or not this bout will go the distance. With that said, I’m taking Hooker to make an emphatic statement by picking up the TKO/KO on Saturday night.
Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast –Hooker (-135)
Under 2.5 rounds (+115)
Fight ends inside the distance (-120)
Hooker wins inside the distance (+220)
Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Marlon Moraes (+200)
Merab Dvalishvili (-235)
Over (-250)/Under (+200) 2.5 rounds
This Top 11 bantamweight battle is going to be an exciting one for however long it lasts.
Moraes used to be one of the top contenders in this division. Unfortunately, the last two years have seen Marlon tailspin after losing three of his last four fights against top tier competitors. Yet, it’s not just the fact that he lost, but how he lost those three contests.
Moraes lost to Henry Cejudo in June 2019 via 3rd round TKO and then picked up a razor thin split decision over Jose Aldo in December 2019.
From there, he’s lost two straight bouts in a row with a 2nd round TKO loss to Cory Sandhagen and a 1st round TKO loss to Rob Font. He’s now 5-4 inside the octagon.
16 of his 23 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-1-1 when going the distance.
Dvalishvili debuted in the UFC in late 2017 and lost his firs two fights. He’s since gone on a six fight winning streak and is one of the fastest rising stars in the division.
His last fight came in May 2021 where he beat Cody Stamann via unanimous decision. In fact, all six of his wins inside the octagon have come via decision.
Three of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with two by way of TKO/KO. He’s 10-3 when going the distance.
Yes, Moraes has suffered numerous TKO/KO losses in his last few years, but Dvalishvili isn’t known for knocking people out. Instead, he grinds his opponents throughout the fight.
I see the same thing happening in this contest as well. Dvalishvili will grind down Moraes and eventually get him to the mat for a while. I expect Marlon to survive on the mat, but he will ultimately fall via points as Dvalishvili wins via unanimous decision.
Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili –Dvalishvili (-235)
Over 2.5 rounds (-250)
Fight goes the distance (-165)
Dvalishvili wins via decision (+110)
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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