Best Bets for Contender Series Week 8: Moneyline Bets, Prop Plays and Leans for All 5 Fights (Tuesday, September 26)

Contender Series Week 8 takes place on Tuesday night, and we've got bets and leans for all five bouts, where UFC hopefuls look to earn their way into the UFC octagon proper.

Season 7 Episode 8 of Contender Series streams tonight on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. New Contender Series events take place every Tuesday night and run through early October.

As with all UFC Contender Series events, some of tonight's DWCS winners – and even some of the losers – could earn a UFC deal. In fact, the Contender Series events have become one of the UFC's primary feeder systems.

UFC President Dana White is cageside for each show, and after each event, the UFC bos s will determine which fighters have earned an official UFC contract.

As a reminder, some sportsbooks can be slow to open Contender Series odds and betting markets – though nearly every major sportsbook eventually does post them.

(Don't forget that you can track your DWCS bets in the Action App.)

Bantamweight: Vincius Oliveira (-270) vs. Victor Hugo Madrigal (+220)

The first fight on Week 8 appears to be more of a showcase fight than a competitive matchup with Vinicius Oliveira opening as a heavy favorite. He opened around -400 depending on the book, but heavy underdog action has since pushed the line a bit closer.

Oliveira is an aggressive Brazilian with an 18-3 pro record with 14 knockout wins, the vast majority coming in the first round. He's at his best when keeping things at striking range, where he has an Anderson Silva-esque style, holding his hands low and relying on head movement an d footwork defensively. He has a tendency to get over-aggressive, which leads to opponents wrestling him and clinching, but he's strong off his back with great escapability.

In a perfect world, he's able to counter-strike, luring his opponents in with his hands low while sniping with shots from range. That requires a willing dance partner, of course, and a more measured, technical striker might be able to catch him.

Victor Hugo Madrigal also has extensive experience by Contender Series standards – with a 12-3 record coming in. He holds a win (in 2018) over current UFC fighter Cristian Quinonez, and like Oliveira, he has fought relatively stiff competition in his pre-UFC career. Two of his three losses were decisions, and he's finished 10 of 12 wins.

He fights from a more traditional muay Thai stance with a light front leg and hands held high. He also seems to be better when counter-attacking, but unlike Oliveira, he stalks his opponents in hopes of c atching them when they plant their feet and fire.

As with Oliveira, his wrestling is somewhat lacking, but his ground game is solid. In his last fight, he was taken down multiple times, but each time he was able to scramble to a dominant position. He eventually was able to secure a submission in the second round, but he generally isn't going to pursue the ground game.

This should be a fun fight with Madrigal stalking Oliveira and both men trying to land big shots. The movement on the moneyline feels right here, and I would've gladly bet Madrigal at the opening number. However, I'm not seeing much value in the range he's at now.

Instead, I'll be mixing my bets between the fight to end by knockout and Oliveira by knockout, depending on the price. Ideally, we're able to structure those bets so we break even on a Madrigal knockout but make a decent return if it's Oliveira, but we'll see how the fight plays out.

The Leans: Vincius Oliveira KO | Oliveira vs. Madrigal to end by KO

Women's Flyweight: Carli Judice (-166) vs. Ernesta Kareckaite (+140)

This card was originally supposed to feature the promotional debut of Sora Rakhmonova, younger sister of UFC welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov, tak ing on Ernesta Kareckaite. However, Rakhmonova was forced to withdraw, and Carli Judice has stepped in as a replacement.

This is a lower-level fight even by Contender Series standards with just eight fights between the two women. Judice is 3-0 with three first-round knockouts, but she has never fought an opponent with a winning record. On the other side, Kareckaite is 4-0-1 with two first-round knockouts and two-split decisions.

Kareckaite has fought slightly tougher competition, and her most recent win is over a previously undefeated (with four wins) opponent in France. She had previously fought that same opponent to a draw in 2021. The Lithuanian flyweight also has professional experience in boxing and kickboxing, which gives a solid clue as to her style.

I'm a bit surprised at the line here, especially considering the relatively short-notice nature of the fight for Judice. She certainly has a power edge, but I doubt she'll be able to find the mark agai nst a far more experienced opponent. Judice had her first fight in 2021; Kareckaite has been a professional kickboxer for more than eight years.

I'll take the fighter with more experience against tougher competition over a 3-0 can crusher any day, at least until Judice proves she can fight at this level. It might not be a contract-worthy performance, but Kareckaite should get it done. I'd bet her moneyline down to +130.

If you want to spice things up – and this prop is even offered – I also like the fight to end by split or majority decision with Judice's power optics a stark contrast to Kareckaite's more technical striking.

The Bet: Ernesta Kareckaite (+143 at BetRivers)

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