UFC Vegas 71: Pavlovich vs Blaydes – Full Picks & Predictions

The UFC is returning to Las Vegas after a month of events on the road and they have a massive headliner on deck with Sergei Pavlovich taking on Curtis Blaydes in matchup that will likely play a large role in the future of the UFC Heavyweight title picture.

After the promotion decided to push back Song Yadong vs Ricky Simon from this card to headline UFC Vegas 72 next weekend, we now have twelve bouts scheduled for this weekend’s event. Weigh-in results will be finalized here in a few hours, so be sure to keep an eye on our social media accounts or check back here for any late updates to the lineup. With that out of the way, here are the OddSmokerMMA Picks & Predictions for UFC Vegas 71:

Batgerel Danaa – Danaa is 12-4 with 10 stoppages (8 KO/TKO, 2 sub) and has been knocked out in one of his four losses. He’s entering this fight after back-to-back losses and has gone 3-3 overall in the UFC with all three of his wins coming via first round KO/TKO. His opponent, Brady Heistand, is 6-2 with 4 stoppages and has been KO’d in one of his two losses. Danaa has over twice the striking volume and a lot more power when he lands. While Heistand is the better grappler, I think he will struggle getting this one to the ground and Danaa should have his way in the striking exchanges. I like Danaa to get this one done via KO/TKO or by a comfortable decision win.

Karine Silva – Silva is 15-4 with a 100% stoppage rate in her wins (9 KO/TKO, 6 sub) while being stopped in three of her four losses. She’s 2-0 between the UFC and DWCS so far and will be facing a solid opponent in Priscilla Cachoeira, who is 12-4 with 7 wins via KO/TKO while being submitted in half of her losses. Both fighters are dangerous strikers but have a tendency to be hit as much or more often than they land on their opponents. Grappling is where Silva should have a sizeable advantage in this matchup and will likely be what helps lead Silva to a victory in this one. With both fighters possessing dangerous striking, I expect Silva to take this one to the ground and hunt for submissions once she is there. I think Silva picks up the win in this one via sub and keeps her 100% finish intact.

Francis Marshall – “Fire” Marshall is 7-0 with 5 stoppage victories (1 KO/TKO, 4 sub) and will be making his second walk to the octagon this weekend. Marshall has looked pretty solid in his DWCS win and debut fight and has almost triple the striking volume of his opponent, William Gomis. Gomis is 11-2 in his career, 1-0 in the UFC and has won nine consecutive fights overall. I expect this to be a pretty fun and close fight between two featherweight prospects that likely goes the distance. I think Marshall will have the higher volume on the feet and cause more damage in the striking, and if Gomis takes the fight to the ground, I think Marshall will prove to be the more dangerous fighter. I like Marshall by decision or sub.

Justin Tafa – Tafa is 4-0 with a 100% knockout rate and will be making his UFC debut against 8-2 Muhammad Usman. Tafa is in solid shape for the division and does an excellent job of mixing his weapons with his striking since he has a background in kickboxing. Usman will be making his second trip to the octagon and will need to look a lot sharper than in his debut, where Zak Pauga outstruck him by an almost 3 to 1 margin. If Usman allows Tafa to land at that rate, this fight probably won’t last very long. I expect this fight to mostly stay on the feet where Tafa will do a better job of attacking all three levels. Tafa should get this one done via KO/TKO sometime in the first two rounds.

Norma Dumont – Dumont is 8-2 in her career and has won in four of her last five trips to the octagon. She’ll be facing 16-4 Karol Rosa this weekend. The numbers between these two are relatively even, although Rosa has the higher strike volume between the two. Ultimately, this matchup is pretty much a coin flip to me, and I expect it to most likely go the distance since neither one has a particularly high finishing rate. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is a split decision in this one, but I’m giving the slight lean towards Norma Dumont since 145 is her natural weight class and Rosa will be moving up for this one.

