A potential title shot could be at stake Saturday when veteran ranked bantamweight contenders Marlon Vera and Dominick Cruz meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Cruz. Their showdown closes the curtain on the main UFC San Diego fight card (7 p.m. ET) from Pechanga Arena. The No. 8-ranked Cruz is a popular former champion who is trying to make his way back to the top after a series of injuries caused a nearly four-year hiatus in his career. He has won two straight fights but faces a daunting challenge in the No. 5-ranked Vera, a rugged veteran who could get closer to sealing his first title shot with a signature victory over a former champion.
Vera is a -250 favorite (risk $250 to win $100), while Cruz is a +210 underdog in the latest UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Cruz odds from Caesars Sportsbook. The co-main event showcases featherweight prospects as David Onama (-290) meets Nate Landwehr (+245). Before locking in any UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Cruz picks, make sure you check out the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Andrew Gombas.
Gombas is a former NCAA wrestler who taps into his experience on the mat to help understand and dissect the X’s and O’s of MMA matchups in a manner that sets him apart from other MMA analysts. He started the MMA handicapping service MMA Knockout Bets in 2018 and has shown a profit every year since.
With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000.
At UFC 275 in June, Gombas swept the board with his main-card picks and the five-fight sweep included telling SportsLine members to back Jake Matthews (+125) against Andre Fialho (-145) in a matchup of welterweight prospects. Matthews dominated and scored a second-round stoppage to give Gombas’ backers another easy winner. Anyone who has followed Gombas already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Cruz approaching, Gombas has studied the card from every angle and released his top MMA picks. Gombas’ UFC Fight Night picks are only available at SportsLine.
UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Cruz preview
The main event will help create clarity at the top of a cluttered bantamweight division. Champion Aljamain Sterling is scheduled to face No. 2-ranked T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280 in October. Either Cruz or Vera could be in line for the winner because all the contenders ranked above them have come up short in title fights or eliminators.
Cruz (24-3) is a popular and proven veteran who also has found success as a UFC analyst, a pursuit he discovered while shelved from fighting because of numerous lingering injuries. The 36-year-old San Diego native believes he has one more title run left in him, and an impressive win Saturday could provide that opportunity.
The former champion faces a major litmus test in Vera (19-7-1), an eight-year UFC veteran whose resume includes several quality wins but who is still just 29 years old.
The sinister Ecuadorian brawler has seen his profile and ranking rise behind a 9-2 run in the past four years and a recent 4-1 stretch that includes numerous standout victories. Two years ago, he knocked out ultra-hyped prospect Sean O’Malley in the first round and is coming off a dominant five-round decision against rising contender Rob Font in April. Vera has earned three consecutive performance bonuses. You can only see who to pick at UFC Fight Night here.
UFC Fight Night predictions
We’ll share one of Gombas’ UFC Fight Night picks here: He is siding with Bruno Silva (-310) to get past Gerald Meerschaert (+255) in a matchup of middleweights.
Silva (22-7) is a power puncher and former M-1 Challenge middleweight champion who started his stint with the UFC by notching three consecutive knockout victories. However, the 33-year-old Brazilian is looking to rebound from his first loss with the promotion. He dropped a decision to Alex Pereira in March.
Meerschaert (34-15) is a six-year UFC veteran and one of the promotion’s most accomplished grapplers, as evidenced by his 26 career submission victories. The 34-year-old Wisconsin native has won three of his past four.
“Silva has a big power edge and is the better striker. Meerschaert is a tricky grappler who isn’t afraid to put himself in precarious positions. Sooner or later, I believe Silva will knock Meerschaert out,” Gombas told SportsLine. See who else to pick here.
How to make UFC Fight Night picks
Gombas also has strong picks for Vera vs. Cruz and other fights on the UFC Fight Night card. He’s also backing a fighter who has “power and an exciting style” to emerge with a dominant victory. Those UFC Fight Night picks are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins Vera vs. Cruz? And which fighter is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC Fight Night, all from the insider who’s up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out.
UFC Fight Night odds, fight card
Marlon Vera (-250) vs. Dominick Cruz (+210)
Cynthia Calvillo (-160) vs. Nina Nunes (+140)
Gabriel Benitez (-350) vs. Charlie Ontiveros (+290)
David Onama (-290) vs. Nate Landwehr (+245)
Ariane Lipski (-170) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (+150)
Ode Osbourne (-230) vs. Tyson Nam (+195)
Yazmin Jauregui (-190) vs. Iasmin Lucindo (+170)
Martin Buday (-250) vs. Lukasz Brzeski (+210)
Bruno Silva (-310) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (+255)
Youssef Zalal (-125) vs. Da’Mon Blackshear (+105)
Azamat Murzakanov (-155) vs. Devin Clark (+135)