UFC Fight Night Betting Pick: Marlon Moraes vs Cory Sandhagen

Boy, should this be a fun one!

Two of the best strikers in the UFC’s stacked Bantamweight Division square off in the main event of the October 10th Fight Night card on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

I wish I would have handicapped this fight before I saw the actual betting odds.

It wasn’t on purpose. A friend sent me a text message asking is I thought the betting line was off.

It definitely is but I just don’t get it.

It has to be the reach advantage of Cory Sandhagen that has him as the betting favorite.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Cory Sandhagen’s game.

I picked him against Raphael Assuncao to get the W and that wasn’t too much of a sweat.

Then he fights my boy Aljamain Sterling and gets tapped in the first round.

I understand that Cory could have a very high ceiling but a fighter having a great frame for the weight class and good athleticism are becoming more and more common by the day

Look at the NBA.

Do you see how evolved and streamlined most of the players’ bodies are for their sport?

Mixed martial arts will get there. It just takes time. We are already leaps and bounds from where we were in MMA just a decade ago.

My point is that Cory Sandhagen is already 28. I love his style and I believe he has one of the best coaches in the UFC, Trevor Wittman, but his time is now.

There will be another fighter come along in the next year with the same frame as Cory with better striking, grappling, and aggression

The man he lost to in his most previous outing, Aljamain Sterling, is a physical freak himself.

I was lucky enough to get a few sparring rounds in with Sterling and wow, what a dynamic fighter!

He is long, strong, fast, creative, and on a 5-fight win streak.

The last and well, the only man to ever beat The Funkmaster inside the Octagon is the other participant in our Fight Night October 10th main event.

Magic Marlon Moraes caught Sterling with a head kick/knee landing and that was a wrap.

Moraes most recently fought Jose Aldo in the latter and former UFC champion’s first fight at 135 pounds.

We were all pretty concerned about how the weight cut would affect Aldo but he fought very well and took the betting favorite, Moraes, to a split decision.

The judges gave the fight to Marlon but most fans and media were on the side of Aldo.

Cory Sandhagen Marlon Moraes
Fight Record: 12-2 Fight Record: 23-6-2
Age: 28 Age: 32
Height: 5’11” Height: 5’8”
Reach: 70” Reach: 66.5
From: Aurora, CO, USA From: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Fight Camp: American Top Team Fight Camp: Elevation Fight Team

Marlon Moraes is used to dealing with a reach disadvantage and it’s not like Sandhagen’s 70-inch reach is above average or anything.

Sterling is 5’7” tall with a longer reach than Cory.

How do Sandhagen and Moraes stack up with their skill sets?

Big 5 Sandhagen Moraes
Striking Volume 4.0 3.0
Conditioning 4.0 4.0
Fight IQ 3.5 4.0
Durability 4.0 3.5
Heart/Mental Strength 4.0 3.5

Defining the heart of a fighter who has only lost a couple of times and both were really quick is tough.

I’m not seeing them in the gym every day.

How do we know if it has never really been tested?

Both times Cory has lost, he was out-grappled by longer, more athletic opponents.

Yes, he is very long and athletic. Those are two of his biggest strengths.

Learning Moment Here:
Whenever you have a fighter who has the same style and/or attributes as strengths as their opponents but the opponents are either longer, stronger, more athletic or they are better at your strength than you.

That’s like Khabib fighting mid-level wrestlers like Al Iaquinta, Dustin Poirier, and Michael Johnson.

They all have above average wrestling for the UFC’s Lightweight Division but Khabib’s is elite and he ate them alive.

  • Cory has made his money being the longer, more athletic guy and he faltered when he fought fighters who were simply longer and more athletic.
  • Now, Marlon isn’t a big long guy for the Bantamweight Division but he is still built incredibly well and has power in all 8 of his limbs.

I don’t think either fighter will have an issue with cardio or heart in this fight.

