UFC Vegas 65
Sergey Spivak vs Derrick Lewis
Two fighters going in opposite directions. Lewis has lost 3 of his last 4 fights. All via KO/TKO, in fact, his last 6 fights have all come via KO/TKO whether win or loss. He’s got a couple decision fights on his record, but most end in violence. A title shot seems far out the picture for him now, so fights these days seem more like pay days than anything else. He’s 37yrs old now, so have to wonder how many more fights he takes. In saying that, we know what to expect from Lewis in fights, and that’s him looking for opportunities to throw huge shots looking for the KO. He’s not a high volume guy, and he’s more than content to sit back and be patient looking for his moment. Spivac is a guy on an upward trajectory, as he’s won 4 of his last 5. The loss came via Aspinall, who’s clearly a Top 3 guy in this division. He had an unfortunate ending in his last bout with the injury. So it would seem clear currently that there’s a talent cap somewhere, but not in this one. Spivac doesn’t have overwhelming volume on the feet either, but that’s due to how well he can mix it up with his wrestling. For a heavyweight, he has great cardio, he averages just over 4 TDs per 15mins (4.09). And from there, has smothering top pressure, and can look for submissions or wear down on his opponents with ground and pound. For Lewis, there’s no real technique when he’s off his back, and more so looks for chances to use brute strength to get opponents off of him, which has mixed results. Wouldn’t count on that every time to be successful. Like most Lewis fights, he’ll be down on the cards until he isn’t, and that moment comes when he flat lines his opponent. I don’t see that happening here though, Spivac should be able to control distance/pace pretty well, and he’ll look to close distance to get in the clinch, he’s surprisingly freakishly strong as well, and wouldn’t put it past him that he lights Lewis off the ground and dumps him during the first clinch, from there, he’ll start the onslaught. Give me Spivac via 1st RD KO/TKO.
PICK: Sergey Spivac $23 FD ($9200 DK)
Derrick Lewis $13 FD ($7000 DK)
Co Main Event
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs Ion Cutelaba
I suppose I get favoring Nzechukwu in this one since Cutelaba is coming off of back to back L’s where he was finished, but the level in comp is vastly different. And those recent finishes were via submission to much better grapplers than Nzechukwu. Nzechukwu is coming off of a nice finish win over Karl Roberson, but that isn’t saying much, and he’s 2-2 in his last 4. Everyone sees the size difference, and assumes it’s another cake walk for Nzechukwu, and I don’t think that’s the case. Nzechukwu has solid striking with decent power, and he offers decent volume on the feet, lands 4.68 SS/m (absorbs 4.36 SS/m), but it’s not a secret that his fight IQ is a question mark to this point in his career and he can start fights slow, which could cause him to get behind. What he does do a solid job of his listening to his corner in the moment to try and cease opportunities. This is clearly his highest test to date aside from Jung. Cutelaba is nothing short of electric. He’s made a name for himself due to his relentless pace and pursuit for TDs. He plods forward early with pressure looking to close the distance and shoot for TDs. He averages 4.68 TDs per 15mins with 63% accuracy. Nzechukwu has shown solid TDEF to this point though (81%), so something will give. I’ll say I don’t think he’s faced someone who’ll have the constant pressure with TDs that Cutelaba will have. And while he can be chinny, not sure Nzechukwu has the 1 shot power to change Cutelaba’s approach early, it would have to be a culmination of shots that do it, which is not out of the realm of possibility if he can stuff a few TDs. But it feels like something is different with Cutelaba this time around, he’s known for being uber aggressive prior to bouts, especially at face-offs, and this time around he was smiling extremely hard and friendly. Not like him at all. I think the aggression comes when he enters the octagon. Love him at dog odds with such a green opponent. Think he can grind out a decision, or possibly break Nzechukwu late for a finish. But if doing ME, play Nzechukwu as well.
