Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera Odds, Picks & Prediction: There’s Value On the Underdog In UFC 252 Co-Main Event
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Marlon Vera of Ecuador.
- Sean Zerillo thinks that there is plenty of value on underdog Marlon Vera (+225) against Sean O'Malley.
- Be wary of Vera's slow starts, but he offers a particularly unique and difficult matchup for O'Malley.
- See the full betting breakdown below.
Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera Odds
|O’Malley odds||-286 [BET NOW]|
|Vera odds||+225 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-141/+105) [BET NOW]|
|Venue||UFC Apex, Las Vegas|
|Time||Saturday at 11 p.m. ET|
Since this fight was first announced for UFC 252, I thought that it presented a tough challenge for the undefeated Sean O’Malley, who is one of the bright young stars of this sport both inside and outside of the octagon (seriously, who else could pull off this hair).
Marlon “Chito” Vera is an extremely underrated fighter whose most recent loss to Song Yadong was controversial — nine of the 17 media members watching scored the fight for Vera, along with 66% of fans.
This co-main event should provide plenty of fireworks if the reputation of these two fighters holds up.
Here’s an in-depth preview of Saturday’s matchup below, including how I’m planning to bet the fight before the value is gone. You can also check out my analysis of all 11 bouts here.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||7:38||10:55|
|Weight (pounds)||135 lbs.||135 lbs.|
|Date of birth||10/24/94||12/2/92|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||6.86||3.70|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.75||4.11|
|Take Down Avg||1.18||0.88|
O’Malley vs. Vera Betting Pick
Vera is a notoriously slow starter. He is almost always crawling back from a one round deficit and a close second- or third-round will harm his chances of winning on the scorecards, where he is 3-6 for his career.
But Vera is also extremely tough — never been stopped in his career — and he seems likely to test O’Malley’s gas tank as “Suga” has won both of his fights in 2020 by first-round knockout since returning from his 2019 suspension.
Chito is a master of creating and adapting to chaos and his striking has improved by leaps and bounds over the course of 14 UFC bouts. He doesn’t have the wrestling to truly test O’Malley’s grappling, but his submission skills are top notch, and he is extremely opportunistic.
O’Malley has shown questionable fight IQ moments in past fights, where he has left the pocket in order to initiate a grappling exchange – leaving his neck and limbs exposed in the process. Unlike lesser opponents, Vera will aggressively seize upon such an opportunity, and grab hold of O’Malley’s giraffe neck or long limbs.
Vera is also adept at catching kicks, which could stifle one of O’Malley’s best weapons, but “Suga” is excellent at feinting strikes and moving around the octagon in order to maintain control of the distance.
Vera will continually look to close that distance and stay in O’Malley’s face – inside of his opponent’s reach advantage where he can actively pursue knees to the body from the clinch.
We have yet to see O’Malley truly overcome adversity against an extremely durable opponent, and although he appears to be the more skilled fighter, Chito is easily the toughest and most relentless fighter that he has ever faced.
The crowd projection sees value on Vera’s moneyline, which it projected at +178, in addition to Vera by submission at +700 (projected +578) or the fight to finish inside of the distance.
Given Vera’s durability and penchant for being a slow starter, I’m less interested in betting the fight to finish inside the distance (-120, projected -186) as O’Malley by decision seems like a very clear path to victory.
I do think that “Chito” can pull the upset and derail the O’Malley hype train, however – despite my fandom for “Suga” – and I’ll be making small plays both on Vera’s moneyline and the submission prop; betting that the undervalued fighter finds his winning moment amidst some chaos.
The Pick: Marlon Vera (+225, 0.5 units) | Marlon Vera to win by Submission (+700, 0.25 units)