UFC 261 Betting Pick: Rodrigo Vargas vs Zhu Rong

If you guys think Rodrigo Vargas is winning the fight, then Zhu Rong.

I couldn’t hold it in any longer. If that joke makes me a dad then I’ll just have to make more time for good jokes because I thought it was pretty funny.

Now that the silliness is behind me, let’s get to know each fighter a little better.

Rodrigo Vargas is a journeyman fighting out of Mexico City. He is 35 with a professional mixed martial arts record of 11-4 and still in search of his first UFC victory inside of the Octagon.

The guy is an absolute tank!

He was handily winning against the criminally overrated Brock Weaver before he threw and landed an illegal knee which ended the fight and Weaver was awarded the disqualification win.

Rodrigo will have a tougher test than Brock Weaver, though, at UFC 261 when he has to stand across the Octagon from the #1 ranked Lightweight MMA fighter coming out of China. Zhu Rong is now 17-3 after rattling off 10 consecutive victories.

The Tibetan-born fighter is good anywhere the fight goes but it is his striking that will likely lead him to most of his victories.

The kid is young but as you can see, quite experienced. This will be his 21st professional fight and he is still 21 years old. That is not something we are used to seeing at all. He probably started fighting at 16 years old!

He hasn’t always fought the toughest competition but what do you expect from a developing young man. If you were managing his career, would you have thrown him in there with a bunch of lions at 19?

Not a chance.

Let’s look at the betting odds for this fight via BetOnline! and make a call on either a winner, a round total, or perhaps a method of victory.

Zhu Rong (-250) vs Rodrigo Vargas (+210)

Zhu really looks like a killer and it isn’t hard to figure out that he is certainly the A-side in this fight. What do I mean by that? Well, it is an old boxing term promoters use. A lot of times, they will put all the fighters who are supposed to win in one corner or locker room and the B-side in the other, sometimes less accommodating space.

Please Note:
I’ve seen some shady stuff before. Let me tell you. Warming up my fighters in a glorified broom closet while his opponent is getting loose on mats in a hotel conference room.

People are so dirty and will do anything for an edge. I would always tell my fighter that it only proved he was stronger and that they were scared. If they were confident, then why do they need to stack the deck?

The UFC is much more subtle about it but not always because this is clearly a pay per view event to feature Chinese fighters. They know the most Chinese will be tuning in because Weili Zhang is defending her title against Jessica Andrade.

That’s why there are 4 other fights featuring Chinese or Mongolian fighters.

I want to put a South Park clip up here but I will hold off due to bad language.

If you know, you know.

Not all of the Chinese fighters are set up perfectly but Zhu Rong, if he weren’t making his UFC debut, would be (-400) or more. He should get this win but there is a massive massive amount of pressure on the kid.

He has his entire nation behind him as the #1 Lightweight in China.

That is a lot of people.

Those are a lot of years of martial arts tradition. And he is 17-3 at 21 years old!

The kid is apparently a phenom. We will see. Rodrigo Vargas is a big guy. He is very thick but they have the same reach and Zhu will have one inch in the height department. I believe that Zhu is better everywhere this fight goes and the only way he will lose is if he has an emotional adrenaline dump and gasses out physically and/or mentally.

I am going to bank on the young man gassing but not until the third round where he has no choice but to cruise. His moneyline is certainly parlayable. If you want to parlay him with Kamaru Usman, I think that is an excellent play.

  • That is (-140) and an official play if you want it.
  • I also like Jimmy Crute as well at just (-200) against the veteran Anthony Smith.
  • If you throw Crute on there for the 3-teamer, then you can get a (+157) payout!

I like both of those plays and it is just “Up to you” as they say in Thailand about which one is particularly your style. I’ll never forget my coach telling me to finish my workout with 1000 crunches.

I thought it was a joke and he just looked stone faced and said “Up to you”. You want a motivational tactic for your employees, kids, or even spouse? Hit them with the “Up to you”!

Rong by decision goes against the narrative but because of this, we are getting some great value on the number. (+300) to win a decision over a guy who has only been finished once in his career and that was by a very uncommon submission?

I don’t think it is a terrible number. Vargas is aggressive, though, but very tough. I don’t think this decision play is likely to hit but at (+300), we only need it to win 25% of the time to break even. Anything more than that is profit.

The Bet
Zhu Rong by Decision!

In Conclusion

It is no secret in the boxing world and the mixed martial arts arena is catching on if they didn’t already. Mexican fighters are tough. There truly is something in their blood, a warrior spirit.

Traits are passed down genetically and the more we learn about the science, the more it confirms the eye test of reality in the fighting world.

Please Note:
Mexico City’s Rodrigo Vargas is no exception. He is a big 155er who loves to wear on his opponents and has proven to be quite durable in his career only being finished once and that was by a reverse triangle in one of his first professional fights.

He is probably going to get hit a few times in this fight. Let’s hope his chin holds up and Zhu either cruises like a veteran or gets tired and has to coast like a rookie.

Get those bets in and enjoy the first fights in front of a crowd the UFC has put on in over a year!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.

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