It has been almost a month since the UFC last held an event. While we have to wait one more week for our first pay-per-view event of the year, UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Chikadze is officially upon us. Let’s take a closer look with our Royval-Bontorin UFC picks.
Two flyweights will go at it on Saturday in an under-the-radar top 10 matchup. Royval (No. 5) is four fights into his UFC career and he’s 2-2, as he comes into this fight on a two-fight slide having last lost to Alexandre Pantoja via submission in August.
As for the seventh-ranked Bontorin, May brought a much-needed victory, following a two-fight slide of his own in which he looked outmatched by both Ray Borg and Kai Kara-France.
Here are my Royval-Bontorin picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC flyweight bout (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Royval vs. Bontorin Fight Info
Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV
SEE ALSO: Kattar vs. Chikadze Picks
Royval vs. Bontorin Odds Analysis
This one opened up in somce places as an even fight split -110 both ways, before reopening with Royval as the heavy -175 favorite. Since then, it’s mostly stayed the same with Royval as low as -168 and Bontorin as low as +140 at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Brandon Royval Betting Profile
Getting all the way to the top of his previous promotion Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA), Royval won the Flyweight Championship before joining the UFC in May 2020. Racking up two straight wins, his second over the top-ranked Kara-France, Royval looked on a crash course for a shot at the UFC’s flyweight belt.
Brandon Moreno had other ideas. Losing that fight to Moreno in the first round via TKO, Royval looked lost in the fight that followed and lost to Pantoja via a rear-naked choke submission in the second round.
A Muay Thai expert, Royval comes into this fight with a significant strike landed per minute clip of 3.44 (vs. 2.82 for Bontorin), but he tends to lean on his grappling which has a 100% takedown accuracy. Additionally, 67% of his wins have come via submission.
Rogério Bontorin Betting Profile
Bontorin bounced around from one promotion to the next before landing in the UFC via Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018, winning three straight fights as he climbed the flyweight rankings.
After a hard-fought decision loss to Borg in February 2020, Bontorin got clipped by Kara-France in the first round just over one year later. Having last fought in May, he did grind out a no contest win vs. Matt Schnell which set him up for a shot to move back up the rankings with this one.
A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Bontorin also relies on a heavy dose of grappling with 65% of his wins coming on the ground. Coming into this fight, Bontorin is at a major disadvantage in striking, and while his takedown average per 15 minutes is slightly higher at 1.68 vs. 1.16, his 1.20 submissions per 15 minutes trail behind by 30%+ (1.2 vs. 1.74).
Royval vs. Bontorin Picks
Royval to win (-168) ★★
How fight will end: Points (+170) ★★★★
SEE ALSO: Chookagian vs. Maia Picks
Royval vs. Bontorin Predictions
Royval to win (-168)
While the juice is heavy, it’s for good reason, and I’m gladly laying it with Royval to get back in the win column.
Holding the edge in nearly every category, including takedown defense, which we didn’t even mention, I like for the much more dynamic fighter to come out with the victory.
He holds a 4-inch height advantage over Bontorin, which I expect him to use to pick him apart should he be allowed to stand and strike.
Fight to end via points (+170)
While I really like Royval to win, I can see a conservative approach with this potentially being a make-or-break fight for the once-rising, now sliding flyweight.
What I don’t see happening is a knockout, as you have to go all the way back to 2018 to find the last time Royval finished someone via TKO/KO. Look for him to either get the submission or grind out a decision win.
Royval-Bontorin picks made 1/12/2022 at 6:25 p.m. ET.