Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises is tonight’s UFC main event and will see two fascinating lightweight fighters battle for five rounds at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Makhachev has won seven fights in a row and is undefeated since losing to Adriano Martins in October 2015. He’s improved dramatically since then and is now considered one of the top contenders in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Moises steps into this one after winning his last three fights against arguably tougher competition. Most recently, Moises defeated Alexander Hernandez, and that followed victories against Bobby Green and Michael Johnson.
Makhachev vs. Moises betting odds
- Islam Makhachev: -700
- Thiago Moises: +475
Makhachev is the betting favorite for this main event bout and that means successful bets will hold little potential value to bettors. Moises, on the other hand, could represent a significant return for bettors if he is successful tonight.
Here’s an example of how to interpret the Makhachev vs. Moises odds:
- A successful $100 bet on Makhachev to win returns $114.29
- A successful $100 bet on Moises to win returns $575
So, who’s going to win this lightweight main event?
Patrick Auger and Drake Riggs shared their predictions in our latest YouTube video.
Braeden Arbour and Michael Pounders shared their detailed analysis ahead of the fight down below, as well. Continue reading for our Makhachev vs. Moises staff predictions.
Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises predictions
Both Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises typically start the fight slow. Each fighter is patient, and their output usually rises after the rhythm of the fight is established, but beforehand expect to see a lot of movement with little engagement. However, they are also both momentum fighters when it comes to striking, so I believe that whoever begins to pull ahead first will have a distinct advantage as the fight plays out.
Makhachev is a very basic but solid striker. As a southpaw, he utilizes the power left hand and has an extremely dangerous left kick to all targets. Moises as an orthodox fighter often raises a high guard when engaged, but this could open up Islam’s left body kick.
Early in the UFC he was much more raw and aggressive but seems lately to have matured into a more calculated fighter under the tutelage of Javier Mendez.
Moises is much lighter on his feet, and while he also typically sticks to the basics, he will occasionally throw sharp spinning kicks. The fact that he has these moves in the back pocket, results in a more varied style to prepare for.
As with Makhachev, Moises is a patient fighter. He starts out using the first round to take note and figure out his opponent’s timing, but once he pulls ahead, he opens up and pours on more pressure. However, in the past, we have seen him unable to establish his groove. Against both Bobby Green and Michael Johnson, relentless boxing from the opening bell gave him problems.
That being said, I do not see Makhachev copying this gameplan, therefore I think the fight will likely ramp up in the second round if playing out on the feet. If it does end up on the mat earlier than later, expect a very different fight.
Moises is an opportunistic BJJ artist, he has a formal background in Jiu-Jitsu competition and he is comfortable looking for many submissions. He will roll for leg locks from the clinch in a split second, and therefore it is dangerous to give him even a moment of complacency. Yet, if anyone is particularly good at not giving their opponent any opportunities it is Makhachev.
Makhachev’s grappling style is primarily heavy pressure. He stays tight on the chest and shoulder and leaves no open room when passing guard. This forces his opponents to over commit to the escape by exploding against this immense pressure, which is when Makhachev chooses his opportunities to float in top position. This often leads to a backtake or armbar attempt, but stems from a high grappling IQ and knowing when to pressure and when to release that pressure.
I believe ultimately that we will see a slow start to the fight, but it will ramp up in the latter rounds. Makhachev has the ability to get the takedown, but he should attempt this close to the fence to stifle Moises’ Jiu-Jitsu against the cage. If he can do this I think he can pull the momentum of the fight to his favor and grind out a decisive victory.
Prediction: Islam Makhachev to win by decision
Anointed, mentored, coached, and cornered by Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev enters each fight with the burden of immense expectations. Yet, at 19-1, he continues to dominate in the octagon. His Dagestan wrestling style is predictable- strike enough to open up an opportunity, then shoot a takedown- but nearly unstoppable. He averages nearly 3.5 takedowns per fight with a 68% accuracy. The 3.5 takedowns per fight may not blow you away; but, that number is skewed because once he gets his opponent down, they rarely get back up. As his opponent is drowning under his heavy top pressure, Makhachev favors submission attempts rather than a ground and pound approach. Eight of his nineteen wins have come via submission. An ideal example of his preferred approach, his last fight, which lasted just over 11 minutes before securing the submission, Makhachev controlled a strong Drew Dober for 9.5 minutes. Strike, takedown, control, hunt, Makhachev will look to implement a similar game plan Saturday night as he tries to secure his eighth win in a row.
Despite knowing what’s coming, Moises still has a puzzle to solve to get his hand raised — try to prevent the takedown and keep the fight standing, or get the fight to the ground and implement his own wrestling and submissions. Because of his well-rounded game that seems to be growing exponentially in his three-fight win streak, Moises is comfortable in any location or position. With a respectable 63% takedown defense and a willingness to stand and bang with a variety of powerful punches and kicks, Moises has options for defense and attack. I anticipate a counter-heavy approach that will allow him to keep a wide base to try and prevent the takedown while also allowing Moises to sit down on his punches as he hunts Makhachev’s chin. If the fight does go to the ground, Moises has an active and effective guard that could pose a threat to the Dagestan wrestler. Despite being the biggest underdog on the card, Moises is a dangerous fighter that will be a live dog when the cage doors close.
Truly a fan of the talent and the style, my heart wants Moises to win. His path to victory, though, is narrow. Makhachev is one of the best in the division; and, according to his mentor and many others in the MMA community, is expected to fight for the title within the next two years. I don’t see that trajectory fragmenting this week. Instead, I foresee Makhachev implementing his traditional wrestle-heavy approach; but, because of the threat Moises poses on the ground with his submissions and that he’s never been finished, I see Makhachev grinding out a decision victory and calling out a top #5 lightweight. Possibly Tony Ferguson?
Prediction: Islam Makhachev to win by decision
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.