There are currently twelve fights scheduled for UFC Vegas 65 this weekend after the news that Rodolfo Veira and Cody Brundage would no longer be taking place due to Veira dropping out of the fight.
While this definitely isn’t the best line-up on paper, we have definitely seen worse and there are still a few spots that I really like and will be betting on for this weekend.
Here are the OddSmokerMMA UFC Vegas 65 Picks & Predictions:
Natalia Silva – I have absolutely no intention of betting this fight as I think it’s a fairly close matchup between Silva and the undefeated Tereza Blada. Neither has much/any UFC experience, so there isn’t a lot of statistical information out there for these two. Blada will have 5″ height and 6″ reach advantages here, which could cause Silva some issues if the fight stays on the feet. Both have positive striking differentials, but Silva showed more volume in her UFC debut. Blada is a solid fighter who will likely have some success in the UFC, but I still think Silva is the more dangerous fighter in this matchup and will likely get this one done via submission or decision.
Brady Heistand – This is another fight that I probably won’t be touching with my money (you’ll notice a theme there from me not wanting to touch most of these prelims for this weekend). Neither fighter is overly impressive in my opinion, and both have faced competition with sub .500 records for their careers. Both have negative striking differentials, however, Heistand should have a pretty sizeable advantage in the grappling here. The problem with that is he will likely need to do some damage or chase submissions down there, because he still lost his last fight despite six takedowns and eight minutes of control time. This is a coin flip pick for me, but I’ll take Heistand to get this one via decision.
Maria Oliveira – This is another matchup on the UFC Vegas 65 prelims that is pretty evenly matched for the most part in my opinion. Vanessa Demopoulos has shown to be a dangerous fighter, particularly with her armbar submissions when she can catch her opponents. However, she has horrible takedown accuracy at only 7% and will be at a whopping 10″ reach disadvantage to Oliveira. Oliveira doesn’t have exceptional takedown defense, but I think it will hold up enough in this fight for her to pick up a decision win over Demopoulos. Like a vast majority of this undercard, this is another fight that I probably won’t be betting on this weekend.
Ricky Turcios – I have absolutely zero confidence in either one of these fighters if I am being completely honest. Kevin Natividad has been knocked out in both of his UFC fights so far, and while Turcios has the ability to have high output striking displays, none of that was on display in his most recent outing. Natividad has a 66% finish rate in his career with five knockouts, so it’s entirely possible he could catch Turcios here and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. However, I think Turcios will most likely be able to avoid being put out and will probably get this one done via an ugly decision. Natividad has been knocked out in all three of his losses, so I wouldn’t entirely rule out Turcios putting him away either.
Miles Johns – This should be a pretty fun matchup here between Johns and Vince Morales. Morales has stopped eight of his eleven career victories, with six of them coming via knockout, while John has stopped six of twelves with four knockouts. Johns has the advantages in the striking and grappling numbers; however, he is taking this fight on short notice, which could be an issue depending on where his conditioning is at and if he was actively staying ready for a fight. Despite the short notice, I think Johns is the better overall fighter in this matchup and should pick up the win over Morales with a decision or potentially even a late stoppage.
Jennifer Maia – In general, I’m usually not a fan of picking fighters who are coming off rough skids in their careers, particularly when they are facing competition who, by most accounts, is on the rise. However, I really like Maia in this matchup despite the fact she has dropped three of her last four fights. Her losses have come against the very best in the division, and while I think Maryna Moroz is definitely talented and might have the better long-term success, she also isn’t quite on that same level as Shevchenko, Chookagian, and Fiorot just yet. I think there’s a pretty good chance this one ends up going to a decision, and I’ll take the experience of Jennifer Maia here at plus money to pull off the upset.
Charles Johnson – Neither of these fighters have found much success so far in their time in the UFC and both could definitely use a win in this matchup. Johnson was mostly ragdolled in his UFC debut against Muhammad Mokaev, which to be fair, is something that occurs to a majority of his opponents. Zhumagulov is 1-4 so far in the UFC and has not looked overly impressive in those spots. Johnson will have sizeable 5″ height and 4″ reach advantages in this one, and I think he will be able to have much more success in this matchup against an opponent who isn’t nearly the level of grappler as Mokaev. I like Johnson to grind this one out via decision or potentially pick up a late TKO/KO finish if he can wear out Zhumagulov down the stretch.
