UFC on ESPN 41 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Marlon Vera vs. Dominick Cruz: Back ‘Chito’ in Second Half of Main Event (Saturday, August 13)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera
Marlon Vera vs. Dominick Cruz Odds
|Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.
A future bantamweight title challenger could emerge from Saturday’s main event between No. 5 ranked Marlon “Chito” Vera and No. 8 ranked contender – and former champion – Dominick Cruz.
Chito enters UFC on ESPN 41 event on a three-fight winning streak, including a five-round decision over Rob Font in April. While Saturday’s bout is only his second five-round fight, the Ecuadorian’s attritional style is better suited to long contests.
Since his three-year layoff from late 2016 to early 2020, Cruz is 2-1 in the UFC. He scored consecutive wins against Casey Kenney and Pedro Munhoz following his title-fight loss to Henry Cejudo. Each of his three career losses has occurred in a title fight.
Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday’s matchup and utilize those factors to bet on the UFC San Diego main event.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||11:55||16:49|
|Weight (pounds)||135 lbs.||135 lbs.|
|Date of birth||12/2/1992||5/9/1985|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.33||3.82|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||4.99||2.56|
|Take Down Avg||0.73||2.88|
Cruz should be the better minute-winner in the matchup, while Vera likely has the more impactful moments and significantly higher finishing ability.
Cruz is the superior fighter statistically, with a positive strike differential (+1.26 per minute vs. -0.66 for Vera) and a higher efficiency rating (104 to 101 combined accuracy and defense). He’s far less hittable than his opponent (+21% striking defense) and uses unique footwork to create awkward angles to land strikes and dash out of range.
It’s challenging to prepare for Cruz’s striking style.
Moreover, he is a superior wrestler. Cruz should be able to determine where the fight takes place and seemingly has most of the grappling upside in this fight. Vera isn’t particularly adept at fighting off his back or returning to his feet after you take him down, and a trio of takedowns could be enough to swing a decision in Cruz’s favor.
Additionally, Vera is a notoriously slow starter, typically ceding the first round on the scorecards to make his reads and tire out his opponents. As a result, Vera is often overvalued from a pre-fight betting perspective since you can almost always find a better price on his live moneyline after Round 1.
I expect Cruz to win the early rounds and keep this fight competitive. Still, Chito is as durable as they come. Vera has never been knocked down in the UFC, and he barely had a scratch on him after absorbing 271 significant strikes against Font.
As a result, it’s challenging to win rounds against Vera – even with superior volume – since he rarely appears damaged. And Cruz has a reasonably narrow path to victory: He needs to control three of the five rounds without getting hurt. That’s far easier in a three-round fight – particularly if Chito is going to concede the first round – than in a five-round fight.
Cruz has been knocked down in three of his past four fights, and at age 37, he is well beyond the average age for bantamweight, while Chito is in his prime.
Vera will look to his kick game to attack Cruz’s legs and body to slow down his older opponent and tire him out for the championship rounds, where he will amplify the pressure and hunt for a finish.
Conversely, Cruz should try to put Vera’s back flat on the mat as often as possible.
If Vera can’t slow Cruz’s movement, he could be in trouble. Cruz should be able to utilize his footwork to frustrate Chito, particularly early, and Vera will need to land the most significant strike of the round to steal optics away from Cruz’s output.
From a pre-fight perspective, Cruz is the clear betting side. However, I expect Vera to have more success the longer this fight goes, and he could find a late finish or rally to a decision down the stretch.
Vera vs. Cruz Pick
I projected Marlon “Chito” Vera as a 67% favorite (-203 implied) in this fight, and I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline.
Moreover, I projected the fight to go the distance 62% of the time (-160 implied), and I don’t see value concerning the totals or the distance prop (listed -170 Yes, +130 No at Caesars).
However, I project value in the winning method market both on Cruz by decision (projected +257, listed +280 at Fanduel) or Vera inside the distance (projected +198, listed +215 at Draftkings).
If Vera does finish the fight, I see it happening later, as he picks up the pace, and Cruz potentially slows from Chito’s attritional work.
If your book offers a Vera Round 4 / Round 5 / or Decision prop, that’s a solid way to play the matchup.
I placed an SGP with the Over 2.5 Rounds and Vera’s moneyline at DraftKings, and I’ll look to target him at a discount in the live markets after Rounds 1, 2, and/or 3 after Cruz has his best success early.
The Pick: SGP (+100, 0.5u): Marlon Vera / Over 2.5 Rounds
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