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UFC Vegas 84

Main Event

Magomed Ankalaev vs Johnny Walker

Light Heavyweight

We start the 2024 campaign with a LHW main event that has huge implications for a potential next title challenger. This one is a rerun after the first matchup ended in a ‘no contest’ in these two last time out in October. Similar dynamic as the first meeting, Ankalaev won’t change much of his approach. He’s an extremely well rounded fighter. He’s patient on the feet, and has power in his hands; a solid technical striker. He lands just 3.5 SS/m (but very defensively sound, absorbing just 2.2 SS/m). IMO, his grappling/wrestling is his best attribute, and should he lean on that more heavily in fights, he’d have more dominant showings. He averages just over 1 TD per 15mins (1.07). Walker is a solid grappler in his own right, but he does have trouble off his back against committed, solid wrestlers who match him in that department. He’s even less likely to shoot for offensive TDs, he averages less than 1 per 15mins (0.5). Walkers best chance in this bout is on the feet, utilizing range. He’d be wise to throw calf kicks early and often. Blachowicz found success there vs Ankalaev and it forced him to wrestle much more than he anticipated. Which lead to the draw in that match. If he can compromise the forward pressure of Ankalaev, the door opens. Walker has power in his hands, although I don’t really envision a KO/TKO win for him, Ankalaev is durable, if anything. If Walker finds the upset here, his shot at a title could come in short order. However, I think Ankalaev is simply better anywhere this fight goes, he’s not going to take un calculated risk, he’ll take what’s presented. I do think he’ll lean more on the wrestling in this one. It’s the path of least resistance. Walker has had chin issues in the past, Ankalaev could certainly find his shot late, but I think this gets to the score cards. Don’t like the DFS outlook for either, really. But Walker would be the better option with his price should he find a win. The pick is Ankalaev via decision.

PICK: Magomed Ankalaev $23 FD ($9400 DK)

Johnny Walker $14 FD ($6800 DK)


Co Main Event

Jim Miller vs Gabriel Benitez


The newly positioned Co main after Kape matchup scratched. Miller will step into the octagon for his 54th professional fight, insane stuff. He’s 40 years old now, and with UFC 300 coming later this year, I’d like to think he’ll be on it, as he was featured at UFC 100 & 200. And if I was a betting man, I’d say his UFC 300 match is his last. He gets a pretty tough matchup here with Benitez. Miller has thrived off of his power, he’s got a huge right hook he likes to throw, and if he can land clean, it usually means trouble for his opponents. The worry though, is volume in an extended match, cardio won’t be his friend as this fight goes long. If he’s smart, his game plan should be to manufacture TDs and wear down Benitez. Benitez’s TDEF is subpar at best. Benitez does have the edge on the feet in terms of technical striking/volume. He lands 4.7 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m), while Miller lands just 2.8 SS/m (absorbs 3 SS/m). Benitez should be the minute winner, while Miller likely capitalizes on moments. There’s a BJJ discrepancy, so the sub will be very available for Miller once he gets Benitez on his back. This is a fight to have near even exposure if doing ME contest, but if you’re mostly a SE guy like me, then of course you need to take a stand. I’m on the side of Miller, the wrestling moments will salt away at the clock when it matters. Late 3rd RD sub in play.

PICK: Jim Miller $16 FD ($8200 DK)

Gabriel Benitez $15 FD ($8000 DK)


Ricky Simon vs Mario Bautista


Man, I love this matchup. We’re absolutely going to find out if Bautista is ready for the next leap. He’s currently riding a 5 fight win streak, this, being his biggest matchup to date, could really have his 2024 outlook looking up with a win. He’s really well rounded, he’ll have more output on the feet, but power resides with Simon. Bautista lands 5.3 SS/m (absorbs 4.2 SS/m), while Simon’s numbers are down due to the heavy wrestling approach, he still lands 3 SS/m (absorbs 3.2 SS/m). Simon ran into the buzz saw that is Yadong last time out, can’t fault the result, but it does set a precedent that currently, Simon has a ceiling & he may have already reached it. Simon’s bread and butter, will always be set through his wrestling. He averages nearly 6 TDs per 15mins (5.8); while Bautista averages nearly 3 (2.7). Simon with the much better TDEF though, while Bautista’s is below average. Although, his scrambling is solid, and will help him in this spot. Simon generally doesn’t have great control, he’s more submission over position. It is concerning that Blackshear nearly beat Bautista on short notice with the same approach Simon will I employ. Both men are physical freaks for this division, and cardio isn’t a real issue for either. However, I do think Simon is better everywhere, and unless he makes a grave mistake, should pretty clearly take this via UD. If Bautista somehow stuffs the TD attempts with regularity, this match changes quickly, Simon can’t afford to get behind on the feet. I think Bautista comes in higher owned at a pretty good clip here due to the volatility of dogs on this card, so there’s leverage with playing Simon IMO. Love his upside. Give me Simon via decision.

PICK: Ricky Simon $17 FD ($8600 DK)

Mario Bautista $13 FD ($7600 DK)


Brunno Ferreira vs Phil Hawes


Ferreira has had a solid start to his UFC tenure. He’s just 2-1, but 2 were 1st RD finishes. I was shocked when he got matched against Gregory Rodrigues in his 2nd outing, and even more shocked at the result, he landed an overhand flush and it put Rodrigues down in short order. Needless to say, the power is there, it’s inexperience that he’ll need to muddy through until he can put it altogether. On the surface, Hawes is better everywhere this fight takes place outside of power and fight IQ. The biggest issue is his chin. When a fighter goes on a string of multiple TKO/KO losses, it’s a concern. His only win over his last 4 fights is Deron Winn, who shouldn’t have been in the division in the first place. Hawes best chance here is to test Brunno on the mat, he’s actually a really solid wrestler, he just doesn’t use it, which again, speaks to his fight IQ. I fully expect him to not go there. If this somehow gets extended, it’s up in the air on who it favors. Brunno’s cardio hasn’t been tested. This feels like a fight that’s a must in LU’s, but picking wrong side dooms your day. In SE I’m probably going to gamble and avoid it, hoping it gets beyond RD 1. BUT, the pick is for Brunno to land the biggest shot first that changes the course of this one. Very likely this ends R1.

PICK: Brunno Ferreira $16 FD ($8300 DK)

Phil Hawes $15 FD ($7900 DK)


Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs Andrei Arlovski


Is Arlovski ever going to retire? I mean seriously. Dude is about to be 44 in a few weeks. This’ll be his 59th professional fight. He’s a former champ, but those days are long gone. These days, he’s more of a counter striker on the fight, and hardly ever wrestles under his own merit. Solid tools, but extremely low volume these days compared to the past. Power isn’t much of a concern coming from him these days. Costa has won 4 of his last 5. Salsa Boy has fast hands for the division. He’s a pressure heavy striker. You’ll hardly catch him on the back foot. He’s landing nearly 7 SS/m (6.97), while (absorbing 4 SS/m). Arlovski lands 3.7 SS/m (absorbs 3.2 SS/m). Neither man will actively pursue wrestling here, so this will be a boxing match. Given that, Costa would win this fight 10/10 times against this current Arlovski. At some point, I think Salsa Boy overwhelms him on his way to a TKO victory, I’ll say it comes RD 2. He’s an expensive piece, but think he’ll be worth it.

PICK: Waldo Cortes-Acosta $21 FD ($9500 DK)

Andrei Arlovski $9 FD ($6700 DK)


Matthew Semelsberger vs Preston Parsons


This is your classic Grappler vs Striker matchup. Semelsberger has been on a bit of a skid here recently, he’s dropped his last 2 and 3 of 4 overall. He’s got power in his hands, and when he can get it flowing, he’s dangerous. He’s got decent wrestling chops, but struggles against committed wrestlers. Semelsberger has moments where he’s active with his forward pressure, and when he is, he’s most effective that way. Parsons is extremely aggressive with his pressure, so in spite of the success Semelsberger has with pressure, Parsons will present opportunities to be countered. Parsons can be reckless with his approach, if he can mitigate the damage he takes on the feet while he’s crashing the pocket, he’ll be much better for it. But what I love about Parsons is I know he’ll always go for it. Even when he gets in bad situations. This is going to be close, that’s why the odds are where they are. I favor Parsons being smart and actively using his TDs to wear down Semelsberger, although it’s just as likely that Semelsberger can find a shot on the feet that gets him a KO win. I’ll be playing both sides of this pretty evenly, but think Parsons wins a decision. If a finish comes for him, I’d say RD 3 sub is on the table.

PICK: Preston Parsons $14 FD ($7800 DK)

Matthew Semelsberger $17 FD ($8400 DK)


Marcus McGhee vs Gaston Bolanos


This should be a good one. McGhee is 2-0 in his 1st 2 UFC fights, looking for a 3rd. From what he’s shown so far, he’s got a pretty well rounded skill set. His wrestling accolades are overlooked, he’s a solid grappler and loves taking the back going for the rear naked choke. Possesses good control time on that mat too. I love his striking mechanics, he never really over swings and he stays composed in the pocket. We’ll see how far he can go. He gets Bolanos who’s making his 2nd trip to the UFC octagon. Another solid prospect, Bolanos loves to pressure, but he does have a tendency to throw big looping hooks trying to get his man out of there, which will catch up to him eventually. But overall is a well rounded fighter in his own right. I do think Bolanos holds the edge in power, so we’ll finally get to see how McGhee reacts to that. His wrestling base is also pretty solid and should hold in most scenarios. This’ll be closer than odds suggest this fight to be, and I give the edge to Bolanos by a hair. I just think his overall activity will do more to win points on the judges scorecards. McGhee pretty durable all things considered, so he should withstand the action. Like Bolanos via decision.

