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UFC Vegas 66

Main Event

Sean Strickland vs Jared Cannonier


This is an extremely underrated card top to bottom, and it’s the last of the year. Won’t see another card for about 4 weeks. It’s headlined with two guys hoping to get back into title consideration. Strickland had gone on a bit of a run prior to his last outing with now Champion, Alex Pereira. Strickland’s boxing first nature, played right into the hands of the kickboxing and power Pereira possesses. In turn, he suffered a 1st RD KO. And for Cannonier, he challenged for the belt against former champ, Israel Adesanya, and lost a unanimous decision in what was an easily predictable fight most would say. It’s probably no secret the UFC will look to rematch Pereira & Adesanya within the next 6 months, but this fight will play into who may get the next leg up. As mentioned, Strickland’s approach is to hang in the pocket and turn things into a boxing affair quickly. He has solid technical striking and looks to overwhelm opponents with volume. He lands 5.54 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m), and for the most part has pretty good striking defense (65%). He’s also got solid wrestling he could fall on, but never really opts to utilize it offensively. He averages just north of 1 TD per 15mins (1.14). If either one of these men is to use their wrestling, it would be him. Cannonier is even less prone to wrestling. Only averaging 0.19 per 15mins. Cannonier also likes to stand and bang, but he utilizes more power, and as a result, is not as volume heavy as Strickland. Cannonier lands just 3.73 SS/m (absorbs 3.5 SS/m). But what he lacks in volume, is made up with power. His Achilles heel has always been the guys with much better athleticism than he, Whittaker & Adesanya. Most everyone else he’s able to deal with much better, and while Strickland is athletic, I don’t put him in Whittaker or Adesanya’s category. They both have elite foot work in the pocket, Strickland does not. This fight will mostly take place on the feet in the pocket. And as close of a fight as it’ll be, I’m taking the discount on Cannonier. We’ll see what the Pereira KO has done for Strickland’s chin, and willingness to brawl with one’s he knows have more power. Could change his game plan slightly. I think Cannonier has a chance for a late RD finish, but I’ll be cautiously optimistic and say he gets a decision.

PICK: Jared Cannonier $18 FD ($7700 DK)

Sean Strickland $19 FD ($8500 DK)

Co Main Event

Arman Tsarukyan vs Damir Ismagulov


This has potential to be FOTN. And should provide clarity on which one of these guys potentially gets the next shot. The top of this division has gone in circles a bit over the last 18 months. And with newly crowned champ Makhachev seemingly set to retain for the foreseeable future, it’s imperative one of these guys makes a statement. Ismagulov is a force. He’s 24-1 overall professionally, and for good reason. He’s extremely well rounded, and it’s backed by his technical striking. But he can wrestle if needed and has strong TDEF (90%). His biggest issue IMO is his willingness to basically make it a kickboxing match without having real finishing upside. It causes him to go to decisions that are too close for comfort. But he pressures well and does enough each time out for judges to side with him. Both men are extremely good at managing distance and avoiding any real damage. Ismagulov lands 4.05 SS/m (absorbs 2.5 SS/m), while Tsarukyan lands 3.76 SS/m (absorbs just 1.86 SS/m, this due in part to his wrestling-based approach). However, in Tsarukyan’s last outing, he was unsuccessful on 7 of 8 TD attempts vs Gamrot, and as a result, lost a split decision. But IMO he won that fight. It was extremely high level, and the scrambles/sweeps/reversals were next level. Would highly recommend watching that one back even if you’ve seen it already. The kid has championship aspirations, he’s only 25yrs old. And what most seem to forget, is he made his debut on short notice against current champ Islam Makhachev, and went toe to toe, but ended up losing a decision. So, the skills are there. I think his kickboxing will be better in this spot, while Ismagulov’s striking will be cleaner. This’ll ultimately come down to if Tsarukyan is successful with TDs, which’ll be hard pressed against an opponent of this caliber. But I think he’ll eventually find success there and will make it difficult for Ismagulov while he’s off his back. I don’t think there’s a $1600 gap between the two from a DK perspective, but he is warranted in being the favorite. I’d be more likely to roster Tsarukyan if this was another 5 RD affair, but with it not being, I find it just a tad bit difficult to see him hitting value. I like a few others around this price tag better in terms of upside. Ismagulov will be a popular but warranted UD today. But give me Tsarukyan to bounce back nicely.

