Next week there’s a big UFC 225 card that is headlined by a middleweight title fight between current champion Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. But if you want a nice warm-up event to UFC 225, Friday night from Utica, N.Y., is UFC Fight Night 131. It’s headlined by a bout between bantamweight contenders Marlon Moraes and Jimmie Rivera. We take a look at the UFC odds for this Friday’s event
UFC Fight Night 131: Rivera vs Moraes Betting Preview
When: Friday, 10 PM ET
Where: Adirondack Bank Center, Utica, NY
TV: Fox Sports 1
Live Stream: UFC Fight Pass
UFC Fight Night 131 Odds: Marlon Moraes (20-5) vs. Jimmie Rivera (21-1)
It’s the UFC’s first-ever trip to Utica
Rivera is a slight -115 favorite for this five-rounder – it’s five rounds even though it’s not a title bout because it’s the headliner. Moraes is -105. These two have gone at each other on social media ahead of the fight and there should be some bad blood in the Octagon when they lock horns.
Rivera is on a 20-fight winning streak, including all five bouts he’s contested since making his UFC debut on July of 2015 against Marcus Brimage. He has also defeated Pedro Munhoz, Iuri Alcantara, Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida in the promotion.
“El Terror” hasn’t fought since beating Almeida by unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 25 in July 2017. Jimmie Rivera dropped Almeida twice in the first, was dropped himself in the second, but still made an impression on the judges in the end. Rivera won with scores of 29-28, 30-26, and 30-27 for his 20th win in a row.
Rivera’s 20-fight winning streak in MMA competition is second longest among active UFC fighters behind Khabib Nurmagomedov (26). Rivera’s five-fight UFC winning streak in bantamweight competition is the longest active streak in the division. Rivera has earned 15 of his 21 career victories by decision. That includes four of his five UFC wins. A third-degree black belt, Rivera’s kickboxing and traditional martial arts skills shine through.
Rivera was scheduled to meet Dominick Cruz on Dec. 30, at UFC 219, but although Cruz had to withdraw due to injury and was replaced by John Lineker. Lineker then withdrew from the fight due to a tooth infection, which is when the UFC held talks to bring in Moraes. The fight never came to fruition at that time. Each accused the other of ducking, and there was a brief back-and-forth with Rivera and Moraes manager Ali Abdelaziz.
Also on his resume: Rivera won the King of the Cage bantamweight title (called flyweight in KOTC) and defended it once. He captured the Ring of Combat bantamweight belt and defended it once. He won the CFFC bantamweight title and defended it once before finally getting a UFC contract.
Moraes has won his last two outings and 15 of his last 16 bouts. His only loss in that run was his UFC debut, a spilt decision set back to Raphael Assuncao. He followed that up with wins over John Dodson and Aljamain Sterling.
Moraes is a former WSOF bantamweight champion. He defended his title a record six times. Moraes has fought to a split decision in two of his three UFC appearances. He keeps an excellent balance during his attack and approach. Staying light yet loaded on his feet, Moraes also tends to enjoy a speed advantage that he carries over most of his contemporaries.
Vinc Pichel (11-1) vs. Gregor Gillespie (11-0)
Gillespie is a -475 favorite for this lightweight bout with Pichel at +380. Neither is currently ranked but the winner likely will be. Both fighters are aggressive with punches so there could be fireworks on the feet. Gillespie leads with an active left hand Pichel has proven that he can fight going forward or backward – from either stance.
Gillespie, a decorated collegiate wrestler, stayed unbeaten in January when he took out Jordan Rinaldi with a first-round TKO at UFC on Fox 27. After a 7-0 start to his career, including a win of the lightweight title and two successful defenses for Ring of Combat in New Jersey, he signed with the UFC.
Gillespie’s 21-second knockout of Andrew Holbrook at UFC 210 in April 2017 earned him up a $50,000 performance bonus. That was the sixth fastest knockout in UFC lightweight history. Gillespie’s submission of Jason Gonzalez at UFC Fight Night 116 in Pittsburgh was a “Fight of the Night” winner. Gillespie has earned nine of his 11 career victories by stoppage. That includes three of his four UFC wins.
Pichel, who comes from a background of motocross and extreme sports, lost to Rustam Khabilov at the TUF 16 Finale but has since won four straight. After decisions over Garrett Whiteley and Anthony Njokuani in 2014, he was out for more than three years. But Pichel returned last June and knocked out Damien Brown in the first round. And at UFC on Fox 27 in January, he kept his momentum with a decision over Joaquim Silva.
Pichel lands 63 percent of his takedown attempts in UFC lightweight competition, the highest rate among active fighters in the weight class and second best in divisional history. Pichel has earned three of his four UFC victories by decision
Expert UFC Fight Night 131 Betting Predictions
Take Rivera by decision and Gillespie by KO/TKO.