Best Bets and Odds for UFC Contender Series Week 2: Underdogs Picks, Favorites, Props & Parlay (Tuesday, August 15)

Best Bets and Odds for UFC Contender Series Week 2: Underdogs Picks, Favorites, Props & Parlay (Tuesday, August 15) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Contender Series event at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas

Contender Series Week 2 is back for another Tuesday night, and tonight features five more bouts with UFC hopefuls looking to earn their way into the UFC octagon proper.

Season 7 Episode 2 of Contender Series streams on ESPN+  at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas with new events every Tuesday night through early October.

As with all UFC Contender Series events, some of tonight's DWCS winners – and even some of the losers – could earn a UFC contract.

UFC President Dana White is cageside for each show, and after each five-fight event, the UFC boss determines which fighters have earned an official UFC contract.

Contender Series has become the UFC's primary feeder system, so the shows feature tomorrow's UFC prospects (and some familiar vets).

As a reminder, some sportsbooks can be slow to open Contender Series odds and betting markets – though nearly every major sportsbook eventually does post them.

(And don't forget that you can track your Contender Series bets in the Action App!)

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Lightweight: George Hardwick (-360) vs. Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady (+280)

England's George Hardwick is perhaps the biggest name on this week's Contender Series card, making him a suitable headliner. The 26-year-old is the current Cage Warriors lightweight champion, a title he successfully defended twice before getting the call to the UFC Apex.

Cage Warriors is one of the premier feeding grounds for UFC talent, and we rarely see the organization's champions defend the belt multiple times because the UFC tends to poach those fighters before they get that opportunity. With a 12-1 overall record, Hardwick is a bit more seasoned than some past prospects from across the pond.

Hardwick is primarily a striker with a long, lean frame for the division. He uses his length well, throwing a variety of kicks at range, including persistent kicks to the legs.

His most impressive attribute is his body work, changing levels in an instant to attack his opponent's livers. His last three wins were all knockouts either directly or indirectly from body punches, an underutilized tactic in MMA.

There's not a ton of tape on Hardwick grappling, though he has three submission wins via guillotine. He's quick to look for exposed necks, using the threat of a guillotine as a deterrent for would-be takedown attempts.

It will be interesting to see how that tactic plays out against a more determined grappler – like tonight's opponent, Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady.

Al-Selwady is the lightweight champion of Fury FC, a Texas promotion that – while smaller than Cage Warriors – has still served as a UFC pipeline in recent years.

Training out of Fortis MMA with head coach Saif Saud, Al-Selwady has a 14-3 professional record against reasonably stiff competition in Fury and LFA, among other promotions.

The polar opposite style of Hardwick, he's a short, stocky wrestler who pursues takedowns relentlessly. He doesn't have the cleanest wrestling technique, but he's a plus-plus athlete, which combined with his low center of gravity, allows him to manhandle opponents once he gets inside.

Al-Selwady keeps an impressive pace on the mat as well and constantly looks to improve his position or finish the fight with strikes or submissions. That sometimes gets him into trouble via reversals, but each and every time I saw that happen, he was able to immediately explode back to his feet.

I worry about Al-Selwady grappling himself into a guillotine here. He'll need to be extremely precise with his entries so he doesn't leave his neck exposed. However, I do think he should be able to use his superior athletic gifts to get this one to the mat if he can survive those attempts.

Hardwick is the better overall fighter and the deserving favorite, but this line is too long giving the underdog's grappling upside.

I'd take Al-Sewady's moneyline down to +250. I'm also considering a slight sprinkle on Hardwick by submission (or even Hardwick by guillotine specifically, if offered) should we get a juicy price there.

The Bet: Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady (+280 at Caesars) | George Hardwick via submission (+800 or better)

Strawweight: Eduarda Moura (-175) vs. Janaina Silva (+145)

This is a far lower-level fight than the main event, with the 8-0 Eduardo Moura taking on the 5-0 Janaina Silva.

While those are impressive records, both women were fed a steady diet of squash matches early in their careers, primarily for local-level Brazilian promotions.

Silva does have one win in LFA, but it's against a 5-3 opponent, and it's nothing to get too excited about. She's fought just once in the past 20 or so months after a more active run earlier in her career.

