Mario Bautista vs Ricky Simon
Mario Bautista +150 over Ricky Simon

Posted at 11:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.

Pinnacle +150 BET365 +150 Sportsinteraction +160  888Sport +137

Mario Bautista over Ricky Simon

Best Odds: +160 at Sportsinteraction

Streaming on ESPN+

Las Vegas, Nevada (UFC Apex)

8:15 PM EST. Tonight's UFC event is underrated throughout its card, a slate we can't wait to watch between commercials of a -10 degree NFL playoff game in Kansas City, but there's a matchup that we think oddsmakers have valued gravely wrong. Two hopeful contenders in the UFC's Bantamweight division will clash in the middle of the main card, but one fighter isn't getting the respect they deserve.

Ricky Simon is an entertaining and explosive striker and wrestler. The latter skillset tends to receive more affection from oddsmakers and bettors alike, since we've seen superior grapplers like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones dominate their opponents throughout the years en route to championship belts. Simon is indeed a solid wrestler, another product of the American Top Team family, and he's won the majority of his bouts by either decision (10) or submission (4). His 5.84 takedowns per 15 minutes is impressive, as is his 75% takedown defense rate.

We're not here to slander the good name of Ricky Simon who, like his enemy Saturday night, has performed at a high level for a long stretch of time (5-1 since 2019). He lost his last fight, falling to rising star Yadong Song, in the main event of UFC on ESPN 45 last April, and no doubt has been itching to return to the octagon since. We're sure he'll put up a good fight, but there's simply no reason why his opponent should be listed as a pooch in this big matchup.

Mario Bautista has been dying to see a number next to his name. The Phoenix native has won five bouts in a row and has been waiting for this moment, a chance to defeat a ranked opponent so he can catapult his brand in the Bantamweight division. We think he's more than ready to do just that. Bautista is a more gifted striker than Simon, landing 5.32 significant strikes per minute, more than 2 more than his competition (3.01). He's also more accurate (a 51% rate compared to Simon's 44%), and he's versatile, earning 6 out of 13 victories by way of submission. His average of 2.72 takedowns per 15 minutes is markedly lower than his opponent tonight, but his takedown defense is a formidable 56%.

All week, the typically quiet, focused Bautista has talked at length about his burning desire to win this bout and prove to the world that he belongs in the top-contender conversation. For Simon, we're not sure if he has the same fire. Last year the 31 year old main-evented a big card with an up-and-comer and couldn't get the job done. There's certainly a world where he views this fight as a demotivating downgrade. Not for Bautista. We also don't hate that the underdog has a 3-inch height advantage. For this value, with a dog this motivated, there's no way we can't place this wager.



Our Pick

Mario Bautista +150 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.00)

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