UFC 299: Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera 2 Prediction, Pick and Odds (Back this 11-2 Trend)

History suggests that the UFC will crown its first Ecuadorian champion on March 9.

Mar 25, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Marlon Vera (red gloves) fights Cory Sandhagen (blue gloves)
Mar 25, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Marlon Vera (red gloves) fights Cory Sandhagen (blue gloves) / Aaron Meullion-USA TODAY Sports

The "Suga Show" era is among us as Sean O'Malley will kick off his title reign with a rematch against Marlon "Chito" Vera in the UFC 299 main event.

The two fighters initially met at UFC 252 in 2020 with Vera (23-8-1) winning by first-round TKO after O'Malley (17-1, 1 NC) suffered drop foot as a result of an absorbed leg kick. To this day, O'Malley continues to discredit the loss and call himself undefeated.

Since the loss, O'Malley has won five of his last six fights with one no-contest due to an eye poke. O'Malley gained the title with a second-round TKO of former champion Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292.

As the only fighter to currently own a win over O'Malley, Vera last beat Pedro Munhoz at UFC 292 and has also won five of his last six fights. As the UFC has heavily promoted during fight week, Vera holds the record for the most finishes in bantamweight history with 10.

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Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera 2 Odds and Round Total

Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera 2 Best Bet

The odds are heavily leaning towards O'Malley picking up his first title defense but we are siding with Vera in this matchup. Stylistically, Vera poses an abundance of problems for O'Malley even excluding the first fight.

Both men will choose to strike if given their preferences, suggesting we will essentially get a kickboxing fight at UFC 299. O'Malley weaponizes his precision and volume, averaging 7.51 significant strikes per minute, while Vera holds elite power and unmatched defensive durability. In 22 UFC fights, Vera has recorded 12 knockdowns while never being knocked down himself.

The primary criticism of Vera has been his lack of activity and wrestling defense. O'Malley has landed a takedown against just one opponent in the UFC to date, giving little indication he can exploit the weaknesses shown in Vera's game in his previous fights with Cory Sandhagen, Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.

Against opponents who accrued less than four minutes of control time against him, Vera is 11-2 in the UFC, an 84 percent clip.

Opponents who beat Vera in the UFC averaged four minutes and 14 seconds of control. In his 12-fight UFC career, O'Malley has a grand total of one minute and 55 seconds of control time.

In a pure striking battle, Vera is simply just built for five-round fights and consistently continues to ascend the longer the fight goes. O'Malley has faded in the later rounds of fights before, suggesting he will need an early finish to keep his belt against an opponent who has seemingly unbreakable durability.

Prediction: Marlon Vera by KO/TKO in round four

Best bet: Marlon Vera inside the distance (+375)

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.