PICK: Arman Tsarukyan $19 FD ($8900 DK)

Damir Ismagulov $11 FD ($7300 DK)

Amir Albazi vs Alessandro Costa


Albazi has the looks to be a potential title contender in this division. He’s 15-1 professionally and has started his UFC campaign off to a 3-0 start. With 2 submission wins. He now gets late replacement Costa in this one, who has solid power in his hands, just not a ton of volume, and who’s also pretty credentialed if things hit the canvas. There isn’t a ton of tape on him out there, but he has a chance to come in and make a statement against the lesser of this division. This initial draw may be too much for him out the gate. Albazi will look to set the tone/pace early as he looks for entries to get TDs. He averages over 3 TDs per 15mins (3.09). And I don’t expect that approach to change much. From there, he looks for position over submission first, then he’ll start to hunt for the submission. Again, Costa is talented, and could make this interesting. But this should be a relatively easy win for Albazi. I don’t think he comes near paying his price tag off enough for it to matter, though. So largely a stay away spot. The pick is Albazi via 2nd RD sub.

PICK: Amir Albazi $23 FD ($9600 DK)

Alessandro Costa $8 FD ($6600 DK)

Julian Erosa vs Alex Caceres


This is another potential banger on this card. Erosa has had some great moments here recently. He’s on a 3-fight win streak, one of which was a 3rd RD submission over Charles Jourdain. He’s shown a lot more patience in fights and that’s helped him tremendously in terms of setting the pace and fighting the type of fight he wants. He’s got solid tools everywhere, and he’ll continue being one of the bigger fighters in this division. He stands at 6’1. He can put up insane numbers given the opponent, he lands 6.26 SS/m (but absorbs 6.3 SS/m), he’s giving one to take one, that’s not always a recipe for success. He also mixes in his wrestling/grappling pretty well when needed. He averages just short of 2 TDs per 15mins (1.73), and just shy of 1 sub attempt (0.7). He’ll need to be mindful of Caceres’ BJJ skills as well though, nothing will come easy in this one. Caceres aka Bruce Leroy is also extremely well rounded, and more times than not a bad matchup for some of these guys. He’s seemingly more patient on the feet, and as a result takes less damage. He’ll probably be the one pushing pace early in this one. Erosa doesn’t mind being a counter puncher. Caceres lands 4.1 SS/m (absorbs just 2.9 SS/m). And he has better striking defense as well 64% vs 48% for Erosa. That basically means he’s avoiding less strikes, mainly due to better movement circling out of the pocket. Both men fight southpaw though, so will be interesting to see who switches stances first. Erosa could very well make it look easy if he can wear down Caceres if he takes his back and looks for a submission. But I have a feeling it won’t come that easy. Caceres’ ability to circle out of the pocket early in this one will help him take the 1st RD, and from there we’ll see what Erosa does to adjust. Making it a strong possibility Caceres is up 2 RDs heading into the 3rd, making Erosa desperate to find a finish. I do not think there’s a $1400 gap in price with these 2, and I’m taking the dog as a result.

PICK: Alex Bruce Leroy Caceres $13 FD ($7400 DK)

Julian Erosa $17 FD ($8800 DK)

