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Best bets for UFC on ESPN 15 in Las Vegas

Alonzo Menifield has predicted that he’ll be a UFC contender after beating Ovince Saint Preux in their light heavyweight co-main event of UFC on ESPN 15 on Saturday night at the Apex facility in Las Vegas.

But handicapper Lou Finocchiaro doesn’t expect that to happen. Finocchiaro is backing Saint Preux, an even-money underdog to Menifield, as one of his best bets on the card.

Menifield (9-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC), 32, is coming off his first career loss, a unanimous decision against Devin Clark in June at UFC 250 after the knockout specialist stopped his first nine opponents.

Saint Preux (24-14), 37, is coming off a split decision loss to Ben Rothwell in a heavyweight fight in May and has height and reach advantages over Menifield.

“Saint Preux is the more experienced man. He’s very athletic, very well-rounded and is the more complete fighter than his opponent,” said Finocchiaro (@GambLou). “Menifield is the shorter, stockier, linebacker-looking fighter. He’s a little bit younger than Saint Preux, but he has only one way to win this fight. That’s to go out there and knock Saint Preux out.

“Menifield opened as a -140 favorite, but I think Saint Preux is the better fighter and should be -110 or -120 in this fight.”

Here are Finocchiaro’s other two best bets:

Hubbard (+101) over Solecki

Austin Hubbard split his last two UFC bouts against a pair of solid wrestling-based fighters, losing a unanimous decision to Mark Madsen in March before beating Max Rohskopf via TKO after Rohskopf quit between the second and third rounds.

“Hubbard has been in there his last two fights with very accomplished wrestlers. Now they give him another wrestler in Joe Solecki who’s not quite the wrestler the last two guys were,” he said. “Hubbard has had four UFC fights. This is only Solecki’s second. Hubbard knows what to expect and has more UFC experience.”

Rodriguez (no line) over Grant

Dwight Grant and Daniel Rodriguez each were scheduled to fight someone else on the card. But the welterweights were matched up against each other Friday when they each lost their opponents.

Odds hadn’t been posted on the fight Friday afternoon, but Finocchiaro likes Rodriguez in a closely-lined bout.

“Grant lost his second opponent. So this is now his third opponent and that’s really hard to prepare for,” he said. “I think he’ll be a little compromised by the fighter switch up. The first guy he was going to fight was primarily a guy who will try to wrestle, then he gets a guy who was supposed to be a striker. Now he gets a guy in Daniel Rodriguez who’s the real deal.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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