UFC Fight Night 29 Sneak Peek: Iliarde Santos (-120) vs. Chris Cariaso (+110)

chris-cariaso Another fight that is being overlooked at UFC Fight Night 29 is a preliminary card bout between Brazilian Iliarde Santos and top-10 ranked flyweight Chris Cariaso. Santos is currently a tiny -120 favorite (bet $120 to win $100) while Cariaso is a +110 underdog (bet $100 to win $110) at Several Bookmakers. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened Santos as a -160 fav and Cariaso as a +120 dog, meaning the early public action has come in on the American. I agree with the early money coming in on the American as I am also picking Cariaso to win this fight. Here’s why: Cariaso (14-5) is one of the most underrated fighters in the lower weight classes and has been for some time. A veteran of the California regional circuit, Cariaso has a 4-3 record in the UFC despite most of his fights taking place at a higher weight class. As an undersized bantamweight, Cariaso put Michael McDonald to the deep end and also picked up surprise wins over bigger fighters like Takeya Mizugaki and Vaughan Lee. But since dropping to 125, he’s lost two-straight fights to Jussier Formiga and John Moraga. However, keep in mind Formiga and Moraga are two of the top 10 fighters in the division and Cariaso had highly-competitive fights with both of them. So don’t let his 0-2 flyweight record deceive you. Santos (27-8-1, 1 NC) is 0-2 in the UFC so far but the losses came to Ian McCall and Yuri Alcantara, two absolute studs. Still, he didn’t really do well against either guy. Against Alcantara, he was knocked out brutally in the first round and against McCall he lost a comfortable 30-27 decision. Yes, he did put up a better fight against McCall than most expected, but he still lost the fight and didn’t win a round. If you look at his pre-UFC fights, he wasn’t really fighting top-flight competition while Cariaso has been in the cage in recent years with guys like Renan Barao. So I’m a little confused why he’s the favorite here, but I guess a lot of it has to do with the fact the fight is taking place in Brazil and we all know how successful the Brazilians have been fighting in their hometown. This fight should be competitive and it should go to decision. I really do think that Cariaso will take two of the three rounds comfortably with his striking and perhaps even all three, mitigating the chance of a hometown decision for the Brazilian Santos. Still, a hometown cooking decision is a concern here even if everyone and their mother thinks Cariaso won the fight (go watch Cristiano Marcello vs. Reza Madadi at UFC 153). If it wasn’t for the judges I’d go heavier on Cariaso, but they are ALWAYS a worry, especially in Brazil. So I wouldn’t go crazy on “Kamikaze” here, even though I think he is going to win the fight. Still, at +110 I think Cariaso is worthy of a small straight play as I personally believe he should be a slight favorite in this fight. But the Brazil factor is a big red flag. So if you are super paranoid about the judges (and I don’t blame you if you are), then consider playing the OVER 2.5 rounds total instead as I see this fight going to decision most of the time. And it might be the safer play.

Written by Adam Martin.

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