Drew Dober vs Bobby Green


Dober is on a nice 2 fight win streak, both by finish. One over Rafael Alves and the other Terrance McKinney. I think they need to rematch the McKinney fight, Dober’s chin saved him, but McKinney almost got the job done. He burned his cardio going for the kill and Dober’s skill/toughness took over. That makes for an interesting bout here with Green. Green took a late notice fight against now Champion, Islam Makhachev, and as most predicted it was a beating from start to finish. But he certainly gained a ton of respect in doing so. Both men have solid all around skills. It’s no secret the power and (more) durability sides with Dober, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a shoe in for the W. This fight could look like the Brad Riddell outing, where Dober definitely had his moments, but Riddell was successful with pressure, and was able to get TDs and put together his own offense as well. Green is a solid counter striker too, so if Dober is swinging and missing big, those could pay dividends early in this one. In fact, I believe Green is the better wrestler outright between them, and Dober has shown issues getting up when he’s on his back against solid wrestlers. The numbers also favor Green, he lands 5.88 SS/m (absorbs just 3.6 SS/m), and his movement in the pocket has allowed him to have 62% striking defense. For Dober, he lands 4.47 SS/m (absorbs 4.1 SS/m), and striking Defense slightly worse at 51%. Dober doesn’t shoot for TDs very often, as evidenced by him getting just shy of 1 TD per 15 mins (0.75), while Green is more active and effective in both areas, he’s averaging 1.34 TDs per 15mins. I could easily see him getting 3+ in this matchup. Dober’s TDEF is awful (54%). The odds favor Dober due to his power, but it discounts Green’s toughness as well. May be tough for Dober to land clean enough times to sway the judges in his favor. Don’t think he KO’s Green. Give me the dog to pour it on late and win RDs 2 & 3 to take the decision.

PICK: Bobby Green $14 FD ($7600 DK)

Drew Dober $17 ($8600 DK)

Michal Oleksiejczuk vs Cody Brundage


This is one of the more intriguing matchups on the card. Striker vs Wrestler/grappler. We know Michal wants to stand and bang and knock peoples face in, while Brundage would prefer to set things up looking to score TDs and going to work from there. He’ll have that opportunity, it’s just a big if on if he can get through the storm Michal will definitely dish out in this one. Although I definitely believe Dustin Jacoby to be a better fighter than Brundage, this fight could play out very similar to how the Jacoby/Michal bout played out. Jacoby’s size was a big key in Michal’s approach in that one. Brundage won’t have as big of a size advantage, but he’ll certainly be heavier, and that could play a big role should this fight see late stages of RD 2 and possibly a 3rd. Brundage also carry’s some power of his own in his hands, just not as deadly as Michal’s can be if he gets it going. Michal is much more active on the feet too, he’s landing nearly 5 SS/m (4.95), (absorbs 4.1 SS/m), while Brundage lands just 2.65 SS/m (absorbing the same 2.65 SS/m). The huge difference on his side is that he averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.81), to Michal’s 0.7. Michal only has 50% TDEF, so the opportunity will be there if he doesn’t get KO’ed. That’s the obvious elephant in the room here, and I have a tough time believing Brundage can survive the early onslaught. If he does, he’s live. Take chances on him if doing ME. But the pick is Michal via 1st RD KO/TKO. That price is a little too steep if he doesn’t get 60 second bonus, so also beware of that.

PICK: Michal Oleksiejczuk $22 FD ($9400 DK)

Cody Brundage $9 FD ($6800 DK)

Cheyanne Vlismas vs Cory McKenna

Women’s Strawweight

The featured prelim should be interesting. It’s another Striker vs Wrestler/grappler affair. Where one assumes Vlismas clearly has the edge on the feet, while McKenna would have a big leg up if she can get it grounded. Both women have won 3 of their first 4 UFC matchups and want to continue the success. They’re both 7-2 professionally as well. McKenna looked amazing her last outing vs Granger, but she was supposed to, Granger is not good. But what I will say is her loss against Elise Reed doesn’t sit well with me. Reed isn’t really good either, and on the feet, Reed had great success being the one dictating and out pointing McKenna. She had a few TDs but wasn’t able to do much with them. Vlismas has faced tougher competition to this point, not by much. But her kickboxing/striking will be much better than McKenna’s here, and if she stuffs TDs early. It’ll seemingly feel like an uphill battle for McKenna at that point. McKenna doesn’t have the best entries when she’s shooting for TDs, which makes them very telegraphed. Which should make it easier for Vlismas to point out. Vlismas lands 5.83 SS/m (absorbs 2.9 SS/m), while McKenna is landing 3.47 SS/m (absorbing 3.53 SS/m), her numbers slightly lower due to her wrestling approach. She averages a hair over 2 TDs per 15mins (2.06). Vlismas’ TDEF is solid though (73%), and she’s getting better each time out. Vlismas should have this covered wherever it goes, and honestly has a chance to find a finish. I think she overwhelms her and comes away with a 2nd RD TKO/KO win.