PICK: Gaston Bolanos $12 FD ($7100 DK)

Marcus McGhee $19 FD ($9100 DK)


Farid Basharat vs Taylor Lapilus


Another bantamweight scrap of young prospects. Lapilus had been away from the UFC for several years, before making the return last year in a bout vs Loughran. Lapilus has long been respected for his skill set. He’s a patient, technical striker, and won’t make too many mistakes. While he’s generally not an active wrestler, his TDEF is pretty solid, so that dynamic in this fight will be interesting. If he’s able to stuff most attempts from Farid, there’s high chance the fight is about even. Farid is really good, he and his brother. Undefeated currently, at 11-0, he’s got the full package. His best attribute is probably his grappling IMO. He averages 3.5 TDs per 15mins. On the feet he’s not so shabby either, landing 5.2 SS/m (absorbs just 2.3 SS/m), while Lapilus lands 4.1 SS/m (absorbs 2.2 SS/m). Farid is equipped with solid TDEF hisself, so should Lapilus try to employ his own wrestling, he may not find much success. This has the makings of a slower paced striking match when it’s all said and done. And I still favor Farid, he’ll be the one pressuring, and his volume is a bit more than Lapilus. He puts more combinations together. With not a lot of dogs on this card to love, Lapilus is one to consider, when all you need is 2 judges to see it your way. Not a fight I’ll be particularly high on in terms of DFS, and if choosing, I’d go Lapilus at his price, cause if he wins, you’ve already got a leg up. Give me Farid via decision.

PICK: Farid Basharat $20 FD ($8900 DK)

Taylor Lapilus $11 FD ($7300 DK)


Jean Silva vs Westin Wilson


I won’t even make this one a drawn out conclusion. Simply put, I don’t think Wilson belongs anywhere near a UFC octagon, he’s just not at this level yet. Best skillset would probably be his grappling and throwing up a hail mary submission, other than that. Not really good. I do think the line was extremely wide given his opponent, but Silva should have no issues here. Silva will have the edge everywhere, and I think he can get the KO. Silva’s volume is really solid and he’ll put powerful combinations together. He lands 5.8 SS/m (absorbs 4.7 SS/m). Wilson’s resume is of course a lot shorter, so he lands just 1.3 SS/m (absorbs an astounding 7.5 SS/m), no defensive awareness really at all. The only thing is, I’m not paying this price for Silva, not sure he’ll have the immediate killer instinct to go out and get a 60 second bonus, if I felt more confident he would, he’d be a shoe in. If doing ME, I see no problems playing him in some, though. Think we get a 2nd RD TKO.

PICK: Jean Silva $22 FD ($9600 DK)

Westin Wilson $8 FD ($6600 DK)


Tom Nolan vs Nikolas Motta


Motta has been extremely underwhelming to this point in his UFC career. He’s 1-2, 1NC over his last 4. His chin has become a real liability to this point. He’s pretty decent on the feet, tries to throw big shots looking KO’s himself, but he leaves his chin up high for counter shots, and that’s been his issue. Nolan is undefeated, at just 6-0, but he’s coming off of an impressive showing on DWCS, with a 1st RD KO. He’ll clearly be the more measured fighter here. Better striking technique and power. Don’t think he’ll have any real issues. Likely another 1st RD KO win incoming in the debut. A really solid target for DFS today.

PICK: Tom Nolan $20 FD ($9200 DK)

Nikolas Motta $10 FD ($7000 DK)


Josh Van vs Felipe Bunes


Van has come in and looked like a solid prospect. He’s 2-0 to start and faces Bunes, who’s on short notice in this one, but making his debut. Bunes clear path is through grappling, he loves to look for TDs and lock up a front head/arm choke or arm bars. If that doesn’t work though, he’s likely going to lose the striking exchanges in a big way in this one. Van is landing 9.2 SS/m (absorbs 5.9 SS/m), his output and cardio are insane. Bunes could shock some people if he can get it done within 5mins, after that, I think Van starts to run away with it. It feels like Bunes wants to try and make a name for himself, and in doing that sometimes, you can zap your cardio doing too much too soon. Let’s see if he does. Needless to say, this’ll be another nice showing for Van, and he takes this one pretty clearly on the score cards. Hope for a late finish.

PICK: Josh Van $18 FD ($8800 DK)

Felipe Bunes $12 FD ($7400 DK)


By: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)

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