Stephen Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad UFC Fight Night Odds, Pick & Prediction (Saturday, Dec. 18)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Belal Muhammad
- A pair of top-10 lightweights face off on Saturday night when Stephen Thompson faces Belal Muhammad.
- Thompson is coming off a loss, while Muhammad hasn't lost in his last six fights.
- Erich Richter breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.
Stephen Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-290 / +215)|
|Time||Approx. 9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MMA odds here.|
The final co-main event of the year will feature two technical strikers, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Belal Muhammad. The three-round fight will feature intense striking exchanges and some unbelievable speed/athleticism combinations.
Thompson is known for his creative karate-style kicks and volume. His opponent has a big opportunity this weekend to launch himself into contender status. Muhammad has five wins in a row with four of them coming by decision.
Let’s dig into the UFC Vegas 45 co-main event and see where we can find betting value.
Tale of the Tape
|Record||16-5-1||19-3-0 (1 NC)|
|Avg. Fight Time||14:33||13:04|
|Weight (pounds)||170 lbs.||170 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/11/83||7/9/88|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.06||4.61|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.75||3.80|
|Take Down Avg||0.30||1.80|
Last time out, Thompson was taken down by Gilbert Burns and clearly lost at a unanimous decision at UFC 264 in July. The roadmap is clear on how to beat Thompson: Clinch-work and takedowns are the best way for Muhammad to win on Saturday.
Muhammad features excellent cardio, pace and pressure in all of his fights. However, consistently coming forward while striking against Thompson could be a fool’s errand. Thompson does his best work when he is counter-striking his opponents and throwing kicks.
Still, Muhammad will want to close the distance with feints and body work if he wants to keep Thompson off-balance. An area of concern for Muhammad is Thompson’s movement around the octagon, which could open up leg kicking attacks. Muhammad can’t have Thompson chop down his legs and kill his mobility.
Moreover, Muhammad does an excellent job working the body when striking, a good tactic to use against Thompson. He also seriously shoots for takedowns, to varying degrees of success. His 28% takedown accuracy isn’t ideal, but the volume is a good sign, especially in a three-round fight.
The best way for Muhammad to win would be to land a few takedowns against Thompson and hold the position. Muhammad lands 1.8 takedowns per 15 minutes ,per UFC Stats, so if he lands one takedown in two rounds he should be in good shape to win.
Any prolonged striking exchanges at range would favor Thompson.
Thompson vs. Muhammad Pick
Muhammad does not give his opponents a second to rest and prefers to weaponize his cardio. Interestingly, Muhammad and Thompson do have a shared opponent.
Geoff Neal knocked Muhammad down twice when they fought and won by decision. Thompson defeated Neal by decision when they fought, so this is a big reason why the margin is as wide as it is.
The matchup is a bit different stylistically as Neal came forward with serious power. Thompson will look to pick Muhammad apart with kicks until he can land something to the head when there’s an opening.
If this fight were five rounds it would clearly favor Thompson, who is the more technical striker. However, in this three-round fight, Muhammad could make this fight dirty in the clinch and on the ground.
This fight has a decision written all over it with nine of Muhammad’s last 10 fights going to decision and eight of Thompson’s last nine.
The way that I am betting this fight is 1 unit on fight goes the distance -200 (to win .5u) at BetMGM. This is by far the best line on the market as of this writing.
Moreover, Muhammad is worth a flyer to win this fight by decision at +350. I capped Muhammad to win by decision at +270. A half-unit bet would win 1.75 units if Muhammad wins by decision. This would also result in GTD cashing for a 2.25 unit win on the fight.
If the fight goes the distance but Thompson wins, as oddsmakers are projecting, we break even. Take the value on Muhammad this weekend to upset the former title contender.
The Pick: Fight goes the distance -200 (1u) | Muhammad wins by decision +350 (.4u) BetMGM
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