UFC 290 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja: Take the Underdog Title Challenger (Saturday, July 8)

UFC 290 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja: Take the Underdog Title Challenger (Saturday, July 8) article feature image

Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno of Mexico and Alexandre Pantoja of Brazil

Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja Odds

Brandon Moreno Odds
Alexandre Pantoja Odds
4.5 (-125 / -105)
T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
11:25 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday and via Caesars

The UFC 290 co-main event features a flyweight title fight between champion Brandon Moreno and challenger Alexandre Pantoja that has fireworks written all over it.

These two first tangled back in 2016 on the 24th season of "The Ultimate Fighter."

Neither was anywhere near his final form at that point in his career, but Pantoja's experience edge shined through in the second round when he changed gears and finished the fight by submission.

Their second encounter came two years later at UFC Fight Night 129 in 2018.

Despite Moreno hanging tough and making the final bell, Pantoja was still able to win rounds fairly clearly through hard leg kicks and counters that helped punish the resets of his Mexican foe.

Nevertheless, that fight was more than a half-decade ago, and each fighter – particularly Moreno – has made marked improvements since.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time14:5310:02
Weight (pounds)125 lbs.125 lbs.
Reach (inches)70"67"
Date of birth12/7/19934/16/1990
Sig Strikes Per Min3.554.25
SS Accuracy40%48%
SS Absorbed Per Min3.193.38
SS Defense56%54%
Take Down Avg1.801.37
TD Acc45%40%
TD Def67%67%
Submission Avg0.61.2

As many are well aware, Moreno briefly left the UFC after his last loss to Pantoja as a result of the UFC's self-induced flyweight purge.

However, when Moreno did return to the organization for his second stint, he finally started to string together his skills.

Displaying a sharper countering presence on the feet, Moreno has really learned how to weaponize his patent left hook.

Whether he's hooking off a jab or countering heavy heat in the pocket, Moreno's composure in firefights has been a hallmark of his maturity. And as seen in his rematch with Kai Kara-France, Moreno's lead-side savvy translates all the way down to the kicking department as well.

When it comes to grappling, Moreno has done a much better job at balancing out his offensive jiu-jitsu with wrestling.

Not afraid to mix in level-changing shots, Moreno can now initiate his own ground attacks and scrambles without having to be as reliant on opportunism.

That said, I'm not sure how much grappling Moreno will want to do with Pantoja given their history.

This co-main promises π”½π•€β„π”Όπ•Žπ•†β„π•‚π•Š πŸ’₯πŸ†#UFC290 | Saturday | ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/NRMgHzYwZxpic.twitter.com/piZaaSdEpr

β€” UFC (@ufc) July 6, 2023

Even though the grappling instances in their series have been fairly brief, there's obviously no question as to who won the exchanges.

A longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has worked his wrestling with everyone from Henry Cejudo to American Top Team, Pantoja is an excellent scrambler who will seldom surrender negative positions for long.

And when Pantoja ends up in superior spots, he possesses some of the best ground-and-pound going today.

Alexandre Pantoja ground-and-pound 🀌 pic.twitter.com/2zBacuyt9I

β€” Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) July 5, 2023

As far as his striking on the feet goes, Pantoja is an absolute marauding madman.

Although he leaves a lot to be desired in the defense department, Pantoja is an accoladed amateur muay Thai stylist who flows seamlessly through striking ranges and phases.

From countering in combination to brutal clinch knees to the body, Pantoja's offense leaves little room for shelter.

Moreno vs. Pantoja Pick

Despite the sitting champion technically being 0-2 against the challenger, the oddsmakers and the public are siding with the Mexican fighter, listing Moreno -210 and Pantoja +175 as of this writing.

Although that spread doesn't surprise me in the slightest, I still find myself sticking with the underdog here.

Pantoja may have more miles on paper, but one could argue that the 33-year-old challenger is much fresher heading into Saturday's title fight given their recent schedules.

Outside of roughly the same amount of fights on paper, Moreno has been through three times the number of fight camps since the summer of 2021, clocking in more than 10 times the number of rounds fought in comparison to Pantoja.

Couple that with what appears to be a tough stylistic fit for the champion, and I can't help but side with the value on the challenger at plus money.

Although neither fighter has ever been finished as a pro, I'd be careful about prop shopping given that there's a decent argument for this fight to end in multiple ways.

That said, I'm picking Pantoja to win by decision (which you can currently find in the neighborhood of +500) due to the damaging leg kicks and grappling control I suspect he'll accrue.

Still, this fight ultimately feels like it's "dog or pass" from a betting perspective as I'll be sticking to the more plump moneyline and kicking for coverage.

The Pick: Alexandre Pantoja (+175 at Ceasars)

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