Thomas Almeida, Tarec Saffiedine and Renan Barao have been given a tentative stamp of approval by the oddsmakers with BetDSI.com.
Almeida (-151) will meet Cody Garbrandt (+131) in the UFC Fight Night 88 headliner on Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, as the Ultimate Fighting Championship pairs two of the most promising young fighters on its roster. Almeida and Garbrandt are a combined 28-0 with 26 finishes between them.
The 24-year-old Almeida, who splits his training between a Chute Boxe affiliate and the Macaco Gold Team, will carry a gaudy 20-0 record into the cage. He last appeared at a UFC Fight Night event on Nov. 7, when he knocked out Anthony Birchak 4:24 into the first round of their clash in Sao Paulo Brazil. Garbrandt operates out of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. He last fought at UFC Fight Night 83 in February, when he took care of Augusto Mendes with first-round punches.
In the co-main event, onetime UFC bantamweight champion Barao (-165) transitions to 145 pounds opposite Alliance MMA rep Jeremy Stephens (+140). Nova Uniao’s Barao, 29, has been away from the cage for nearly a year. He last appeared at UFC on Fox 16 in July, when he was cut down by fourth-round punches from then-bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. The 29-year-old Stephens has dropped three of four, including a unanimous decision defeat to Max Holloway at UFC 194 on Dec. 12.
Meanwhile, former Strikeforce champion Saffiedine (-140) confronts returning MMA Lab welterweight Rick Story (+120) in another featured attraction. Saffiedine has won six of his last seven bouts, most recently taking a three-round unanimous verdict from Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 18 in January. Story has not competed since earning a split decision over Gunnar Nelson in October 2014.
Other main-card favorites for UFC Fight Night 88: Vitor Miranda (-225) over Chris Camozzi (+190), Lorenz Larkin (-140) over Jorge Masvidal (+120) and Paul Felder (-260) over Joshua Burkman (+215).