On Saturday, May 1st, the UFC will be live from their Apex Center in Las Vegas, NV, for UFC on ESPN 23. This event features a highly anticipated Top 5 light heavyweight showdown between Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka.
However, before we take a look at the main card, we must first examine the six fight preliminary card that begins at 7pm ET on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
UFC betting sites have released their full slate of betting wagers for the preliminary card of UFC on ESPN 23. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, identify any betting value, and knockout these predictions with a straight right hand like Kamaru Usman.
Both Luke Sanders and Felipe Colares were originally scheduled to fight other opponents in Damon Jackson and Journey Newson.
However, both Jackson and Newson were forced off the card. The UFC then decided to book Sanders vs Colares due to their original fights being cancelled.
Colares enters this weekend’s fight having gone 1-2 inside the octagon after debuting in February 2019. He lost his debut via decision, bounced back five months later for a split decision victory, and then dropped this 3rd UFC fight via decision in January 2020.
Felipe Colares hasn’t competed in almost 16 months since that decision loss to Montel Jackson. Seven of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. He’s 2-2 when going the distance.
Sanders has been with the UFC for nearly five years after going 10-0 on the regional scene. He would start off his UFC tenure 1-2. Over the last four octagon bouts, Sanders has gone 2-2 to bring his UFC record to 3-4 overall.
His last fight came in November 2020 where he lost to Joseph Maness via 2nd round submission. All four of his pro losses have come via stoppage with three by way of submission.
Nine of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-0 when going the distance.
This fight is Sanders to lose. He’s the more aggressive fighter with the advantage in striking and power. He should be able to finish off Colares in this contest.
With that said, I’m going to play it safe here and take Sanders to win via decision (+155). Colares has never been stopped in his career. That means to also take the Over 2.5 rounds (-180) and for the fight to go the distance (-160).
Luke Sanders vs. Felipe Colares –Sanders (-155)
Over 2.5 rounds (-180)
Fight goes the distance (-160)
Sanders wins via decision (+155)
KB Bhullar vs. Andreas Michailidis
KB Bhullar (+210)
Andreas Machilids (-250)
Over (-145)/Under (+115) 1.5 rounds
Bhullar went 8-0 in regional promotions before making his UFC debut last October against Tom Breese. Unfortunately, he ended up eating one too many strikes and lost via 1st round TKO.
Six of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-0 when going the distance. Bhullar will have a four inch height and three inch reach advantage.
Machilids also lost in his UFC debut last July via 1st round TKO to Modestas Bukauskas. The loss snapped a three fight win streak in three different promotions.
11 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-0 when going the distance. All four of his losses have come via TKO/KO.
Neither fighter instills confidence as they both have the potential to get knocked out in this fight. I’m taking Bhullar to win via TKO/KO in an upset. Bhullar has the size and stamina advantages which should play a factor in this matchup.
This bout will go Over 1.5 rounds (-145), but end inside the distance (-235). The two men have combined to go the distance in just three of their 25 pro fights.
KB Bhullar vs. Andreas Michailidis –Bhullar (+210)
Over 1.5 rounds (-145)
Fight ends inside the distance (-235)
Bhullar wins inside the distance (+420)
Bhullar wins via TKO/KO (+700)
Sam Hughes vs. Loma Lookboonmee
Sam Hughes (+310)
Loma Lookboonmee (-370)
Over (-280)/Under (+220) 2.5 rounds
Sam Hughes is 1-2 in her last three fights which includes losing her UFC debut last December via 1st round TKO to Tecia Torres. Prior to joining the UFC, she went 2-1 in the LFA and lost in her bid to win the title.
Four of her of her five pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. She’s 1-0 when going the distance.
Hughes is excited for this upcoming bout and believes that she will put on a great performance this weekend:
“I was really excited because we’re both 5-2. I think it’s a great matchup. I know she’s a great Muay Thai fighter, so I know she’s going to work the clinch, she’s going to have heavy, heavy kicks, and I’m fully prepared for it. I’ve got a lot of tricks up my sleeve and I’m excited to showcase them. I don’t want to say too much, but it’s going to be a great fight. I hope everybody knows that I’m going to put on a helluva performance.”
Lookboonmee started off her UFC tenure with a split decision win in October 2019. However, she would drop her next bout in February 2020 to Angela Hill via unanimous decision. Lookboonmee last competed in October 2020 and won via unanimous decision against Jinh Yu Frey.
Only one of her five pro wins have come via stoppage. She’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Hughes will have the size advantage, but Lookboonmee has the advantage everywhere in the striking department especially in the clinch.
With that said, I expect this bout to go the full 15 minutes (-245) and Over 2.5 rounds (-280). Lookboonmee has gone the distance in five of her seven pro fights including all three of her UFC bouts.
The best value is with Lookboonmee winning via decision at -135 odds.
Sam Hughes vs. Loma Lookboonmee –Lookboonmee (-370)
Over 2.5 rounds (-280)
Fight goes the distance (-245)
Lookboonmee wins via decision (-135)
Kai Kamaka III vs. TJ Brown
Kai Kamaka III (-155)
TJ Brown (+135)
Over (-205)/Under (+165) 2.5 rounds
TJ Brown earned his UFC contract by winning on DWCS in August 2019 over Dylan Lockard via 3rd round submission. Unfortunately, he has dropped his first two trips inside the octagon which snapped a four fight win streak.
13 of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission. He’s 1-2 when going the distance. Six of his eight pro losses have come via stoppage.