Montel Jackson – Jackson is 12-2 with 7 stoppage wins (6 KO/TKO, 1 sub) and has never been stopped in his losses. He’ll be facing long-time UFC veteran Rani Yayha, who is 28-10-1 with 21 of those wins coming via submission. Jackson is the biggest betting favorite on this card and for good reason. He’s eight years younger than Yahya and will have sizeable “4 height and 8” reach advantages in the matchup. He almost has over double the striking volume of his opponent and lands more than two strikes for every one that he takes. Yahya is clearly most dangerous on the ground, but I expect him to have trouble getting the fight there. Jackson should keep this one upright and cruise to a decision win or late KO/TKO stoppage.

Christos Giagos – Giagos is 19-10 with 11 stoppages (7 KO/TKO, 4 sub) while being stopped in seven of his ten losses (5 sub). He’s coming off back-to-back losses against pretty solid competition and will be looking to bounce back into the win column against Ricky Glenn tomorrow. Glenn is 22-6-2 with 16 stoppage wins (13 KO/TKO, 3 sub) and is coming into this one after going 2-2-1 in his last five fights, the most recent being a draw against Grant Dawson. Glenn is the higher volume striker of the two, while Giagos is the slightly more well-rounded fighter in my opinion. I expect this one to be relatively close and likely go the distance where I think Giagos will pick up the decision win.

Jeremiah Wells – This welterweight matchup is my personal favorite to win a Fight of the Night bonus. Wells is 11-2-1 with 9 stoppages (5 KO/TKO, 4 sub) and has never been stopped. He’s won five straight fights overall and is 3-0 in the UFC with all of them coming via first or second round stoppage. He’ll be facing 11-4 Matthew Semelsberger, who has 7 stoppage wins (6 KO/TKO, 1 sub) and has been stopped in two of his four losses. Semelsberger will have the slight size advantages in the matchup and is six years younger. Both fighters are dangerous and powerful strikers, but Wells will be the better grappler and more dangerous on the ground. I like Wells in this matchup and think he can get it done with a late stoppage.

Iasmin Lucindo – Lucindo is 13-5 with 10 wins coming via stoppage (8 KO/TKO, 2 sub) and will be making her second trip to the octagon and bounce back from a loss in her debut that halted a seven-fight winning streak. She’ll be facing 7-3 Brogan Walker, who is also looking to bounce back off a defeat in The Ultimate Fighter finals to Julianna Miller. Lucindo is the much more dangerous striker and will be 13 years younger than her opponent. Walker has lost three of her last four fights and she didn’t look particularly good anywhere against Miller in her last fight. I think Lucindo gets this one done via a comfortable decision.

Bobby Green – Green is 29-14-1 with 18 of his coming via stoppage (10 KO/TKO, 8 sub) while he has been stopped in six of his 14 losses. He’ll be facing Jared Gordon, who is 19-6 with 8 stoppage wins and has been stopped in five of six losses. This should be a pretty fun matchup between two fighters with relatively even numbers on paper. Gordon is a decision machine, going 12-1 in fights that go the distance with the lone loss being a questionable one to Paddy Pimblett in his most recent fight. However, Gordon is prone to being stopped and Green still packs a good amount of power. I think this will be a close fight, but I’m giving the lean towards Green to get this one done via KO/TKO or close decision.

Bruno Silva – Silva is 22-8 with 19 of his wins coming via KO/TKO. He’s coming off back-to-back losses and all three of his wins in the UFC have come via stoppage. He’ll be facing longtime UFC veteran Brad Tavares, who is 19-7 with 7 stoppage wins. Both of these fighters are predominantly strikers with less-than-ideal grappling skills, so this fight will most likely take place on the feet. Although Silva has struggled recently, I think this is a much more favorable matchup for him. Silva should cause more damage in the striking exchanges and has a decent chance to stop Tavares, who has three of his seven losses via KO/TKO. Either way, Silva is my favorite betting upset of this card.

Curtis Blaydes – For my detailed thoughts and breakdown on this pick, as well as some of my favorite bets for this fight, check out my WagerWire article for UFC Vegas 71.

My favorite picks for UFC Vegas 71 are Karine Silva, Junior Tafa, Iasmin Lucindo, and Curtis Blaydes. I’m not really in love with many underdogs on this weekend’s card, but I do really like Bruno Silva to pull off the betting upset in his fight.

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