UFC Fight Night Picks, Predictions & Projections: Our Best Bets for Magny vs. Neal, Cerrone vs. Morono and More (Saturday, May 8)

UFC Fight Night Picks, Predictions & Projections: Our Best Bets for Magny vs. Neal, Cerrone vs. Morono and More (Saturday, May 8) article feature image

Steve Marcus/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC fighter Donald Cerrone.

  • Nine fights make up the card for UFC's Fight Night at the APEX in Las Vegas.
  • Our writers have narrowed the card down to the three favorite bets.
  • See who they're backing leading up to the main event between Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson.

Editor's note: The bout between Amanda Ribas and Angela Hill is off after Ribas was removed from the event due to COVID-19 protocols.

The UFC had to scramble to get Saturday's Fight Night card together, and the main card features a number of exciting matchups, including a main event bout between Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson.

So, where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew is looking at two fights in particular and sees a few bets in those matchups with value. You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.

You can also check out the moneyline and prop projections for every fight via Sean Zerillo's betting model.

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Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Sean Zerillo: Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal

Betting Analyst, The Action Network

Geoff Neal failed his first main event test with an unanimous 50-45 loss to Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson in December as a slight favorite; Thompson dominated the stat book with a 171-85 margin on significant strikes.

Similarly, Neil Magny has failed both of his five-round tests in the UFC, including his recent 49-46 loss to Michael Chiesa in January, where Chiesa spent more than 60% of the fight (15:21) in control positions.

Magny won't have to focus on his takedown defense (57%) against Neal and can use his large frame and reach (+5 inches) for Welterweight to pick away at his opponent with jabs and calf kicks or use his long limbs to tie Neal up in the clinch.

"Handz of Steel" carries significantly more power than Magny, and Neal will be the more dangerous man both in the pocket and at range. Still, Magny is both the more efficient (+1.62 to +0.01 significant strike differential) and more well-rounded fighter.

Neal is talented, but he's a relatively one-dimensional striker who can look lost when his opponents show good footwork or mix up their game plan.

I'm not sure if Magny will be able to take Neal down (92% takedown defense), but Magny (2.46 takedowns per 15 minutes and 45% accuracy) can rack up the volume from the outside and then tie Neal up in the clinch and bust him up against the fence with knees and elbows.

If he doesn't get finished, Magny has a clear path to a volume and control-based decision, and he should be the fresher fighter in the final minutes, competing for Elevation Fight Team in Colorado.

I projected Magny's moneyline at 43% and would play that down to +150 (implied 40%). I'm also taking a small stab on his decision prop (projected +204), which I would play down to +233 (implied 30%) at a similar edge.

The Bet: Magny ML (+164)

Erich Richter: Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie

Contributor at The Action Network

A fighter that I have consistently tailed during his UFC run is Gregor “The Gift” Gillespie. Gregor is 13-1 in his career with his last fight ending via KO to Kevin Lee. Prior to that fight, Gillespie was being fast-tracked to MMA stardom.

The shocking loss could have Gregor ready to go back to his untouchable ways — all seven of his UFC bouts have ended before the third round.

His opponent — Carlos Diego Ferreira — is no slouch himself. Ferreira had an entertaining split decision loss to contender Beneil Dariush his last time out. Ferreira was taken down and controlled repeatedly in that fight despite his strong Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.

This fight could look very similar to that fight. Gillespie is very adept at landing takedowns and ground control, averaging 7.02 takedowns per 15 minutes via UFC Stats.

Gillespie is known as a legitimate finisher in the octagon. He has six knockouts and five submissions to his credit in his 13 wins. However, Ferreira has been extremely hard to put out. His lone finish defeat came at the hands of former champion Dustin Poirier.

Despite Gillespie’s prowess for stoppage wins, oddsmakers are not expecting this fight to end in a finish. FanDuel has the fight to go to decision prop at -210 (67.74% implied).

Gillespie via decision is +122 on PointsBet, but I would steer clear of that line. Gillespie pushes the pace considerably and has not gone to a scorecard since 2016.

Ferreira also missed weight for this fight. Fighters who miss weight tend to struggle as their cardio gets pushed in the later rounds. I think a late finish could be in play here.

Instead, I will add Gillespie moneyline at -175 on PointsBet because I believe he is every bit the contender he was prior to his loss to Lee.

This bet should be a good parlay builder as well.

The Pick: Gregor Gillespie -175 (up to -190)

Billy Ward: Donald Cerrone vs Alex Morono

Contributor at The Action Network

Alex Morono is stepping in on short notice to take on fan-favorite Donald Cerrone on Saturday after the bizarre removal of Diego Sanchez from the bout, and the UFC roster.

Cerrone is winless in his past five fights (with one draw), while Morono has been up-and-down, compiling a 3-2 record in the same time span.  What worries me more than the losses for Cerrone, is the manner in which they’ve come.

His draw to Niko Price would’ve been a loss if not for a point deduction against Price. Prior to the Price fight and his decision loss to Anthony Pettis, he suffered three straight knockout losses. This is especially concerning for a  once hyper-durable Cerrone.

A 38-year-old, 50-plus fight veteran with three knockout defeats in the past two years generally isn't improving. I love Cerrone as much as the next guy (way back when, he was taking guys in to live on his ranch and train with him and his team, I applied, but wasn’t able to since I wasn’t 21 yet). Still, I don’t have a lot of faith in his ability to compete against younger, more hungry fighters.

The guy seems to genuinely still love to get in there and mix it up, which is why fights like Sanchez would still make a lot of sense, but this is a huge opportunity for Morono to build up his name, and I don’t think he lets it slip.

I do have my concerns with Morono, especially given the short notice, however, he seems to be on the smaller side for the weight class, and made weight with no issues.

(One of the bigger concerns for short notice fights is being able to make weight, since fighters generally start dieting at least six to eight weeks out to prepare to get on the scale, depending on their relative size. Usually they can still make it with less time, but this requires a lot more cutting of water-weight, which has a negative impact on performance.)

Morono has beat some decent opposition (Kenan Song, Max Griffin) and has established himself as a solidly middle-of-the-pack UFC welterweight. When you can get him as high as +160 on BetMGM, the choice is easy. Morono takes this one.

The Pick: Morono ML +160

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