Despite losing two straight, Brown is very confident ahead of this matchup. However, he does feel a sense of urgency for this bout as he thinks a loss could result in being cut:
“At this point, I’ve had the experience. I’ve been in the octagon twice now, I’ve felt that. I’ve had a full camp this time. I’ve made some changes that were necessary. Yeah, I am going out there with a lot of confidence. Also, a bit of a chip on my shoulder man. If I don’t get this win, they might cut me you know. So I am going in there with the intensity to take this guy’s head off man and show these guys that I belong.”
Kamaka won five straight fights to earn a shot with the UFC last summer. Those wins came in KOTC, Bellator and the LFA. Kamaka would go on to win his UFC debut via decision over Tony Keylley.
He last fought in November and lost via 2nd round TKO to Jonathan Pearce. It was the second TKO/KO loss of his career. Kamaka is 7-1 when going the distance.
I like this matchup. It has the potential to deliver an exciting fight. I believe we will see these two featherweights go the full 15 minutes (-180) and Over 2.5 rounds (-205). Kamaka has gone the distance in eight of his 11 pro bouts.
As for the winner, this is a tough one to predict. With that said, I’m going with the desperate Brown to pick up the decision win and keep his tenure with the UFC. There’s value with Brown’s moneyline.
Kai Kamaka III vs. TJ Brown –Brown (+135)
Over 2.5 rounds (-205)
Fight goes the distance (-180)
Brown wins via decision (+290)
Gabriel Benitez vs. Jonathan Pearce
Gabriel Benitez (-210)
Jonathan Pearce (+175)
Over (-155)/Under (+125) 1.5 rounds
A four fight win streak, including two Bellator victories, earned Pearce a shot on DWCS in July 2019 where he won via 3rd round TKO over Jacob Rosales.
That victory secured Pearce a UFC contract. Unfortunately, he lost in his UFC degut against Joe Lauzon via 1st round TKO. Showing his resilience, Pearce bounced back with a solid 2nd round TKO win over Kai Kamaka last November.
Pearce made the following comments about his upcoming bout with Benitez:
“The last guy I fought was like, he can hit you hard. This guy is more of a kicker. So that’s the test. That kick, if he hurts me with that kick too much to where I can’t finish him or I’m not ahead for the rest of the fight, that’s what it’s gonna be. When I take him down, he’s gonna throw up the submission. So, those are the two things you’ve gotta watch out for in the fight and anything can happen. But I’m ready and I feel like I will go out there and have a good fight. I think I will perform like on Contender (series) or this last fight.”
Benitez has been with the UFC since 2014 and has a 6-4 record inside the octagon. However, he’s 1-2 in his last three bouts.
Benitez fought twice last year. The first bout came in May and he lost via decision to Omar Morales. The second bout came in December and he won via 1st round TKO over Justin Jaynes.
18 of his 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of submission. He’s 4-4 when going the distance.
I think this bout is going to be closer than what the UFC betting sites have it at. Pearce is a solid fighter with the ability to pull off the upset.
I’m very tempted to pick Pearce to pull off the upset, but I am going to play it safe and go with Benitez to win via submission. Two of Pearce’s four losses have come via submission.
Take the Over 1.5 rounds (-155), but for the fight to end inside the distance (-185). The best value is for Benitez to win inside the distance at +115 odds.
Gabriel Benitez vs. Jonathan Pearce –Benitez (-210)
Over 1.5 rounds (-155)
Fight ends inside the distance (-185)
Benitez wins inside the distance (+115)
Benitez wins via submission (+550)
Randa Markos vs. Luana Pinheiro
Randa Markos (+150)
Luana Pinheiro (-170)
Over (-195)/Under (+160) 2.5 rounds
This fight was originally scheduled for UFC 260, but it was postponed to this weekend due to Randa Markos testing positive.
Markos is on a three fight losing streak and has dropped four of her last five bouts. In fact, she didn’t even think that the UFC would give her a fight like this:
“I didn’t even think they were going to give me this fight,” Markos said. “Coming off of three losses I was like ‘man am I done? Are they going to give me another chance?’ and they did so I have to give it everything I’ve got. This could be it. If it is, I want to go down with a good fight. I really, really hate last year. I really hate everything that happened, and I don’t want to go down that way.”
Markos last fought in November and lost via unanimous decision. She hasn’t won since a split decision victory over Ashley Yoder in October 2019.
Four of her 10 pro wins have come via submission. She’s 6-8-1 when going the distance.
Pinheiro is making her UFC debut on Saturday after winning a contract on DWCS in November 2020 by 1st round KO over Stephanie Frausto. She’s won six straight fights with all of them coming via stoppage.
Seven of her eight pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. She’s 1-1 when going the distance.
Although Pinheiro hasn’t gone to a decision that many times, she’s going up against a desperate veteran in Markos whos’ gone the distance in 15 of her 21 pro bouts. That includes going the distance in nine of her last 11 bouts.
I believe this bout will go Over 2.5 rounds (-195) and the full 15 minutes (-210). As for the winner, I am leaning towards Pinheiro. She’s looked really good in her last handful of fights. Markos has looked really bad over that same span.
Markos’ days in the UFC are numbered. Pinheiro looks like she could have a bright future inside the octagon.
Randa Markos vs. Luana Pinheiro –Pinheiro (-170)
Over 2.5 rounds (-195)
Fight goes the distance (-210)
Pinheiro wins via decision (+170)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …