Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad UFC Odds, Pick, Prediction: The Prop for Saturday Night Main Event (April 16)
Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Vicente Luque.
- The main event of UFC Fight Night features a UFC 205 rematch between Vicente Luque and Belal Muhammad.
- Sean Zerillo sees a bit of value on the fight going the distance, but that isn't his top bet of the night.
- Read on for Zerillo's full breakdown and top bet for UFC Fight Night.
Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad Odds
A future Welterweight title challenger could emerge from Saturday’s main event between No. 5 contender Vicente Luque and No. 6 Belal Muhammad.
This is a rematch from UFC 205 in 2016 when Luque won by knockout via left hook and follow-up shots at 1:19 into the first round.
Both men have fought 12 times in the UFC since their initial matchup, and Saturday’s fight could play out entirely differently.
Luque enters on a four-fight winning streak — all finishes — and as winner of 10 of his past 11 fights since dropping a decision to Leon Edwards four months after defeating Belal.
Muhammad is 10-1-1 since the first matchup but constantly gets disrespected for his point-fighting nature (one finish in that 12-fight stretch).
Can Luque finish the same opponent twice on his way to title contention, or will Belal turn this fight into a grind, extend his unbeaten streak, and demand another Main Event rematch with Edwards?
Tale of the Tape
|Record||21-7-1||20-3 (1 NC)|
|Avg. Fight Time||8:15||13:11|
|Weight (pounds)||170 lbs.||170 lbs.|
|Date of birth||11/27/91||7/9/88|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||5.65||4.55|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||5.67||3.61|
|Take Down Avg||0.64||2.20|
The small cage at the APEX certainly plays in Belal’s favor. He’s a pressure fighter who will try to back Luque up against the cage, grind him up against the fence, and look to take him down.
Belal doesn’t carry significant power, but he’s adept at pushing opponents backward and smothering them up against the fence where he can wear on them and change levels (2.2 takedowns per 15 minutes, 33% accuracy).
Luque is typically willing to walk through his opponents’ power — and Belal doesn’t offer much to stop him from biting the mouthpiece and moving forward. He’s also a much faster and more athletic fighter.
Still, while Luque dishes out a ton of damage on the feet, he’s a brawler with defensive flaws (-0.02 strike differential). Over 25 minutes, Luque should land the harder shots, but Belal may outnumber him in total significant strikes.
As a result, if this fight goes the distance, the judges might have to weigh Belal’s output and takedowns against Luque’s power and submission attempts.
Luque’s takedown defense (64%) is vulnerable since he gets exceptionally comfortable on the feet, and he’s a lethal submission grappler who is fine hunting for finishes on his back.
Suppose Belal makes a mistake and leaves his neck exposed. In that case, Luque can latch onto that opportunity and use a series of front headlock submissions — particularly the Anaconda or the D’arce — to threaten his opponent, as he did to finish Michael Chiesa:
While Luque put out Belal in their first encounter, Belal has shown excellent durability/recoverability in his other UFC fights. When hurt in the past, he correctly shoots for takedowns to survive, and even if Luque puts him on skates in the first couple of rounds again, I trust his guile to work his way past those shaky moments.
Moreover, I trust Belal’s ability to manage the five-round format better than Luque, who puts power behind all of his techniques and recklessly pursues finishes.
While Luque has several second and third-round finishes on his record, he has slowed under the high pace that he typically sets, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Belal take over minute-winning — or potentially finish a wilting Luque — based strictly on superior cardio in the second half of the fight.
Still, that’s no guarantee — neither man has fought past the 15-minute mark in their career. It’s just an assumption based upon previous optics of their more grueling 15-minute battles.
Additionally, Luque should put in superior attritional work. Belal showed a susceptibility to leg kicks against Dhiego Lima (absorbed 26-of-28 leg strikes), and Luque will rip the body too.
He can undoubtedly get Belal out of there again early and manage a similarly violent outcome as the first encounter. Still, if he doesn’t, I expect Belal to work his way back into the fight at some point and to turn this into an absolute grind.
While Belal doesn’t carry a ton of finishing upside against any opponent, it’s hard to look like a drastic favorite against him either; opponents can’t pull away on minutes against him, given that grinding-type pace and fighting style.
I suspect that Luque’s willingness to accept takedowns and hunt for submissions off his back could ultimately cost him this matchup.
Luque vs. Muhammad Pick
I projected Vicente Luque as a 63.4% favorite (-173 implied) in this matchup, so I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline.
However, I do show this bout going the distance 46% of the time (+115 implied), slightly more often than the odds suggest (listed +125, or 44.4% implied at BetMGM).
I’m skeptical of the cardio for both fighters down the stretch, considering neither has been past Round 3 in their career. Perhaps Luque falls apart after trying to finish a hurt Belal early or Belal gasses out after repeatedly failing to secure takedowns.
As a result, I’m not interested in a full 25-minute sweat on the plus money distance prop.
And the potential for an early Luque finish will be there either way.
However, I prefer the Over 2.5 Rounds (-145 at Caesars), given the price discrepancy as compared to the Over 3.5 Rounds (-125) or Over 4.5 Rounds (-120) at the same book.
DraftKings has the Over 2.5 lined at -180 (64.3% implied), while PointsBet has the exact total at -157 (61.1%), so that -145 (59% implied) at Caesars looks like the value on price shopping alone.
I would bet the Over 2.5 up to -150; otherwise, I would take Over 3.5 (up to -125) instead.
Moreover, you could bet Luque to win inside the distance (projected +125) or Belal to win by decision (projected +264) in the winning method market. Still, there’s minimal value in either prop.
The Pick: Over 2.5 Rounds (-145) at Caesars
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