The UFC returns to the Apex this weekend with a showdown between ranked Bantamweights Yadong Song (-357) and Chris Gutierrez (+285) at the top of the card. I went over each fight on the main card and gave my picks and best bets, so let's get into it.
Odds provided by Stake.com accurate as of 2:00 PM EST 12/7/2023
The Bantamweight main event features a bright young star looking to break through to true title contention. Yadong Song has been in the UFC since a very young age, and he has grown tremendously fighting top competition over that time; his boxing is sensational, with amazing speed and devastating power that he maintains throughout the fight. Chris Gutierrez steps up here, taking a dangerous fight; he is a solid veteran known for a strong low kick game and good boxing.
I like Song here as his striking has looked up there with the best in the division, and I'm not sure Gutierrez can hang around for five rounds.
Pick: Song O/U: Under 3.5 +132
Veteran Light Heavyweights battle here, looking to establish themselves in contention. Anthony Smith steps in here on short notice, taking on another power puncher after his recent win over Ryan Spann. Khalil Rountree is a vicious striker with big power in his hands and kicks who enters this on a four-fight win streak; his ground game has been a problem in the past, which is something to keep an eye on.
I've gone back and forth on this one, but in the end, I lean with Rountree to find a knockout in the mid to later stages as I don't trust Smith to take the damage he will have to here.
Pick: Rountree O/U: Over 1.5 -108
Ranked Flyweights will meet here at Bantamweight on short notice. Sumudaerji is a long striker with sharp straights to keep opponents at range and elbows on the inside; his weakness is his ground game, where he has been submitted five times over his career, which is a massive issue. Tim Elliot is a gritty veteran with a fast-paced wrestling style; he proved he can still hang with young talents in his last fight, where he took on Muhammad Mokaev in a tough loss where he was submitted after winning the first two rounds.
I'm picking Elliot here, although the short notice makes it harder to take him in a matchup where he is at a severe reach disadvantage. Still, I believe his wrestling and pace will be enough to get the win.
Pick: Elliot O/U: Over 1.5
This showcases the depth in the Lightweight division as two talented fighters look to take the next step toward earning a ranking. Nasrat Haqparast is a good boxer with fast hands and a powerful left, although he lacks some growth in his game that I would've liked to see by now, as he is still not a very high-volume puncher with a one-dimensional style. Jamie Mullarkey is a tall and long guy for the division with a good pace and the ability to mix things up very well offensively, he is not the most durable fighter, which has cost him at times, but he has shown the skill to compete at a high level.
I've got Mullarkey in this one, as I see him using his pace and pressure to take a decision here.
Pick: Mullarkey O/U: Over 2.5 -233
This is a fantastic matchup of Middleweights here to start the main card. Andre Muniz is a dangerous grappler with a very high-level submission game, although when that has been shut down in his recent fights, he has struggled, resulting in back-to-back finish losses. Jun Yong Park is a well-rounded talent with good boxing skills, a strong ground game, and the ability to keep pace for three rounds.
I'll take Park here as I see him having the ability to force a striking match here where he has a clear advantage.
Pick: Park O/U: Over 1.5 -169