Both guys are patient strikers and I think the vast majority of the fight will play out with these two on their feet.

I think the larger Octagon does help Cory here as he will likely be the guy circling and jabbing his shorter stockier Brazilian opponent.

I mentioned that I thought the betting line was off for this matchup.

BetOnline.AG has the goods for us. Let’s take a look at those betting odds and make our pick for a winner or possibly hit a play on the round total or a decision prop.

Sandhagen (-160) Vs Moraes (+140)


I could see this one flipped and it would make much more sense to me.

Where did it open?

The betting odds did open with Marlon as the (-135) favorite.

This should be a striking match and I love how Cory matches up in the measurables.

His jab and low kick might be enough to keep the Brazilian knockout artist away long enough to earn him a decision win.

The fight will be 5 rounds, though, and I believe that favors Marlon.

If Cory was more of a pressure fighter, I could see a path to victory for him by wearing his sea level-trained opponent out while his mile-high cardio is on cruise control.

He’s not a pressure fighter, though, and even if he was, I don’t think he would be able to walk down Moraes without likely walking into something that would hurt him.

The betting line opened up and some money, either smart or dumb, saw Cory Sandhagen at (+115) and saw some value there.

They went through some of the same mental processes that we just did I’m sure.

Moraes has the experience, the power, the big wins, etc but striking is his thing and he is going up against a good one who has almost half a foot in height and a few inches in the reach department.

As I mentioned in the opener, I didn’t get the chance to blindly handicap this matchup.

  • I feel like I would have gone with Marlon as the (-150) favorite.
  • Then Cory as the slight underdog at (+120).

That isn’t too far from where BetOnline.AG opened this one.

I can understand some of the line movement but I didn’t think we would get this far and I definitely don’t see the line moving more in Sandhagen’s direction.

We are getting Marlon Moraes at (+140) and I really don’t think this line will get any better.

Marlon can definitely win a decision as well. He isn’t just chasing a knockout but even if he was, he has an extra 10 minutes to work with in this 5-round main event.

My Pick
Marlon Moraes!

In Conclusion

To me, this is a no-brainer.

I turned mine on and went through the different potential paths to victory for each fighter and I think this one is pretty close to an even fight but I have to lean towards the Brazilian.

Cardio could be an issue but as I mentioned a moment ago, Sandhagen doesn’t have the style to push the pace and work in wrestling to wear out his opponent.

He likes to circle and counter, jab, low kick…

If and that’s a big IF Cory Sandhagen can find a way to be like water and change his style according to his opponent, I think he could get the win.

We can’t bet on that, though.

  • First of all, there aren’t many mixed martial artists who can shapeshift at the highest level.
  • Secondly, we have no way of knowing.

We just focus on what we do know.

Compare that to the betting line and make a play.

Or don’t.

Maybe the value just isn’t there. Maybe you and the sportsbooks are in 100% agreement.

That’s when it’s time to pass.

You guys don’t really see that side of the process simply because I don’t want you to read 1500 words only for me to pass on making the prediction.

Pro poker players play about 25% of the hands they are dealt.

Betting MMA isn’t that much different.

Most sharps are on about 3 betting plays per fight card which is around a quarter of the fights available for betting.

There’s a guy on Youtube and he knows his stuff and has a great return on investment over the past few years.

I had to stop watching him, though, because this guy would talk for over an hour just to tell his viewers that he is passing on the fight.

The principle is great and it would make you guys better at choosing which fights to bet on, being picky, etc.

But it’s time consuming enough to break down every fight I can only to pick 1 out of 4 to write about.

I don’t want you guys to think that I’m just picking a fight to bet on out of a hat essentially, and then seeing what we can do with the betting odds we are given. I suppose that is a good exercise to become more efficient.

If you’re playing with real money, though…

I like this play here. We sniped it early and don’t quote me on this but I think this is the best price we will see on Moraes, period.

Bet now or forever hold your horses.

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.