PICK: Cheyanne Vlismas $18 FD ($9000 DK)

Cory McKenna $12 FD ($7200 DK)

Jake Matthews vs Matthew Semelsberger


Matthews has quietly started to put things together. He’s won 4 of his last 5 overall and he looked brilliant his last outing vs Fiahlo, a known power striker. He managed distance wonderfully and beat him at his own gm, shocking to see really. But he’s a solid striker with a wrestling base. From there he looks to grind opponent’s out. He averages just short of 2 TDs per 15mins (1.85). Semelsberger is also a solid wrestler; he’s averaging basically 1 TD per 15 mins (0.99). On the feet, Semelsberger likes to try and set the pace and get his volume going. He lands nearly 5 SS/m (4.99), (absorbs 5.1 SS/m), while Matthews lands just 3.17 SS/m (absorbing 2.1 SS/m). Matthews should be better gauging distance in the pocket, which may result in Semelsberger actually trying to wrestle offensively. But I favor Matthews in most areas this fight takes place, and if Matthews can get Semelsberger off of his back, we saw how his cardio took a big hit in his bout with AJ Fletcher down the stretch. From a DK perspective, either guy could rack up control time on the mat, as well as soiled striking numbers. I also believe this fight ends inside the distance. But I favor Matthews everywhere this goes. Think he gets a 3rd RD KO/TKO.

PICK: Jake Matthews $21 FD ($9200 DK)

Matthew Semelsberger $10 FD ($7000 DK)

Said Nurmagomedov vs Said Kakhramonov


This is personally one of my favorite fights on the entire card. Both these guys look like they could be future contenders. Nurmagomedov has been in the UFC just a tad bit longer, and he’s won 4 of his last 5. While Kakhramonov is making his 3rd trip but is 2-0. And looked impressive in both outings. Nurmagomedov may have the slight edge on the feet in terms of technical skill and output, but Kakhramonov probably holds the power edge. Nurmagomedov lands 4.1 SS/m (absorbing just 2.2 SS/m), while Kakhramonov lands just 2.29 SS/m (absorbing only .91 SS/m), that’s due to his insane wrestling/grappling approach. He’s averaging over 6 TDs per 15mins (6.07), at 52% accuracy. That’ll be tested here with Nurmagomedov having solid TDEF (70%), but he should still find success. Kakhramonov is also averaging 2 sub attempts per 15mins, so his wrestling output isn’t wasted. His cardio is also not an issue and will be more of a concern for Nurmagomedov down the stretch. Simply put, this’ll come down to how well Nurmagomedov can stuff TDs and keep it on the feet at range. But even still, Kakhramonov’s kickboxing is solid as well. I’m once again backing Kakhramonov, and think he has a chance to put up another solid score with all the peripheral stats he can rack up. This fight will be key in who shows up in optimal. So, take shots on both, but I’ll be heavier on Kakhramonov. Like him via decision.

PICK: Said Kakhramonov $15 FD ($8000 DK)

Said Nurmagomedov $15 FD ($8200 DK)

Rafa Garcia vs Maheshate


Maheshate made quick work in his debut vs Steve Garcia earlier this summer, capitalizing off of Garcia’s aggression. He caught him with a big counter that dropped him. He’s hoping that power carry’s over here against another Garcia. Rafa has had up and down success since joining the UFC. He’s 2-3 in his last 5 and lost a close fight his last time out vs Drakkar Klose. Klose’s constant pressure paid dividends, although Garcia had his moments of success. Garcia has a solid well roundedness to his gm. He has solid striking on the feet, but his success lies with being able to wrestle effectively. He lands 3.26 SS/m (absorbs 4.7 SS/m), but averages 3.87 TDs per 15mins. One thing that could play spoiler for him is his cardio late. There’s not a ton of tape out there on Maheshate, but if it’s one thing for certain, he relies on his power, and has solid kickboxing as well. But if he’s ever having to consistently fight off of his back, it usually causes trouble. That being said, I have to side with Garcia here, he hasn’t been KO’ed to this point, and I trust persistent wrestlers/grapplers in a spot like this. Great price point on this fight though.