Moura's entire eight-fight pro career has taken place in the last 18 months, and she's picked up stoppages in seven of her eight fights. The mix of knockouts and submissions is an encouraging sign – though also against lower-level competition.

Given the lack of tape on both women, it's hard to have a strong opinion here, but I'm leaning toward Moura even at her favored price. The activity level is a good sign, and she trains at a somewhat more known camp (with UFC heavyweight Jailton Almeida).

I'll be looking for her inside-the-distance lines at plus money or using her as a parlay piece rather than betting her straight up, however.

The Lean: Eduarda Moura (-175 at BetMGM)

Featherweight: Hyder Amil (-190) vs. Emrah Sonmez (+148)

There are two kinds of fights on the Contender Series: Those with which UFC officials are genuinely trying to figure out if a fighter has what it takes against other (somewhat) high-level competition, and those in which they're looking to introduce a prospect to the audience without paying them UFC money.

This is one of the latter fights.

Hyder Amil is 7-0 with fights in both Bellator and LFA against increasingly solid competition. Training under former UFC fighter Gilbert Melendez, he has a well-rounded skill set but does his best work on the feet.

Emrah Sonmez is 14-4 with fights in Cage Warriors, but he went 2-2 there and largely stumbled when faced with stiffer competition.

Sonmez may have a slight wrestling edge here, but Amil's superior jiu-jitsu should nullify that if it gets to the mat.

Most books are well past -200 for Amil as of Tuesday morning, though Betway had -188 listed as of this writing.

Given his opening price of -165 or -170, that's a solid sign of what the market thinks of this fight.

I'd take Amil straight up to -200 before pivoting to using him as a parlay piece beyond that.

The Bet: Hyder Amil (-188 at Betway)

Light Heavyweight: Paula Renato Jr. (+110) vs. Ibo Aslan (-130)

This fight features a pair of reformed heavyweights, including Paulo Renato Jr., who is making a return trip to Contender Series after losing a unanimous decision to Jamal Pogues in 2022.

Renato was giving up nearly 30 pounds to Pogues in that matchup, but he still put on a reasonable showing. He actually outstruck Pogues overall while defending both takedown attempts he faced.

Ibo Aslan is 11-1 as a professional with his only loss coming to now UFC light heavyweight Anton "The Pleasure Man" Turkalj.

All 11 of Aslan's wins have been knockouts, though a handful of them came via ground and pound. In the limited tape I was able to find on him, he showcased some impressive takedowns, but his best work is done on the feet.

I don't have a compelling reason to believe this moneyline is anything other than correct, with the slight grappling edge for Aslan justifying his favorite price.

However, I expect both men to come out firing and finish this one early.

Keep an eye out for unders as they open closer to fight time. I'd take under 1.5 at plus-money, or under 2.5 down to -175 or so, if you can find them at your sportsbooks.

The Lean: Unders (depending on price)

Bantamweight: Cameron Smotherman (-185) vs. Charalampos Grigoriou (+154)

Another LFA champion attempts to make the leap to the UFC with Cameron Smotherman joining fellow Texan Al-Selwady on this week's Contender Series.

Unlike Al-Selwady, Smotherman is primarily a striker. At 5-foot-9, the 25-year-old is fairly tall for the bantamweight division, and he uses his reach fairly well with his boxing-based attack.

Smotherman is 8-3 with five knockout victories, though two of his three decisions were split.

That's a somewhat concerning sign as a 6-5 record certainly wouldn't get him this shot on Contender Series.

Charalampos Grigoriou, meanwhile, is 7-3 with five knockouts of his own. He has a karate style that could prove tricky for the aggressive Smotherman as karate fighters tend to have excellent counter-striking games – especially against fighters hunting for big knockouts with single shots.

I'd also make Grigoriou the better grappler from what limited tape I've seen on both. He occasionally competes in pro grappling matches and seems a bit more dedicated to the ground work than Smotherman.

Smotherman has the athletic and boxing edge here, but given the plus-money odds, I'll take the more diverse game of Grigoriou. I wouldn't take it past +150, however.

The Pick: Charalampos Grigoriou (+154 at DraftKings)

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