UFC on ESPN 9 Betting Pick: Tim Elliott vs Brandon Royval

I just finished up with the only heavyweight fight on the card now we move on to Saturday’s only flyweight fight. UFC veteran Tim Elliott welcomes submission ace Brandon Royval to the Octagon.

I’ll be honest with you guys. I went back and forth on this fight and how it related to the betting lines several times but sometimes letting it simmer leads to picking a winner. Cringeworthy, I know.

Speaking of cringeworthy, Tim Elliott’s fight IQ is something else. Whether he is purposely hitting fists with his head or continuously giving up his back and/or top position because he’s so confident in his scrambling ability.

He can scramble his but off but you can’t always rely on that to get you out of bad positions.

Tim has been fighting in the UFC for 8 years now but only has a record of 4-8. Yes, you read that correctly.

Why is he still with the organization with a winning percentage of .333? Well, he is exciting. He doesn’t mind putting himself in a position to lose the fight in order to get a finish.

He’s the opposite of Georges Safe Pierre, essentially. Easy, GSP fans! I’m kidding. 5 years is a long time to go without a finish in your prime, though.

Tim Elliott has lost 3 fights in a row before in the UFC. That’s when he got his walking papers, won three in a row over at Titan FC, then got his shot at the belt on The Ultimate Fighter reality show and tournament.

The winner of the show was set to get an immediate title shot at the only champ the Flyweight division had ever known, Demetrious Mighty Mouse Johnson.

Tim actually won the first round against DJ but the 125-pound GOAT settled in and won a unanimous decision.

Still, though, to win a round against DJ was amazing, and to do it after getting cut by the company had to make the loss just a little sweet.

He fought a BJJ specialist with bad wrestling, Louis Smolka, next and won a decision.

Then it was striking wiz Ben Nguyen, and the unthinkable happened. Nguyen took his back standing and finished him in the first with a rear-naked choke. Nobody saw that one coming!

As handicappers and bettors, we want to look for consistency. Tim Elliott doesn’t do anything consistently. He’s not Steve Kerr or Kyle Korver. He is more like JR Smith. Sorry, Tim. That was a low blow.

I guess it’s hard to make the streaky comparison with a fighter and shooter but the inconsistencies are there for both guys.

His opponent on Saturday is making his UFC debut. Statistically, that’s a point against young Brandon Royval.

Let’s examine the betting line and each fighter’s potential path(s) to victory. Then we can make our predictions for Tim Elliott vs Brandon Royval.

Tim Elliott (-170) vs Brandon Royval (+140)

Brandon is making his UFC debut and I think the first-time Octagon jitters might get him.

He is a gamer, all the way. The kid has a ton of heart, for sure, but sometimes in high-pressure unfamiliar situations like this, your heart can get the best of you.

The Denver native, Royval, though, does have that elevated cardio to fall back on if the adrenaline dump does happen.

The 27-year-old has had his last 9 fights with Legacy Fighting Alliance, a solid promotion that was bought out by the UFC and serves as a minor league if you will. He went 6-2 with 4 submissions including the last two fights by armbar.

One of his losses was against Casey Kenney who is close to a 3 to 1 favorite this week at a higher weight class. Kenney wasn’t able to finish him. In fact, “Raw Dog” has never been finished. That name. No comment.

I can definitely see a path to victory for both men and if Tim Elliott is Tim Elliott, then this path is going to have plenty of hairpin turns, roundabouts, and forks as well.

He’s up, he’s down, he’s left, he’s right. Tim Elliott is the model of unpredictability. This is true for his grappling style as well as his striking style.

On his feet, he will switch from a 45-degree stance to completely bladed, then completely square and back again.

His wrestling and submission defense, though, should be good enough to take Royval down a few times and avoid the armbar, sweep, or choke.

He has lost two fights in a row now, albeit against top 5 competition but nonetheless, he could get released from his contract if he loses on Saturday. I think that will have him more singularly focused come this weekend.

Elliott has been in there with better strikers, grapplers, and submission artists. He just has to fight within himself and most importantly fight with PATIENCE.

I feel like Tim has the worst ADD of anyone, ever. Don’t get me wrong. Part of his success can be attributed to his creativity but sometimes the chemist doesn’t need any more reactants.

He has the physical gifts and skills to win more fights than he has.

I do worry that Royval is such a gangster that he baits Elliott into a war on the feet or a dueling banjo-like submission symphony on the mat.

Elliott doesn’t need to do either to win. Will he, though? He is just 2-2 over the past 3 years.

Please Note:
  • His two losses to Deiveison Figueredo and Askar Ansarov were simply against better fighters, in my opinion.
  • His two victories over Louis Smolka and Mark De La Rosa were against guys he defeats more times than not.

I believe Brandon Royval falls into the second category here but we haven’t seen him compete inside the Octagon.

With the potential jitters of Royval, the desperation of Tim to keep his job, and the experience of Elliott, I think we can make the call for Tim to get his hand raised on Saturday.

The odds, though…

Casey Kenney is the former opponent of Royval who is most like Elliott and he defeated Brandon by unanimous decision.

Louis Smolka, a lengthy, game fighter who doesn’t mind playing guard off his back, is the closest thing to Brandon Royval we could find on Elliott’s rap sheet. Tim won that fight by unanimous decision.

Brandon is the much more explosive striker than Smolka but Elliott has the bounce in his step to match it.

Normally, it is impossible to find a “fight goes to a decision” betting line for a flyweight fight as even money. Well, Bovada has the line at -105.

There will likely be a handful of submission attempts in this fight but both men are such adept grapplers, I don’t believe any of them will stick.

  • If Tim didn’t need to be so careful in this fight, I would lean the other way but he needs to get his hand raised to keep his job. Discipline, Timothy!
  • If Elliott is winning the striking battle, he might just use his superior wrestling pedigree to keep the fight standing.

I definitely think we are going to the judges if that happens.

Elliott’s betting line has moved too far, though. I would rather get -105 for a flyweight fight to go the distance than bet on Tim Elliott to be logical. I suppose there is some overlap there but you win almost twice as much money with the fight goes to a decision bet.

My Pick
FIGHT GOES THE DISTANCE

In Conclusion

You can’t blink when the flyweights throw down!

Heck, I don’t know about you but I need slow motion sometimes. Without sound, I don’t know how the judges are able to effectively score a fight between two fast and skilled strikers.

The most advantageous way to slip a punch is by the slightest margin. Sometimes, the naked eye doesn’t pick that up.

Anderson Silva used to turn his chin with a punch like Muhammad Ali would do. The visual is the same as them taking one on the button but in reality, there is minimal to no contact.

While neither of these flyweights can strike or defend as well as those two legends, they are very fast!

We are dealing with a smaller cage also which helps the better wrestler and the fighter with less length in their limbs. Long arms and legs are fun and all until you realize that shorter arms and legs can fire faster.

I think Tim can bully Brandon on the feet a little bit and maybe get some desperation takedown attempts out of the Colorado-native.

That will likely lead to some top-ride time that will take us one step closer to our UFC betting play hitting for us.

Get your bets in now, guys, and enjoy the scrap on Saturday.

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.