The biggest promotion in mixed martial arts has been diligent in providing entertaining cards early in 2021, and that’s no different for the preliminary card of UFC 258.
UFC 258 Predictions: Preliminary Card Fights
Tune into the middle portion of Saturday’s card from 8 p.m. ET (February 13), with all the latest odds and wager picks predicted ahead, get William Hill promo code offer in the USA.
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Bobby Green (-270) vs. Jim Miller (+220)
Prediction: Green via decision (-120)
A late addition to the card, Jim Miller and Bobby Green only got the green light for their matchup a little more than a week before UFC 258. Still, the short notice is unlikely to deter two veterans boasting a combined count of 87 professional fights.
Miller (32-15-1NC)—a +220 underdog—is largely regarded as one of the greatest UFC lightweights of all time, and despite the fact he’ll turn 38 this summer, there’s no sign of an exit just yet having fought three times in 2020.
The -270 favorite, Green (27-11-1), fought four times in 2020 by comparison and won the first three of those, signing off his year with a decision defeat to Thiago Moises in October. “King” has gone to a decision in his last nine consecutive fights (12 of his last 13), while Miller’s elite submission talents mean his bouts produce more frequent finishes.
Those ground skills mean “A-10” will always have a fighter’s chance, but it’s been more than a decade since Green last suffered a submission loss, of which he has two. The 34-year-old has no reach cushion to lean on in this instance, but Green has almost perfected his craft of keeping opponents at a distance with insane striking output, as illustrated by MMA By The Numbers:
Highest significant strike differential (landed minus absorbed), UFC 2020:— MMA By The Numbers (@NumbersMMA) January 6, 2021
1 @BobbyKGreen +208
2 @NeilMagny +121
T3 @PetrYanUFC +111
T3 @JamahalH +111
5 @SStricklandMMA +101
6 @MerabDvalishvil +100
7 Sabina Mazo +98
8 @TheProspectMMA +96
9 Yan Xiaonan +93
10 @Trailblaze2top +92 pic.twitter.com/ltKDK0kE2z
It will take a concentrated 15-minute effort to keep Miller’s submission threat off the table, but King is the clear contender based on striking, and as the saying goes, every fight starts on the feet. Green’s moneyline odds don’t hold terrific value, but he’s just under evens to win via the judges’ scorecards, which is arguably the safest prediction available at UFC 258.
Rodolfo Vieira (-400) vs. Anthony Hernandez (+310)
Prediction: Viera via submission (-200) in Rd 2 (+450)
The UFC’s middleweight division has a new Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenomenon to get excited about, with Rodolfo Viera set to test his talents against Anthony Hernandez on the UFC 258 preliminaries.
Viera (7-0) is a five-time BJJ world champion yet to taste defeat since transitioning into mixed martial arts four years ago, not to mention the biggest favorite on Saturday’s card at -400.
His opponent, Hernandez (7-2-1NC), is a big +310 underdog to mark the first blemish on Viera’s record, boasting a decent level of ground threat himself with five submissions from his seven career wins. But there are levels to this business, and all signs point toward “Fluffy” finding that out the hard way when he faces Viera.
“The Black Belt Hunter” is an intimidating force in every respect, and his ground assault is all the more terrifying given he looks as physically imposing as any other contender at middleweight.
Viera has submitted both of his UFC opponents to date and has only seen a third round once in his MMA career. Hernandez has also failed to see a third round in the UFC to date, but two of his three outings ended in stoppage defeats (one via submission, one TKO).
The submission victory for Viera is at very short odds of -200, but for good reason given his history suggests it’s a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ he’ll choke his foes in some fashion. His debut UFC win against Oskar Piechota ended with a Round 2 submission, and +450 returns for another second-round finish bring the appeal here.
Belal Muhammad (-330) vs. Dhiego Lima (+260)
Prediction: Muhammad to win (-330)
In a battle between the inactives, Belal Muhammad is the steep -330 frontrunner to overcome Dhiego Lima when the pair meet in a war of the welterweights.
No. 13 Muhammad (17-3) fought just the once in 2020 (a unanimous decision over Lyman Good), while a neck injury has meant this will be the first we’ll see of +260 underdog Lima (15-7) since October 2019.
Both combatants have won each of their last three fights, but there’s no doubt it’s Muhammad who boasts the more intimidating record. “Remember The Name” is 8-3 in the UFC and has won seven of his last eight, while Lima is 4-4 in the UFC across two separate stints, albeit having won his last three.
A decision-dominant fighter like Muhammad, who has collected 12 of his 17 pro wins via the judges, is a poisoned chalice for Lima. On the one hand, it offers American Top Team member Lima a better chance of landing those more significant shots that have come to dominate his once-submission-heavy style. However, it’s also territory where Muhammad is very comfortable using his substantial stamina to its fullest and drowning his opponents in the deep waters late on.
Another Muhammad decision victory looks very likely back in Las Vegas, though it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him add to his four KO/TKO wins, either.
Mallory Martin (-160) vs. Polyana Viana (+135)
Prediction: Viana via submission (+450) in Rd 3 (+1500)
Saturday’s prelims get underway with a women’s strawweight duel between Mallory Martin and Polyana Viana, each of whom have their eyes fixed on a place in the rankings.
This bout stands apart from the average strawweight matchup in that there’s a high chance of a finish, and +150 odds to not go the distance appeal given +135 underdog Viana (11-4) has never been to a decision in 15 fights. The Brazilian beat Emily Whitmire in August 2020 to end a run of three straight defeats, and there’s a lot to like about Viana as the less favored fighter.
Martin (7-3) is 1-1 in the UFC after submitting Hannah Cifers—to whom Viana suffered a split-decision loss—last August, when both these combatants fought on the same card. The American holds a superior pro record and a similar qualification in Brazilian jiu-jitsu on paper, but Viana—who has seven submission wins under her belt—undoubtedly looks the more natural grappler when she decides to roll.
This was exposed in Martin’s UFC debut when she tapped to Virna Jandiroba in the second round, and Viana should be able to use her slightly taller frame to snag a similar result.
Despite her jiu-jitsu strengths, Viana has a lot of ammunition in the striking department, and if she uses her four-inch reach advantage correctly, it’s foreseeable that Martin will look for the takedown as an out. In that event, expect Viana to look for an eighth career submission, an outcome that pays extremely good value at +450.