Fight Study (2/13/21)
With both fighters looking to rebound from losses, the middleweight bout between Julian Marquez and Maki Pitolo holds extra meaning for fighters looking to prove they belong in the UFC. Marquez is the betting favorite and his salaries in DFS contests will be the higher of the two. Those looking to roster him on DraftKings can do so for $8,700 while Fanduel players can put him into lineups for $19. Pitolo hopefuls can have him for $7,500 and $11 respectively. This fight is scheduled for three rounds although as a -165 to end inside the distance, the odds suggest this fight will conclude before reaching a decision.
Marquez is 7-2 as a professional with 6 wins by KO/TKO and 1 win by submission. He is 1-1 to date in his brief UFC career and he will be looking to bounce back from his last fight where he lost a split decision to Alessio Di Chirico more than two and a half years ago. In addition to the obvious COVID-19 reasons, his 31 month layoff can also be attributed to injury and an opponent missing weight. This is always a cause for concern, however, without the significant layoff he might be favored by more in this fight. Each of his victories have come inside the distance and he has 4 first round finishes to his credit. He will be the taller fighter by four inches on Saturday, but both fighters are equal in reach.
Pitolo has struggled in the UFC with a losing record of 1-3 inside the octagon. As a professional he has a record of 13-7 with 7 wins by KO/TKO, 3 wins by submission and 3 wins by decision. In his last four victories, however, each have come inside the distance including a second round TKO in his only UFC win to date over Charles Byrd last June. His future in the UFC is in jeopardy, however, and he must prove himself against Marquez if he has hope to remain with the promotion as a third consecutive loss will not impress Dana White. Although the pressure to win may have a negative effect on Pitolo, I believe his is more likely to fuel his fight on Saturday. In his 20 fight career, he has never lost three in a row.
There is no telling for certain how Marquez will respond to his extended layoff, but he is healthy and made weight on Friday. I believe he will be ready to go, but I also believe Pitolo will be at his best. At his best, Pitolo is a dangerous opponent and this fight feels like an upset waiting to happen. If Marquez comes out strong, then Pitolo may struggle, but if he does not I expect Pitolo to take advantage of any slow starts. His back is against the wall and he will be fighting for his career. I believe the Marquez layoff has as much to do with poor training habits as it did with bad luck. Don’t forget that in his last fight, Marquez came in 4 pounds overweight. Poor training also increases the likelihood of injury and the setbacks Marquez has suffered since his last fight could easily be due to his conditioning.
In DFS contests, I am inclined to favor Pitolo here. His salary is low and he seems to be the hungrier fighter. This is more of a feeling than I usually allow myself to put into a fight study article like this, but outside of his submission loss to Darren Stewart, Pitolo has been in every fight in the UFC. I encourage a great deal of caution on both sides of this fight, but I believe Pitolo makes an intriguing underdog play here. In 150-max contests I would play both sides of this fight but will give the greater number of lineups to Pitolo. I have serious doubts about Marquez’s preparedness on Saturday and wouldn’t be surprised to see Pitolo get a finish in this fight.
For more Fight Study, be sure to keep your eye on FantasyCruncher.com leading up to UFC 258 on February 13.
UFC 258: FIGHT #5, Marquez vs Pitolo
For Fight Study on UFC 258: FIGHT #3, Heinisch vs Gastelum, click HERE.
For Fight Study on UFC 258: FIGHT #6, Hernandez vs Vieira, click HERE.