PICK: Ion Cutelaba $10 FD ($7400 DK)
Kennedy Nzechukwu $20 FD ($8800 DK)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs Chase Sherman
Acosta wasting no time with activity, as he’s just 3 weeks removed from his UFC debut win over Jared Vanderaa, which by most accounts was much closer than it “should’ve” been. Most knew what Acosta was all about, he’s got power, and throws huge overhand rights looking to close the show. He had some success against Vanderaa, but Vanderaa invested in huge leg kicks that helped him stay in the bout, as Acosta started to slow his pace as the fight went long. And one could assume his lead leg isn’t 100% healed from the damage it took. Time will tell. Now he gets matched with a UFC vet in Sherman. Sherman is a pressure fighter as well that likes to set the pace with consistent output. He lands 6.5 SS/m (but absorbs 6.5 SS/m in return, and that’s where most of his troubles lie). While he’s a good boxer, he seemingly takes too much damage. He’s coming off of a 3rd RD KO/TKO win over Vanderaa though, so very on purpose matchmaking here. Hard to trust either man in this one, but especially Acosta at those odds. Sherman will absolutely invest in leg kicks early since Acosta doesn’t seem to want to check them, from there, it’ll get interesting. The big overhands from Acosta should be easier to detect for Sherman as opposed to jabs right down the pipe, which I think helps him avoid big damage. I think he’s got a shot to steal a decision here. Wouldn’t bank on a finish, the finish likely comes from Acosta if anyone in this one.
PICK: Chase Sherman $9 FD ($7100 DK)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta $21 FD ($9100 DK)
Muslim Salikhov vs Andre Fialho
This should be a solid contest, as odds have indicated. It’s a near pick’em. Fialho has gone on quite the run in 2022, this’ll be his 5th fight in the calendar yr. Most fighters are lucky to book/schedule 2 fights. His last fight didn’t go as planned vs Jake Matthews, as he suffered a KO loss in RD 2 of that one back in June. So he’s a least given himself some time to recover and have a full camp in between. Fialho made a name for himself this yr for being a KO artist with his power, and that’s what he’ll always bring with him. He likes to pressure forward setting up shots. But his striking defense allows for him to get hit too often, and it caught up with him in the Matthews fight. He lands 3.78 SS/m (absorbs a massive 6.65 SS/m), and will look to keep it standing. Any wrestling/grappling that occurs is generally defensive. He’ll come in 10yrs younger than Salikhov though, as he’s only 27yrs old. Salikhov is 37. Salikhov is the better overall fighter between these two, he was on the wrong end of Jingliang’s punches his last time out, but prior to that, had won 5 straight dating back to 2018. He’s a good kickboxer with solid technical striking and power. He won’t rush things at all, but does a good job with pressure, as he’ll look to close distance to get his wrestling involved. He averages just north of 1 TD per 15mins (1.17). He does a solid job with control when he gets it there too. This fight favors Salikhov in most areas, and I feel like most could have short memory with Salikhov’s KO loss being more recent than Fialho’s. Which could mean his ownership won’t be where it should as a result. There’ll be some value with rostering him. I like Salikhov via 3rd RD KO/TKO. He’ll break Fialho’s cardio a bit with his wrestling before the finish comes.
PICK: Muslim Salikhov $16 FD ($8300 DK)
Andre Fialho $15 FD ($7900 DK)
Jack Della Maddalena vs Danny Roberts
JDM has started his UFC tenure off perfect, at 2-0 so far, both coming by way of RD 1 KO’s. He’s one of the UFC’s top prospects, and they’re slowly but surely easing him up the ladder. He’s extremely talented and prefers a kickboxing matchup where he has excellent pressure and solid power that can end fights early. He lands 8.24 SS/m (absorbs 4.6 SS/m). Those numbers are so inflated due to the short nature of his fights to this point, so eventually the numbers will start to regress, but the point being is that he’s extremely active on the feet and lands at nearly 50%. Has a solid chin as well, so tough to put away. Roberts is coming off of a decision L to Francisco Trinaldo where he just couldn’t get anything going, he was always on his back foot skating around the edge of the octagon trying to avoid Trinaldo’s shots. Now it gets worse for him, JDM will pressure much more aggressively and he’ll have better technique/power. As I mentioned, the UFC knows what they’re doing with certain prospects, and he’s one of them. Roberts has a suspect chin, and I don’t imagine he’ll have much success with wrestling and changing levels in this one for it to matter. Think JDM gets another RD 1 finish, making him one of the better plays on the card, even at a high price.
PICK: JDM $22 FD ($9600 DK)
Danny Roberts $8 FD ($6600 DK)
Charles Johnson vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Johnson didn’t get a chance to show his talent in his debut, as he was given a matchup with the fast rising Muhammad Mokaev, who has a relentless wrestling pace, and was able to get Johnson to the mat 12 times on 26 attempts. But even then, Johnson still showed his talent, he was able to defend successfully on the mat in his grappling with preventing constant pressure/danger of being submitted, and also defended 14 TD attempts. That’s impressive against that caliber opponent on short notice. But prior to his UFC debut, Johnson enjoyed success in LFA, becoming champ of the division. He’s got solid striking techniques, and pressures really well. Zhumagulov figures to be another stiff test when it comes to his TDEF, as he’s also a relentless wrestler, but won’t have the same cardio that Mokaev presented, which’ll make it easier to get under hooks in to defend as the fight goes longer. Zhumagulov’s entries are mainly when he can get his opponents backs up against the fence. He averages 1.4 TDs per 15mins. On the feet, he’s not bad either, landing 3.9 SS/m ( but absorbs 4.7 SS/m in return). So a clear area to exploit for Johnson. Not to mention, Johnson will sport a 5” height advantage with 4” in reach, so it’ll be imperative for Zhumagulov to close distance. This fight will give Johnson a chance to show the UFC he belongs, at least for the moment, as I don’t believe he’ll have much issue with this one, effectively giving Zhumagulov his walking papers. He’s lost 4 of his last 5 fights. Not confident Johnson finds a finish, but do believe a unanimous decision win is at the least the likely outcome.
PICK: Charles Johnson $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Zhalgas Zhumagulov $12 FD ($7500 DK)
Maryna Moroz vs Jennifer Maia
Maia has had a rough go of it over her last few fights. She’s lost 3 of her last 4. But those 3 were to the current #1 contender, the former #1 contender, and the current Champ, Shevchenko, so not a bad list to lose from. There’s still time for her to be successful, but she clearly has a cap in terms of talent, and that has pretty much been reached at this point. She looks to use her jiu jitsu when giving opportunities on the mat, but I doubt she’ll have the opportunity on a consistent basis offensively in this one to use it. She doesn’t even average 1 TD per 15mins (.33), and her TDEF is poor, at 55%. Her opponent, Moroz, is a little more calculated in terms of her approach, and she looked sharp and focused her last time out, as she drowned Agapova with pressure, until she eventually got the fight grounded and started the grind from there up until the submission. So it could be a stale mate on the mat. But I favor Moroz to have more success there. In terms of striking, Moroz’s movement in the pocket will be better, and that’ll allow for her to get up on the score cards early. Neither is extremely accurate in terms of land rate, Maia 36%, 32% for Moroz. But as of late, it looks as if Moroz has cleaned that accuracy up a bit, and it’ll make a huge difference here. Maia gets hit too much against better strikers who can outpace her, and that’ll be no different here. My only thing is if her clinch work does enough to limit the overall output of Moroz, it could, but Maia may be content with a kickboxing affair if TDs are stuffed early. I like Moroz as a nice lower owned high piece to the puzzle today.
PICK: Maryna Moroz $20 FD ($9000 DK)
Jennifer Maia $10 FD ($7200 DK)
Miles Johns vs Vince Morales
Not entirely sure what to make of this one. It should be a fun scrap for the better part of 15mins. Morales is coming off of a decision loss to Jonathan Martinez earlier this yr. But prior to that, ended 2021 with a big KO win over Louis Smolka. Morales has solid tools, but doesn’t always carry the power in his hands to really cause issues for his opponents. He’s got solid volume, landing 4.4 SS/m (absorbs 4.5 SS/m), and can mix in his wrestling when needed, but averages less than 1 TD per 15mins (0.16), so I don’t expect that often, especially in this matchup. He’ll have 2” in height and 4” in reach over Johns, which’ll make it a bit easier for John’s defending TDs should they come with under hooks being the lower man. But first and foremost, we know Johns is going to try and destroy the front leg of Morales with low leg kicks, which’ll slowly set up his hands. Just a matter of if we’ll see consistent volume from him, which makes it tough to confidently plug him into DFS lineups, because he’ll clearly be the better man inside the octagon on Saturday. I like him via decision or possibly a late RD finish if he can compromise the leg. Would temper expectations on DFS outlook.
