Weigh-ins are in the books, and we have an official fight card for UFC Vegas 68 tomorrow night, which will be headlined by Derrick Lewis and Serghei Spivac in a clash of ranked heavyweights.
All 24 fighters on the card successfully made weight, so we will have 12 fights tomorrow night. Keep in mind that this weekend’s card will have an unusually late start time compared to normal.
With that out of the way, let’s dive straight into this week’s OddSmokerMMA picks and predictions for UFC Vegas 68:
Tatsuro Taira – The biggest betting favorite of the card is opening the event, as 12-0 Tatsuro Taira takes on 8-1 Jesus Aguilar. Taira has a 75% stoppage rate and is 2-0 in the UFC, while Aguilar will be making his debut with the promotion. While Aguilar is a dangerous submission threat, with a 75% sub rate in his wins, Taira should be considerably better everywhere. He’ll have sizeable 3″ height and 7.5″ reach advantages in this matchup and should look to utilize both with his striking. While half of Taira’s wins have come via submission, he actually prefers to stand and strike unless opportunities arise, or he is forced to grapple. For more information on this one, check out my WagerWire Fighter Spotlight on Taira, but Taira should comfortably get this one on the scorecards or potentially via a late submission.
Denis Tiuliulin – Tiuliulin is 10-6 with nine knockouts and has been stopped in four of his six losses. Junyong Park is 15-5 with nine stoppages and he has been stopped in three of his five losses. Tiuliulin is 1-1 in the UFC thus far and is coming off a second-round knockout victory. Park has won five of his past six fights with four of them via decision. While Park will have a slight advantage in the striking differentials between these two fighters, Tiuliulin has the higher volume and will be the bigger, longer fighter here. Park does have the ability to get this one to the ground, however, Tiuliulin has shown decent takedown defense thus far. I think Tiuliulin will be able to avoid getting taken down and controlled and should be able to pick up the slight upset win here over Park, potentially via knockout or in a close decision.
Ji Yeon Kim – Kim is 9-6-2 with five stoppage wins and has never been stopped in her losses. She will be facing Mandy Bohm, who is 7-2 with both of her losses coming in her two UFC appearances. Kim has lost four straight and five of her past six fights, so both of these fighters are in need of a win. Kim has almost double the striking volume of Bohm, and in a matchup between two fighters who do not particularly look to grapple, I think that will play a huge role. Bohm has a negative striking differential and if she can’t find a way to get this one on the ground, I’m not seeing a path to victory for her in this one. I think Kim should be able to comfortably outpoint Bohm on the judges’ scorecards to pick up the victory.
HyunSung Park – This will be the first of four “Road to UFC” tournament finals fights and this one will be at flyweight. Park is 7-0 with six stoppages with three coming via each method. He’s 2-0 with two first-round stops so far in the RtU tournament. He’ll be facing 6-1 SeungGuk Choi, who is also 2-0 in the RtU tournament so far, however, both of his wins came via decision. Park is the higher volume striker here with a superior grappling game and should be able to get this one done. Choi has never been stopped, so it’s tough nail down a victory method here, but wouldn’t be surprised if Park gets another stoppage late in this one.
Rinya Nakamura – Nakamura is 6-0 with five stoppages and has gone 2-0 so far in the bantamweight bracket of the RtU tournament. He’ll be facing Toshiomi Tazama in this final’s matchup. Tazama is 10-2 with an 80% stoppage rate and has been knocked out in one of his two losses. Nakamura has ended both of his tournament fights with an average fight time of 2:53 and will be better everywhere in this matchup. He has a ridiculously solid striking volume with 7.48 strikes landed per minute while only absorbing 3.30 in return and will also have the better takedown accuracy and defense between the two. I think there’s a solid chance Nakamura puts this one away in the first two rounds via knockout.
JeongYeong Lee – Lee is 9-1 with seven stoppage victories and has never been stopped. He’ll be facing 21-3 Zha Yi in the RtU featherweight bracket final. Yi has 16 stoppages (six knockout/ten submission) and has been stopped in two of his three losses. Lee has won six consecutive fights, with the last three ending inside the first sixty seconds of the fight. He will have 3″ advantages in both height and reach, which should both come into play. Yi has a low striking output and likes to work his takedowns, which I don’t expect to be a good combo against Lee, who is equally dangerous on the feet and on the ground. I think Lee will get the victory in this one and most likely via another stoppage inside the smaller UFC Apex octagon.
