Betting Guide for UFC San Diego

UFC's first trip to beautiful, sunny San Diego since 2015 is headlined by a changing of the guard at bantamweight, and the card is littered with viable, live underdogs.

UFC San Diego: Vera vs. Cruz will take place Saturday from the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California. Which MMA bets stand out on FanDuel Sportsbook?

Gabriel Benitez and Youssef Zalal to Both Win
(+131; 1.5 Units)

The two-legger moved to a sporty 15-8 in 2022, but weird odds dispersion has forced me to take minus-money parlays in three of the past five weeks. This week is a good one to recover some units.

This week's building block is -- no doubt -- Gabriel Benitez (-350).

If I die to a Charlie Ontiveros knockout, so be it. Sure, Benitez has been finished in back-to-back fights, but it's been at the hands of the hands of Billy Quarantillo and David Onama. The pair have five wins since the start of 2020. Overall, Moggly's 65% striking defense has still been strong.

Ontiveros has been terrible in the UFC thus far. He lost his late-notice debut to Kevin Holland due to a neck injury from Holland's submission, and despite knocking Steve Garcia down twice, he was overwhelmed, exhausted, and finished in the second. There's truly nothing positive to say about the one-dimensional striker with a -3.90 striking success rate except he's big and hits hard.

The other leg this week is Youssef Zalal (-125). The fact he's a small favorite this week with a short-notice opponent that normally fights 10 pounds lower is a bit concerning, but I've got to trust my gut here. Zalal has had a nice UFC career as a grappler, posting 2.29 takedowns and 1.2 submission attempts per 15 minutes. He was 3-0 before UFC decided to throw him to the wolves.

This latest strength of schedule featuring three separate three-time UFC winners has dropped him to 3-3. Da'Mon Blackshear is a massive step back in competition considering Blackshear's resume features just three opponents with a UFC appearance, and only one (Pat Sabatini) has a win.

An easier ask in terms of competition should help both of these fighters move in the correct direction of their divisions -- and cash our parlay.

Devin Clark to Win (+132; 0.75 Units)

Prospects come and go in UFC. Usually, we can see stars coming from gaudy peripherals.

Azamat Murzakanov doesn't even have those. Through two UFC-affiliated appearances, Murzakanaov has proven to be a slow-paced striker (just 2.69 significant strikes landed per minute), and his striking efficiency (-0.73 striking success rate) has been poor. With a 16% takedown accuracy, he's not getting his wrestling going, either.

Murzakanov did just win via a third-round knockout, but he was likely losing to Tafon Nchuwki on the cards. Devin Clark (+132) has battled champions, so despite his warts, it's hard not to favor the veteran here.

Clark's 46% striking defense is his primary issue, but he wasn't bothered by it when knocking out another high-power prospect in William Knight. Knight had two UFC wins, though. In fact, Clark's six losses in UFC have a combined 49-22-1 record. He's beaten four separate guys with more UFC-affiliated wins than Murzakanov's two.

Considering Murzakanov has never even faced a UFC takedown attempt, the solid wrestler Clark (2.48 takedowns per 15) could dominate this fight from the get-go. There's just no sense is laying the price with the unproven newcomer when his striking data isn't particularly impressive.

Dart Throw of the Week:
Gerald Meerschaert by Submission (+600; 0.25 Units)

This line would indicate Andrew Sanchez's fight with Bruno Silva has been wiped out of existence. It hasn't in reality nor in my memory.

In that bout, Sanchez -- a primary striker averaging 2.33 takedowns per 15 minutes -- took Silva down seven times and controlled him for 7:33. Now, Sanchez fatigued, and Silva found a knockout, but it's because as "Blindado" was desperately trying to find a way back to his feet, Sanchez had no way to finish him. He's never tried a submission attempt in UFC.

Gerald Meerschaert (+220) won't have that issue. He averages 1.8 submission attempts per 15 minutes, and GM3 averages more takedowns per 15 minutes (2.40) on a higher accuracy (40%) than Sanchez.

Silva has had a fortunate strength of schedule for his style, facing strikers like Jordan Wright and Alex Pereira. Sanchez was supposed to be a striker, but he harkened back to his college wrestling days and nearly cashed as a 'dog.

Silva was submitted five times regionally and showed no skill on the mat during that Sanchez fight. Meerschaert has eight wins via submission at the highest level in UFC.

If -- and this is a huge if -- GM3 can survive the early flurry, he should take Silva down and finish this fight with ease.