This the 30th edition of rapid fire quick picks for UFC Vegas 65. A decent offering from the UFC but it has a hard act to follow in the wake of UFC 281 which was probably one of the best PPV cards of the year.
I went 10-4 on my predictions for 281 which served me well on the money line but I lost about $150 on my DK tournaments so I'm not exactly pleased with the results. Much like the sport of MMA itself, MMA gambling/DFS is unforgiving and it sucks to be on the wrong side when the dust settles. Nonetheless, I am about this life and I will always try again regardless of outcomes and results, I absolutely love this sport and I thoroughly enjoy gambling on it so it's onto the next. These are my picks and plays for UFC Vegas 65.
NATALIA SILVA -175 (13-5-1) vs TEREZA BLEDA +150 (6-0)
I got stung betting against SILVA in her debut last time out, like many others in the MMA community I was deceived by the tape that was available on her which was somewhat unimpressive. However, she performed like a bonifide contender once she stepped into the octagon. In fact she made Jasmine Jasduvisius look like she had no business being in there with her and it cost me. I'm not overly familiar with BLEDA but based on her DWCS appearance, she looks like she has decent wrestling, she also looks pretty strong and durable but I still think this is SILVA all day. I think she bounces BLEDA from the ranks of the undefeated with relative ease and continues her ascent towards the rankings. My only concern is that she could turn out to be one of those fighters who has a lackluster sophomore outing after a brilliant debut(a La Victor Henry) but barring that I feel like she has a very high ceiling which makes her a pretty good bet in my estimation. I think she gets it done by decision but I'm not ruling out a finish against the debuting BLEDA so I'm just going to play the SILVA ML and use her in a parlay.
BRADY HIESTAND -155 (6-2) vs FERNIE GARCIA +135 (10-2)
I'm picking HIESTAND for the win here, he's a very good grappler and he has excellent cardio as evidenced in his TUF finale versus RICKY TERCIOS, which was one of the best TUF finals I've seen in recent years. I expect GARCIA will probably have a striking advantage but I'm hoping HIESTAND'S ground game will nullify that and that he will notch his first UFC victory. I haven't seen a whole lot of these two but I'm far more impressed with what HIESTAND brings to the table. That said I'm going to pass on this one because I feel like this will be a high variance contest that will probably turn into a good old fashion octagon war.
VENESSA DEMOPOULOS +100 (8-4) vs MARIA OLIVEIRA -120 (13-5)
I don't think either one of these ladies can be counted out in this spot but the image of OLIVEIRA licking blood off of her gloves in her last outing versus GLORIA DE PAULA is burned into my brain. She was downright nasty in that fight and her athleticism was on full display as she soundly out struck De Paula. That said, DEMOPOULOS has shown herself to be very durable and very game and she has cashed twice in a row as an underdog, she also has good jiujitsu and elite cardio so I really don't know who gets their hand raised here. I'm going to pick OLIVEIRA for the sake of this article and I think she probably gets it done by decision but this is a no bet for me. This should be a good fight.
RICKY TERCIOS -150 (12-3) vs KEVIN NATIVIDAD +130 (9-3)
TERCIOS looked terrible last time out versus AIMANN ZAHABI, he was flailing and trying futile misdirection tactics that made him look rather foolish. He also did a lot of swinging and missing which left me wondering how he ever managed to become a TUF champion. NATIVIDAD has been knocked out in both of his UFC appearances so he doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. It's probably safe to assume that he will lose his spot on the roster if he doesn't have a good showing here but there's no telling how that kind of pressure will affect him. I should probably just pass on this one but I'm going to go with my gut and take the plus money dog shot on NATIVIDAD. I have zero confidence in either one of these guys but something tells me NATIVIDAD will find a way to get his hand raised and so I'm going to test my intuition and hope for the best. To be clear this is not the kind of fight that I should be betting on so I will be proceeding with caution, but the smart play is an outright pass.
VINCE MORALES +120 (11-6) VS MILES JOHNS -140 (12-2)
I'm going with JOHNS here, he has the wrestling advantage and I think he will have a power advantage despite being a slightly inferior striker. This will be another pass for me though because both guys have shown pretty big holes in their respective games. This could play out to be a pretty close fight if both guys show up as the best version of themselves but something tells me that whoever wins will end up looking like a 3 to 1 favourite and I have absolutely no idea who that will be so this is a hard pass for me. My pick is JOHNS but this is a no bet.
JENNIFER MAIA +145 (19-9-1) vs MARYNA MOROZ -170 (11-3)
I'm picking MOROZ for the win here but I'm not sure if I want any interest at these odds, MOROZ is the more technical fighter and she showed big improvements in her last outing but MAIA is a tough chutebox fighter, who is very durable and very experienced. I expect her to give MOROZ a really good fight and it would not surprise me if she managed to pull off the upset. This should be MOROZ but I'm not really not liking these odds, I think this will hit the scorecards and if MAIA makes it competitive the way she usually does there is no telling how the judges will score it. My pick is MOROZ but I'm not betting on this one.
