UFC 266 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Jonathan Pearce vs. Omar Morales (Saturday, September 25)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured (L-R): Jonathan Pearce and Omar Morales.
Jonathan Pearce vs. Omar Morales Odds
UFC 266 kicks off with two featherweight prospects Jonathan Pearce and Omar Morales. Below I preview the betting odds and break down the matchup for the opener of this 13-bout card.
For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can also check out my projections for the entire slate.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||7:37||13:13|
|Weight (pounds)||145 lbs.||145 lbs.|
|Date of birth||5/1/92||10/17/85|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||8.80||3.66|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||6.65||3.01|
|Take Down Avg||5.91||0.68|
Even though this is the first fight on the card, I have seen a great deal of conviction on either side of the coin from one MMA analyst to the next.
I tend to lean towards Pearce in this spot based upon output — the American had landed 8.8 strikes per minute in the UFC with a +2.15 strike differential, while also mixing in takedowns at a high clip (5.91 per 16 minutes, 60% accuracy); albeit in a small sample.
“JSP” also trains with one of the top camps in the sport — Fight Ready MMA. He’s younger and presents different looks out of his switch stance. He should apply pressure and put Morales on his back foot while providing better optics for the judges.
Morales is the more technical fighter and seemingly has a higher finishing upside. Pearce was knocked silly by an aging Joe Lauzon in his UFC debut and Morales also offers an aggressive calf kick game that could slow Pearce down the longer that this fight goes.
Moreover, Morales is a far superior defensive striker (63% to 46% striking defense) as Pearce tends to leave his head on the center line and absorb many punches while initiating his offense. The Venezuelan has also faced a significantly higher level of competition in the UFC.
Even though Pearce may be the more active fighter in this contest, judges are supposed to score based upon damage. And while I’m more confident in Pearce leading the dance, I expect Morales to hit a bit harder.
Additionally, Morales has a two-inch reach advantage, so it will be left up to Pearce to close that distance while also checking those low kicks.
I don’t think that Pearce needs to secure takedowns to win this fight, necessarily, but if he can ground Morales, then this could be his fight to lose.
Pearce vs. Morales Pick
Since I show value on the fight to go the full 15 minutes (projected -170), I would look to play either the Over 2.5 rounds or the fight goes the distance prop, up to -150.
I also show value on both fighters to win by decision (Morales projected +168; Pearce projected +292). Still, those are relatively small edges, so I would play either one of those props small.
The Pick: Fight Goes the Distance (-136) | Pearce wins by Decision (+310)