Alex Perez acknowledges he isn't yet a household name to many MMA observers, but the fourth-ranked flyweight has vowed to "steal the show" on Saturday when he challenges champion Deiveson Figueiredo for the belt in the main event of UFC 255. Their showdown closes the curtain on the UFC showcase from the Apex facility, with the main UFC 255 fight card scheduled for 10 p.m. ET. Perez stepped in when Cody Garbrandt, the originally scheduled opponent for Figueiredo, had to withdraw because of an injury.
Perez told the media he understands that Garbrandt, a former champion, is the better-known name among MMA observers, but the only way to change that is by pulling the upset of Figueiredo in the UFC 255 main event. Figueiredo is a -300 favorite (risk $300 to win $100), while Perez is a +250 underdog in the latest UFC 255 odds from William Hill Sportsbook. In the co-main event, women's flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko (-1,450) defends her belt against third-ranked Jennifer Maia (+850). Before making any UFC 255 picks, make sure you see what SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley has to say, considering the epic run he's on.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every professional MMA card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past 21 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up more than $21,000. The accomplished MMA analyst has been on a memorable tear in 2020 as he has hit on 24 of his last UFC 32 main-event selections, a stretch that included a streak of five straight underdogs. At UFC Fight Night last week, Marley advised SportsLine members to back Ashley Yoder (+110) against Miranda Granger (-130) in a women's strawweight battle on the main card. Yoder controlled the action to win a lopsided unanimous decision and give Marley's followers another easy winner. Anyone who has consistently followed him is way up.
Now, with UFC 255 fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available here.
Figueiredo vs. Perez preview
Marley knows the main event provides a platform for Figueiredo (19-1) to prove he is one of the most skilled fighters in the UFC. There are many observers who believe the Brazilian could be a dominant champion for years to come. However, widespread recognition has been slow to come his way to this point in his career.
This is in part because the men's lower weight divisions tend to draw less natural interest than their heavier counterparts. Moreover, Figueiredo, 32, didn't earn many new supporters with his second-round stoppage victory over Benavidez in February in their first meeting.
They met again five months later and Figueiredo left no doubt. He made weight and finished Benavidez in the first round to capture the crown and give UFC followers no choice but to respect his skill set.
Although a fight against Cody Garbrandt, the flashy and brash former titleholder, might have generated more public interest, Perez (24-5) is similarly a world-class fighter who arguably has yet to receive his due.
The 28-year-old Californian has won six of his seven appearances under the UFC banner while facing a steady diet of top-notch competition. His lone defeat came against Benavidez, who remains the division's top-ranked challenger.
Perez has fought twice this year, and neither of his opponents made it out of the first round. He is coming off a rare leg-kick stoppage in June against Jussier Formiga, who has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the division. You can see Marley's coveted Figueiredo vs. Perez picks here.
Top UFC 255 predictions
We'll share one of Marley's UFC 255 predictions here: He is picking Daniel Rodriguez (-330) to take a decision victory against Nicolas Dalby (+260) in a clash of welterweight prospects.
Rodriguez (13-1) has garnered the attention of MMA observers and UFC brass by winning his first three bouts with the promotion in impressive fashion, with two stoppages among the victories. The 33-year-old California received a Performance of the Night bonus for his second-round submission of veteran Tim Means in February. He also stopped Dwight Grant in the first round of their August fight.
Dalby (18-4-1) is in his second stint with the UFC. His first go-around resulted in a 1-3-1 record, though the draw came against eventual title-challenger Darren Till. The 36-year-old Danish fighter has split two bouts since his return and is hoping to rebound from a submission loss to Jesse Ronson in July.
"Rodriguez strikes at a high pace that Dalby might not be able to handle. He has power in his hands and also has a sneaky grappling game," Marley told SportsLine.
How to make UFC 255 picks
Marley also has strong picks for Figueiredo vs. Perez and every other bout on the UFC 255 card. He is also backing a fighter who "has a big edge anywhere his fight goes." Those selections are only available here.
Who wins Figueiredo vs. Perez? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 255, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $21,000 on MMA bets and has nailed 24 of the last 32 main events, and find out.
UFC 255 odds
Deiveson Figueiredo (-300) vs. Alex Perez (+250)
Valentina Shevchenko (-1,450) vs. Jennifer Maia (+850)
Mike Perry (-145) vs. Tim Means (+125)
Cynthia Calvillo (-240) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (+200)
Paul Craig (-165) vs. Mauricio Rua (+145)
Brandon Moreno (-185) vs. Brandon Royval (+165)
Joaquin Buckley (-260) vs. Jordan Wright (+220)
Antonina Shevchenko (-160) vs. Ariane Lipski (+140)
Daniel Rodriguez (-330) vs. Nicolas Dalby (+260)
Alan Jouban (-130) vs. Jared Gooden (+110)
Kyle Daukaus (-270) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (+230)
Louis Cosce (-400) vs. Sasha Palatnikov (+320)