Cynthia Calvillo returns from a long layoff. (Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
The Octagon makes its debut in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with an intriguing slate of fights at UFC Fight Night 140. Many of South America’s top fighters will be featured on the card, and betting odds for all 12 bouts are available at the sportsbooks. There appears to be some solid betting opportunities for this lineup, and here are my favorite plays in the Ultimate Fighting Championship Argentina edition of Prime Picks.
Marlon Vera (-310)
As far as betting favorites go, one to consider for a parlay is Vera, who takes on Guido Cannetti in a bantamweight bout. As the odds suggest, this looks like a mismatch. The biggest advantage Vera has in this contest is his age. He’s only 25, while Cannetti is 38. Vera has also been very active since joining the UFC in 2014, going 5-4 overall inside the Octagon with notable wins over the likes of Brad Pickett and Brian Kelleher. In his last action, he returned to form after a two-fight losing streak with a brutal TKO over Wuliji Buren. Though Vera isn’t a top-level bantamweight, he’s bordering on the top-15, while Cannetti is near the bottom. The one advantage Cannetti does have in this fight is that he is from Argentina, but otherwise I don’t see where he has an edge. He’s only fought four times since joining the UFC in 2014, and he hasn’t been able to string together a win streak. I don’t really think Cannetti is a UFC-caliber fighter, while Vera is still evolving and improving. Vera should win this fight, and the -310 moneyline is a reasonable price to pay.
Alexandre Pantoja (-380)
Another favorite to consider for a parlay is Pantoja, who has a favorable matchup against Ulka Sasaki in a battle of flyweights looking to save their jobs. Pantoja has looked solid in the UFC since his stint on “The Ultimate Fighter,” going 3-1 with a decision over Brandon Moreno in his last bout. He is a well-rounded and dependable fighter as he’s won 12 of his last 13; his only loss since 2010 coming against Dustin Ortiz. Sasaki, meanwhile, is a one-trick pony. All four of his wins in the UFC have come by rear-naked choke, but mostly against lower-level competition. In duels when he hasn’t got the RNC, he’s been finished in three of those losses. Sasaki cuts a ton of weight to make 125 and overall he is just not a guy you can count on with your money. Pantoja should be able to get the finish or at least grind out a decision. At -380, he’s one of the favorites on the card I feel strongest about winning.
Bartosz Fabinski (+165)
For an underdog pick, I like Fabinski to defeat Michel Prazeres in a battle of grinders. Both are grapplers who have similar fighting styles, as they both look to bully their opponents and use takedowns and control to win decisions. Both are on seven-fight win streaks and the winner of this fight will likely get a top-15 opponent next, so I’m expecting both each to show up here. What I like about Fabinski in this matchup is that he’s a natural welterweight, while Prazeres is one of the smallest fighters in the division at only 5’6”. While his wrestling was incredibly effective in the lightweight division, I don’t see Prazeres having as much success at welterweight, especially against someone who neutralizes his strengths like Fabinski. Prazeres is also 37 and at some point is going to slow down. I have to give him credit for beating Zak Cummings in his welterweight debut, but I believe this is the fight where his streak ends. Fabinski has always been undervalued by bettors, but he’s come through with the win in all three of his UFC fights, even as an underdog against Emil Weber Meek. At +165 for Fabinski to get the win here as the underdog, it’s worth taking a stab at him considering the matchup.
Cynthia Calvillo (+135)
For another underdog pick, I like Calvillo to defeat Poliana Botelho*. I like this matchup and the winner of this fight is going to firmly be a top-10 strawweight. What I like about Calvillo in this matchup is experience. She has fought and defeated solid competition in the UFC, including Joanne Calderwood, Montana De La Rosa and Amanda Bobby Cooper, plus an amateur win over current bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd. Calvillo’s lone career professional loss came in her last fight when she lost a close decision to former champion Carla Esparza. She has been on the shelf since December due to a marijuana suspension, but is primed for a comeback. Had she beaten Esparza, there was a chance she would have been in the running for 2017 “Fighter of the Year.” As it stands, Calvillo went 4-1 in 2017 and proved she can hang with the best in the world. On the other hand, Botelho has looked pretty good in the UFC with wins over Pearl Gonzalez and Syuri Kondo, and she has a very solid record with a lot of knockouts. I just don’t believe she has fought someone with the grappling chops that Calvillo has. I look at this one as a pretty big step up in competition for Botelho, and I think Calvillo is being slept on here as the underdog. At +135 odds, I see value in Calvillo here as I believe she should actually be the betting favorite.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Cynthia Calvillo missed weight Friday morning, and Adam now cautions against playing her.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
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