Jeka Saragih – In the final RtU tournament matchup to decide the winner of the lightweight bracket, 13-2 Saragih will be facing 6-0 Anshul Jubli. Saragih is 2-0 so far in the tournament with both victories coming via nasty knockouts. He has stopped 12 of his 13 wins and has won four straight fights. Although he has been subbed in both of his losses, Jubli isn’t particularly dangerous as a submission threat and won his only RtU fight via split decision and was out struck and taken down four times during that fight. Saragih is the much more dangerous striker, and if the fight should go the ground, I expect him to be better there as well. I think Saragih gets the win in this one and wouldn’t be shocked to see another knockout victory for him to end the tournament.
Yusaku Kinoshita – Kinoshita is 6-1 with a 100% stoppage rate and his only loss came via DQ for cage grabbing in a fight he was otherwise dominating. He’ll be making his UFC debut against Adam Fugitt, who is 8-3 with seven stoppages and making his second UFC appearance. Fugitt will be the slightly taller fighter by one inch and will have a six-inch reach advantage, but that’s pretty much where the advantages end. Kinoshita is the younger fighter by over ten years and has the better striking volume and differential here. Fugitt also showed terrible takedown ability in his debut with only 12% accuracy on his attempts. Kinoshita should absolutely be able to get this one done another knockout win or a clear decision. Fugitt has been knocked out in two of three losses.
Dooho Choi – Choi is 14-4 with 12 stoppages and will be returning off a lengthy layoff with his most recent fight occurring in 2019. He has lost his last three fights dating back to 2016 but is 3-3 overall in the UFC. He will be facing Kyle Nelson, who is 13-5 with nine stoppages and looking to end a rough stretch of his own. Nelson is 1-4 thus far in the UFC and has been stopped three times in those losses. I wouldn’t recommend betting on this fight with both fighters looking rough for such extended periods and didn’t spend a ton of time researching as such, but I think Choi has a solid chance to get back into the win column this weekend either via knockout or decision. This is probably my least confident pick of the card.
Marcin Tybura – Tybura is 23-7 with 15 stoppages and has won six of his past seven fights, including a decision over Alexander Romanov in his last outing. He’ll be facing Blagoy Ivanov, who is 19-4 and coming into this off a win. Tybura will have sizeable 4″ height and 5″ reach advantages while also having better numbers pretty much everywhere. While Ivanov is coming off a win, he had lost his two previous fights and is only 3-3 in the UFC so far. Tybura is a long-time veteran of the promotion, stringing together a 10-6 record along the way. Tybura has looked really solid as of late and looked impressive in his win over Romanov, who is one of the better prospects currently trying to climb the heavyweight ranks. I think Tybura should be able to get this one done, although there’s a decent chance it will end up being via decision. Ivanov has only been stopped one time in his career and each of his last seven fights have all gone the distance.
Da Woon Jung – Jung is 15-3-1 with 13 stoppages (11 via KO/TKO) and he will be facing 13-7 Devin Clark tomorrow night. Jung is coming off a KO loss in his most recent fight but had gone 14-0-1 in the previous 15 fights. Jung will have the size advantages here and while both fighters have similar striking differentials, the power and volume clearly leans towards his favor as well. Clark is a solid fighter, particularly when he is able to stretch a fight out to decision, where he has gone an impressive 8-1 thus far on the cards. However, he has been stopped in six of his seven losses, and I think there is a very good chance that Jung can put him away inside the distance here as well. Jung should be the better fighter all around and I think he will get this one done via KO/TKO.
Derrick Lewis – The main event of UFC Vegas will feature 26-10 Derrick Lewis taking on 15-3 Serghei Spivac. Lewis has stopped 22 of his 26 wins with 21 of them via KO/TKO, however, he has now been stopped in eight of his ten losses and is coming off consecutive stoppage losses. Spivac is an extremely well-rounded fighter, particularly for the heavyweight division and he has won five of his previous six fights. While Lewis has undeniably struggled recently, he has faced some of the absolute best fighters in the division. Meanwhile, most of Spivac’s opponents have been decent (at best, in some cases) and the one time he faced a high-level competitor during that stretch in Tom Aspinall, he was submitted midway through the first round. While Lewis has been prone to being taken down in the past, he is rarely held there and controlled. If Spivac can’t ground Lewis and get this one over with relatively quick, I think Lewis quickly becomes the favorite here. He has shown the ability to handle fighters that have solid wrestling skills before (Curtis Blaydes), and I expect something similar here. Also, despite all of the pictures circulating showing Lewis looking much lighter, he still weighed in 10 lbs heavier than Spivac. I think Lewis will be a level above Spivac and add another knockout to his resume. Two of Spivac’s three losses have come via KO/TKO.
My four favorite picks for this card are Tatsuro Taira, Yusaku Kinoshita, Marcin Tybura, and Derrick Lewis. Other than Lewis, my favorite underdog of this week’s card is Jeka Saragih.
That does it for this week’s picks, be sure to check out our social media accounts later today and tomorrow for all of the bets that we’re running for UFC Vegas 68.
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