UFC on ABC 3 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Michelle Waterson vs. Amanda Lemos: Rough Afternoon Ahead for ‘Karate Hottie’? (Saturday, July 16)

UFC on ABC 3 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Michelle Waterson vs. Amanda Lemos: Rough Afternoon Ahead for ‘Karate Hottie’? (Saturday, July 16) article feature image

Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. UFC women’s bantamweight Amanda Lemos

Michelle Waterson vs. Amanda Lemos Odds

Waterson Odds
Rodriguez Odds
2.5 (-230 / +185)
UBS Arena (Elmont, NY)
Approx. 4:00 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.

Michelle "The Karate Hottie" Waterson returns to competition in Saturday's UFC on ABC 3 co-main event after a 14-month layoff due to a career-threatening injury. She's been given no warmup fight, however, with top-10 strawweight Amanda Lemos as her first opponent back.

Both women are veterans of the sport who will be looking to make one final run at the title starting with a win at UBS Arena near Long Island. Will Waterson's return be spoiled by Lemos, or can she pull off the upset in the network-televised fight?

Read on to find my thoughts on the matchup, as well as how I'm betting it.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time14:497:00
Weight (pounds)115 lbs.115 lbs.
Reach (inches)62"65"
Date of birth1/6/19865/22/1987
Sig Strikes Per Min3.575.14
SS Accuracy48%57%
SS Absorbed Per Min4.134.42
SS Defense67%88%
Take Down Avg.0.80.3
TD Acc32%57%
TD Def67%88%
Submission Avg.0.80.3

Waterson made a name for herself as a 105-pound atomweight in Invicta FC, winning the title before making the jump to the UFC. With the UFC not having an atomweight division, she's had mixed results fighting as a 115-pound strawweight and occasional 125-pound flyweight with the promotion.

Prior to her injury, she was 1-3 in her previous four fights, with the only win being a split decision over Angela Hill.

Waterson is – as her name implies – a karate fighter, though she mixes in occasional takedowns as well. She likes to stay on the outside and snipe with single shots, though that's a tough gameplan to execute against mostly taller competition.

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The larger problem is her lack of power, though. She lands a reasonable volume of shots, but has never scored a knockdown in the UFC. That leaves her path to a finish extremely limited.

On the other hand, Lemos is perhaps the most powerful striker in women's MMA, regardless of weight class. She averages an absurd 1.53 knockdowns per 15 minutes. For context, the bout that precedes this one features two welterweight men known as dangerous strikers. Yet, they average 1.54 knockdowns per 15 minutes – combined.

Lemos' striking is more power than volume, as she too likes to hunt for single power shots. Hers have the capability of ending the fight, however, while Waterson's largely do not.

Additionally, the three-inch reach advantage is more impactful here than in most fights. Neither fighter generally wants to trade strikes from the inside, but Lemos should land more from range.

Lemos is also a capable grappler, standing-arm-triangle loss to Jessica Andrade notwithstanding. That was Lemos' only loss in six fights since returning from a doping suspension in 2019.

While she's not a highly technical grappler, her size and strength should give her the edge over Waterson in wrestling exchanges.

Waterson vs. Lemos Pick

It's truly hard to see an area where Waterson has an edge here, with a "kicker's chance" at a knockout being perhaps her clearest route to victory. We've all heard how damage is scored over anything else by judges, which clearly favors Lemos.

Additionally, Lemos is the more active striker, so even volume is unlikely to save Waterson. That leaves grappling as her final hope, but her 32% career takedown success rate doesn't inspire much confidence there.

The injury-based layoff also isn't a good sign for Waterson. She's reportedly back to full strength, but there have to be some lingering questions about an undisclosed injury that was potentially career-ending.

All of which lines up perfectly with the moneyline odds on this one, with Lemos as a -300 or better favorite everywhere. While I'm generally not in favor of laying heavy odds on an MMA fight, it might actually be merited here.

Surprisingly, Lemos to win inside the distance is priced much more favorably at +200. Given her extreme power for the division, that's a great line. A knockout seems far more likely than a submission, but with her knockout odds only +225, I'll cover my bases with any stoppage.

The Pick: Lemos Inside the Distance +200 (DraftKings)

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