PICK: Rafa Garcia $16 FD ($8400 DK)

Maheshate $14 FD ($7800 DK)

Rinat Fakhretdinov vs Bryan Battle


Respect to Battle for taking this short notice, but he missed weight ahead of this one. And IMO, long term he’s seems better suited not cutting so much weight and should stay at Middleweight. But we’ll see if he makes that move back up. Battle is solid everywhere the fight goes, especially on the feet if he can fight at range. His arsenal of attacks on the feet can come from many areas. He’s averaging an insane 7.1 SS/m (absorbs 4.5 SS/m), while Rinat averages just 3 SS/m (but absorbs only 1.2 SS/m). That in part to his insane wrestler heavy approach, he averages 5 TDs per 15mins at 50% accuracy. Battles TDEF is below average (55%), so that doesn’t figure to bode well for him here. Rinat will pressure early, he has some power in his hands, and will use most offense on the feet to close distance and shoot for TDs. He’s shown pretty durable too, so I don’t believe he’s in trouble of being KO’ed in this one. Battle has some solid wrestling tools himself, but sometimes a person can just be outmatched in certain areas, and this figures to be one in this particular matchup. I once again favor the heavy wrestler in this matchup. It’ll yield more success down the stretch, and Rinat should be able to rack up control to win RDs. Could see 10+ mins of control here again. With 4 or 5 TDs. Love his upside.

PICK: Rinat Fakhretdinov $16 FD ($8300 DK)

Bryan Battle $14 FD ($7900 DK)

Manel Kape vs David Dvorak


Again, this card has a lot of solid pairings top to bottom, and this one early on the card is another potential banger. Both guys like to stand and bang. Dvorak is more calculated on the feet, and doesn’t mind being a counter striker, but that gets him behind on score cards, so he needs to change his approach up a bit. He lands 3.87 SS/m (absorbs 3 SS/m), while Kape is far more aggressive, and likely dictates how this one plays out, lands 4.69 SS/m (absorbs 4.5 SS/m). Kape is better in terms of land rate, 53% vs 43% respectively. While Dvorak is better defensively, having 61% striking defense, vs 51%. Just means he’s taking less damage. Which is evidenced in strikes absorbed per min. While this looks like a scrap on paper that could potentially be a brawl. I could easily see it being similar to the outings they each had with Matheus Nicolau, where they have extended periods of a low volume staring contest. And for that, I’m not as excited for this one from a DFS perspective. But I do feel Kape will have more success with activity. And he’ll have more power between them, think he takes a UD win here.

PICK: Manel Kape $20 FD ($9100 DK)

David Dvorak $11 FD ($7100 DK)

Sergey Morozov vs Journey Newson


Morozov has has some solid/tough matchups to kick things off in his UFC career, and as a result, he’s alternated wins/losses and sits 2-2. His last outing being a win over Paiva via decision. Newson hasn’t had the same luck, and is 1-2, 1 NC over his last 4. He picked up a win via decision his last outing over Fernie Garcia. Newson likes to counter and is fine sitting back waiting on his opposition. And if the time is right, will look to get the fight grounded, even though he averages just shy of 1 TD per 15mins (0.96). On the feet, he tries to throw power shots, and isn’t accurate as a result (36% accuracy), and lands just 3.2 SS/m (absorbs 2.62 SS/m). On the other side, Morozov will be the much better technical striker (48% land rate) and will also be better in terms of overall skill. Especially if things hit the canvas. He averages just shy of 3 TDs per 15mins (2.87). And on the feet, he lands slightly more per min at 3.34 SS/m. I think he carries more power also. Newson’s TDEF isn’t good at all, so if Morozov avoids being reckless, his entries should yield success. I think he’s better everywhere this goes. My concern is his price, because I think he has a chance to finish this, but if he doesn’t, I’m not sure his overall stats yield a score that justifies the price tag. I’m taking him via 3rd RD submission though. So could be worth it.

PICK: Sergey Morozov $22 FD ($9300 DK)

Journey Newson $9 FD ($6900 DK)

by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)

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