Jack Della Maddalena – Maddalena is easily my favorite pick on this card, and it seems that the bookmakers have a similar opinion, as JDM is comfortably the widest betting favorite on the card (he’s in the -500 range at most of the books right now and the line is still growing). Danny Roberts is a decent fighter in his own right, but Maddalena is going to be the more dangerous striker in this matchup, and he should put away Roberts via knockout fairly early. Roberts has been stopped in five of his six losses, while Maddalena has stopped eleven out of twelve with ten of them coming via knockout or TKO. That’s not a great recipe for Roberts in this one. I’ll take JDM by KO in the first two rounds.
Andre Fialho – This fight is probably going to go either one of two ways: either Fialho finds a fairly early knockout or he’s likely in for a long fifteen minutes with Muslim Salikhov. I wouldn’t necessarily say Fialho is a KO or bust fighter, but it will definitely be his best chance of getting the win here. Salikhov is 18-3 for his career, but he has been stopped in all three of those losses and is coming off a pretty nasty KO to Li Jiangling in his most recent fight. Fialho will be the younger fighter by a ten-year gap, and I think that will show early in this fight as Fialho will likely throw heavy, early, and often in this one. I’ll take Fialho to bounce back here with an early knockout win sometime in the first two rounds.
Chase Sherman – This will be uncharted territory for me, as I have never picked or bet on Chase Sherman to win a fight in the UFC. However, I really like him in this matchup against Waldo Cortez Acosta. Despite having an abysmal 4-9 record in the UFC so far, a majority of Sherman’s losses have come against opponents who are either solid grapplers or at least have found enough success there to get the job done against him. However, there will be almost no takedown threat from WCA in this matchup, so I’ll take the experience of Sherman here. Cortez Acosta fought less than a month ago and had his leg chewed up pretty bad in that fight. I find it hard to believe that it has healed up all the way, and even if it has, Sherman should still be able to pick apart the legs of WCA in this one. Sherman has stopped 15 of his 16 career wins via KO or TKO, and I could actually see him putting away Cortez Acosta late here.
Kennedy Nzechukwu – This should be a fun fight for however long it might last. Ion Cutelaba will almost certainly come into this fight looking to push the pace early, but unless he can get this one done in the first round, I don’t like his chances beyond that point. Nzechukwu will have sizeable 4″ height and 8″ reach advantages and has shown to have pretty solid takedown defense so far in the UFC. If Cutelaba can’t find success getting this one to the ground, I think Nzechukwu will be able pick him apart on the feet and likely put him away in the second or third round here. Nzechukwu has a 70% knockout rate in his ten career wins and think he can pick up another one against Cutelaba.
Sergei Spivac – I absolutely love Derrick Lewis and it saddens me when I have to pick against him, but I really Spivac in this matchup. Lewis is the best knockout artist in UFC history, and he is always live to end a fight with one strike. The problem is that Lewis is starting to get up there in age now and has openly admitted to hating five-round fights, so without an early knockout, I think his odds of winning this fight are almost non-existent. Spivac will definitely have the grappling advantage, and while Lewis has shown a pretty good ability throughout his career of being able to find his way back up when he has been taken down, I’m not sure he’ll be able to do that for a full twenty-five minutes. I absolutely love this fight to end inside the first three rounds and I think Spivac will continue his rise up in the heavyweight rankings by wearing out Lewis and eventually getting him out of there in the middle rounds.
My favorite picks for this card are JDM and Spivac, while Maia and Sherman are probably my favorite picks to pull off upsets.
I won’t be running a very big betting card for this event since there aren’t very many spots that I love, but there will be a few that I really like, so be sure to check back tomorrow after weigh-ins for the complete OddSmokerMMA UFC Vegas 65 Betting Card.
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