CHARLES JOHNSON -155 (11-3) vs ZHALGAS ZHUMAGULOV +135 (14-7)
I like JOHNSON for the win here, the fact that he was able to go the distance with Muhammad MOKAEV in his debut was impressive to me but it does raise concerns about how he will fare against ZHALGAS' ground attack. However based on the tape I've seen I expect Johnson will be able to out strike ZHALGAS and he should be able to hold his own if they scramble. ZHALGAS was highly touted when he came into the UFC but he hasn't lived up to expectations so while he is a gritty experienced fighter he hasn't been very impressive at the UFC level. This is another close fight and I would feel much better about betting JOHNSON if he had at least one UFC victory under his belt but I'm probably going to play him to win by decision in this spot. However I think FGTD is probably a good bet so I might look to parlay that with something else.
JACK DELLA MADDELENA -450 (12-2) vs DANNY ROBBER'S +360 (18-6)
I think this is DELLA MADDELENA all day, this guy has exceptional boxing and he's very well rounded. I fully expect that he will be a top 15 fighter before too long and that he will win quite a few fights moving forward. ROBERTS is a good striker but he's somewhat of a busted prospect and I really don't like the way he reacts when he gets tagged. He was rocked on multiple occasions in his last outing and I think DELLA MADDELENA will test his chin early and often in this match up, I'm going to play DELLA MADDELENA to win by KO and I will look to use him in a parlay, this is probably my most confident play on the entire card.
CODY BRUNDAGE +155 (8-2) vs RODOLPHI VIERA -180 (8-2)
I have to go with the world class jiujitsu of VIERA in this spot, I think the striking will probably be pretty even but if this fight hits the floor it should be all VIERA. BRUNDAGE is the better wrestler but I'm not sure he will want to engage on the ground. However BRUNDAGE has been undervalued thus far and he's come through as a sizeable underdog in his last two outings so I'm not sure I want to bet against him because seems to defy the odds pretty consistently, also it's probably safe to assume that BRUNDAGE will have the cardio advantage here and cardio is king in a close fight. I wanted to bet on VIERA by submission but I have concerns about what he will look like if this fight gets extended into the 3rd round. This is yet another no bet for me but my pick is VIERA.
ANDRE FIALHO +105 (16-5) VS MUSLIM SALIKHOV -125 (18-3)
Both of these guys were brutally knocked out in their last outings and I fully expect that one of them will be going down again in this matchup but I really have no clue who it will be. This fight is lined this closely for good reason. SALIKHOV is the more dynamic striker but FIALHO has the power advantage as well as the edge in youth. FIALHO is probably the better grappler here as well but that is debatable. All things considered I'm going with the youth and power in this spot. It's basically a coin toss but I suspect that SALIKHOV's age is starting to be a factor so I'm going to play the FIALHO ML and I will probably play him to win by KO. It's not a confident position but I feel like it's a reasonable plus money opportunity that has a good chance of cashing. This should be a great fight for as long as it lasts.
CHASE SHERMAN +160 (16-10) VS WALDO CORTES-ACOSTA -185 (8-0)
I'm going with CORTES-ACOSTA in this matchup, he just fought and won his debut a couple of weeks ago and I'm not a fan of quick turnarounds but I feel like his pressure and size will be too much for SHERMAN. SHERMAN managed to snap a big losing streak in his last outing but I'm still not convinced that he's turned a corner. That said we haven't seen enough of CORTES-ACOSTA to know how good he actually is so SHERMAN could conceivably give him a vet lesson in this spot. It's almost a certainty that this will be a kickboxing match and I'll be amazed if one of these guys doesn't go down before the final bell. FDGTD interests me quite a bit here as long as it's not too chalky, I also like CORTES-ACOSTA by KO.
KENNEDY NZECHUKWU -170 (10-3) vs ION CUTELABA +145 (16-8-1)
I'm going with NZECHUKWU here, but again I'm not liking the odds so I'm probably just going to pass from a betting standpoint. NZECHUKWU is very durable and while he can be a little slow and lumbering he has bonafide knock out power when he lands. The same can be said about CUTELABA though and he will likely have a wrestling advantage here so I'm not feeling NZECHUKWU at -170. CUTELABA is on a losing streak so I imagine he'll be looking to get back on track at all costs which will make him even more dangerous than he usually is, in fact this might be a dog or pass situation based on that alone but again the odds are just not enticing enough either way, which seems to be a bit of a theme on this card. This should be a good fight for as long as it lasts but there's not enough on either side for me to take a position.
DERRICK LEWIS +150 (26-10) VS SERGEY SPIVAC -175 (15-3)
I expected LEWIS to be the favourite here but after replaying both of their last few fights in my minds eye I tend to agree with the bookies that SPIVAC is the rightful favourite. He should be able to take LEWIS down fairly easily if he gets a hold of him but I'm not so sure he will be able to keep him down. LEWIS has a way bench pressing his opponents off of him when he decides he wants up and if he manages to get on top he can rain down viscous fight ending bombs on just about anyone. I also think LEWIS can win this fight on the feet, so even though SPIVAC is the rightful favourite, I think I'm going to take the plus money dog shot on the black beast. I'm going to play the LEWIS ML and I'm probably going to hit the LEWIS KO prop. It's not a confident bet though because SPIVAC is a great grappler. This is another fight where whoever wins will probably look like a 3 to 1 favourite. This entire card is littered with stingy odds and coin toss match ups so it's really not a great card from a betting standpoint but I really think these fights will be violent and volatile which should prove to be very entertaining. However there is nothing more entertaining than cashing bets so I can only hope that my reads are accurate and that my action will prove to be profitable.
As always fade me or follow me at your own peril and above all enjoy the fights!