UFC 291 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Stephen Thompson vs. Michel Pereira: Fight Canceled (Saturday, July 29)

UFC 291 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Stephen Thompson vs. Michel Pereira: Fight Canceled (Saturday, July 29) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Michel Pereira of Brazil

Stephen Thompson vs. Michel Pereira Odds

Thompson Odds-160
Pereira Odds+130
Total (Over/Under)2.5 (-235 / +180)
VenueDelta Center – Salt Lake City
Time11 p.m. ET
BroadcastESPN+ PPV
Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel

(Editor's note: UFC officials canceled this bout after Friday's UFC 291 weigh-ins, where Michel Pereira weighed three pounds heavy for his welterweight bout with Stephen Thompson.)

In a UFC 291 main-card bout, two welterweights coming off Fight of the Night bonus-winning performances are set to square off with Stephen Thompson vs. Michel Pereira on Saturday night.

While they have contrasting styles, both Thompson and Pereira are exciting, dynamic strikers likely to put on a show on Saturday.

Pereira is riding a five-fight winning streak and looking to crack into the top of the division while "Wonderman" is a 10-year UFC veteran who's fought top competition year after year.

The former title challenger is 40 and looking to make one last run to the top, but it's a tough road against Pereira.

Can Thompson hold off the surging contender, or should we side with the underdog?

I break it all down below, including my favorite betting angles for the fight.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time14:5113:04
Weight (pounds)170 lbs.170 lbs.
Reach (inches)75"73"
Date of birth2/11/198310/6/1993
Sig Strikes Per Min4.205.09
SS Accuracy45%54%
SS Absorbed Per Min3.043.78
SS Defense55%58%
Take Down Avg0.271.58
TD Acc41%55%
TD Def64%94%
Submission Avg0.00.6

Stephen Thompson is notable as one of the few traditional martial artists to have a high level of UFC success. Outside of Lyoto Machida, he's represented karate at the highest levels better than anyone.

While Georges St. Pierre shared a similar background, GSP dominated with his wrestling. Thompson is a karate fighter through and through.

Typical to the style, he does his best work at range. Equally adept at fighting from either stance, Thompson has quick hands and feet. He uses a lead-leg sidekick as a pseudo-jab, keeping his opponents at range while scoring points.

His wide stance and high head placement keep him out of the way of danger, and he absorbs a sparse 3.04 significant strikes per minute. He doesn't respond well when he is hit, though, as his high chin placement leads to him being wobbled somewhat frequently.

He's an elite counter striker and able to punish opponents who throw single shots or don't set up combos well with his lightning-quick returns. That does leave him open to longer combinations, however. Like most fighters with his style, he's also vulnerable to leg kicks because his wide stance makes checking or avoiding kicks difficult.

All of which makes this matchup with Michel Pereira extremely intriguing.

Pereira came into the UFC with a wild style, throwing jumping and spinning techniques, and even attempting cartwheel kicks and backflipping over opponents' guard.

On his current winning streak, he's tempered things a bit, relying more heavily on his heavy hands and quick boxing.

What worries me with Pereira is his tendency to get backed up along the fence. He's had success against lesser competition doing so – it gives him the time and space for his wild strikes. That won't work against a technician like Thompson, though.

On the flip side, Pereira has shown the ability to fight moving forward, as he did in the second and third rounds of his most recent fight. His best strike in those exchanges is his straight right hand — which happens to be Thompson's weakness.

Pereira is also an opportunistic grappler, with at least one takedown landed in all but his most recent Octagon appearance. He'll be the stronger/more athletic fighter against Thompson, so that could pay massive dividends if the opportunity presents itself.

Thompson vs. Pereira Pick

This is a tough fight to break down since we've seen so many versions of Michel Pereira – sometimes even within the same fight.

The forward-pressure, boxing combination version of Pereira is almost the ideal style to fight someone like Thompson. On the other hand, the version of Pereira who keeps his back to the fence while setting up flying attacks might be the worst style to bring to Thompson.

With that said, there's a lot to like about the underdog here. He's more than a decade younger than the 40-year-old Thompson, has the grappling upside in this fight, and could significantly slow Thompson with leg kicks.

Both men have fairly solid cardio – a major factor with the elevation in Salt Lake City – but taking out the legs is one way to set yourself up for later success.

With all of that said, the biggest factor for Pereira is his price:

UFC Free CLV Monday (PPV edition): Michel Pereira at +145 (MGM/Kambi). Has already fallen from +175 or so, expect it to land closer to +130 by fight time

— Billy Ward (@Psychoward586) July 24, 2023

While not as good as it was early in the week, it's still a value with all of the factors heading in his direction. Whenever we have a high degree of uncertainty like we do here, I want to be holding the plus-money ticket.

I'd continue to take Pereira down to +125. If it moves past that, I'll be keeping an eye on some version of Pereira to win late or in the live-betting market.

I'm expecting Thompson to have some early success here – before Pereira turns up the gas later on.

The Pick: Michel Pereira (+130 at DraftKings)

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