PICK: Miles Johns $18 FD ($8400 DK)
Vince Morales $14 FD ($7800 DK)
Ricky Turcios vs Kevin Natividad
I vowed to never touch Turcios in DFS again after his last showing vs Aiemann Zahabi this past July. He landed 27 strikes out of 235 thrown. Yes, you read that right. It was one of the most frustrating fights I’ve ever seen. He was clearly shy of his opponents power and didn’t engage really at all, he willingly shadow boxed for the better part of 15mins. Natividad would seem to be a layup opponent for him to get back on track though. Natividad is 0-2 to start his UFC tenure, and a bad loss here could get him sent packing. He’s patient in his striking approach, and if Turcios is smart, won’t have any problem in the world having success with pressure. Turcios is landing 5.27 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m). His movement in the pocket is really solid, and as a result, doesn’t take a ton of big damage. Natividad is only landing 2.6 SS/m ( absorbing 4 SS/m). Turcios doesn’t have fight ending KO power, but could certainly rack up volume to help get it done. Hard to trust Turcios until proven otherwise, but he should be too much anywhere this fight goes, and at the least he cruises to a decision.
PICK: Ricky Turcios $17 FD ($8600 DK)
Kevin Natividad $14 FD ($7600 DK)
Maria Oliveira vs Vanessa Demopoulos
I’d say we have a striker vs grappler matchup in this one, but it’s not really that, as most of the opportunities Demopoulos garners from the mat is due to opponents either getting KD’s or some sort of trip. Her own TD accuracy is only 7%. But she’s a decent striker, lands 3.46 SS/m (absorbs 4.47 SS/m). She’s not faced with a pressure striker in Oliveira, who’s coming off of a controversial win over Gloria De Paula her last time out, a bout I believe she lost. But what she showed was a continuous high pressure pace, where she landed 96 of 303 strikes thrown. So she’s not accurate, but will put up solid numbers, and if she’s slightly better that day, could easily eclipse 120 SS landed, which could be the case here, she won’t actively shoot for TDs herself unless she’s in trouble. The pick is for Oliveira’s volume to win the day, even if Demopoulos does get her grounded, she doesn’t accept guard, and likely gets back to her feet. Could be a decent DFS showing for her too, especially with how the other fights could shape up.
PICK: Maria Oliveira $16 FD ($8200 DK)
Vanessa Demopoulos $15 FD ($8000 DK)
Brady Hiestand vs Fernie Garcia
There’s something to be said about Hiestand’s level of comp. But in his debut vs Ricky Turcios, despite the loss, he showed a great overall skill set that leans heavily on being able to wrestle his opponents. He got 6 TDs with 8+ mins of control vs Turcios. Garcia lost a unanimous decision to Journey Newson in his debut. He looked entirely too hesitant in that fight, he allowed Newson to pressure and dictate everything pretty much, and he was taken down twice on three attempts. His TDEF leaves much to be desired, and I imagine it’ll be relatively easy for Hiestand to get it grounded. Hiestand is also a bit more active on the feet, he lands 4.4 SS/m, while Garcia lands 2.85 SS/m. Garcia can have some pop in his hands, but not being very precise in landing shots won’t help him down the line. This seems like a tailor made matchup for Hiestand to get it done by just out working him. Potentially a possibility for a late sub in RD 3 if Garcia gasses. Would definitely play Hiestand on DK with the amount of control time he should be able to get.
PICK: Brady Hiestand $19 FD ($8500 DK)
Fernie Garcia $12 FD ($7700 DK)
Natalia Silva vs Tereza Bleda
First fight of the day will be interesting. Bleda is making her debut and comes in undefeated at just 6-0 professionally. Silva is making her 2nd UFC appearance after a beautiful striking performance in her debut vs Jasudavicius. Landed nearly 100 SS and 120 total strikes. She was also able to mix in TDs, but didn’t do much in terms of control. Bleda is huge for this division. She’ll have 5” in height and 6” in reach over Silva. So for Silva to find success, she’s going to have to close distance quickly. Because on the feet, she should be well ahead of Bleda in terms of skill and effectiveness. She lands 6.4 SS/m (absorbs just 2.07 SS/m). While Bleda lands 3.3 SS/m (absorbing only .6 SS/m due to the skewed statistic of her 1 other UFC fight). Bleda’s best path is through her wrestling, and to some degree I think she’ll have some success, which limits Silva’s best chance, which is on the feet. This’ll be a close fight, and I think Silva can do enough while it’s on the feet each RD to get the win. Bleda is definitely a dog to take a risk on today though.
PICK: Natalia Silva $19 FD ($8900 DK)
Tereza Bleda $11 FD ($7300 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)