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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Marlon Vera celebrates after his TKO victory over Frankie Edgar in their bantaweight bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Mike Stobe / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

A top-10 bantamweight showdown headlines the UFC’s return to California when Dominick Cruz meets Marlon Vera in the main event of UFC Fight Night San Diego on Saturday night. Read on for our Vera-Cruz UFC picks and predictions.

Quite possibly the greatest 135-pounder of all time, Cruz has seen his brilliant career repeatedly derailed by a series of injuries, completely robbing him of the legendary status that he’d no doubt enjoy had his knees not been constructed out of rubber bands and popsicle sticks.

In 2021, Cruz fought more than once in a year for the first time since 2016. He notched back-to-back decision victories over Casey Kenney and Pedro Munhoz.

The fifth-ranked bantamweight plying his trade in the UFC, Vera is slowly establishing himself among the division’s elite. He scored recent wins over Davey Grant, Frankie Edgar, and Rob Font as he continues a push toward a potential title shot.

A definitive win over Cruz would solidify “Chito” as a legitimate title contender, while a loss might force "The Dominator” to pursue his burgeoning broadcasting career full time.

Here are my picks and predictions for UFC Fight Night San Diego’s bantamweight showdown between Vera and Cruz (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook).

Vera vs. Cruz Fight Info

Date/Time: Saturday Aug. 13, 7 p.m. ET (main card)
TV: TSN, ESPN +
Location: Pechanga Arena, San Diego, CA

Vera vs. Cruz Odds Analysis

Vera opened as a -155 favorite, and that line has continued to move as we get closer to fight night. He can now be found as low as -265 depending on the sportsbook.

With a sparkling resume, there could be some value in backing Cruz, who is a +200 underdog despite being one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.

https://twitter.com/johnewing/status/1558453324004745216

Marlon Vera Betting Profile

An extremely durable fighter with an iron chin and legitimate knockout power, Vera has racked up four wins in his last five bouts, with his triumph over Font signaling him as a legitimate top-five fighter at 135 pounds.

Doing his best Terminator impression, Vera uses his aforementioned granite jaw to perpetually march forward, knowing that he’ll likely come out on top in a flat-out firefight. He’s not necessarily the best grappler or striker in the world, but he has a solid all-around game, hits extremely hard, and has great finishing instincts on the floor. That all allows him to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with sudden, fight-ending violence.

Dominick Cruz Betting Profile

Historically one of the most elusive fighters in all of MMA, Cruz established himself as an all-time great with a championship run that started more than a decade ago in the WEC. His career also includes high-profile wins over Joseph Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson, Urijah Faber, and TJ Dillashaw.

Although injuries have robbed him of his place atop the division, Cruz is still a top-10 fighter with a funky style that’s often hard for his opponents to crack. Cruz employs angles, feints, and constant movement to never allow them to get comfortable. He’s also an excellent wrestler, who unleashes reactive takedowns and perfectly-timed knee taps to drag the bout to the floor whenever he needs a change of scenery.

Vera vs. Cruz Picks

Vera vs. Cruz Predictions

Vera (-230)

I feel like a prime, non-injury-ravaged Cruz befuddles Vera over five rounds, easily outpointing Chito en route to a lopsided unanimous decision win. That said, we’re not looking at a prime Cruz. Vera is younger, has more tread on his tires, and is still on the upswing in his career.

I don’t expect Vera to put on a dominant performance, but his aggression and a few key, high-impact moments will be enough to sway the judges.

Fight will end by points (-195)

No matter who wins this bout, it will likely go to the scorecards. Sixteen of Cruz’s 24 victories have gone the distance, and he hasn’t finished an opponent since 2014. If you couple this lack of finish with Vera’s superhuman toughness (0 KO/TKO losses in his career), and I just don’t see Cruz winning in any other fashion.

On the other side of the cage, Chito has finished 15 of his 19 wins, but I don’t think he gets it done against Cruz. Cruz has been stopped only twice in his 27-fight career, and he’s faced the absolute elite the division has to offer. No matter who emerges with their hand raised, this bout will likely go the entire 25 minutes.

Where to Bet on Vera-Cruz Picks

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:

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Vera-Cruz picks made on 8/12/2022 at 8:55 a.m. ET